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You really can't appreciate Planet of Prehistoric Women (PoPW) if you
don't know its roots. As you will have read in other reviews, much of
PoPW is made out recycled footage from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet
(VPP). VPP itself is the English dubbed version of the 1962 Soviet film
"Planeta Bur" (Planet of Storms). I managed to get copies of all three
and watch them in chronological order. As a fan of 50s and 60s sci-fi,
it was a great experience.
A foundational "fact" which many overlook is that a very early theory about the solar system presumed that it formed from the outside in. The further planets were older in their "evolution" than the inner ones. Hence, Mars is often depicted as an older "dying" world, with an ancient civilization which seeks escape (usually to earth). Venus, in that vein of thinking, was younger than earth, less developed. Hence the idea that you'd find dinosaurs, volcanoes and primitive beings (the lizard men, not the blonds). The woman were theorized to be the feral remnant of failed colony of an advanced people who came to Venus from "out there..."
First off, the primary donor film, Planeta Bur (I had an English subtitled version) is much more of a "A" grade sci-fi film. Given that it was produced in 1962, it was a pretty strong effort. Much more akin to Forbidden Planet than Plan 9. The sets and effects are a huge step up from the B-grade stuff of the late 50s, early 60s. The rocket interiors, the seriously industrial robot, and the very cool flying car, were not low budget products.
Since the premise of PoPW is that it's a flash back, reuse of the Planeta Bur (PB) footage works. In fact, the premise of PoPW is that it's a sort of parallel story to that of PB (and by extension, VPP). In PB the cosmonauts only hear the mysterious female voice singing -- except for the little sculpture of a woman's face that Alexes finds at the last. PoPW explores that other side of the story.
Interspersed with the original PB footage (still using its English dubbing via VPP version), are new clips of the women we never see in PB. Now, I grant you they're an obvious sop to the teenage boy movie goer. They're all 20-something beautiful blonds. But, look past that. They represent the remnant of the lost civilization which the cosmonauts in PB hypothesized about. The blonds eating raw fish and worshiping a pterodactyl statue peg them as primitives -- even if remarkably well groomed.
The women in PoPW are cast as the cause of some of the cosmonaut's disaster situations: the volcano, the flash flood, which were unexplained in PB.
What continues to be left unexplored is the source of the mysterious singing voice. In PB and the English remake VPP, the mystery voice saves the cosmonauts, giving warning cries to bring rescue from the tentacle plant, etc. The women in PoPW are cast as agents of mischief, so are not that protectress (who is seen at the end of PB reflected in a rocky pool).
A curious feature of PoPW is that it splices in even more footage from yet another Soviet sci- fi film than VPP did. The rockets are completely different, but clearly still Soviet. The big red star on the tail fin is hard to miss. I've not located this other old film, but it looks cool too.
Some details within PoPW make it interesting. One is "Marsha". In PB, there was a female cosmonaut named Masha. She stayed in orbit and was the love interest of the square faced cosmonaut. Hers was a minor foil role. In VPP, she was replaced altogether (not simply dubbed) with new footage of Faith Domergue acting out the exact same role. Faith's name, along with Basil Rathbone's, had more marquee power. However, in PoPW, even Faith's footage is dropped. Instead, we're told (only once) that "Marsha" is a nickname for mission control. This is to explain the cosmonauts often calling to "Marsha" for information, etc. A bit lame.
One scene in PoPW makes no sense w/o knowledge of the prior films. When the cosmonauts think they've lost contact with earth, the square-faced cosmonaut cries out mournfully, "Marsha, dearest Marsha..." Obviously a bizarre response for not hearing from mission control, but not if you've seen PB. Just a little of the original leaking through.
Watch PoPW with an open mind. If you can, watch PB first, then VPP, then PoPW. Yes, it's a low-budget movie that (like many B-films) used prior footage to pad itself out. Here, however, instead of stock military footage, Corman used obscure Soviet A film footage. That keeps PoPW above the truly banal B films of the 60s.
