Saturday, January 28, 2017

Voyage To The Planet Of Teenage Cave Women (2012)

Starring Joshua Kennedy, April Michelle Gomez, Xavier Aguilar, Michael Moralez, Leslie Ann Leal
Directed by Joshua Kennedy
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A trio of astronauts blast off to a pair of planets hurtling on a collision course towards the Earth, where they encounter a race of beautiful cave women and the evil creatures that stalk them at night.

Joshua Kennedy pays homage to the foreign science fiction movies of the 1950s and 1960s in this enjoyable romp, scripted by Kennedy and Rock Baker with many a knowing nod to those foreign fantasy epics. Just as Roger Corman repackaged the Russian film Planeta Burg as Voyage To The Prehistoric Planet after adding new scenes to it, Kennedy approximates that approach by filming wrap arounds with American characters and then completely redubbing the rest of the movie (often comically out of sync) to represent the imported content.  He also cleverly inserts scenes with Basil Rathbone from Voyage To The Prehistoric Planet as additional stock footage.

Filmed during Kennedy's late teen years in his home state of Texas, the young filmmaker found a pretty terrific rocky landscape to approximate the alien world his astronauts visit, and populates it with the young beauties in his cast, staging perilous scenes and heightening the menace with terrific score cuts from the films of composer Herman Stein.  Although the special effects are elementary, they recall the same techniques used in those films of long ago, including a giant mock-up of a ravenous alien spider that tackles its victims, and an immense projection of a real-life lobster.  Fans of the movies that influenced this production should be tickled by how these alien beasts recall those that appeared on theater screens decades ago.

Kennedy and Baker's screenplay reflects a vast knowledge of the genre, incorporating romances for the astronauts, a savage catfight among two cave women, dated sexist comments that help age the film to the proper period, and launching the film with a scientific explanation by an esteemed scholar (played by Ralph Haskins), approximating Dr. Frank Baxter's prologue in the 1956 thriller The Mole People.

As in his past films, Kennedy recruits his friends and classmates to play the supporting characters, with Aguilar a hoot as a fellow astronaut with eyes for one of the young ladies, and Moralez perfectly deadpan as the mission's doctor.  Gomez is cute as the cave women's queen who doesn't hide her attraction to Kennedy's character very well, and Viviana Rodriguez impresses as a noble soldier to the queen.  Several others in black clothes and dark glasses effectively play the villainous Bavans, who in another knowing reference, when robbed of their shades, have their eyes bulge into ping pong balls, like those worn by the hostile aliens in 1954's Killers From Space.

Yes, it's a student film made for fun starring high-schoolers, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining, or lacks the power it most definitely holds as a homage to the genre, and an affectionate kind-spirited tribute. Kennedy's talent in the editing room shines through again, and the photography by his sister Kat (billed as "In SuperColorScope"), duplicates the tinted sequences of movies like The Angry Red Planet, another visual treat for fans.  While Kennedy has made several films since, none has quite had the epic scope of this one, but hopefully another sci-fi saga is in his future.

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