Zeta One

Zeta One 8If there’s one thing that the movies have taught us it’s that outer space is full of planets populated with gorgeous women who have never seen men before.  How these female only races are able to continue to thrive without pesky things like procreation is far too complicated a subject for these films to bother with…and what do the producers of these films care as long as folks are willing to pay to see ladies in short skirts with ray guns.  Well, today’s movie hardly even bothers with the short skirts, showing much more skin than the space siren flicks of the 50’s.  It’s an odd parody of both sci-fi films and James Bond released in 1969.  Known in the US as “The Love Factor” or by it’s original British title “Zeta One.”

Zeta One 1As the film opens, secret agent James Word (Robin Hawdon) is returning to his stylish late 60’s apartment after a big mission.  There he is surprised to find Anne Olsen (Yutte Stensgaard), the personal secretary of his supervisor…”W.”  See he’s “James,” his boss is “W,” that’s “M” upside down.  Get it!?!  Anyway, Miss Olsen is anxious to hear about James’ latest mission, but he has other activities on his mind.  The two decide to pass the time by playing strip poker…but after two hours James decides to tell the story of his latest case, but in bed.  No joke…we are now 20 minutes into the film and the story hasn’t started yet.

Zeta One 2From here, we see James’ last mission as a flashback.  It seems that a race of intergalactic beauties called the Angvians, led by a woman named Zeta (Dawn Addams) has been kidnapping attractive young women to add to their ranks.  They have spies that scope out the prospects before they snatch them up.  Meanwhile, a criminal mastermind named Major Bourdon (James Robertson Justice) is also wise of Zeta and her army of women.  He has it in his mind to overthrow Zeta and rule in her place.  So he has his weasely little lackey, Swyne (Charles Hawtrey…yep, the guy John Lennon mentions in the intro to “Two of Us”), following around a couple of Angvian spies.  Little does he know that one of W’s other agents is following him around as well

Zeta One 3Swyne learns that the Angvians are targeting a stripper named Edwina (Wendy Lingham).  So he manages to bring Edwina in to speak with Bourdon about being his inside agent.  Meanwhile, W has also learned of Edwina and sends her a telegram instructing her to meet with James.  But she never makes it his place.  She gets nabbed by the Angvians, while another one of their agents Clotho (Anna Gael) has materialized in James’ apartment to keep him…shall we say, occupied. Edwina ends up being taken back to the psychedelic headquarters of the aliens where she gets stuffed into a device that removes her clothes and makes life feel like a lava lamp. Later, she’s given the tour of the place. She sees where the girls train for battle, contemplate things, and, of course, bathe.

Zeta One 6Bourdon also manages to get his hands on an Angvian who he and Swyne take to a strange torture chamber of sorts to get information.  She ends up falling to her death as she tries to escape out the window.  Meanwhile, Edwina, now at the headquarters…spaceship…whatever of the Angvians, is plotting an escape of her own.  But that doesn’t bother Zeta too much as she and her sparsely dressed army are planning their invasion.

Zeta One 9I know, it’s a pretty ridiculous sounding story, but it does have some potential as a sci-fi spoof.  Problem is, the film also tries to be a James Bond spoof which really throws things off.  The Bond character doesn’t even factor into the story that much.  He spends the majority of the film in bed with Clotho.  The idea that the story is told as a flashback, with this long unnecessary sequence leading up to it at the start of the film, almost derails the whole thing.  Even the opening credits are clearly meant to be a spoof of Bond credit sequences.  The end result may have been better had the film simply stuck with being a spoof of cheesy sci-fi flicks.

Zeta One 10But ultimately I don’t think that spoofing anything was really the top priority of the filmmakers on this project.  Their primary concern was showing lovely ladies who weren’t going to be bothered with an inconvenience like wearing clothes.  We’re not just talking nudity here…we’re talking over-the-top nudity.  I pity the poor soul who had to try and edit a TV cut of this thing.  Simply having people take their clothes off is not the best formula for comedy gold, so when it comes to laughs, most of this film is pretty stale.  But there are a few hints of what could’ve been.  One brief scene that stands out is a moment where James Word gets in an elevator (excuse me, “lift”) to visit his boss.  The lift has no buttons, but knows where to go by voice command.  It’s interaction with James reminded me a bit of a Monty Python style exchange.  It’s a funny scene, but it’s maybe two minutes of the movie.  I ended up wishing the whole film had taken the approach of this one scene.

There are some other fun moments.  The final battle where the Anvians dispense of their foes by karate chopping the air and knocking them down with a, presumably, invisible bolt of some sort did have me laughing.  There is also a bizarre charm to the funky late 60’s sets and costumes (not that the ladies were wearing that much to start with).  But in the end, the film is overly obsessed with titillation resulting in the comedy falling flat.

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