I saw this movie as a kid, around 1972 or so, and spent years trying to see it again. Yes, I know, I need a life. I finally found it on DVD in one of those 50 sci-fi movies for $20. The movie itself is pretty bad, but if one enjoys 'bad' sci-fi, then this one is perfect. I still can't figure out how they got their 'space-car' to float around like it did. It looked pretty real, as did a Brontosaurus, but the Pterydactyl looked very cheesy, like it was made by a bunch of 7th graders. Anyway, I watched "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet", then I watched "Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women" back to back. There must have been a gun to my head, I know. The movies use the exact same dubbed Russian "Planet of Storms" footage, but each movie spliced in their own additional footage, and the results produce 2 similar, but different story lines. "Prehistoric Planet" has Basil Rathbone in separate footage, as well as Faith Domergue in her own footage-they are in different space stations.....making for a clumsy (but enjoyable) plot involving rescuing the men on Venus. The robot seems to have a bigger role in this movie, although it is used to some effect in the other. "Prehistoric Women" has Peter Bogdanovich's voice-over narration, and the spliced-in women in clam shell bathing suits (Mamie Van Doren is the leader), who communicate telepathically. I found this one to be much more interesting of the two. The Earth men and Venus women seemed destined to meet each other, they look for each other most of the movie, but alas because it is separate footage, they never do! A somewhat surprise ending makes the movie that more interesting. I do have to comment on the eerie female singing/crying throughout the movies, made it pretty haunting. Also, some of the noises coming from the console of the space-ships sounds exactly like those heard on the original Star Trek TV show. Well, I probably spent more time talking about this movie than the production crew who actually shot the movie!
"Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" concerns a party of cosmonauts attempting to rescue another group on Venus. Along the way they encounter prehistoric monsters and other perils, and there is an intelligent robot. This part of the film is really an excellently made Russian sci-fi film called "Storm Planet", while the other part concerns a band of telepathic Venusian cave girls led by Mamie Van Doren, who worship a pterosaur named Tera and watch the struggles of the cosmonauts from afar; this other part was spliced in by P. Bogdonovitch (at R. Corman's behest? I'm not sure), and is ridiculous camp. I've seen two versions of this film (not including the Russian original), one without the Van Doren sequences. Although it is regarded as a psychotronic/cult/camp type of film, the classiness of the original manages to come through most of it, and the pacing benefits from the exclusion of a stereotypically sexist subplot involving a female crewmember's misplaced patriotic zeal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What do you get when you take 2 Russian sci-fi films and edit in scenes
of beautiful blond hotties with clam shells on their breasts? You get
this confusing effort that is really just a fledgling director's
opportunity to get his foot into the door as a filmmaker from the
always generous Roger Corman. Story involves an Earth spaceship that
heads to Venus on a mission but when they arrive things go wrong and
they are forced to crash land. Astronauts Alfred Kerns (Georgi Tejkh)
and Howard Sherman (Yuri Sarantsev) along with their reliable robot
John1 start to check out and explore this strange planet and discover
that it's inhabited by hopping lizard creatures, brontosauruses,
man-eating plants, and flying reptiles.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Earth sends another ship to Venus to find the two astronauts after radio contact is broken and when they arrive they find what may be proof of some sort of a civilization. This mission is headed by Andre Freneau (Gennadi Vernov), William Lockhart (Vladimir Yemelyanov), and Hans Walters (Georgi Zhzhyonov) and while they search for their comrade's they anger 7 telepathic blond sirens! The sirens are headed by Moana (Mamie Van Doren) and she informs her group (telepathically) that they must seek revenge on those responsible for killing their god Ptera which is a pterodactyl shot down by the astronauts.
