["The Planet of Extinct Men"] Film (1961; vt Battle of the Worlds; vt Planet of the Lifeless Men; vt Guerre Planetari, 1978). Ultra Film/Sicilia Cinematografica/Topaz. Directed by Antonio Margheriti credited as Anthony Dawson. Written by Vassily Petrov. Cast includes Maya Brent, Bill Carter, Jacqueline Derval, Umberto Orsini and Claude Rains. 94 minutes, cut to 84 minutes. Colour.
Earth is threatened by a rogue planet, "The Outsider", which is not only approaching on a near-collision course but then launches flying saucers (see UFOs) at us and proves to be a World Ship sent from an Alien planet. This may be the first appearance of the Generation Starship theme in Cinema; an Earth expedition discovers that the remnants of the humanoid alien crew's final generation are now dead at their stations, with the ship and its saucer drones run by an implacable Computer. Professor Benson (Rains) is the Scientist who gains access to the computer but with Mad-Scientist dedication refuses to leave the Outsider's treasury of alien knowledge, and perishes as the planetoid is broken up by Earth's nuclear missiles. The fevered stylization of the dead-planet imagery (giant skeletons, etc) rather than the bewildering though sometimes funny story is what everyone who has seen this somewhat rare but visually striking film remembers. Margheriti, a very uneven director, was one of the most prolific stalwarts of the Italian exploitation movie. The 1978 re-release as Guerre Planetari ["Planetary Wars"] was a transparent attempt to cash on in the success of the first Star Wars, film in the previous year. [PN/DRL]
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