By the mid 1960s, AIP had all but exhausted the Poe cycle — well they probably would've continued the series, but Roger Corman wanted to direct different types of films like THE WILD ANGELS (1966). Attempting to fittingly utilize the talents of Vincent Price, AIP's greatest star attraction and contact player, he was now being thrown into silly send-ups such as DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE and its sequel, DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS, which now make their separate Blu-ray debuts courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
Enter Dr. Goldfoot (Price, who looks like he’s having a ton of fun here), an eccentric "mad scientist" wearing a shiny gold jacket and gold pixie shoes. Goldfoot has created an army of gold bikini-clad female robots who are programmed to seek out wealthy men all over the world and "charm" them into signing over their assets. Fresh from AIP's popular "beach" series, Frankie Avalon is Craig Gamble, an agent with SIC (Special Intelligence Command), a cut-rate investigative unit run by his hardheaded (and baldheaded) uncle (Fred Clark, CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB). Sexy brickhouse Diane (THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI star Susan Hart, soon to be the wife of AIP co-head James Nicholson) is an alluring robot that easily gets the attention of Gamble, but it turns out that she was supposed to go after rich playboy Todd Armstrong (Dwayne Hickman, who played a similar role in HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI the same year). It seems that Goldfoot's clumsy assistant Igor (Jack Mullaney, SPINOUT) goofed and now Diane is sent after Armstrong.
In a scene that had my hormones boiling watching this as an adolescent on Channel 7's (WABC-TV, New York) “4:30 Movie”, Diane lifts the back of her raincoat to reveal her bikini-bottomed rump and long legs, causing Armstrong to crash his car. He immediately falls in love with Diane and marries her, but Gamble intervenes, convincing the new groom that he married a robot and that she's out to swindle his fortune. When her detached hand proves to be enough evidence, Gamble and Armstrong team up to match wits with the evil Dr. Goldfoot at his medieval castle (equipped with a 1960s-style high tech lab), giving us a glimpse at a lot of leftover sets and props from other AIP horror movies, and Price gets to deliciously send up the climactic torture sequence from THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. The film ends up with a zany automobile chase through the streets of San Francisco.
The title song was performed by the biggest girl group of the 1960s, The Supremes, but it WASN'T one of Diana Ross and company's many hits of '65. The great clay-animated titles were done by Art Clokey, the man behind "Gumby" and "Davey and Goliath," and there are cameos by Annette Funicello, Deborah Walley, Aron Kincaid and Harvey Lembeck (as Eric Von Zipper again). Veteran screenwriter Elwood Ullman co-wrote the screenplay, so fans of The Three Stooges and The Bowery Boys might enjoy the familiar sight gags and age-old slapstick, and even muster a chuckle or two. Although Ullman and Robert Kaufmann were credited with the screenplay, AIP’s “third man”, Louis M. “Deke” Heyward also had a hand in the writing, but was uncredited. It’s no doubt that when AIP co-head Nicholson concocted the title for this, he had the recent James Bond smash GOLDFINGER in mind, as well as the notion that any title with the word “bikini” in it (especially from AIP) would do well at drive-ins across the nation. AIP’s house composer, Les Baxter, does the expectedly jovial score, and he would do the same for the American version of the sequel.
GOLDFOOT was enough of a success for AIP to warrant a sequel, so producer Heyward (who this time got screenwriting credit along with Kaufmann) went to Italy, teamed up with co-producer Fulvio Lucisano and director Mario Bava for DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS, originally conceived as “Dr. Goldfoot and the Sex Bombs” (or possibly “Dr. Goldfoot and the Love Bomb”). One of the genre’s best-loved filmmakers, Bava had an association with AIP going back to their 1961 American release of his masterpiece THE MASK OF SATAN (as BLACK SUNDAY), which did well enough for the company to be actively involved in the American versions of BLACK SABBATH, THE EVIL EYE and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. Having the maestro helm the madcap GOLDFOOT sequel did no favors to his career, though AIP was able to produce the film less expensively than the first one (and in Bava’s favor, this one at least looked like it cost just as much as BIKINI MACHINE, which reportedly had a budget of $1 million — a lot for a 1965 AIP drive-in flick).
Dr. Goldfoot (Price, reprising his role) is alive and well and incognito, and he’s up to no good in Rome. Although he no longer has Igor by his side, he’s assisted by a beautiful Chinese lady (Moana Tahi) and an even larger army of shapely female robots garbed in golden one-piece and two-piece bathing attire. Goldfoot plans to rule the world by having his fembots kiss NATO generals, as the touch of their soft lips causes a deadly explosion. Flying in from New York, SIC agent Bill Dexter (Fabian, THUNDER ALLEY) is on a mission to thwart Goldfoot with the help of a duo of bumbling local agents Ciccio (Ciccio Ingrassia) and Franco (Franco Franchi). Dexter romances the lovely Rosanna (Laura Antonelli, A MAN CALLED SLEDGE), who works with Colonel Benson (Francesco Mule), but when Goldfoot makes a robot duplicate of her, the young American almost gets blown up by a girl bomb himself. Goldfoot’s ultimate plan is to start World War III by dropping a nuclear bomb on Russia and making it look like the United States is responsible.
DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS is considered by many to be Bava’s worst film, but if you take it for what it is, there's still some merit in its harmless, madcap 1960s era appeal (it’s pretty much the only Bava film you’ll have to keep reminding yourself that he directed it while viewing it). Reportedly, Bava was having marital problems at the time (as well as a mistress) and he’s obviously going through the motions here, with none of his usual visual flair on display. Although Bava proved to be apt at the trendy super-villain espionage of DANGER: DIABOLIK, he’s just wasn’t the right director for an inferior James Bond spoof (especially one with a lot of absurd sped up camera work) like GOLD BOMBS, and it’s a shame Price didn’t get to make a proper gothic horror piece with the director (similar to what Karloff achieved in BLACK SABBATH). Price’s Goldfoot is still comical, but played a bit more sinister here, looking into the camera to make comments about his next bit of business and smirking it up as only the actor could (and he still seems like he’s having some fun with the role, even if he wasn't). Price gets to play two roles (the other being a look-alike general), and Goldfoot at one point impersonates a habit-wearing mother superior of a girls school, desperately hiding his facial hair with a black veil.
The Italian version of the film (which doesn’t feature the Les Baxter score) is different in that the comedy team of Ciccio and Franco are given much more screen time, while the American version has several bits not in the Italian variant, including the AIP title sequence which includes Price narrating over (mostly) scenes from the previous film. And it’s a good thing, because the Titra-dubbed antics of Ciccio and Franco (one tall, one short and both homely) don’t translate well: they were touted as the Abbott and Costello of Italy, but they seem more like a third-rate Allen and Rossi. Fabian, who was good in other AIP films, seems lost here (possibly since he’s playing off actors, most of which didn’t understand English), and doesn’t hold up his end as well as the chummy team of Avalon and Hickman in the previous film. Like Susan Hart from BIKINI MACHINE, Laura Antonelli is absolutely stunning, and when her robot clone does a sexy dance in blue lingerie, it’s enough to cause a champagne bottle to blow its cork. Co-producer Heyward has a cameo as a general, and Bava himself can be seen as an angry man in a playground who dies and becomes a heavenly angel.
MGM first released DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE as a single “Midnite Movies” release back in 2001 in a widescreen, non-anamorphic transfer. More recently, TGG Direct licensed both GOLDFOOT films as a double feature DVD using new anamorphic transfers. Now Kino Lorber presents both films on separate Blu-ray releases, naturally looking better than ever. DR. GOLDFOOT is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p HD, and it’s a great looking transfer with vivid and well saturated colors. Clarity and contrast are quite nice, and the textures of the detail are also impressive. Even when optical effects and process photography are on display, the image still maintains a strong appearance, with fleshtones looking natural, grain structure attractive and black levels being solid. The English DTS-HD Master Audio mono track has nice range in its presentation of the dialogue and music, with the sound effects especially being distinct. DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS looks just as good, if not better than the original film, as it’s presented in its original hard-matted 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p HD. The Technicolor replication shines through with high marks here, as colors are rich and nicely saturated. Only the opening credits (which feature shots from the first film) and several stock footage shots are noticeably inferior, as it’s a well detailed and beautifully organic looking transfer with rich textures and pleasant grain structure. Sharpness and clarity are generally very good, and the English DTS-HD Master Audio mono track has good fidelity, with all the post-synced dialogue being clear, and sound effects and music also coming through nicely in the mix. There are no subtitle options for either title.
A commentary for DR. GOLDFOOT is included featuring film historian David Del Valle and independent filmmaker David DeCoteau (NIGHTMARE SISTERS). They mention how the spy films of the day (especially GOLDFINGER) influenced the film, and also that the vibe of the film is very much a product of its time, and how it attempted to hone in on the success of the Poe, Beach Party and James Bond genres. Topics here include how AIP would hire veteran actors and comedians who weren’t getting much work at the time to be in these types of films, that the chase through streets of San Francisco took 30 days to shoot and that GOLDFOOT was originally intended to be a musical (the songs showed up in a tie-in TV variety special called "The Wild World of Dr. Goldfoot"). The still gallery focuses on publicity stills of the bikini-clad actresses who played the robots (including “Land of the Giants” star Deanna Lund), and trailers for both GOLDFOOT films and HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS are also included. Del Valle and DeCoteau are back for a commentary on the GIRL BOMBS Blu-ray. It’s mentioned that this is the more elaborate of the two GOLDFOOT movies, and even though it’s considered Bava’s worst film, it’s his most money-making one, at least in Italy. Since this film is more topical than the first one, there’s much more engaging stuff for the two to discuss here, including that Bava was going through personal problems when he made it, that Price had a bad experience while making it (unlike Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee who had good experiences with the director) and that the film ended AIP’s co-productions in Italy (Bava would have nothing to do with the company until years later when they released his BARON BLOOD in 1972). Also included is a still gallery, trailers for both GOLDFOOT films as well as the trailer for HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS and a “Trailers From Hell” segment for BLACK SABBATH with Mick Garris. (George R. Reis)
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