Monday, May 2, 2022



PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: *cosmological, sociological*

I read a fair number of the English-translated adventures of the German hero Perry Rhodan, though that was a long time ago. I have the general impression that this film, the only movie adaptation of the juvenile space-series, follows the first book plot-wise, though I'm not about to reread even one of the novels to check it out.

He-man astronaut Perry Rhodan (Lang Jeffries) leads an expedition to land on the moon, looking for a rare metal. Instead the Earthmen find an alien spacecraft and its two extraterrestrial occupants, elderly Khrest (John Karlsen) and sexy Thora (Essy Persson). The aliens, who call themselves Arkonides, possess technology far beyond that of Earth, as the imperious Thora constantly reminds the Earthmen. However, she not only can't fix the stranded ship, she can't do anything about the disease infecting Khrest-- though the Earth-physician immediately figures out that it's leukemia. 

Happily, Rhodan knows of a doctor on Earth-- specifically Mombasa-- who possesses a cure for leukemia, so the expedition returns to Earth to find a cure for the alien elder-- with the astronauts hoping all the time to keep their discovery secret, to prevent any country from taking possession of the Arkonides' fantastic arsenal (including force-screens, ray-shooting robots, and so on). But one of the astronauts betrays their plan to a crime lord in Africa with the rather repetitive name of "Arkin." Arkin captures the doctor first and sends agents disguised as medical people (including sexy nurses) to make the jaunt back to the moon, supposedly to heal Khrest but actually to steal the alien weapons. Lots of ray-blasts and fistfights ensue before Arkin is defeated and the Arkonides are saved.

I seem to remember that the novel more strongly suggests that the ancient Arkonides are badly in need of crossbreeding with the more primitive but virile humans of Earth, but even if this is not the case, it's axiomatic that this is the real reason Thora constantly bags on the Earthmen; that she knows on some level that the only hope for her species is to breed with these "gorillas." Thus her every insult she hurls can be read two ways: as feminine resentment of her biological obligation, and also as a come-on to her potential lover. Rhodan, though pretty dull in all other ways, does respond by kissing her to shut her up. The Thora-Rhodan romance took up a long swath of prose stories, but here it concludes with a final liplock after the villains' defeat. Persson's irritable performance is the only thing worth watching here, not just because she's dressed in alien "hotcha-clothes," but because she makes it clear that if she REALLY doesn't like someone, she's quite willing to send the offender spinning out into deep space. The film leaves unanswered the question as to what these heroic astronauts said to their commanders about all this unsanctioned running around without reporting to HQ.


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