Friday, May 28, 2010

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987): or, The Most Dangerous Gams

If you've been playing along at home this week, you may have noticed my last few entries have resulted in rather lackluster ratings. Trust me, I'm as concerned about it as you are. I know you come here for enthusiastic celebration of the most gleefully nonsensical stuff I can clap my eyeballs on, and to tell you the truth, that's why I keep coming too. (So to speak.) And yet every now and then I hit a lull. It's the nature of the game, I know--peaks and valleys, waves and trenches, smooth and crunchy. And yet whenever it happens, I can't help facing my deepest fear: have I run out of glee? Am I becoming jaded? Has the madnness well finally gushed its last gusher? What can I do to get back in the saddle and ride?

All I can say is, thank you, silly 80s sci-fi. It's not the first time you've pulled me back from the brink, and I'm sure it will not be the last.

Ken Dixon's 1987 sci-fi effort Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity opens on a dark, jungly planet, where bodaciously breasted babe is being stalked through the woods by a reject from the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence. We know this is a primitive world, because the girl is barefoot and wearing a beige suede bikini with jaggedly scissored edging, which is of course the universal indicator of "savagery."

Thanks to centuries of evolution, the Savage Girl is perfectly camouflaged among the Blooming Bazonga Bushes.

After she goes out of her way to trip over an easily avoidable root tendril, it looks like our savage sweetie is done for. Her pursuer fires a warning shot--or else needs to get his laser sights realigned--but before he can finish the job, is himself blown away by a Tall Dark Stranger who steps out of the mist in a nick of time. She's saved! Except--not.

Next we join another primitive swimwear model, Daria (Elizabeth Kaitan) chained in the cargo hold of a Space Slave Ship, along with similarly Savage Bikini-Clad captive Tisa (Cindy Beal). Despite Tisa's assurances that there's no way out, and "The only chance we've got is no chance at all!", Daria uses her prodigious upper body strength to yank the electronically-controlled chain out of its moorings. (Guess it's all muscle behind those beige suede triangles!) Then, showing she paid attention at Savage World Polytech, Daria theorizes, "If we can reverse the polarity on these cuffs...the only thing standing between us and freedom is stealing a starship!"

At this point, a little less than four minutes in, the Boom Mic Operator decides he's had enough of Daria's scene-hogging:

Maybe it's her curling iron.

After taking out two of the world's fattest stormtroopers, Daria and Tisa readily hotwire a life boat and blast out into the bleak nothingness of space. With nothing around for millions of light years and barely enough fuel for a three-hour tour, it looks like our Slave Girls (who were never really slaves, if you want to get technical, although they *were* chained...which is a cinematic device your ever-loving Vicar will never complain about) look like they've bought a one-way ticket back to the Infinity they hoped they'd moved beyond. But before you can say "Deus Ex Tractor Beam!" the girls' ship is yanked down to a seemingly deserted planet. They crash into the sea, and Daria washes up on the rocky shore, dazed but alive. Guess it was just as well she wore her Savage Bathing Suit.

She wanders into a cave, which leads to a door, which in turn leads into the British Museum of Natural History--wait, no, it's just the opulently decked-out mansion of Zed (Don Scribner), the owner and sole permanent resident of the island on which Daria finds herself. Non-permanent residents include Tisa, who washed up on a different beach long enough ago to have traded her Savage Bikini for a gauzy black negligee (again, no complaints), and siblings Rik and Shala (Carl Horner and DTV softcore legend Brinke Stevens), who are also castaways thanks to a mysterious shipwrecking. All of them are more than happy to accept Zed's hospitality, despite his Ominous Leather Pants, Sinister Leather Boots, and the fact he apparently shares his genetic code with Patrick Bateman.

"I like to dissect girls. Did you know that I'm quite insane?"

Zed is a hunter by avocation (hence the house full of gigantic stuffed hunting trophies), and if you've seen any jungle adventure movies since around 1940 you're already several steps ahead of the case. Yes, it's yet another version of that endlessly exploitable source text, The Most Dangerous Game: Zed is responsible for his guest's shipwrecks, and intends to make them all his prey, thereafter mounting their heads (not that way...well, okay, maybe) in his gruesome Private Trophy Room. Can Daria and company turn the tables on their insane host, and turn the Hunter into the Hunted? Are they truly alone on the island, or does something else lurk in the jungle shadows? And even if they survive, how will they ever get off this godforsaken space-rock?