The director of this film is credited as Derek Thomas but that's just an alias for Peter Bogdanovich who was given the chance to do something with two Russian science fiction films by filming some added footage. It appears that the only thing he managed to shoot were the scenes with Van Doren and the other lovelies as they either stared at each other on the rocks by the ocean (probably the southern California coast) or took a quick dip into the water. This is actually some sort of sequel to "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet" from 1965 which had Basil Rathbone in it but most of the footage is taken from "Planeta Bur" and "Nebo zovyot" and has some shoddy dubbing put in for the story in this current effort. Two things come to mind as I watched this and the first has to do with the monsters they encounter on Venus and the lizard creatures are nothing more than human sized Godzilla's and the way they strangely hopped around made me think that the actors inside those awkward suits had a difficult time moving about. The rest of the monsters look like something they would eventually use in "Land of the Lost" on Saturday mornings. Secondly, the sirens! Aah..yes! Mamie Van Doren and her group of platinum blonde's! My first reaction when seeing them for the first time is that they look like The Golddiggers from "The Dean Martin Show" especially with their bell bottom slacks. They all wear securely tightened clam shells for bra's and I mention securely tightened because I craned my neck looking for as much as a quick nip slip but alas...no such luck. What distinguishes them from anything mermaid like is the fact that they all wear shoes even in the scenes where they're swimming and diving underwater. Bogdanovich has spliced together a sloppy looking film but I do have to admit that a weird atmosphere was created and the use of the fog machine is a nice touch because this oddity does have a unique quality to it. Most will say that this is merely another bad science fiction film but I tend to disagree and consider this more of a curio that gets a mild recommendation from me.
In 1998, six months after the collision of a meteor and subsequent
explosion of a rocket sent to Venus, the team composed by the
astronauts Kern (Georg Tejkh) and Sherman (Yuri Sarantsev) with the
robot John (John Bix) is launched to explore Venus. They arrive in the
Space Station Texas for refueling but they have problems while landing
in Venus. Without communication, another rocket is launched with
Commander Brendan Lockhart (Vladimir Yemelyanov), Andre Ferneau (Robert
Chantal) and Hans Walter (Georgi Zhzhyonov) to rescue the first team
and explore the planet. They use a vehicle to seek Kern and Sherman,
but they are attacked by a flying reptile. They kill the animal without
knowing that it is worshiped and considered the God Terah by Venusians
women that use their powerful connection with nature to destroy the
invaders. Meanwhile John helps the two cosmonauts to survive in the
I have not the chance to see the original Russian movie "Planeta Bur" (1962), only the cheesy and silly "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet" (1965). In 1968, the now famous Peter Bogdanovich in his second work as director, used again the footages of the remake, entwined with new sequences with gorgeous actresses and released "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women". The story is not bad, in spite of having flaws with the reference to Marsha, and I found the IMDb Rating totally unfair. Unfortunately "Planeta Bur" has not been released in Brazil, but I expect to have the chance to see this movie one day. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Viagem ao Planeta das Mulheres Selvagens" ("Voyage to the Planet of the Wild Women")
In 1965 Roger Corman produced Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, and in
1967 he produced (uncredited) Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women
(VPPW). But the similarities do not end there. Both films are
essentially recycles of Planeta Burg, a great Soviet sci fi adventure
from the 1950s. Most of the footage from both films - and ALL of the
coherent and interesting footage - comes from the original Soviet film.
VPPW is Peter Bogdanovich's first directorial effort, and unlike some of his later films, it's entirely disposable.
It is not the first, nor the last, time that an American director essentially plagiarized a good foreign film, but it is among one of the worst examples of Ameicanization I have ever seen. Even compared to what was done to Gojira, La Femme Nikita, Wings of Desire and Open Your Eyes, this is close to an all-time low.
Like the previous Voyage to a Prehistoric planet, but less seamlessly, Bogdanovich simply took a little new footage and added it to the original film. The story is essentially an adventure set on the planet Venus, where two cosmonauts and a robot await rescue, and follows the cosmonauts and their rescue team through a series of harrowing adventures involving giant carnivorous plants, lizard men, and geological hazards. Planeta Burg also introduced a little mystery by showing some evidence that Venus may once have been inhabited by an intelligent species capable of producing works of art.
