[Junesploitation ’22] Mini Reviews: Starship Invasions (1977) and Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962)

Mini Review
Day 01: Space!
Starship Invasions (1977)

Day 1 of Junesploitation is finally here, kicking off the proceedings with the prompt ‘Space!’ and where better to look for a sci-fi exploitation film than in the 70s? Starship Invasions (1977) at first glance appears to have a few things in its favour, with a cast including Robert Vaughn and Christopher Lee, that alone capturing attention. Once the film gets underway the camp and cheese come in full force and it is quite evident this film had a small budget, perhaps whatever was left over after securing two big leads. The camp, cheese and cheapness are what gives the film its charm, feeling more like a 1950’s Edward D Wood Jr production than a sci-fi of the late 70’s.

The plot is quite a good one however and the film does a great job of explaining it as well. A race of alien beings led by Capt Rameses (Christopher Lee) have come to Earth, experimented on humans have decided the planet is ideal for their dying race and plan to wipe out humans. Earth however is under the protection of other alien beings (League of Races) who join forces with Prof. Duncan (Robert Vaughn) to repair their damaged ship and stop Rameses and his fleet. There is actually a bit going on, with the Professor being a man studying UFO’s, which easily leads the good aliens to him for help. The execution of the story is unfortunately a little too slowly paced and the aliens are slightly dull, mostly due to the fact they don’t show any emotions and communicate telepathically, which leaves Christopher Lee just staring at the camera not moving whilst his voice over plays.

Those flaws aside, there are moments of hilarity that was surely unintentional and the weird costumes and sets really set the campy tone well. There is a lot to enjoy here even if it isn’t entirely successful, Robert Vaughn gives a good performance, he’s giving a rather straight laced performance while the cheese oozes all around him and it some how works. Starship Invasions is a silly film, it’s a strangely enjoyable one from Ed Hunt and a heck of a fun Canuxploitation film. Make this a double feature with Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) and enjoy!

Rating:

Mini Review
Day 02: Westerns!
Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962)

Having a film by Russ Meyer as the pick for the ‘Westerns!’ prompt may seem a little unusual, but what would Junesploitation be without the unusual? That said, Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962) is a bizarre film, the usual tropes are present for a Russ Meyer film and whilst visually the film is interesting in parts, the lack of plot and over use of sight gags just does not work. It is quite dated, there are terrible racial stereotypes as well as clear abuse towards women being played for laughs (a woman is constantly being chased by a man through the entire film), these things are cringe inducing and laugh inducing as was probably intended.

There is not really a plot to speak of, an old man tells tales of the town with no name to the viewer and what follows is a mixture of vignette’s with no real dialogue except the narrator. It plays out like silent era slap stick comedy set to music, at first some of the sights are quite funny such as the never ending dual that leads to exchanges punching and whilst this kind of joke is funny for a few minutes it loses its appeal very quickly and the film just drags on. As you’d expect from Russ Meyer, there are many big breasted women on display and that is what they seem to be there for, these characters don’t do much at all except wiggle about and it is a big shame. Towards the third act there is some what of a story about a stranger coming to the town to try clean it up and by that point it’s easy to not even notice.

Wild Gals of the Naked West is kind of an overt parody of the western films of the time, using some surrealist visuals and interesting camera work, it was well made for a low budget production, however it does not really offer much at all as a film and there are far better Russ Meyer films out there to watch. This is the sort of film you can easily skip by, the ‘cheeky nudie’ films are incredibly silly in general and this one just doesn’t quite work overall.

Rating:

Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2022!

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