Saturday, 18 February 2012

In the Dust of the Stars

Year:  1976
Director:  Gottfried Kolditz
Screenplay:  Gottfried Kolditz
Starring:  Jana Brejchova, Alfred Struwe, Ekkehard Schall, Milan Beli
Running Time:  96 minutes
Genre:  Science-fiction

This East German science-fiction film opens when a spaceship from the planet Cyrno makes an emergency landing on the planet Tem-4.  They have come to Tem-4 in answer to a distress call, however the Temians claim that the distress call was nothing but an accidental test signal and that there's nothing wrong, sorry to have called you out on a six year rescue mission, but you can just go off home now.  Ostensibly to make it up to the visitors, the Temians throw them a party.  However, the one astronaut who stays behind to guard the ship, Suko (Struwe), notices that his crewmates are all acting strangely on their return.  Investigating, he discovers that the Temians are in fact invading aliens, and have forced the planet's native inhabitants into slavery.

This movie comes across as a bizarre cross between Star Trek (1966-1969) and psychadelic comedy show The Mighty Boosh (2003-2007).     For the most part the film is extremely dull, but it is livened up by odd moments of hilarity, and the film is so colourful and cheap looking it's hard to not to feel a bit of affection for it.  It is very much a product of it's time (apparently flares were popular all over the universe, who knew?)  The spaceships look like plastic model kits and the aliens not only all speak perfect German they all look fully human (not even a Star Trek style weird alien forehead or a cute puppet, if you don't see one of these in a movie like this than clearly the film-makers aren't trying hard enough).  Instead the aliens seemed to consist of dancing girls and guys in red uniforms with the main boss (Ekkard Schall) lounging around guarded by men in leather skirts holding massive guns, dyeing his hair and dancing around to electro-pop.  Oh yeah, the dancing in this movie.  It's not a musical, but random dance sequences seem to break out throughout the film.  The main villain even breaks out into a dance on his own when he becomes quite upset by something.  He also, as mentioned before, constantly dyes his hair strange colours and wears a variety of bizarre costumes, no matter how serious the situation, it seems like there's always time for a costume change.  Also his main enforcer (Milan Belli) looks like one of the Bee-Gees.  The main villain also has a penchant for picking out tunes on his alien synthesizer.  Presumably a sequel could involve the aliens abducting Kraftwerk.  The heroes are a fairly bland bunch, who get bogged down in an underdeveloped romantic sub-plot.

There are a couple of moments of random, pointless nudity in the film, which are kind of bizarre because, without these, it could almost be a kiddie sci-fi adventure, of the kind that were everywhere in the 70s and 80s.  At one point one of the female crew members breaks out into a completely nude dance, which is completely in  silhouette and looks like an x-rated outtake from a James Bond title sequence.  There are some interesting elements though.  Most notably the film has quite a strong Communist sub-text (the opressed proletariat enslaved by evil, decadent capitalists). 

If you're in the mood for a slice of bad, cheesy sf camp, then you'll be able to have some fun with this, but otherwise your life will not be notably worst off for giving it a miss.

Jana Brejchova and Ekkehard Schall have a close encounter of the funky kind in In the Dust of the Stars 

No comments:

Post a Comment