2 + 5: Mission Hydra (1965)

2 + 5: MISSION HYDRA (1965)
(a.k.a. STAR PILOTS / 2 + 5: MISSIONE HYDRA)
Article #1613 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-14-2005
Posting Date: 1-11-2006
Directed by Pietro Francisi
Featuring Leonora Ruffo, Mario Nevelli, Roland Lesaffre

Scientists investigate radiation readings in Sardinia, only to discover they come from a stranded spaceship inhabited by aliens intent on using the humans to fix their spaceship and help them return to Hydra.

Some thoughts on 2 + 5: MISSION HYDRA…

1) Italian science fiction movies from the sixties can be frustrating to watch. They’re usually hard to follow, shrill, busy and directed by Antonio Margheriti. However, they all look good next to this one, one of the most incoherent and confusing movies ever made.

2) Why is it incoherent? No doubt, a bad script translation and awful dubbing are partially to blame. However, that doesn’t seem to be the worst problem, which is that huge chunks of exposition seem to have been forgotten, and the movie is edited in such a way that when explanations do arrive, they are either so divorced from the situations they’re explaining that they’re of no use, or there’s something else going on to distract you from the explanation. At any rate, trying to follow the plot of this film is enough to give you a headache. I’ve seen the movie almost eight times, and I’m still not sure what’s going on most of the time.

3) In the above comment, I mentioned being distracted during the movie. This is not a vague comment, but a reference to one specific element of the film; namely, actress Leontine May. No, she’s not distracting because she’s so beautiful; she’s distracting because she’s the most blatant scene stealer in the history of cinema. Practically every moment she’s on the screen, she is striking poses, making gestures, primping, or wearing bizarre outfits, all of which seems designed to draw the viewer’s attention from the business at hand to looking at her. And the movie just lets her get away with it. I know people who’ve seen this film who’ve speculated as to just how many people on the production crew she must have been sleeping with (director, cinematographer, costumer, etc.) to get away with this level of scene-stealing.

4) As long as we’re on the subject of Leontine’s costumes, let me mention a couple of the more memorable ones. In the second half of the movie she wears what looks to be a red full-body fishnet stocking with tufts of feathers to cover up the naughty bits, and in the early part of the movie she wears black pants with wide white stripes which are so eye-catching that you can do nothing in those scenes but stare at her pants. Still, those pants do serve a purpose; since the movie does such a poor job of establishing who plays who or getting you to remember the names of the characters, it does give you a chance to come up with a handy nickname for her character; namely, Skunk Girl.

5) If you can somehow get your attention away from Skunk Girl for a few moments, you might notice that sword-and-sandal mainstays Kirk Morris and Gordon Mitchell also appear in the movie.

6) The movie is full of howlingly funny and inappropriate lines. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t funny unless you see them in the context of the movie. However, one has become a bit of a legend among those of my friends who have viewed this one; namely, when several gun-wielding Oriental spies show up and take the time to tell the heroes that “We’re not Chinese – We’re Oriental!”

7) At about the hour mark in this film, we have a segment of footage about a space station full of characters who hadn’t shown up in the movie so far, and once the sequence is over, are never heard of again. I sometimes wonder if footage from the wrong movie ended up in this one. It’s hard to tell; it’s only marginally more incoherent than the rest of the movie.

8) This movie was released in the late seventies after the success of STAR WARS. For this release, it was renamed STAR PILOTS. What I wouldn’t give to have attended a screening of this one at that time just to see the reactions of people expecting a STAR WARS-style extravaganza.

9) There are moments here where characters leave the spaceship while its in flight to either work on the outside of it or to visit another nearby spaceship. From the way these people propel themselves in deep space during these scenes, I can only come to one conclusion: there are free-floating trampolines in space.

10) Yes, I will reiterate here that I’ve probably seen this movie eight times. Why? I think I’m just fascinated by a movie this jumbled that it takes that many viewings just to figure out what’s going on. Or maybe I’m just a masochist. At any rate, you should now have enough information to know whether this one is worth your effort or not. It’s recommended only for people like me and anyone really into skunk pants.

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