(1965 / 1966)

PreCommentary: Is the video box being ironic in calling this "the most spectacular and exciting science fiction film ever released on April 15, 1966!"?

Notes: RealArt. A Jack Broder Production. 91 minutes.
Commander King: Wendell Corey
Also starring Keith Larson, John Agar, Merry Anders, Stuart Margolin, Irene Tsu.

Produced: George Edwards
Directed: Arthur C. Pierce
Written: Arthur C. Pierce
Special Effects: Howard A. Anderson.

Summary: Star Trek lingo regarding "deep space" and travel "without incident" introduces Admiral King whose 6-year space mission among the Centaurians on Centaurus seems completed, but for a lot of blab about the relativity of time. A mutiny of two Centaurians aboard another ship, the Cosmos 3, forces that wessel into the magnetic field of a planet in another solar system: Solaris, where "gas clouds" are a worry.

Cosmos 3 crash lands on this planet, with Lieutenant Bradley (an paunchy ass who thinks he's funny), a bunch of other idiots, Zanda (a Centaurian), and Lieutenant Sally something, who is hurt and blames Zanda's ilk for all that is wrong with this universe: "If it weren't for you and your kind! . . . You're all alike; you take everything from us and you give nothing!" Zanda's mutinist brother attacks again, but Zanda proves her loyalty by killing him (regular guns here, no "space rays"). One guy decides we'll all be safer in the foothills. They can live here; "if we just trust each other," Zanda adds.

The problem is this time relativity thing. Admiral King disobeys this film's version of Starfleet Command and undertakes a rescue mission, but their three months to get to Solaris equals 18 years on the planet. Besides, says King, telegraphically: "young planet--primitive--treacherous. You can't trust young planets. . . . They're usually infested with living things completely unknown to us." Living on the planet he diagnoses as being mostly a matter of "combatting the elements" and "defending" themselves against beasts.

They land and send out a party of five into an atmosphere described as an "inferno." More belabored time relativity explanations are followed by a giant lizard on a rock who is summarily engulfed in flames and killed. "The way they grow lizards around here, I'd hate to run into a snake!"

Things get confusing. Linda is the Admiral's half-breed daughter, but doesn't know it. She swims naked while birds squawk. As she dresses, a snake threatens. She faints and an unknown hand shoots a crossbow at the snake, killing it. Linda is taken off.

Among the party, Mr. Bradley goes into an unbearable stand-up shtick. Linda wakes up to meet Tang, a caveman, no a second generation Centaurian, so there were survivors 18 years ago. Tang shows us the original crash landers frozen upright. Back among the search party, idiots shoot a snake and one guy harasses Mr. Scott with the fact that Zanda married Liuetenant Anderson! Face it! (Tang's speed-aged frozen parents?)

"Whew, what a smell!" The party must cross a bubbling stinkhole (since the fact that they could easily walk around it doesn't occur to them) so they set up a rope and the last guy falls in. "Chief" (the beady-eyed Stuart Margolin of Love, American Style) is upset. The remaining four find the ruins of the Cosmos 3, and "Chief" ends up with a vicious poisonous thing on the back of his neck which kills him but gets blasted by the others.

Linda is in a leopard sarong. Tang brings her Centaurian dresses and tells her that the planet contains "savages who hate and kill." "If you live here alone, who undressed me?" He says he did. She slaps him. He slaps her. They make up and kiss.

Wendell Corey is stinking drunk now, lucky bum, so Admiral King is slurring his words so badly that it's anybody's guess what's happening. "We might be on the trail of the very man who murdered Captain Ross." (Who?)

Tang and Linda are at their special water place. Tang no use tenses, no use articles consistently; possessive pronouns hard for Tang. He introduces his chimp friend, Tiko. "Linda like Tang?" "Linda love Tang." (All astronauts do.) Tang jealous of former shipmates. Cute water play. Cavemen come. Throw spears. Idiots finally come. Take Linda. Shoot Tang in arm. Tang run far.

With Linda back and some volcanic worries, the Commander wants to "prepare ship for take-off." With news of Tang's trail ending at the brink of a cliff, Linda screams, "I hate you. I hate all of you!" She runs out. The Admiral admits she's his daughter and must rescue her. But he comes back and the ship launches.

Linda and Tang have another reunion at special water place. Those aboard ship realize that "Linda and the boy are alive." "They'll be happy here. . . . They'll create a new world." (In other words, they'll breed, which is not creating a new world, it's destroying the old one.) We finally decide to dub this planet of Solaris the blue planet, "Planet Earth." And indeed, as we pull back, it is Earth! So all along I thought . . . oh I see. . . . But wait, if . . . oh never mind.

Commentary: Something's wrong. Where is the promised "planetscape full of beautiful scantily-clad space chicks"? Was I getting popcorn? Or does this have something to do with the fact that the tape claims a running time of 91 minutes and the box says 87 minutes?

The plot is impossible to follow because there are too many characters and too many pockets of characters all with bland interchangeable names: Captain Farrell, Mr. Scott, Sergeant Allen, Captain Ross, Lieutenant Bradley, etc. Grunts have names like "Chief" and characters seem to have various titles too (e.g., Admiral King, a.k.a. Commander King).

"Dinosaurs" amount to one lizard for a few seconds. What finally really doesn't make sense is how this is supposed to be prehistoric Earth, so apparently we are all great-great-offspring of AdamTang and EveLinda, or maybe those cavemen. So therefore we have Centaurian and native blood and this accounts for our supposed dual Jekyll/Hyde natures? And where were all those other idiots from? They sure seemed like Earth-asses from the '60s.

Best line [perhaps the source for a similar moment in Planet of Dinosaurs (1978)]: "Whew, what a smell!"