August 17, 2011

Queen of Outer Space

Along with the end of the school year, June offered drive-in trash cinema on TCM. Introducing crap like The Giant Claw, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Mars Needs Women was clearly a strain on Our Host Robert Osborne, but some flicks he clearly relished. Queen of Outer Space was one of them and, i've got to say, it's made a believer out of me.


It has Zsa Zsa Gabor. And crappy special effects. And ridiculous dialogue. And strangely fabulous outfits. And terrible acting. And lame monsters. And Zsa Zsa Gabor. Eric and i did some furious texting during the film, some of which i am passing on here, for his comments are too good not to share and i would never dream of stealing material from Mr. Diva.

So, here we go. These three fellows are going into space. They wanted to go to Mars, but they have to give this scientist cat in the brown pajamas a ride to the space station. Bitching and moaning ensues. Note the Star Trek logo in the right-side background. Note the 70's phones. Note the costumes hijacked from Forbidden Planet.


"But, Larry, spaceships are dangerous! What if you blew up or something?"
Hey, it's Sinatra/Welles playmate and James Ellroy fetish object Joi Lansing! Nice to see her here. But why is she wearing an evening gown made of lettuce and gloves from the "Razzle Dazzle" number of a touring company of Chicago?
Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joi Lansing actually co-starred in another film. Touch of Evil. Oh how the not particularly mighty have fallen...


So, off we go into space, with stock footage and Joi Lansing blowing kisses the whole way.
Mr. Diva: Kudos to the set decorator. That is the smoothest aluminum foil wallpaper i've ever seen.
What i want to know is why the scientist is lying down? And why is he strapped in bed like Christopher Crawford?

So before our heroes -- and i use that word tenuously, because these guys are kinda douchey -- arive at the space station, a cartoon line seems to attack their cartoon space station and blow up some kind of plastic model under a red lightbulb. Zoinks!
Mr. Diva: Like the space station built by dudes is a vadge and the lasers fired by the women of Planet Player are sperm?
Oh. So i wasn't the only one who immediately thought that. Good.
Mr. Diva: No. John and I said it simultaneously. Then Little Mildred shushed us.


Mr. Diva: Isn't this the one where Spock gets attacked by a flying Stilton cheese sandwich and a redshirt dies?
Why are they all carrying yoga mats? First, if i could take one thing with me while exploring an unknown planet that would not be it. Two, these are not yoga type of guys. I bet they've never even been to Park Slope.


Ladies and gentlemen, the Mandrell Sisters!
Finally, the Venusian milita and their cool little dresses and their groovy plastic shoes and metallic leather holsters show up and arrest these assholes. I am telling you, if Alexander McQueen had ever seen this film, that would've been a collection right there. Keep that in mind as we watch further...


And so they are whisked off to the capital city of Venus. Or i assume that's what's happening while we look at this leftover Arabian Nights backdrop. If you took all of the stock footage out of this film, it'd be a good 15 minutes shorter...


The running of the estrogen gauntlet doesn't involve any vintage NYPD-style ultraviolence, but i'll settle for ogling that fab turquoise sparkle wall finish and the groovy frocks. Dig the neckline on the chick on the left.


Ah, the Queen of Outer Space. Or at least of Venus. It's nice that the Venusians are such a classless society that even their monarch isn't afraid to get down with the glitter and pipe cleaners on planetwide craft night. Perhaps Etsy is the fourth largest business on Venus. Would make sense.
Anyway, the Queen thinks the Earthlings have come to destroy her planet. They say that's not true, but she's sticking with her thesis.


If Zsa Zsa Gabor is their greatest scientific mind, this planet is doomed. She sets aside her beakers of colored water and stops fiddling around with her plant to "go see if they can be trusted." The douchebags. Are they trustworthy?
Also, i believe that Anne Francis wore the dress on the right in Forbidden Planet. I guess we know where they money they saved by not having a decent script or special effects that might fool a toddler wasn't wasted in the costume department either.


"Why don't you girls knock off all this Gestapo stuff and try to be a little friendly?"
Yep. He just said that. The condescending idot comments are only really beginning. I guess i shouldn't have been calling them douchebags until i got everyone caught up to the fact that they were.
Mr. Diva: Are you joining me in hoping these jerks wind up castrated?
I always wear intergalactic couture when i cut off balls.
Mr. Diva: And eyeliner.
Anyway, the Queen still thinks they're going to invade, so she's going to torture them until the confess to the plot that exists only in her mind. In other words, she's following the Bush/Cheney military policy. Go, go Gitmo!


