No, I didn’t just collapse on the keyboard, the title of this post is (sort of) the name of a ’70s film (or maybe it’s a TV show, or a dream?). More Russian sci-fi madness. It’s the source of the images here and here.
This film really invites you to take multiple mind-altering substances and trip out. “Come on,” it whispers in your ear, “everybody’s doing it? Whassamatter, you scared or something?” which is irresponsible really as it’s a kids’ movie. Maybe if you speak Russian it all makes sense, but watching it without translation induces a strange feeling. It becomes necessary to provide your own simultaneous faux-translation, making up a plot in a desperate attempt to make the freaky imagery less mind-altering.
“Want some space-cake? You know it’s space-cake because we’re shooting it with a starburst filter. Oh, by the way, how do you fancy spending your next birthday on an ALIEN WORLD?”
You get a slightly zonked feeling just from watching the fairly long dialogue scenes and not understanding a word, and the faces of those Soviet children are kind of… odd. Nice, but odd. When we get to the space age sets and costumes, about ten minutes in, things pick up. I like the leather interior of the kids’ space-ship. The special effects start up soon after and things get seriously peculiar.
“Boy, I bet those space aliens will be so grateful for us bringing them the gift of Marxist-Leninism.”
There’s some inexplicable close encounters with unidentifiable flying bric-a-brac, and then part of our team bundles into a nifty space shuttle to have a looksee at a forbidding planet.
“Cody Kropotkin and his Teen Space Rangers head off into uncharted void-stuff.”
“Watch out for that chrono-synclastic infundibulum, Kapitan!”
“Keep your eyes on the road, Cody!”
“This is the best fun we’ve had since Chekov defected!”
Soon our team make planetfall on Metaluna, or Altair IV, or Planet Foozbane, or wherever it is —
Right around here we get a sudden blast of sorta-solarized footage lifted straight out of 2001, and I bet Mosfilm didn’t pay MGM for the use of it. All’s fair in love and cold war. Plus it’s a fitting retaliation for what Roger Corman and Curtis Harrington did to NEBO ZOVYOT, turning it into the enjoyable but less-respectable QUEEN OF BLOOD. Cultural piracy went both ways.
“Everybody remember where we parked.”
And now we go on location (GREAT location — if this was the BBC it would just be a Devon chalk quarry) there’s quite an epic feel, and the odd characters turning up give it a sense of David Bowie music promo.
“We are the chin-strokers and we bring you — hedge-hog hats!”
Then we head indoors for what seems like AGES, but they keep bringing in new robots and aliens and sets and weird effects, so it never gets dull. A very small amount of alcohol is enough to make you feel completely psycho at this point.
“…two…one…zero…we have Smirnoff!”
LOFRAO (Laughing Our Fat Russian Asses Off).
There’s something very weird going on with a big scary machine that some robotic types want to stick the kids into. They probably want to turn them into free market counter-revolutionaries. Or else it’s some kind of weird sex thing.
Escape! Pursuit! Domestic robots standing around on a hill!
“Click-Whirrrr… can I buff your spacesuit, master? Whirrr-click!”
“My work is done here.”
A happy ending! Except I have no idea what has been achieved or who the guy in the suit works for. It’s weird seeing him there, he kind of ruins the feeling that we’re on another planet. Just as people in space suits make any location feel like another world, so a guy in a suit with bad hair makes any location, however amazing, seem like a 1970s BBC Scotland outside broadcast.
The space-suit thing reminds me of something I saw as a kid on TV. I think it was on Nationwide, a rather shonky regional news show, and they did a report on UFOS and weirdness. The presenter said that the S family had been on holiday and they’d taken a photo of their son. Everything seemed normal at the time, but when they got the pictures back from the chemist —
And here they show a picture of a kid on a hillside, only behind him is a man in a spacesuit — a suspiciously terrestrial one — with mirrored visor, lurching towards the smiling, unsuspecting lad with arms outstretched menacingly!!!
It sounds very silly but it freaked the hell out of ten-year-old me, and I believe I physically recoiled from the TV which, kid-fashion, I had been squatting right in front of.
A powerful memory… except I couldn’t swear that it actually happened.
“See you next time, space-comrades!”