As I take a break from new stuff to continue my journey through my late brother’s DVD collection, I focus on four that are so of his era, and they all feature a woman or women in sci-fi or horror plots.
THE LAST WOMAN ON EARTH (1960)
This one was in my brother’s collection as a double feature DVD with Vincent Price in The Last Man On Earth, which I already have in my collection, but I thought perhaps this was a sequel I didn’t know existed.
It’s not. And although it’s a Roger Corman movie, it’s not even horror. And perhaps because this is a cheap, crappy budget 2-on-1 DVD, the version included is in black and white when it’s actually a color film.
After a credits sequence exploiting the female body, this is a pretty intriguing concept, and I imagine it could be made quite dark as a modern remake. A rich man and woman out scuba diving with their lawyer friend come back to shore to discover everyone in the world but them is dead. A few dead bodies as they walk down a deserted street is as horror as this gets.
After that it becomes like the long boring stretch of the original Dawn of the Dead, with the trio just going on with life and setting up home on their own.
The conflict creeps in as the lawyer friend makes it clear that because there are two men and only one woman, he wants to get some action. Basically the two men fight over the woman for the rest of the film…and the tragic denouement takes place in a church to bring some religious perspective to the situation.
Speaking of religion, if I had my way this film would have been the story of Adam and Eve and Steve, and both men would have wanted the last woman on earth gone…
VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1968)
The title alone should tip you off that this is a Roger Corman production, but the director is credited as Peter Bogdanovich, who would go on to direct The Last Picture Show and Noises Off. He, however, has claimed he only directed ten minutes involving scenes of the women that gave the movie its name.
It’s easy to believe because the scenes with the women seem spliced into a different movie about a trio of men on a mission to Venus with a robot they stole from the Lost in Space in space family. The men and women never actually interact!
According to the narrator, it’s 1998…which is now over 20 years ago, not 30 years in the future.
After lots of classic 60s space exploration scenes—because Star Wars was the future then—our astronauts discover that the planet Venus is loaded with a variety of dinosaurs and alien creatures with tentacles. Then they start to hear melodic voices like those of a siren…
The monsters are pretty cool, and the visuals, tone, and atmosphere, with fog machines, grey skies, and the hypnotic whir of 60s sci-fi/horror music, are quite good. Plus, the guys have a space car that also becomes a little submarine car! Soooo futuristic.
Even though the astronauts and women of the planet never meet (the forced scenes of the women not doing much of anything are pointless), the plot has the men killing a pterodactyl that turns out to be the god the women worship. You’ll never believe who they make their new god once they chase the men from their planet….
LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971)
This is a dastardly little flick that needs to be remade as a campy horror comedy with someone perfectly snarky like Samara Weaving as “the lady.”
The set, thunder, lightning, and classic laboratory sights and sounds perfectly capture the Frankenstein vibe.
The original plot is compressed into about 30 minutes. As soon as the monster comes to life it kills the doctor and takes off to throw a naked wench into the river.
Meanwhile, the devious daughter decides to create a hunky man to hunt down and kill the monster that killed her father.
She picks the man, tests out the bod, then convinces her father’s assistant to kill him. In return, she will transplant the assistant’s brain in the hunk and be his woman.
The dude fricking goes for it! How is this movie not a comedy?
QUEEN KONG (1976)
Considering horror parodies started becoming a thing in the 1980s, this monster movie parody was ahead of its time.
The same year the remake of King Kong was released with Jessica Lange giving a ditzy bimbo performance that shockingly didn’t end her career right then and there, Queen Kong mocked the sheer male chauvinism of the original by simply reversing the roles of the sexes.
A domineering female director is furious when a clearly gay guy in the male lead of her jungle women movie walks off set. Her hunt for a passive man to play the role is a short one, because she saves a Mick Jagger looking dude when he steals something from a store and is chased as Benny Hill style music plays. She then drugs him and makes him her leading man bitch.
Horrible 1970s muzak score and “Queen Kong” 70s pop theme song aside, the movie is ridiculous right from the start, beginning with women in “we wear short shorts” shorts singing a “Liberated Lady” song on a boat, the exploitation of their bodies easily negating the whole point of the song.
While the film spoofs the King Kong plot, it also pokes fun at pop culture of the time, including The Exorcist, Jaws, and even President Jimmy Carter.
The overall concept does a great job of emasculating the male character Ray Fay (get it?). He is sexualized and feminized, wearing a pink boa and screaming in terror whenever a monster comes for him…yet the film once again negates the whole point by having him tell Queen Kong how to fight the enemies each time!
Aside from the slapstick spoof, which wears thin fast and becomes painfully unfunny, Queen also battles goofy looking T-Rex and pterodactyl monsters before being shipped back to civilization to take down a city while hunting for her man. Despite its flaws, if you grew up with King Kong, it’s easy to appreciate the purpose of this spoof.