So, the scientist and the Fake Leslie Neilsen speculate on whether it was the ladies of Venus who operated that laser that took them out. Which provokes this reponse from Douchey and Dopey...
"How could a bunch of women invent a gizmo like that?"
"And even if they invented it, how could they aim it? You know how women drivers are."
Yes. They just said that. See: I told you they were douchebags! Seriously, these women blew up your space station, fucked up your rocket and have you locked up and awaiting torture and you're still talking smack about them? Okay, maybe the comfortable-if-minimalist mid-centry decor of your cell seems a little soft but, still, don't push it.


And here comes Zsa Zsa in an evening gown bearing cocktails. You can tell this is a planet ruled by women because the drinks match her dress. She offers to help the douchebags escape, even as one leers at her and calls her "baby." Seriously, i'd be all, "Go ahead, see how your chauvinist ass feels after a few hours of waterboarding."

Anyway, Zsa Zsa provides some exposition (men had a war with another planet, blah blah,vast destruction, blah blah, the Queen of Outer Space led a revolt, blah blah, men dead or in prison, blah blah, Queen of Outer Space wants to destroy the Earth now since she thinks it's a threat, blah blah) until the queen sends some minions to round up Fake Lloyd Bridges and bring him to her quarters. As Scientist says, "You know there's a certain irony in the fact that our lives and the lives of everyone on Earth may depend on Captain Fake Lex Barker's sex appeal."
Said quarters are, decorated quite stylishly in the Hollywood regency manner. Let's take a moment to appreciate before we get back to the torn scrap of cocktail napkin that constitutes a plot....




So, anyway, he comes on to her, she comes on back. Then she ups the fliratious ante by showing off the Beta Disintegrator! Her planet-destroying machine, or at least that's what she says the big sparkly box with chicks in miniskirts wandering around it is. Apparently it destroyed the space station.


Yes, the Beta Disintegrator! is impressive indeed. You know what's even more impressive? The gold-plated flatscreen she uses to show it to Fake Guy Madison.


Also, when you have armed guards bring someone to your room, you can't complain that they came unwillingly. Anyway, blah blah, full of hate, blah blah, you need a man's love, blah blah, let me see your face -- WHOA!


... and so did I until I found Proactive!
Anyway, yeah, radiation burns, blah blah, caused by men and their wars, blah blah, you must pay, blah blah...

She has him hauled back to the game room or wherever it is they're staying. Then two more chicks come in and bring them to the lab, where Zsa Zsa awaits...


You know, maybe pushing the "you get to wear evening gowns to work" angle would help get more little girls interested in science. Also, what the hell kind of science is she doing in there, with her leaves and sponges and colored water? Please don't tell me that the most advanced scientist on the planet of women is a cosmetologist.

So, as they make good their escape, let's review our main characters


Douchey & Horny


Bashful & Dopey


Zsa Zsa Gabor and two motherfuckers who better not get anywhere near her goddamn key light.


So, after being chased around by armed miniskirts, the ladies and their assholes flee into a cave. No, this still did not just catch Zsa Zsa posing like she's at a Palm Springs cocktail party and Rubirosa is on the prowl: She does the whole film like this. Also, note the streaks of spray paint on the walls. That's supposed to be "gold." Because all alien planets are always made of gold or diamonds or iPods or whatever. Also, note that the douchey-est of the douchebags is not depicted. And you're thinking, "Gee, i hope something shitty happened to him, like a zombie bit him or a spider ate him or a dragon burned him or that big angry redhead worked him over but good..."





So, he lives. And learns nothing from his near-death experience. Everyone hangs out in the cave some more, despite it being the home of giant rubber attack spiders. We are treated to pillow talk between Zsa Zsa and Fake Jeff Chandler during which she points out that "I zink if a girl vants a man, she zhould tell him zo." I'm not sure if she's laying down the Venusian credo, but it sounds suspiciously like the philosophy of a woman who has been married nine times. A woman like Zsa Zsa Gabor. And the lovebirds continue...
"You're very beautiful."
"I'm glad you noticed. It took you zuch a long time." Ah, so i'll see you your misogynistic douchebag and raise you my narcissitc bitch. I think these crazy kids may have a future together after all.

