There is something trance-like about the sci-fi opuses of the late Al Bradley (aka Alfonso Brescia): I remember the first time I saw WAR OF THE PLANETS on Late Night TV (in the 7th Grade) and thinking I had died and gone to Bad-Italian-Sci-Fi Heaven (I even recorded the film on VHS in order to watch it again). When I try to watch the movie now (and I find myself doing it, occasionally), I find myself strangely hypnotized by the sheer inaneness that Bradley’s cinematic universe contains (I should also note that I primarily put WAR OF THE PLANETS on as a sleep aid).
Unfortunately, Bradley also delved into the skin flick genre creating several more atrocities in the process (THE LABYRINTH OF SEX should serve as a good example for most of you)…but take my word for it when I say that neither the cheesiness of his science fiction films or the monotony of one of his softcore features have prepared you for Al Bradley’s THE BEAST IN SPACE.
I really don’t know how to describe this movie…and every time I even attempt to explain what a truly bizarre oddity THE BEAST IN SPACE is, my brain simple shuts off. So instead, let’s just go through the list of suspects: the story bears more of a resemblance to Walerian Borowczyk’s THE BEAST…but this movie takes place (are you ready for this?) in space! The rip-off title, however, is only one of the many mind-boggling chunks of THE BEAST IN SPACE that the viewer is subjected to: note that the sets, props, and costumes were all taken from Al’s previous sci-fi mess-terpieces; the softcore sex scenes are about as exciting as watching “THE MUPPETS”; and the music (which is possibly recycled from Al’s sci-fi films) all but dares you to stay awake.
Even the actors here are recycled: Sirpa Lane, the ill-fated actress from THE BEAST stars as a young lieutenant haunted by a recurring nightmare that’s assigned under Bradley regular Vassili Karis. Together, along with porn star Marina Hedman and the lovely Maria D'Alessandro (who apparently never worked after this feature…which isn’t surprising considering the feature), the crew travels to the planet Lorigon in the search of Antalium, a rare ore. Venantino Venantini manages to show up as an older Han Solo-like character (named Juan Cardosa) and Claudio Undari takes on the galactic Beast role.
Yes, it’s bad…but, depending on your taste, it’s a good kind of bad…and check out Undari’s blond-haired robotic henchmen: it’s like a group of Edgar Winter clones playing Twiki from “BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY”!
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the sleazy folks at Severin Films, there are two versions of THE BEAST IN SPACE available: an Unrated Version (which clocks in at 92 minutes) and a XXX Version (92 minutes) which features some hardcore sex footage (the director of which is unknown) featuring an unknown man and woman (who are suppose to represent several different characters!). Each print has it’s own history, too: the Unrated Version has been fully restored from an original film lab negative purchased at a Rome bankruptcy auction (I need to go to one of these auctions!) and the XXX Version was unearthed in the basement of a condemned porno theater outside Bologna (I need to scavenge through old movie houses, too)!
The print on the XXX Version (the one I saw) is decent-looking enough: a few specks here, a little grain there…overall, it’s better than you would probably expect it to look. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio (anamorphically enhanced) and the Italian mono stereo sound is very clear (although I have no idea what language the actors were originally speaking - perhaps the hardcore version was re-dubbed to make it more “adult”). There are optional English subtitles.
Both versions of THE BEAST IN SPACE have their own Bonus Features: the Unrated Version contains a featurette with actor Venantino Venantini and the XXX Version offers up a few deleted scenes (mostly from the newer hardcore footage - including the Beast’s Climax!) and a trailer. Personally, I’d probably opt for the Unrated Version, but Euro Trash completists will no doubt want both versions. Either way, THE BEAST IN SPACE is a must-see for fans of bizarre cinema. (Adam Becvar aka Luigi Bastardo: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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