12 April, 2008


Cover for the excellent new Severin Films DVD presentation of Alfonso Brescia's LA BESTIA NELLO SPAZIO (1980), which contains a colorful 16X9 transfer of the original Italian print with English subtitles. At 92m this is the longest version ever released on video and the first ever R1 DVD of this legendary pillar of European Trash Cinema.

Arriving on the planet Lorigon, space bitch Sondra (Sirpa Lane) is confronted with the terror of Zocor! But it will be only a taste of the rape-horror she will experience under the Beast (Claudio Undari).

A hardcore version will also be available including "deleted scenes." Check the Severin Films site for a link and further details.

Malisa Longo and friends in Al Bradley's amazing STAR ODYSSEY, which would have been considered Family Entertainment compared to THE BEAST IN SPACE!

Numerous cheap, multi disc sets have appeared featuring various "Al Bradley" Italian Sci-Fi epics from the late 1970s. My favorite Al Bradley directed title is the 1969 non science fiction mondo Nel labirinto del sesso (Psichidion).

More Al Bradley sci-fi available on US DVD, but none of them can touch Severin's new disc of the last, and most notorious, of Al's five late 1970s science fiction features.

REVIEW: The late Alfonso Brescia (1930-2001) seemed to have a talent for directing an unusual number of surprisingly memorable "bad" movies. Starting out in the peplum genre with the lavishly absurd CONQUERER OF ATLANTIS (1965), he moved into Spaghetti Westerns TURN...I'LL KILL YOU (1968), Eurocime KNELL, BLOODY AVENGER and, most amusingly, a series of sublime C grade science fiction films made back to back between 1977 and 1979. Featuring actors such as John Richardson and Antonio Sabato as space men along with Yanti Sommers and the extremely hot Malisa Longo as what would be referred to in a 1960's Antonio Margheriti GAMMA ONE entry (PLANET ON THE PROWL) "space chicks."

But nothing he did before or after can compare to LA BESTIA NELLO SPAZIO (filmed in 1978 and released in 1980).

Captain Larry Madison (Vassili Karis) asks for a "Uranus Milk" as the bar inside the post-psychedelic lounge at the space compound. Eyeing the fetching Sondra (Sirpa Lane) who looks like one of the local hookers in her body glitter and high black boots he seats himself and tells her he just returned from a tough job on a red planet which resembled a "mandrill's ass" [that's what the new English subtitles say!]. It's all downhill, or uphill, from there.

After a romp, which is stylishly (for Al Bradley, that is) bathed in red light, with Sondra, the couple takes off on MK-31 for planet Lorigon to search for a valuable mineral. But the roughish Juan Cardosa (VENANTINO VENANTINI) is also en route to hijack the element for his own enrichment.

Lorigon is a heavily forested entity which is ruled by the facist robot Zocor and the patrician Anaph (Claudio Undari). Camping out in Anaph's pad, which is dressed with demon sculptures and LSD plasmatics, the space guys and girls proceed to enjoy a sex orgy presided over by the increasinly sinister-acting host. Sondra has been having nightmares where she is pursued and raped by a hairy half-man, half-beast and she flees Anaph's castle when she realizes he is the creature who will have her.

The nightmare becomes reality as steeds copulate in the offspace (via grainy b&w inserts*). Anaph suddenly grows hooves, rips off her virginal white garb, and humps endlessly away on her. Escaping, Sondra encounters the "Golden Men," yes the robots from Bradley's earlier WAR OF THE ROBOTS are on hand complete with gold wigs and jump suits. Armed with laser-swords they attempt to zap the MK-31 crew into nothingness before they can make off with the mineral which their master Zocor needs to survive! Whew! No, I'm not making all this up.

It all ends happily, of course, without a shred of hardcore footage (outside of the horny horses) to be found in this UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT. But I think you'll enjoy it in any case.**

What makes this all so much fun is the downmarket aesthetic created by Mimmo Scavia's vividly tacky pastel colored set design and those ridiculous ear-flapped helmets desinged by Elena de Carpis. You've seen it all before in previous Bradley space items but never in a delightfully hued, high quality print, correctly letterboxed at 1.85:1, from very nice original lab negative elements purchased, according to the liners, at a Rome bankruptchy auction. Actually, Bradley seems to favor some rather interesting wide angle composiitons. which were never before apparent in clumsy, blurry fullscreen prints.