The most interesting aspect of Bogdanovich's retelling of this story is his exploration of this mystery. It seems that the last remnants of Venusian civilization are scantily clad telepathic women who worship, among other things, a Pteradactyl which their earthling visitors have murdered. These women have apparently figured out how to reproduce without men, and to produce cotton pants and hats for themselves out of Venus' barren wastelands, but are otherwise quite primitive. Remarkably, despite the fact that there do not appear to be any Venusian men, the gods the women worship are referred to as "him". You get the picture, yes?
The basic idea of examining the Venusian perspective on the events depicted in Planeta Burg was a good one. But this was, apparently, the only good idea involved in the design of this film.
This film is worth seeing if you ever felt compelled to see Mamie van Doren chewing on a freshly caught raw fish, or if you are a fan of Planeta Burg and just have to see how it has been butchered in this final act of cinematic violence. Otherwise, I can't recommend it.
The special effects are way below the quality of those which appear in the 1950s film, the added content is poorly acted, badly edited, and adds very little to the film.
Like many of the reviewers, I watched this after the "Prehistoric Planet" film. I was astonished that there were no changes to any of the previous footage, other than the Bogdanovich voice over and the disappearance of Faith Domergue (Marcia). What has been added is a set of blonde women who hold sway on Venus and worship a Pterodactyl. They have scallop shell bras and hip hugger pants with bell bottoms made of a sheer material. I do remember that Mamie Van Doren was really quite a good looking lady and these really are some attractive women. But they never really speak. They are telepathic. They are there to show that they actually caused much of what happened to the Astronauts in the previous movie. This had to be made for the drive-in crowd to neck and ignore, simply to fill space on a triple feature. It certainly wasn't worth much time and effort.
Probably one of the more haunting experiences and viewings as a child I remember because often it was aired at alternative times by it's previous venture, "Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet". I remember feeling confused as to the differences, but by far, "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" presents the better use of the original Russian footage. The closing scenes with the women surrounding their "new god" the lava-destroyed robot, "John", are simply eerie in contrast to the previous scenes from the 1962 Russian film. The voice-over dialog by Mamie Van Doren, while "hokey" in parts, sets the mood perfectly. To appreciate this film for what it is, one needs simply to view it ALONE...in the quiet dead of night. It gets under your skin and stays there. One of the more noteworthy and curious (in my opinion), albeit "lessor known" of Corman's "cut and paste" classics.
This film is so awful it's brilliant.
The film is actually a re-edit of a Soviet science fiction film with extra footage of young American girls. Very low budget. The two sets of actors never actually meet.
All the voices are dubbed on afterwards. This covers up the fact that the astronauts are speaking Russian. The "Prehistoric women" communicate through thought waves, so none of them have to talk and act at the same time! I watched this on Sumo TV in the UK. The version I saw still had all the cinema adds spliced in. The adverts for ice cream, popcorn and hot chocolate were still there. There was also an advert for CocaCola.
The whole thing looks like someone had filmed the thing from the stalls on an old Cine camera. Picture blurred and fuzzy, colour almost bleached away.
Unfortunately none of the US actors ever went on to do anything of any significance. The leading lady, Mamie Van Doren, seems to have built her reputation around being a former Hollywood starlet who was supposed to be the next Marylin Monroe and spent five years dating Howard Hughes, from the age of 15! Directed by Peter Bogdanovich (Famous director and also Dr. Elliot Kupferberg in The Sopranos TV series)
Any prospective actor/producer/director should see some of this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is one of those ultra
low-budget movies that's so bad it's good.
A party of astronauts head for Venus to rescue another party that's crash landed there. They are confronted by several dangers including Prehistoric monsters (more of which later), telepathic women who live on Venus and floods, landslides and a volcano. They rescue the others at the end and blast off back to Earth.
Now to those rather shoddy looking monsters which include a Brontosaurus, rubber T-Rexes (men in suits), a man-eating plant and, best of all, an ultra low-budget rubber Pterosaur, which is part Pteranodon/Pteradactyl/Rampharincus and this is the Venusian's women's god that is killed by the astronauts!
With a cast of unknowns, although Mamie Van Doren was in The Navy vs the Night Monsters.
This movie has to been to believed. Certainly for bad movie lovers.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
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