What? No trim for the doctor? Or are we supposed to ascertain that he'd rather they'd landed on Mars...

Anyway, the miniskirts finally catch up with them, the ladies decide to pretend they've captured the assholes are are going to turn them over to the Queen of Outer Space. It finally dawns on me the the Queen of Outer Space has been doing a big ol' scenery-chomping Norma Desmond impersonation this whole time...


Except that even i have to admit that "We had faces then!" is not quite as intimidating as "I'm going to allow myself the exquisite pleasure of watching you while I obliterate the Earth. Then you'll be executed."


Although breaking into hysterical, repentant sobs on your satin sheets just so you can distract the fools while you grab the firearm hidden underneath a silken pillow is very Sunset Boulevard...
But, of course, the Queen of Outer Space is overpowered and Zsa Zsa steals her mask in order to impersonate her in order to turn off the Beta Disintegrator! But, before that can happen, the troops still loyal to the Queen of Outer Space find her behind the small paper screen where she has been inadequately hidden... blah blah, i'm going to destory the Earth, blah blah, you're all gonna watch, blah blah....

... but first...




... yeah, not even the ones on her own team thought that was cool. You know what, though, upon surveying these last three images, i finally figured out what they spent the budget on. This flick has more sequins and glitter per square inch than a Liberace biopic. The costumes, the walls, the curtains, the furniture, the burn victim masks -- all encrusted with sparkle. I guess that accounts for a few hundred bucks, anyway.... Regardless, on to the Beta Disintegrator!


Work the runway, ladies. Work it! Show me fierce! I'm telling you, Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2012.


"One touch of a tiny red button and Earth will become a wasteland!"


"It'll be destroyed in a matter of seconds! Watch it!"


Nope, still there.


Now we hear a funny noise and begin looking around for IT.


I think they're off today. Actually i think you sent the IT guy to that prison planet you put all of the men on. During the blah blah part.


In the meantime, the Venusians loyal to Zsa Zsa have gathered at the doorway. Apparently in the Rebel forces, you can choose your own outfit and are not restricted to the solid color minidresses of the Royalists. I mean, it still has to be a minidress (only Zsa Zsa may wear evening gowns; only the Queen may wear metallic toreador pants). Still, being able to have options like sequins or color-blocking or a scalloped hem would certainly help recruit me for the side of liberty.... Anyway, as the Queen looks frantically for a techie or a fire extinguisher, the Rebels attack the Royalists. And that means... GIRLFIGHT!



In the meantime, the Queen tries to save her machine, fails, perishes in a hail of sequins, glitter and cake-topper sparklers.



So, after all that, we return to the throne room to find that Zsa Zsa has donned the Imperial lame. (I actually really like Bashful's black minidress with hint of silver sparkle and Angry Redhead's boho draped mini. Those are wearable....) We wait eagerly for her to pronounce something like , "Ah, ze foolish, foolish men. You have helped me deestroy ze Queen and now I am Queen. Zee broken machine waz just a trick. Now, ve vill deestroy ze Earth! HA HA HA HA!"
But, no, Zsa Zsa is benevolent and merciful and so, so sad that the menfolk have to return to Earth.


But then Earth calls on the skype and says the guys have another year to dawdle around while Earth sends a shuttle. Joy!


Joy also in the many embellished neckline styles available in the new Gabor regime!


I guess old dick is better than no dick.

And that's our film. For those of you who sense a certain chauvinism in the film, let me remind you that it was the fifties. And also perhaps the backstory is in order here. Legendary producer Walter Wanger made films such as Cleopatra, Joan of Arc and I Want to Live! He married movie star Joan Bennett (of Little Women, Scarlet Street and Father of the Bride) Bennet had an affair with agent Jennings Lang. Wanger shot Lang in the groin. After Wanger got out of prison (not a long sentence; he was a Hollywood producer after all), he could only get work with lowball outfits such as Allied Artists. Wanger brought them a story by Ben Hecht (of His Girl Friday, The Front Page and Scarface) about an all-female planet. Several years passed, Wanger and Hecht dropped off of the project to be replaced by people known more for their work with the Bowery Boys and the Three Stooges. Finally, after this convoluted history of violence, betrayal and failure, Queen of Outer Space was made!

But that's just backstory. What do you really need to know about Queen of Outer Space? Just this...





Posted by lissa at August 17, 2011 09:19 PM