Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

'Star Odyssey' is an insane trip

Star Odyssey (1978)
Starring: Gianni Garko, Yanti Somer, Malisa Yongo, and Chris Avram
Director: Alfonso Brescia
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

After an evil alien purchases Earth at an auction held by representatives of a far-flung, interstellar civilization, he heads for his new acquisition in his indestructable flying saucer, intent on capturing those rarest of sentient beings--homo sapiens--and selling them into slavery so he can get a return on his investment. Only a group of heroic misfits (genius scientists, psychics, and/or hot-looking chicks, in tight clothes all) can save the Earth from total enslavement.

I am sure that this is the movie that broke me. With "Star Odyssey", the residue of crap that's been building up in my brain over the past 15 years of watching and reviewing crappy movies finally reached critical mass and drove me completely over the edge. I'm not even certain if I'm actually typing this right now. For all I know, I'm standing naked on the corner of Rainer and Sunset, and a member of Renton PD's finest is about to come up to me and say, "You--naked, bearded, and disturbingly hairy fat man--are under arrest!"

If I'm not hallucinating, then why does the poster used to illustrate this article have both English and German writing on it? Why?!

Initially, there didn't seem to be anything amiss. I was watching the film with growing annoyance. It was clearly made on a budget of $1.95, and it was most likely a send-up of 1930s style sci-fi films with some fairly heavy-handed message bits about the evils of slavery and colonialism. It's an old and trite message in sci-fi, and it was being delivered particularly badly.

Then, suddenly, I was watching a scene that I MUST have seen at the beginning of the movie--it was the scene that established our bad guy and the fact that he was purchasing Earth so he could enslave the planet, sell everyone as slaves, and plunder the natural resources. Even more heavy-handed than the other delivery of the message--coming some 50 years late... but why was this scene nearly an hour into the film?

Then, suddenly, I was watching a flashback to an earlier scene in the film, the one where we're introduced to the dashing psychic con-man/adventurer Dirk Laramie (Garko) and his partner/girlfriend and his ex-girlfriend (Somer and Longo... I really don't know which chick played whom. The current bedmate is blonde, while the former one is a brunette; Somer was blond in the two other movies that used the same sets, costumes and minatures that appeared in this film, but was she the blond... can I be sure of anything?). But it's not a flashback... it's the establishing scene for a sequence from earlier in the film, and here they actually show us that Dirk and his ladyfriend are fleecing gamblers in a casino, not a cafeteria or a singles bar. But, this is coming completely unmotivated, right after our alien bad guy sets out for Earth... even if he arrived on Earth in the film's first scenes and are already scooping up slaves.

THEN, we cut to a scene of a pair of military officers discussing the fact that slaves are being carried off--which means we're not back to where the movie had been before these strange, unexplained and totally unnecessary flashback scenes occurred. And I have absolutely no ability to figure out what is happening where or when, even if i attempt to diagram it.

So... either someone REALLY scrambled the reels when this film was transferred to videotape--and what was actually the films first ten minutes ended up at the 2/3rd mark instead--and no one actually watched it when it was transferred to DVD and included in the "Nightmare Worlds" DVD boxed set.

Or I've lost my mind, and I'm not typing at all. I never watched the movie I think I watched. Could I really standing in downtown Mecca singing, "O Holy Night" at the top of my lungs.

I THINK this is the third of a string of low-budget Italian pictures using the same sets and actors--the other two being "War of the Planets" and "War of the Robots". However, I can't be sure that I didn't hallucinate the whole thing. Can someone please help me establish my grip on reality again?! Did someone REALLY use these costumes in two different moves?!

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