What a gloriously stupid movie. From an objective standpoint, this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. But, it’s one of those films that is so inept, and so self-aware, that the entire package is endearing. I spent 91 minutes of a precious Friday night with this dog, and I regret none of it.
From writer/director Brett Piper, who would carve out a fine career in b-cinema, Battle for the Lost Planet tells the tale of Harry Trent (Matt Mitler), a thief in the future who is discovered while engaging in some light corporate espionage. He makes his escape to space in a shuttle he found laying around, just in time to witness an invasion by a race of pig-faced aliens. These invaders don’t waste any time. In a low-budget special effects extravaganza they lay Earth to waste, devastating all of human civilization.
Harry is safe from all this destruction up in his puny shuttle, but a malfunction means he has to wander around space for over five years before he comes close enough to the Earth to land again. After he returns to the planet, he finds that it is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, populated by mutants damaged by alien torture, and roving gangs of bikers.
However, Harry finds out quickly that his name has become legend. The stuff he stole back at the start of the flick is scientific info that can be used to rid the planet of the alien menace forever. Harry and a newly acquired companion, Dana (Denise Coward), must reach an underground research base outside of Richmond, Virginia, do some science stuff, and lead this film to denouement. They enlist the help of local warlord Mad Dog Kelly (Joe Gentissi, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Sly Stallone. So much so that he once recorded a single called Rambo under the name Wayne Scott.).
We all know how this flick ends. Harry and his band succeed in killing all the aliens and the Earth lives happily ever after. What is most important to we shitty movie fans is the journey, and it is a spectacular one. It all starts with the special effects. Piper had a five-figure budget to work with, for a film that ran over schedule. He had to be miserly, and it looks as if the special effects team, credited to Cheap Tricks Unltd., got the short end of a very short stick. The effects are some of the cheapest ever put to film. The model work makes all the tanks and missile launchers and generic styrofoam buildings from an old Godzilla flick look like the pinnacle of the art of miniature filmmaking.
The film is packed full of this substandard model work, alongside some stop motion, a lot of unconvincing laser fire, and, the pièce de résistance, melting faces.
Piper must have been aware of the kind of film he was making. It’s tongue-in-cheek throughout, and only gets more so as it trundles along. Mitler had a lengthy scene aboard the shuttle that was his Martin Sheen in a hotel room, and I spent most of that sequence shaking my head and chuckling. Gentissi, though, is where this film makes its absurd bona fides. He’s a cross between ’80s Stallone and the Toecutter from Mad Max. Gentissi looked like he was having a grand time, and I wish there had been a little more of him in the movie. Battle for the Lost Planet is also, alas, his only film credit, so all we have of him is this movie and his short career as a pop singer. Wherever you are today, Mr. Gentissi, I hope you are well and living a long life. Unless, of course, you’re an asshole.
After all the above praise, one would expect this film to rank quite high in the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index. The problem is, this flick can get a little slow. It still makes it well into the top half of the Index, but the dead zones keep this flick from being true shitty gold. Battle for the Lost Planet takes over the #111 from Final Score, riding high on those special effects. Check it out.