The Wild, Wild Planet
Cast & Crew
In the year 2015 two planetary systems--the United Democracies (UD) and the Combined Corporations--are rivals for control of the universe. Under the supervision of Nels Nurmi, a brilliant scientist, Combined Corporations is engaged in the miniaturization of human organs and species. These biological experiments are distasteful to UD Commander Halstead, and further hostility between the two men develops when they both take a romantic interest in Connie Gomez, an officer in Nurmi's laboratory. When it is learned that a large number of people have been disappearing from Earth, including a UD general, Halstead is placed in charge of an investigating party. After discovering that robot creatures are abducting Earth people and taking them to the planetoid of Delphos, Halstead accuses Nurmi of being the brains behind the operation. Halstead is arrested but escapes and takes off for Delphos with two companions, Ken and Jake, and a small band of space troops. There they find Connie, the missing general, and many others slated for transformation experiments. Despite capture and the threat of extermination, Halstead and his men outwit their adversaries and succeed in overpowering Nurmi and his organization. Realizing that he is doomed, Nurmi destroys Delphos and his laboratory as Halstead's group rescues Connie and the general.
Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
The Wild, Wild Planet - Wild, Wild Planet
The Wild, Wild Planet, which was released in Italy as I Criminali Della Galassia, was the first in a quartet of sci-fi tales produced and directed by Antonio Margheriti (identified in the credits as Anthony Dawson). The other sequels were, in chronological order, War of the Planets, Planet on the Prowl and Snow Devils (all 1965), but it's hard to top the excessive nature and camp delights of The Wild, Wild Planet. First of all, consider the dialogue. In one scene, Connie catches Dr. Nurmi ogling her to which he replies, "I was admiring your physique. The human body is my specialty, my area of exploration. I would be enchanted to explore - your mind. Can we have dinner together?" Nurmi delivers plenty of other howlers but he's bested by Mike who makes big statements like "I'm a person, not a collection of hunks of meat" and is fond of using "helium head" as his insult of choice. When he's really mad, he might say something like, "Why, you helium-headed IDIOT, you!" Then, there's his frantic command to his men while they are battling karate trained alien women - "Watch out for those gadgets on their chests!" Actually, those gadgets are deflators so you can imagine the outcome of this scene.
Equally nutty is the post-Jetsons set design and the special effects, or should we say the lack of them? The sequence where Nurmi shows Mike his private chamber of mutants is like a mass audition by bad makeup artists - there's a guy with a pig nose, a woman with a serious case of silly putty and so on. A more effective scene is when one of the kidnappings goes awry and the victim is only partially shrunk, rendering him a midget. Other high points include a trip to the body part factory - see the lovely display of red lungs, breathing independently - and the climactic destruction of Nurmi's lair, which is submerged in a raging flood of red liquid.
Yes, The Wild, Wild Planet is definitely a stop you should schedule on your next trip into deep space. But if you're still not sure, consider this rave review from Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog and an expert on Italian fantasy-horror films: "The Wild, Wild Planet is perhaps Margheriti's most famous film in America, thanks to a popular nationwide Summer of Love release through MGM, when its psychedelic imagery seemed much more at home than it would have in 1964....Much closer in milieu to the Nova Criminal narcoverse of William Burroughs' early fiction than anything in Cronenberg's Naked Lunch (1991), The Wild, Wild Planet is a truly hallucinatory movie. The cast is delightfully campy, Piero Poletto's set designs are a consistent marvel of imagination over budgeting, and the glimmering A.F. Lavagnino score (conducted by Carlo Savina) sounds at once kitschy and genuinely futuristic."
Producer: Anthony M. Dawson, Joseph Fryd
Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
Screenplay: Renato Moretti, Ivan Reiner
Art Director: Piero Poletto
Cinematography: Riccardo Pallottini
Editing: Otello Colangeli
Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cast: Tony Russel (Cmdr. Mike Halstead), Lisa Gastoni (Connie Gomez), Massimo Serato (Nels Nurmi), Franco Nero (Jake).
By Jeff Stafford
The Wild, Wild Planet - Wild, Wild Planet
Released in Italy in 1966 as I criminali della galassia. Anthony Dawson is a pseudonym for Antonio Margheriti, Richard Pallton for Riccardo Pallottini, Angel Coly for Otello Colangeli, and Charles Justin for Carlo Giustini.