Enjoying this film one pauses to consider the tragic early death of the Finnish sex-star Sirpa Lane (credited here as Shirpa Lane). Born Sirpa Salo in 1955, she died of AIDS in 1999 after appearing in nine features films, including the notorious and much-banned LA BETE (THE BEAST), the 1975 Walerian Borowczyk-directed hardcore fantasy which Brescia used as a model for this film. She had a unique intensity and elan in the way she expressed her sexuality. But even if, like myself, you haven't seen that famous title, you'll probably want to experience the special madness of THE BEAST IN SPACE.

The funky, high spirited score by Pluto Kennedy (Marcello Giombini) really gives the action a boost and will be familiar to fans of Joe D'Amato's hardcore zombie holocaust, EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980).

Prolific Eurotrash actor Venantino Venantini (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD; CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE) is featured in a 16m featurette, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE. He amusingly describes (in heavily accented English) his impressions of Alfonso Brescia, locations in the film (including Roman parking garages), and how the Italian genre filmmakers of that era used their creativity, instead of large budgets, to create memorable films.

*Blog reader Kaya Ozcaracalar reports that this footage may be from LA BETE (see comments).

**Note: there are no hardcore shots in this "unrated director's cut." There is much full frontal female nudity, a lot of groping and humping about, but it's the typical 70's softcore style action. XXX inserts were reportedly shot with Marina Hedman/Frajese (Lotar) which must replace some very odd angles which appear to obscure explicit action in this version.

Both versions will street on April 29, 2008, according to the Severin site.

Click on the link for Severin Films on the sidebar at left for more information.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008


Kaya Özkaracalar said...

DELIRIM GUIDE TO ITALIAN EXPLOITATION CINEMA says this movie incorporates snippets of footage, including the horse-sex footage, from Borowczyk's LA BETE. Is there any such scene in this dvd?

Kaya Özkaracalar said...

DELIRIM GUIDE TO ITALIAN EXPLOITATION CINEMA says this movie incorporates snippets of footage, including the horse-sex footage, from Borowczyk's LA BETE. Is there any such scene in this dvd?

David A. Zuzelo said...

As always, I love seeing the Brescia love pour out at your blog. I'm wobbling in my chair with anticipation for this release. I'll buy both editions, call me a dirty bird-but Al Bradley Porn? A must see.

I've seen Beast In Space, but never with English and certainly not in good quality.

Thanks for the peek!

Robert Monell said...

Kaya, thanks for that note, I did mention the horse footage, which is in b&w/sepia tone, which is intercut into the forest scene. I haven't seen LA BETE, so I can't say if there's more footage from it in this version. There are some softcore shots which don't match with the footage Brescia obviously shot and the hardcore version, which I haven't yet seen, may contain more from LA BETE.

Robert Monell said...

David: thanks for your feedback. You'll love it, extemely entertaining Eurotrash. I enjoyed the softcore version, I'm not sure how the hardcore differs. And the quality is very good, better than any Bradley film DVD presentation I've seen so far.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

I won't buy both of them and having suffered through some Al Bradley in the past, I might have to go with the hardcore version to see if that can keep me awake. Great blog, by the way, sir. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

You have to see LA BETE. It's from that short window of time in the 1970s when serious filmmakers dared to use hardcore imagery, and I think Borowczik was the most talented to try it. LA BETE is a dark, dark comedy, gorgeously photographed, and full of amazing touches like the Chaplinesque slide-and-hop Lisbeth Hummel does rounding a corner as she flees the chateau in terror naked under a jaguar coat. There is actually very little hardcore footage in the film, but Borowczik uses it judiciously to pay off the sexual tension he builds in the more prevalent softcore sequences. A film not to be missed.


Robert Monell said...

Doug: I just fun it Bad Fun, as Pauline Kael once described certain films. And this is better made than the other AB sci-fi's or at least not as dull with all that's going on.

Robert Monell said...

I've only seen Boro's DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE variant, the cut version, but was greatly impressed. So I do need to see more, much more, of his compelling work. I was kind of holding of on LA BETE, but your description increases my desire to finally see it. Thanks for the feedback.

David A. Zuzelo said...

I asked the good folks at Severin what the difference between the two versions is-and it is simply one 5 minute stretch of the film was shot in hardcore and softcore variants. I bought them both out of respect to the project-something I'm loathe to do, but DAMN-this is THE BEAST IN SPACE.
I'm ready for my Space QuadRoRama Show this weekend!
I haven't sat to watch BiS just yet, but I'm very impressed by the visual quality. If only Star Odyssey could look as good.