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."
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:
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.
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:
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!"And it goes on, praise the powers that be.
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!"
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.
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):
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thanks to centuries of evolution, the Savage Girl is perfectly camouflaged among the Blooming Bazonga Bushes.