Forgive me but as a science geek, the introductory lines of this film are too offensive to remain unaddressed. We open with a disembodied narrator and a drawing of an atom, “This is an atom.” Cut to a shot of the moon “This is The Universe.” Not really but OK. “An atom is infinitely small.” NO! The whole point of conceptualizing and then finding the atom is to show that the building block of the universe is not infinitely small. “The universe is infinitely large.” This I will have to let pass because it is a possibility, but only one possibility among many. “However everything is ruled by the same laws.” NO! Richard Feynman is rolling over in his grave. In one sentence you have whisked away all of quantum mechanics! How dare you!
Sorry, now we can get back to the movie about a bunch of beautiful, busty babes in leotards and high heels who live on Venus and are in need of men to repopulate the planet. Two intrepid ladies named Gamma and Beta leave Venus on a rocket ship. The interior set for the ship is amazing. Instead of a room with a desk full of buttons they must have blown half the budget on making an intricate and dramatic cockpit.
The women travel through space kidnapping the male of any species they encounter and freezing him in a giant cube of ice for storage until they get back to Venus. Maybe they have some kind of special space thingy that allows interspecies breeding, but I can’t imagine they would be too excited about mating with these specimens. In fact, Beta doesn’t seem so keen on the idea but Gamma explains, “He’s a male, a strange and terrible one, but a male none the less.” Seems like a good tag line for Tinder.
Soon our courageous, curvy conquerer’s capture and enslave an alien robot named Torr. He can be a bit condescending but he is very helpful. He also may have been the inspiration for Bender from Matt Groening’s Futurama.
Torr has a screen where his mouth should be and he shows the ladies one-minute educational montages of whatever they need to know. “Mexico: Semi-tropical country situated between the north and central meridians. For all, they’ve tried the Mexicans haven’t been to destroy it.” Pithy and straight forward. his contributions often sound like an entry in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
The ladies land on earth and stumble across Laureano, the singing cowboy. He’s a little campy, a little suave, and a little bit of a wise-guy comedian. He has several singing numbers in the movie, all of them in the traditional Conjunto style. Conjunto is the accordion and guitar waltzes that singers like Flaco Jimenez used to play.
Laureano rides his trusty steed and sings his songs with spoken commentary between the lines as if he is parodying himself, “Love is always between two because between three, well now, that’s just French. Well in France they fix things very prettily, kisses everywhere. Not here, it’s always bullets. Not that I am afraid of bullets. I’m just afraid of the holes they make.”
From here on, the plot gets a little crazy. The two voluptuous Venusians decide to hide their male specimens in a cave while they get to know Laureano a little better. They unfreeze the menagerie of males temporarily and we have a little argument over colonialism. Tawal, Prince of Mars, insists “We are free men of the galaxy, we demand our liberty!” But the ladies pay him no mind, he is just breeding stock. There is one male specimen that is just a walking horse skeleton. I don’t know how they will mate with him but I suppose he won’t have any trouble getting a boner (sorry).
The alluring aliens are soon aroused by Laureano’s clever banter and lovey singing and before you know it they are fighting over him. Laureano tries to explain to them about humans, love, and sex, and as a result, we get the infamous “What is this thing you call love?” scene from far too many Star Trek episodes.
In the heat of the arguing over Laureano, Beta reveals that she is not in fact Venutian but a Uranite (her word, not mine). Apparently, Uranites are all vampires so Beta sprouts fangs and turns into a bat. I mean why the hell not? If quantum mechanics is wrong anything is possible. It is also possible that Beta may have been privy to Plan 9 in some way because she releases all the captive monster men and sends them to destroy the world while she sucks everyone’s blood.
In one scene the cycloptic monster-man named Uk stumbles across Laureano’s beloved cow Lolobrijida. Uk attacks her as the camera cuts away. Later when poor Laureano returns home he is greeted by the fully intact and posed skeleton of Lolobrijida as if she stood very still while being devoured. Oh, and she happened to have an iron stand inside her to prop up her bones. Not your average holstein.
All hell breaks loose as the monsters make their way into town until Laureano manages to steal the power control weapon thingy from Beta. It’s a black box she carries around like a purse. He sings her a song and dances with her in a cave until he manages to hurry away with the box.
Then there’s fighting and shooting and singing and then Gamma and Leandro fall deeply in love. Together they vanquish all the monsters and decide to live happily ever after on earth. Who cares about all her sisters back on Venus, she’s got a man, a singing man, a singing cowboy man, with a mustache!
This extremely entertaining film was made in 1960 by Rogelio A. González in Mexico. It’s one of 70 films he directed. Ship of Monsters is not a “so bad it’s good film.” It’s a low budget but genuinely wonderful film. Eulalio González as Leandro is funny and charming. Our two Venusians were played by beauty pageant queens Ana Bertha Lepe and Lorena Velázquez. The music and costumes were great. It even managed to address some issues of imperialism and gender politics. What more could you want? I suppose a little respect for Schrödinger would be nice.