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Friday, January 27, 2012

Roger Corman Bought a Third-Rate Russian Sci-Fi Film -- and Turned It Into Three

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge SC_31_VoyageToThePlanetOfPrehistoricWomen_2.jpg

When I was choosing a feature for the upcoming SF Sketchfest 2012 Bad Movie Night (Sunday, Jan. 29), I knew we were going to need a doozy of a stinker, a public domain oddity whose quality was obvious from the title.

And I found it: 1968's Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. Sounds horrible, huh? It's not to be confused with 1966's Women of the Prehistoric Planet, but it is to be confused with 1965's Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, as well as a 1962 Soviet sci-fi film called Planet of Storms.

Confused? I'll explain.

Planet of Storms -- or Планета Бурь, if that's how you are -- is an odd mix of pulpy sci-fi and dour Russian cinema. It opens with glum cosmonauts in a Tarkovsky-esque brood-mode.

While there's plenty of brooding left to go, rubber-monster wackiness ensues when they land on Venus, including a mean red mother in outer space.

So Roger Corman bought Storms, had Curtis Harrington dub it into English, re-edit it, and shoot some new footage on the cheap, and Corman released it as Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Much of the brooding was removed (as well as a female cosmonaut), and dialogue that wasn't very smart in the first place was dumbed further down.

Never one not to use every part of the cow several times, Corman then hired Peter Bogdanovich to re-edit Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet -- not Storms, mind you, but the already-Americanized version -- into a third movie.

Bogdanovich removed Harrington's new footage, covered much of the redubbed dialogue with narration, and excerpted the intro and other effects from Battle Beyond the Sun, itself a re-edit by Francisco Ford Coppola of another Russian sci-fi film, The Sky is Calling (or Небо Зовет, obviously).

Most importantly, Bogdanovich shot scenes of Mamie Van Doren on the shores of Big Sur Venus as the leader of a group of clamshell-bikini-wearing, pterodactyl-worshipping women who are totally prehistoric -- Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, QED.

By the way, the aforementioned Women of the Prehistoric Planet bears no relation to these other movies beyond the samey-sounding name. Forget I aforementioned it.

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Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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