La Nave de los Monstruos
An amazing adventure, La Nave de los Monstruos – aka The Ship of Monsters – is essential global pop cinema viewing, not simply just essential Mexican pop cinema viewing. A purely entertaining spectacle of space ladies who desperately need to replace the missing men from their civilization, thus are quested to scour the galaxy to find suitable males. But despite collected a rogues gallery of interesting monsters, nothing prepares them for the human male and his singing cowboy ways. Those who haven’t seen the film are now confused, not realizing the singing cowboy is presented as the irresistible bit of manliness that the rest of the galaxy is missing. In addition, he introduces the concept of love, which causes jealously and the best case of surprise space vampirism I’ve ever seen in a movie.
The introduction to love concepts aren’t why everyone loves this film, it’s just the gravy on top. The real reason for the season is the amazing monster costumes! We got a crosscut of 1950s man in suit monsters, including a boxy robot. The costumes themselves are spectacular, some having appeared in Mexican cinema before, and a few that will show up again almost a decade later.
The Ship of Monsters takes more than just some of the monster designs from American science fiction films, there is a constant mention of radiation and atomic throughout the movie. The men from the planet Venus all died due to atomic sickness, everyone on Tor’s homeworld died due to nuclear radiation, and Zok’s planet had a radioactive disaster that rendered his entire species nothing but walking talking skeletons. While Mexico wasn’t a direct participant in the Cold War, it does lie in close enough proximity to the US that had any sort of nuclear exchange happened, it would suffer dire consequences as well. So the thought must have been on their minds. Mexico didn’t suffer from weapons being used on it like Japan, so their response in film is more a warning of the possibilities, not a reflection of the destruction of war and atomic horror returned in monstrous form.
The joy of the monsters on the rampage propels The Ship of Monsters into amazing land, and you should track down a copy as soon as you can. Unfortunately, it only seems to be released as part of double DVDs. Where the heck is Criterion? Get on it, cinephiles! This is movie magic, so break out your wands and Wingardium Leviosa a copy to your player.
As all the men on Planet Venus have died due to radiation sickness, the interplanetary fleet is sent out to collect men. During a montage as the credits roll, Gamma and Beta’s ship picks up what is dubbed in the credits as Los Monstruos de las Galaxias:
It’s another Republican primary debate!
Remember: The space ladies were going to have sex with all these guys. Or at least give them cups and dirty magazines.
The monsters are all shoved into a closet, where they will randomly escape from until they’re gassed and forced back into it. The robot Tor tries to warn the women about engine problems, but they just laugh at the silly robot until their engine does malfunction and they have to make an emergency landing on this backwater world known as Antarsis 13, a planetoid of the fourth order. Or Earth, to the locals.
Speaking of locals, we meet one, Lauriano Gomez. He juggles his time between being a singing cowboy and a lying cowboy. No one believes his lies and that causes problems at the saloon.
Being a space lady must be fun, because you get to hang out in a swimsuit all day on you spaceship. Even when they land on Earth, Beta puts on a cool dark uniform, but Gamma just dons another swimsuit. Sure, they are foreshadowing Beta’s dark turn with her outfit, but they could have her be wearing a bat wing bikini as well. The women are shocked when they discover human men – aka Lauriano Gomez. They try a variety of languages until they settle on Spanish, then continually freeze and unfreeze Lauriano as they ask the robot Tor for more information on Mexico.
They freeze the monsters to move them into a cave, then unfreeze them to explain the situation to them. All of the monsters are pretty ticked off that they are kidnapped and vow all sorts of horrible acts of vengeance. It’s cool to see the monsters in their full glory, animatronic mouths moving as they voice threats. Utirr declares “I will destroy your entrails, to the light of Ultares and its seven moons!” The space ladies freeze the monsters once more, though Gamma won’t kill them as she feels guilty that they were kidnapped.
The space ladies stop by Lauriano’s house to ask for directions to a hotel, he ends up convincing them to stay at his place instead. The robot Tor barges in, grabs Lauriano’s young brother Chuy, and begins singing to him. Because that’s what robots do, they randomly sing. Lauriano mentions love, both the space ladies and Tor are confused, as no one has heard of it.
Bender and Leela just can’t stop fighting…
They hypnotize Lauriano to explain it to them. He does…via song thanks to a juke box. The ladies seem rather keen on this love concept, and he demonstrates seduction/kissing on Gamma. Beta then kisses him, then freezes him and requests him as her property. The women are soon arguing over who will get him. This sounds like Captain Kirk should be somewhere in this movie, but Star Trek was only a twinkle in Gene Roddenberry’s eye when La Nave de los Monstruos was arguing about love. Gamma sends Beta away, and soon Lauriano is asking Gamma to marry him.
Also Tor is in love with the juke box, complimenting it on its vacuum tubes.
The Venusian ship is fixed, and it’s time to go, except there’s no Beta. She’s…now a vampire and chomping down a random dude!
WTF random vampirism!?!?! Things just went from nuts to crazy!
Gamma sends Tor to go get her, as it’s against galactic law to drink human blood. The punishment is death, which Gamma will have to reluctantly do to Beta because it’s the law and stuff. But Beta grabs the magic box that freezes people from Gamma and takes over, ordering Tor to obey her only. Beta will turn Earth into giant vampire feeding ground.
Beta recruits the monsters, convincing them that Venus will kill them regardless, and they should join up with her and just conquer Earth. They monsters are pretty excited about the idea. Beta assigns them all tasks: bone guy Zok gets to kill women, Utirr the spider guy gets to kill kids, Uk the cyclops gets to kill animals, and Tagual the Saucer Man will drink blood with her. She treats Tagual as sort of an equal, but not quite equal.
Uk the cyclops goes out and eats a cow (we see the skeleton of the cow, still standing), and Lauriano follows footprints from the skeleton to where Uk is. They fight, and soon the other monsters show up. Lauriano escapes, but his lying ways prevent anyone from believing him.
The monsters soon fight over who gets to date Beta, and Beta sends Tor to go get Lauriano, partially to shut the monsters up, and partially because she still likes him. Lauriano begins laying on the charm and tells her how much he likes her, all in a ruse to steal the magic control belt and free Gamma. Luckily, his singing cowboy ways come in handy as he sings and steals.
He has no clue how to work the box, and runs to the ship and bangs on it until Gamma frees herself enough to take the box and use it to get things under control. Lauriano decides now is a good time to try to get her to marry him and not go back to Venus, but first they must stop the monsters. Priorities, Lauriano!
Fight fight fight fight! Lauriano stabs Utirr the spider guy with his own fang, poisoning him. Tor sets Uk the cyclops’ head on fire! Chuy slingshots Tagual in the eye and his huge head deflates! Gamma fights Beta and Bata flies into a log, impaling herself on a branch!
These monsters seem pretty incompetent.
Gamma sends the robot Tor back to Venus and says she’ll stay on Earth, and Venus must leave Earth alone and solve its own problems. And Tor will teach them about love.
Hey, lady, perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are still no men for the women to propagate the species. Learning about love isn’t going to help make babies. Plus, you seem to be interfering with Earth just fine. So I expect the space ladies came back to Earth and grabbed a bunch of random dudes a few weeks after the film ended, and things resolved themselves. And remember, there was a whole fleet of ships sent out. Just imagine what creepy monsters are on all those other ships!
But until then, we get to watch Tor sing to his jukebox love, as the happy robot couple dances together. What, you’ve never seen a jukebox dance?
Rated 9/10 (atom, commander, broken engine, good morning!, record playing, skeletonize a cow, owl time, Earth suddenly has visible latitude and longitude lines, She’s Batman!)
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