["The Diafanoidi are Death"] Film (1966; vt I Diafanoidi Portano de Morte; vt The War of the Planets). Mercury Film International/Southern Cross Productions Directed by Antonio Margheriti credited as Anthony Dawson, starring Tony Russel, Lisa Gastoni, Franco Nero, Carol Guistini, Enzo Fiermonte, Linda Sini. Screenplay Renato Moretti and Ivan Reiner. 97 minutes. Colour.
On New Year's Eve, after Captain DuBois (Giustini) on Earth is overcome by strange green lights and gas, a celebration on Space Station Gamma 1 is interrupted by the ominous news that another space station, Delta 2, has somehow been attacked and is not responding to messages. When a Spaceship is sent to investigate, the crew members find that station residents have been paralysed by the same green lights, which then assail the investigators. Fearing that all Space Stations will be attacked, Gamma's Commander Mike Halstead (Russel) orders the evacuation of his station, but he stays behind with a few crewmates to confront the lights, which are driven away when Halstead discovers that they cannot penetrate "lead titanium". On Earth, DuBois, whose mind has been taken over by Aliens, tells authorities that all humans must agree to such control "for the good of the whole"; as a means of persuasion, he takes Halstead and several crewmates to a uranium mine on Mars which is where the aliens, who come from Andromeda, have been based since their previous host race became extinct. Horrified to find that the aliens are trying to take over more humans and are killing those who resist, Halstead and his men start fighting the controlled humans and manage to reach their Spaceship just as an armada from Earth arrives to completely destroy the alien base; despite some problems, Halstead manages to take off just in time before the bombs begin exploding, and he and his comrades are soon relaxing on Earth.
This is the second of four films in Margheriti's so-called "Gamma Quadrilogy" and the direct sequel to I Criminali Della Galassia. It opens with some stirring narration signalling that its story will involve an encounter with alien intelligence: "The universe is endless and timeless. Who knows how it all began? With the advent of space travel a greater dimension has been added to this small Earth. Man is exposed to new elements, harnessed and governed by an intelligence that is not his own." Then, after DuBois is attacked, there are some marvellous scenes of astronauts outside the space station performing calisthenics in space to celebrate the new year, including astronauts using their bodies to form the message "HAPPY NEW YEAR". Even the wires that are occasionally visible, supporting the purportedly weightless astronauts, do not detract from the appeal of these sequences. As was the case with its predecessor, however, the film goes downhill from there, as astronauts struggle on their space station and on Mars to resist the sinister aliens and their human slaves, though the aliens' plan to stay alive by inhabiting human bodies is at least more logical than the insane scheme that drove the previous film. [GW]
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