Of course none of that really matters, because it's all just window dressing for what this movie is really all about:



"But me no butts!"

"Wait, you didn't give me time to turn around!"

As a 1980s Sexiness Time Capsule, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity receives full marks. This flick has more cheesecake than a Pâtisserie Grand Opening. In addition to the aforementioned and formidable Savage Bikinis, Daria and Tisa also spend a lot of time wandering around Zed's castle in gauzy lingerie and slinky evening gowns, which would indicate that some of Zed's former victims must have hailed from the Petticoat Planet. There's a fair amount of nekkidity as well, as when Tisa goes skinny dipping in order to distract Zed's robot guards Vak and Krel (and it works!), or when Rik and Daria pretend to be making love to cover up their attempted escape (which ruse thankfully and hilariously segues into actual body-bonding). But the standout sequence is a bondage-tinged scene in Zed's trophy room, where the hunter takes a chained Shala for his spoils. (Brinke Stevens chained to a pillar and later held down on a stone altar by Vak the Mechano-Perv? You have my attention, sir!)

If T&A isn't your thing (wha?), fear not. For cheese connoiseurs, the flick likewise delivers the gouda. Listening to our Slave Girls deliver technobabble like "I'll lock the beam of the directional grid into the hyperdrive system!"--all with the cadence and intonation of a Valley Girl reading a Golden Book three divisions above comprehension level--is a joy not to be underestimated. Even the non-scientific dialogue has a similar charm, as when Daria observes, "She sacrificed herself for me...Life certainly weaves a twisted tapestry!" Best is after Rik and Daria's love scene, which boasts some of the most cheesetastic dialogue it's been my pleasure to gnosh in a while:
Rik: "Man and woman...what a great concept!"
Daria: "Now I know what I'm fighting for!"
Rik: "If I died today, I wouldn't complain!"
Daria: "You made me feel alive again!"
And it goes on, praise the powers that be.

Being a life-model for Frank Franzetta was lucrative, but demanding.

Cheese of the Sci-fi flavor is here in abundance as well. Vak and Krel are amazing androids. They seem to be envisioned as some sort of steampunk cyborgs--the cacaphony of creaking joints and valve pressure releases when either makes the slightest movement makes them the least stealthy hunting companions in the galaxy, but strangely this doesn't hinder their kill rate. Their personalities are a cross between the Terminator and C3P0--apart from the Horniness AI Chip, they are also extremely snippy with one another, getting into a hilarious argument about who should be checking the security measures at the castle and who should stay to watch Tisa play nude in the waves. The spaceship models, laser battles, and other effects are mid-range, and one hunt sequence even features a spider web trap right out of The Horrors of Spider Island--dissapointingly without a spider, however.

For all that, though, the movie is fairly well-made on a technical level. The lighting is extremely well-done: scenes in Zed's mansion have a warm, golden glow that lends a high-budget sheen to the proceedings, and the matte-painting sets and occasional Franzetta Fantasy Poses proudly fly the b-movie banner. I admit I didn't expect the movie to be as accomplished looking as it was, particularly after the afore-noted Boom Mike Cameo, but aside from that little gaffe, the flick looks great. And the bombastic, sometimes intrusive score by Carl Dante recalls the adventure flicks on which the film is partly based, and ups the fun level another notch.

Better quit while you're a head.

While perhaps not an out-and-out classic, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity never forgets what it's there to do--i.e., entertain, divert, and titillate--and for me it achieves those modest goals with a certain amount of flair and elan. It's not 2001: A Space Odyssey, or even Galaxy of Terror, but what it IS is a whole lot of fun. 2.5 Thumbs--and thanks again.

Nota bene: according to imdb trivia, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity holds the distinction of having been condemned as 'indecent' on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1992 by Senator Jesse Helms. Maybe he didn't actually watch the film, but...the very idea of Helms actually sitting down to screen Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, a perma-shock look on his face the whole runtime, is just so goddamn beautiful it HAS to be true.

