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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Planet of the Invading Women

Estudios Americas, produced a sort of sequel to Planetary Giants, in 1966. La Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras, (Planet of the Invading Women) (PIW), is more of a "continuing adventures" than a true sequel. It opened in Mexico in 1966, in the United States in 1967. PIW stars the same four stars from the prior film, playing the same characters: Professor Daniel Wolff, rocket scientist, Sylvia, his pretty secretary, Marcos the boxer and Taquito, his trainer. Shot in black and white, and with the opening footage of a blinking flying saucer, PIW has a very 50s look to it. The plot, too, is very 50s, owing much to Catwomen of the Moon, and others in the "Planet of Beautiful Women" sub-genre.

Quick Plot Synopsis
A flying saucer lands near an amusement park at night. Two pretty female invaders incapacitate two men who operate a saucer-shaped 'moon' ride. Cut to a parallel story of Marcos the boxer. Professor Wolff and Sylvia urge him to win (not throw the fight like last time). Marcos wants a date with pretty Sylvia. She agrees, provided he wins. A shadowy gangster, Toño, reminds him he agreed to lose. In the ring, Marcos wins Sylvia agrees to a date. Later, Toño's thugs ambush Marcos, but they're poor shots. Macros takes Sylvia to the carnival and board the very saucer ride the aliens had commandeered. Toño and his thugs follow them in. They're all kidnapped when the saucer flies off. On the planet Sibila, a planet of only young women, Queen Adestrea smiles but tells them they're prisoners. Obey all commands. In a scuffle, on thug is killed. He's taken to a lab where the Sibilians remove lung tissue. They can only breathe earth's air for a few hours. The earth tissue will create breathing a apparatus. The other thug escapes, but is blinded by the intense Sibilian sun. He is taken for lung surgery too. The queen's twin sister, Alburnia, is good, so helps the earthlings. She sends back her servant, Fitia, to earth to give professor Wolff a "send help" message. Adestrea sends two of her women to stop Fitia. They have the new lung filters. Fitia does not, so she dies before delivering her message. However, Wolff figures out enough that he and Taquito take Dr. Walters' rocket and fly to Sibila. Once there, they pretend to be rogues interested in selling humans to Adestrea. The two women report that the new lung filters wear out fast. Adult lung tissue is worn. Adestrea orders them to kidnap 20 school children. She has a mirror weapon that can kill only adults. They do this, and the saucer has its load of kids. Adestrea is captured by the good guys. Alburnia trades clothes with her. Wolff and the others gain control of the mirror. They kill the alien guards, freeing the children. They then use the mirror on Adestrea's guards too. As they all head for the rocket to leave, Adestrea stops them. Toño shoots Alburnia, but since they're special twins, both Adestrea and Alburnia die at the same time. The earthlings take Alburnia's body to earth for a proper burial. The End.

Why is this movie fun?
The Planet of Beautiful Women trope is amusing in itself. PIW is a worthy member of the group. The format, sets, props and photography are all very reminiscent of 40s and early-50s serials, so there is some nostalgia value.

Cold War Angle
Such themes are secondary at best. You do have a 'heartless' despot with agents operating in "our" land. She might intend to invade. (unclear) The bulk of the film is more adventure than angst.

Women! -- PIW is a solid example of the time-honored 50s sub-genre featuring planets inhabited by only 20-something pretty women. Others include Catwomen of the Moon, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Missile to the Moon, and Queen of Outer Space. PIW offers no reason why there are only pretty young women on the planet. It's just a fact.

Good Girl, Bad Girl -- PIW also employs the dualism featured in several of the other Planet of Women stories. There's a bad girl who doesn't like men and a good girl who does. PIW does the dualism one better by having them be identical twins! Queen Adestrea is the heartless, scheming and vain bad side of womanhood. Her twin sister Alburnia is kind and compassionate. An interesting twist is the lightly metaphysical notion that evil cannot exist without good, and wherever there is good, there will be evil, is that if one of the twins dies, the other will immediately die too.

Night and Day -- In the spirit of dualism, viewers may note that the alien planet in the first movie, Planetary Giants, was referred to as the "planet of eternal night." Sibila, the planet of beautiful women, was referred to as the "planet of eternal day." This makes the two movies a sort of film diptych.

Prop Watch -- As sister films, Planetary Giants and PIW share props and scenery. The conehead helmet of El Protector is duplicated as headgear for all of Adestrea's minions. The saucer is the same -- and even makes the same beeping sound. Of course Walters' rocket is the same, as it's a carryover too. Note the alien planet landscapes of the two movies. It's the same rocky barrens -- perhaps the Mexican equivalent of Bronson Canyon.

Pre-Jaffa -- Fans of the Stargate SG1 television series will note with some smile the spear weapons of Queen Adestrea's guards. They don't throw them, but use like Klingon pain sticks to subdue (or kill) their victims. Ruthless Queen Adestrea, flanked by her spear-toting guards looks like a retro-prototype of a Stargate Goa'uld "system lord" and her Jaffa.

Bottom line? PIW has all the faults and foibles of a low-budget production, capitalizing on the appeal of leggy young women. The special effects are vintage 40s, but therein lies some of its charm. Watch PIW, not as the best the mid 60s could do, but as a lost episode of the Planet-Of-Beautiful-Women series.

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