Overview: Captain's log, supplemental: I have jettisoned the film negatives we discovered and ordered Mr. Chekov to lock on photon torpedoes. No one else must ever discover it.

Directed By: Antonio Margheriti, 1966

The Case For: The post-ambient music and lack of any plot or action make it the perfect drive-in movie, designed from the ground up to be ignored completely while you make out in the back seat of a car. Although the 75-minute running time is a bit lean, so you might have to play it twice (we promise nobody will notice.)

The Case Against: For a film called "War Between the Planets", we've never seen any movie with less of either of those things.

Ah, the '60s. It truly was the golden age, not just for cinema, but for all of America. It was a magical time - a simpler, brighter time. Star Trek was about to air its first episode, Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was hitting the big screen, John Barth, lil' Tommy Pynchon, and Truman Capote would all have major novel releases within the year, and the US Supreme Court would lay down our Miranda rights so that nobody would ever get shot in the back by police ever again. Far more importantly, Lyndon B. Johnson would lay down the single greatest moment in american presidential history by famously whipping his dick out in the middle of a press conference about Vietnam when asked why our country was at war and responding, simply, "This is why". Some shit probably happened in Italy too but who can keep up with all these crazy made-up third world countries anyway. Oh, that's right, they released this one movie called War Between the Planets. Wouldn't recommend it, really kind of a piece of shit to be honest with you actually[1].

The action gets off to a promising start with a global apocalypse of tidal waves, hurricanes, and what have you. Well, all of that is heavily implied by an announcer talking over grainy stock footage of running water, but still, it's a strong opening to what promises to be a high-octane Planet War. Humanity's only hope is Commander Rod Jackson, who is just the man of action we need. He immediately blasts off to orbital space station Gamma One, where he takes charge of the situation by...making slight adjustments to their protocols for relaying encoded messages and dressing down his subordinates for not following the space rules properly.

Huh. Well, maybe they're just trying to depict the gritty realism of actually working for an incompetent multinational bureaucracy. Just because the only medal Cmdr. Zapp "Jerk" Dickson seems like he's ever earned was for extreme anal retentiveness in the line of duty[2], that doesn't mean we're not due for some pulse-pounding War Between the Planets any minute now. Oh shit, a spacewalk has gone wrong! Quick, everyone suit up and get out there to save those astronauts! This might be the worst and most obvious wire work you'll see outside a high-school production of Pumaman, but it's still action, sort of!

The two words that come to mind are "glorious" and "dignified", but in space there's no time for multiple words, so we'll just call that intense spacewalking action "glorgnified". Oops, he just let that one kid spiral off into the cosmos to his death...and nobody seems to care at all. Now it's time for a solid 15-20 minutes devoted to setting up a dramatic love triangle between Major Funk "Chunk" Truckasaurus and two chicks, one of whom isn't actually in the movie yet. Don't worry though, she does eventually show up to glare at the other lady, and then walk away awkwardly and never show up again. That was some deep characterization, definitely worth the setup.

It's OK. Remain calm. This is War Between the fucking Planets we're talking about here. All of this is building towards something. Some insane cathartic battle orgy of explosions and deathrays and robots suplexing grimacing old Chinese men in spandex into piles of garbage cans. Just wait, it's going to blow your goddamn dicks off, any minute now. It's going to be like the visual equivalent of a full-blown Laser Fuck [NSFW] and liquify your brains like spaghetti squash in a blast furnace. Here it comes:

Goddamn, that is the most evil and/or flatulent planet we've ever seen. Finally, a worthy space adversary for Commander Steak "Trunk" McMasterson, who majored in living planet anatomy back at the academy[3]. You'd better believe they're going to claim that planet for the U.S. of A and then blow it the fuck up. But first, we're nearly to the action climax, so time for a big heroic speech to set the tone:

...not the most inspiring speech for a suicide mission to save the Earth we've ever heard, but sure, close enough. Who needs words anyway, when you've got a man of action like Captain Brick "Junk" Jockson. He proceeds to explode the fuck out of Planet Gas-X with extreme space prejudice. War between the planets over - victory: Earth, and its lord and saviour Jesus Christ, the original astronaut.

Fuck it, we can't keep this charade going. There's no action climax, because there's no action to begin with. 70% of this movie is people going places, talking about going places, saying "I'm going with you" or "no, you can't come with me", and then going anyway. The rest of the movie consists of insane word salad about quadrants and echos and gammas, to the point that they could have just translated into Esperanto instead of English and it would make just as much sense. Although then we would have missed out on these memorable quotes:

Totally worth it.

[1] Full disclosure: we don't actually give a shit about the '60s or believe in any mythical "golden age of Hollywood" so you can stop penning your angry email manifestos about your favorite decade.

[2] The Purple Sphincter, one of the highest honors available to a bureaucrat.

[3] Too bad it was a party school, so he gets a bunch of people killed in action, but nobody cared about that other kid spiraling off into oblivion, so why start caring now?

Special Effects-8
Music / Sound-8

– Garrett "Hydrogen" Neil and Sean "Trillaphon" Neil (@trillaphon)

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