A few more images from Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987):

Domo Arigato

Joe Eszterhas' A Night at the Museum

Zed is challenged by Rubik's Hypercube

"Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the GWAR auditions?"

Heavy Metal

A slow night at the Duchy

"Is that a telescope in your pants, or...what? It is? Oh."


Tenebrous Kate said...

Why would you program a robot to be horny? That's like the Windows Vista of robot operating systems--talk about your unneeded add-on.

Samuel Wilson said...

Only in the Eighties, it seems, do you get such tantalizing blends of sleaze and cheese. Somehow the title's never lured me to see this one, but your description makes all the difference. I hope to be entertained by this some day.

dfordoom said...

Vicar, beige suede bikinis are one of the reasons I became a cult movie fan in the first place. I love the fact that when primitive societies start to develop technology the first thing they invent is always the bikini.

Although I don't think anyone has ever bettered the pink fur bikinis featured in Tarkan vs the Vikings. A movie that is a must-see for anyone who loves hot Viking warrior babes. And what right-thinking person doesn't love hot Viking warrior babes?

Tower Farm said...

This looks too awesome for words. I've been in a bit of a slump lately, too -- not inspired enough to write about anything new. Maybe I'll have to give this one a try...if anything can wake me out of this movie-depression, surely the "Blooming Bazongas" can do it!

Anonymous said...

Give me this over any current direct to DVD/ScyFy film anyday. At least this film wears what it is like a dirty raincoat!

The Film Connoisseur said...

Thanks for pointing this movie out, I remember seeing in video store shelves during the 80s but never having the guts to rent it cause it looked so cheesy but now that I have an appreciation for these kinds of films, I will be checking it out! Thanks again!

The Vicar of VHS said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! Hope you all had a nice long weekend. :)

@Tenebrous Kate--I've got one word for you: HYDRAULICS. ;)

@Samuel Wilson--it really was the golden age of sleaze and cheese, which only makes sense, as the 70s were all sleaze and the 90s all cheese. It's a transitional sandwich!

>>I love the fact that when primitive societies start to develop technology the first thing they invent is always the bikini.

It's funny b/c it's true! And really, what better use of textile technology? And I will definitely be seeking out Tarkan vs. the Vikings. There is a marked lack of hot Viking babes on this site, and that needs to be rectified!

@Tower Farm Billy--Maybe you should give this one a look, and I'll finally get round to Savage Streets one day. Blog exchange program? ;)

@davidfullam--There's really no comparison between SGfBI and modern examples. The SyFy stuff is a copy of a copy of a copy of the original, and there's bound to be some loss of definition and fun. :P

@The Film Connoisseur--I too have found that there are many films I just wasn't ready to appreciate fully in my tender youth. Now that I'm more mature and sophisticated, let me at 'em! ;)

The Film Connoisseur said...

By the way, one of those robots you posted on one of the pics looks like a leftover robot from Ice Pirates! I swear to god they must have reused the same costume!

The Vicar of VHS said...

I was just thinking of ICE PIRATES a couple of weeks ago! That's one of those flicks I wonder if it'd be worthwhile to revisit, or if its best left in the mists of affectionate memory...

Darius Whiteplume said...

I can't believe I missed this post. My horniness AI must have been off that week.

I love this movie. I did not think anyone else did. I posted some clips from it at AiN and even the crickets shut up. I may just have to review it for my also unfavored WIP Wednesday? :-)

I am always amazed when I see the suede bikini in other films. I am pretty sure there was at least one in "The Phantom Empire". Sounds like there is a need for fuckyeahsuedebikini on Tumblr!

re:Twitter - Petticoat Planet is on the way tonight. I was having trouble finding this post ;-)

Pat Powers said...

I could not agree with your review more. I'm really sick of bad knockoffs of The Most Dangerous Game, but this film at least had the good grace to realize it was a cheesy B-movie about slave girls and therefore that it should have the slave girls in the title performing mostly naked for most of their time onscreen. For a B-movie, this is sheer genious. And as you noted, the production quality was very high indeed!

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