After the jocks of Gamma 3 explode an asteroid that was heading for Earth, the space station is overrun by big, green, slimy, squealing, tentacled, endearing, bullet-shaped blobs. We only know they’re hungry for energy and defend themselves via electrocution, but no communication is made with the ugly critters before they’re blown to hell. There’s also a pointy-headed scientist who values knowledge for its own sake and wants to preserve alien life forms; he gets what he deserves.
Like King Kong, It Came From Beneath the Sea and similar items, there’s a romantic triangle between alpha males in rivalry for a pretty woman. For kids, these are the boring parts to be sat through until the monsters attack. They’re the boring parts for grown-ups too, but not irrelevant.
As the over-educated screenwriter of Forbidden Planet told us point blank, giant monsters may be “creatures of the id” who manifest from all this hostility and sexual tension. Jealousy is a green-eyed monster, but these one-eyed shambling condoms have red orbs. They literally feed off the aggression (laser rifles) pointed at them by the testoster-drones.
The guys are tall, swaggering, square-jawed, redheaded hard-ass Commander Rankin (Robert Horton) and shorter, frowning, crewcut Commander Elliott (Richard Jaeckel), whom Rankin pegs as a softie without what it takes to command. There, he said it. Their trophy is a foxy doctor (Luciana Paluzzi). Of course, the guys also feel that buddy vibe and come through for each other, although one or both may not make it.
This is MGM film shot in Japan’s Toei Studios and directed by Kinji Fukasaku. The sets and model effects are sleek, clean, artificial and charming, and the monster attacks are handled with vigor. Mention must be made of Richard Delvy’s title song, with the lyrics “Is it something in your head? Will you believe it when you’re dead? Green sli-i-i-i-me!”
The Japanese version (Gamma 3: Operation Outer Space) eliminates the subplot and runs only 77-minutes; Toei’s Region 2 disc is reviewed at DVD Talk, which mentions Fukasaku’s claim of a Vietnam allegory (no wonder he had no use for the sexual rivalry). This remastered, no-frills, made-on-demand disc from Warner Archives is the strictly the U.S. release, letterboxed and looking fine.
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// Notes from the Road
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