Monday, June 12, 2017

La Nave De Los Monstruos (The Ship of Monsters)

La Nave De Los Monstruos (The Ship of Monsters) is a 1960’s sci-fi b-movie from Mexico that really excels at campy fun.  It isn’t particularly unique in its story or tropes but the execution is something unlike anything else you will ever see.  The singing cowboy, alien women looking for men and wild b-movie monsters all meld into a movie that transcends the sum of its parts and becomes a classic. 
            In the film, the men of Venus have all died out due to atomic weapons leaving only women on the planet.  Okay, it has to be said, this basic plotline makes no sense.  Did the two sexes live in different areas so one sex was spared when the bomb dropped?  Did the radiation only hurt males?  If the Venusians are so technologically advanced can’t they use cloning or something? The movie doesn’t seem to care about exactly what happened to the men so I will try to follow suit.
Two attractive alien ladies, Gamma and Beta (played by the stunning Miss Mexico winners Ana Lepe and the Lorena Valequez) embark on an interplanetary journey to find men of other species to replace the Venusian men.  They are joined by a robot Tor (spelled Torr in the youtube subtitles) which was taken in by the two after the species that created him all killed each other with atomic weapons.  Tor is said to have the accumulated knowledge of his entire doomed species within his robotic mind.  Keep that in mind later.
A cowboy named Lauriano (played by Eulalio Gonzalez) looks at the sky and sees a shooting star and wishes for a woman to love.  He expresses this wish in song.  Unbeknownst to him, it is not actually a shooting star but instead the ship carrying Gamma and Beta which had to make an emergency landing in Mexico.  Laurinao is a cowardly guy who fabricates crazy stories at the local bar to appear more heroic.  But when he meets the girls they all immediately take a liking to his charming personality and charisma.  They tell Lauriano they work for the circus and he believes them even after they introduce him to Tor.  They begin to become enamored with him after he brings up love.  They ask him “What is love?”   This leads into a musical number but I assure you it is not the song “What is love?” by Haddaway.

Instead Lauriano puts some background music on his jukebox and sings a song which explains what love is to the two aliens who had never heard of the concept.  Both Gamma and Beta start to fall for Lauriano. Tor, deeply impacted by the song too, falls in love with the jukebox.  Why a robot as intelligent as an entire dead race would develop romantic feelings for a jukebox is unknown to me but, then again, I will defer to his greater intellect here.
Now that there is a love triangle you are probably wondering how it is going to be resolved.  If you guessed that Beta is an evil vampire from Uranus give yourself a point!  Wait, what!?  To the movies credit, it does swiftly foreshadow this by saying that Beta was not originally from Venus in the exposition at the start of the movie.  After Beta drinks the blood of a random human, Gamma communicates with her superior on Venus who tell her that she must put her friend to death.  Before Gamma can fulfill her orders, Beta knocks her unconscious and decides to release the monsters locked within the ship upon the Earth.

Allow me to introduce the monsters.  The first is Tagual, the prince of Mars (Tawal in the youtube subtitles) who is a diminutive alien with an exposed brain.

  Next, Uk, who is the king of some fire planet and a reptilian cyclops. 

My favorite is, Utirr (Crassus in the youtube sub.) of the red planet (presumably not Mars) who is a weird humanoid spider thing.

Finally, there is Zok (he is left unnamed in the youtube sub.) a sabre toothed skeleton who claims his people live on in this state after all his species killed one another with atomic bombs (hmmm, it is as if there is a theme here).

Possibly the funniest thing about the monsters isn’t even the silly costumes or cheap effects. While the costumes are obviously fake they are very unique looking and creatively designed. The funniest thing is that these goofy looking monsters were picked out by Gamma and Beta as elite breeding stock.  They looked at them and determined not only can I procreate with this thing but for the good of Venus I should!  These monsters were hand-picked to act as studs and impregnate as many Venusians as possible.  I’m particularly curious how they think that Zok will be able to father children.  Gamma says of Utirr, “He’s a male, a strange and terrible one, but a male none the less.”  Man, I thought Mexican beauty queens would have higher standards.
As soon as Beta reveals she is a vampire from Uranus the monsters all become madly attracted to her and completely forgive her for kidnapping them and taking them away from their home worlds. Beforehand they were unhappy with the idea of getting to impregnate countless Venusian beauties. The Monsters decide they don’t want to go home anymore but would rather conquer Earth with Beta. 
I particularly enjoyed watching the monsters flirt with Beta, the evil beauty.  The brainy Tagual attempts negging by telling the former Miss Mexico that she is ugly compared to the red Martian women but has a great personality.  The more suave and bold Utirr goes for physical contact with his long spidery appendages.  Poor Zok appears extremely intimidated because all he does is laugh awkwardly (then again, he does that anyway).  Zok clearly wants to put the moves on the lady but the only thing keeping him standing up is that darned string connected to the ceiling. This leaves him stationary while he can only watch uncomfortably while his romantic rivals move in.  Zok requires Uk to carry him to even move around in scenes and currently Uk is too busy to be his wingman.  Uk is approaching the unconscious Gamma and acting a bit handsy…
Woah!  This is the darkest part of this otherwise lighthearted family-friendly film.  That is including the fact that atomic war is a nearly universal background story for the aliens.  Luckily, even Beta whose crime of drinking the blood of humans is said by the Venusians to be the worst sin in the universe won’t put up with Uk raping her former partner and promptly stops him before he goes too far.  This scene does not fit with the tone of the movie and the film could easily do without it.  It looks like it was mainly useful for promotional pictures as it provided good close-up of the gorgeous Ana Lepe and the monster together.
Gamma wakes up and reveals the truth of their extraterrestrial origin to Lauriano.  Ultimately, Lauriano becomes a hero and helps save the day from Beta and the Monsters. The film ends with Gamma staying on Earth and marrying Lauriano.  She tells her commander in Venus that Earth is precious because the people there know love.  Then we are treated to the movies last song, a love duet between Tor and the Jukebox which is now apparently alive and loves Tor.  WHAT!?  Did Tor turn the Jukebox into a robot or was it always sentient and Tor just had the incredible intellect to perceive this when no one else could?  Maybe it came to life purely out of the power of Tor’s love?  Who knows?  Call me a softy but I prefer the last explanation.  I’m happy for those two crazy kids.
My biggest complaint with the movie centers around Zok.  He is an incredibly cheesy monster and is like they were trying to play the Skeleton in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra straight.  But that isn’t the problem.  My beef is he is nowhere to be seen in the climax (probably because he could not move independently) so his fate is never made clear.  I kept expecting him to pop back up for a “The End… Or Is It?” ending.  This loose end still haunts me. I like to think that he survives and gets taken to Venus and fathers the next generation of the planet.  After all, if a Jukebox can be a love interest why can’t a skeleton be a sexually potent lover of a harem of babes on Venus?   

Final Verdict:  Highly recommended.

Link to the film on YouTube.

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