Wednesday, July 10, 2013


While I was looking for a Space: 1999-themed photo for my previous entry (here) I found a frame-capture from the episode "The Last Enemy" which had potential for a posting all its own...

I am a fan of 1960s Italian science fiction films, especially and specifically Mario Bava's 1965 terror-in-space flick Terrore nello spazio (released in the U.S. as Planet of the Vampires). For some time now I've been meaning to do a posting on this film. Soon.

When I found the picture, affixed above, I thought of Terrore. I watched the Space: 1999 episode "The Last Enemy" a few days ago and dug the leather-bound female space warriors, in particular actress Caroline Mortimer in her space motorcycle gear outfit (helmet included). Combined with the set-styling, "Dione" in her bad-girl attire might fool viewers into thinking that this image was from a 1960s, or 1970s, Italian space opera. Which is why, for as bad as "The Last Enemy" is (in so many ways), it's almost enjoyable to watch.


Jon said...

There is a sub-genre of SF that might be called "hot chicks with guns". (These chicks have particularly big guns -- poor Koenig must be suffering from projecile envy.) It's interesting that at this time, very few actresses had a coherent way to approach a role like this, and few writers created them anyway. The idea of a species where the females are typically the aggressors is something that can be explored in a number of ways, but it always seems to get sexualized, while the makeup and costume departments sabotage the whole idea in the process (soldiers on a combat mission wearing makeup?). TNG tried this in an early ep and it failed as well; the actresses could only swagger around and pretend to be tough. The approach in "The New Avengers" set the tone for decades: Joanna Lumley laid down the Lethal Waif style that endured right up to modern films like "Serenity".

Barry Smight said...

I agree... although I'll cut them some slack on the "makeup" point.

I watched that ST:TNG episode again last year ("Angel One"?) and you are correct about the actresses having nothing to work with.

Yes, Joanna Lumley! She was very good as "Purdey" in The New Avengers. (And she was real perdy.) I was there in front of the Zenith colour tube when CTV premiered the series here in Canada; of special interest were the six episodes shot here in Toronto, Canada.

Thanks for your comment!

Greg Woods said...

How about 70s Italian Space operas, particularly the ones by Alfonso Brescia, made in the wake of Star Wars? (Not to suggest they ripped off the story, but because that film made sci-fi profitable again) Cosmos War of th Planets, War of the Robots, Star Odyssey, etc.,

Barry Smight said...

Absolutely! That's why I slipped-in "and 1970s" towards the end. I kept the theme as "1960s" mainly because Space: 1999 was made in the mid-seventies. It's that "European Thing". Wonderful.

Speaking of "70s Italian Space Operas", let's not forget Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione; better known to English-speaking audiences as Starcrash... or The Adventures of Stella Star, which is the name I knew it as when Starlog Magazine did a pre-release feature story on the film and its director "Lewis Coates" (Luigi Cozzi).

Thanks for your comment!