10 Bat@#$% Crazy Italian Sci-Fi Flicks

By Brian Heiler in Daily Lists, Movies
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 8:00 am
Italy is a land of incredible history and culture. Their contributions to the world of art are lauded the world over, including cinema. Especially cinema! Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone, Michelangelo Antonioni, Franco Zefferelli, Bernardo Bertolucci -- just a few of the Italian directors who have produced some of the finest movies ever made, and influenced cinema immeasurably.

Yet when it comes to science fiction films, Italy can't seem to quite get their act together. Instead of making art, they seem to try to make B-movies... and fail even at that modest goal. Maybe the problem is that Italian sci-fi films always seems to be inspired by/ripped-off wholesale from American flicks. Maybe it's because Italian sci-fi films have cardboard sets, impossibly cheap special effects and overall budgets that would make even Roger Corman shudder. Or maybe it's because Italians seemingly prefer their sci-fi flicks to make no apparent sense.

But when you add these things together-- the weird "homages," the lack of funds, the insanity --sometimes you still get movies that are remarkably entertaining, if only for how goddamned crazy they are. Here are 10 of the craziest.

10) Warriors of the Year 2072
Directed in 1983 by Lucio Fulci, Italy's godfather of gore, Warriors -- a.k.a. The New Gladiators -- is a quasi retelling of Rollerball with a little Road Warrior and a pinch of Blade Runner mixed in for good measure. The violence and gore is in no short supply which tends to make the whole thing more palatable. American actor Fred Williamson (who seemed to like life in Italy, or at least the cheap wine) and former Fantastic Voyage star Jared Martin are there to appeal to the international audience, which should be all you need to know about the movie's budget.

9) King of Kong Island
A mad scientist experiments on gorillas, turning them into mind controlled slaves;. Also apparently there's some soldiers and jeeps. This 1968 movie is famous for 1) not having a king, 2) not having any sort of a giant ape as the name "Kong" might imply, and 3) it takes place in Africa a continent, so no island either. It's also not very good, which might be evidenced by the dime-store gorilla costumes. This is the kind of movie a 10-year-old stays up all night to watch and ends up learning the true definition of disappointment.

8) Super Argo and the Faceless Giants
Super Argo, a super human wrestler/hobbyist crime fighter and his guru sidekick (they were mandatory from '67 to '69 -- thanks a lot, Beatles) combat an evil scientist who is kidnapping athletes and turning them into pasty, slow-moving robot slaves. Say what you will about the Super Argo series being somewhat cheap (which is absolutely true), they have one thing that current superhero films often don't -- a muscular lead actor that made Spandex look entirely convincing.

7) Cosmos: War of the Planets
1977's Cosmos: War of the Planets looks as if someone saw an episode of Space: 1999 and thought "I'd like to make a movie of that, except without all that fast-paced action and labyrinthine plotting. Also, I only have $5." And does it seem to anyone else like the crew is going to break into a space orgy after the asteroid narrowly misses their ship?

6) Wild, Wild Planet
The aptly titled Wild, Wild Planet is a mishmash of weird ideas colorfully wrapped in a warm blanket of completely laughable special effects. Made in 1965 and originally marketed as the "world's first space horror film" (which isn't even slightly true), it tells the tale of a mad scientist who plans to merge his body with a young heroine -- not in the fun way -- in order become some sort of interstellar Chaz Bono. Throw in creepy four-armed assassins, shrink rays, mini-skirted wearing femme fatales and a future full of vacuum tube computers, WWP becomes a movie that you actually shouldn't miss, if for all the wrong reasons.
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