War of the Robots
Director: Alfonso Brescia (as Al Bradly)

aka SPACE MEN. 1960
Director: Antonio Margheriti

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

War of the RobotsThe hokey rocketship model & the hokier "robots" or androids (guys dressed in page boy wigs & gold lame jumpsuits) are almost delightful in their cheapness.

Retro-future fashions & uniforms are silly enough to be cool. The terrible acting with badly looped dialogue add to the general feeling of radical incompetence.

Making an emergency stop on a planetoid, the heroic cast of War of the Robots (La Guerra dei robot, 1973) gets in fistfights with cave-dwelling bug-eyed humans.

War of the RobotsIt is soon realized that the earthlings & the bug-eyed humans should be fighting on the same side against the pageboy androids, or pageboids.

Lots of Buck Rogers style lowgrade space opera antics develop, while the kidnapped earth scientist turns out not to be in need of rescue, but is a mad scientist happy to be working for the aliens, as they have promised to permit him to make "any kind of life form from nothing."

Plus they gave him a spiffy moon & stars wizard robe. What more could a mad scientist require?

War of the RobotsFlashlights are used like rayguns to shoot down the pageboids as though in a shooting gallery. Momentary swordfights with shiny cardboard swords add to the thrills.

The happy ending is that the evil Empress loses the space war so that thereafter "Life is fantastic!" Made in Rome with an international cast, this has got to be one of the dumbest space operas ever filmed.

Well, if per chance Alfonso Brescia's War of the Robots were not the dumbest space opera ever filmed, it could only be because he also directed War of the Planets aka Cosmos: War of the Planets aka Cosmos 2000: Planet Without a Name (Battaglie negli spazi stellari, 1977).

War of the PlanetsThe title seems to have been stuck on it in emulation of the then-new Star Wars though it was too late to make the story fit the title. In War of the Planets there's no war of any planets. There is scarsely any plot, it just creates some cheap rocketship FX shown to classical music (in very sorry-ass imitation of 2001: A Space Odyssey) & some cheap jumpsuit costumes with silly red hats with silver earmuffs & badly designed interior sets. Then everyone talks to one another as though they were in the future or in space, marking time as the film meanders toward a few barely related incidents.

There is a supercomputer called The Wiz which guides civilization of the future. The name of the computer appears on-camera incorporated in the chintzy futuristic design, so it was not a joke imposed on the film by American dubbing & translation.

An earth ship is lured to a planet where it makes a forced landing. At first the planet appears to be uninhabited, but turns out a race of humanoids lives underground.

War of the PlanetsThis is a race very much like ordinary humans except for the fashion of unevenly painting themselves silvery blue. The earth folks fight with them momentarily, but then find out they're regular joes who're hiding underground because of the Giant Evil Robot that destroyed their former civilization.

The robot lured the ship to the planet because it believed earthlings could repair one of its computer bits which had burned out, whereas the race who invented him no longer remembered how to fix him. Not that the earthlings knew anything either, but they appear more susceptible to computers telling them what to do. Obediently following directions, the Big Evil Robot is quite easily repaired. Now that it's fixed it plans to conquer the universe.

Big Evil Robot looks like he was patched together from refrigerator boxes spray-painted black, then wired with lots of pretty christmasy colored lights. He's a very festive Big Evil Robot. He was invented to run the world so that the people could live in luxury & not have to make any decisions for themselves, rather like The Wiz except no one makes the comparison.

Now that the earthlings have fixed him up to conquer the universe, they reveal their actual plan, which is to press the big red self-destruct button boldly displayed on the robot's exterior. Alas, this plan doesn't work as quickly as supposed, so a diode is removed from the discarded broken piece of the robot & chucked at him like a grenade, which is his undoing.

For fans of pathetic sci-fi, they don't get more pathetic than this.

Another dubbed space opera made in Italy, Assignment: Outer Space aka Space Men (1960) is set in the year 2116. An interplanetary news reporter (Rik Van Nutter) goes into suspended animation with a space-exploring crew, sleeping . Suspension is only required for a little while, as they're all woken up right away, in the inner solar system.

Assignment: Outer SpaceLovely designs for the space suits & space ships make this a surprisingly attractive old piece of sci-fi jibberish. The exact nature of the space mission is never clearly given, exploration for exploration sake perhaps, though they end up on two rescue missions, first a Mars landing, then a Venus landing near a domed base.

An out of control space station has generated its own force field by means poorly explained in the story. The station is hurling through space & its force field is so powerful that the entire Earth will be "reduced to mud" as it brushes near, unless our fearless explorers can avert the catastrophe.

The central character (the reporter) is mostly useless & boring & the support cast equally boring because all they do is complain that the central character is usless. There is one tremendous exception: the best pilot in the solar system is the self-sacrificing Al X 15 (Archie Savage), a black guy with Man from Glad white hair.

Apart from having to die the way minorities so often do in adventure cinema, while the honkies live, Al X 15 is really a great character. In 1960 it was still awfully progressive merely to have a black character as the primary heroic presence, so bravo Italian central casting.

Archie was actually an American actor, band leader, & film & stage choreographer. In America he could count on nothing more than background roles as a jungle tribesman, so he set out to find his best role in Europe. He has so much screen charisma without having to overact that he keeps this corny old film interesting.

For extra fun, keep your finger on pause & try to catch the moment in the film where the matte painting parts & reveals right out there on Mars a parking lot in Italy.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]