VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN
THE GILL WOMEN OF VENUS
Roger Corman was also noted for taking a number of young novice directors under his wing and granting them their first opportunities to get a foothold in the industry at the same time as taking advantage of their willingness to work for peanuts just to get a break. These Prehistoric Planet films alone gave breaks to names like Francis Ford Coppola, Curtis Harrington, Stephanie Rothmann and Star Wars (1977) producer Gary Kurtz. With Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, Roger Corman gave a break to a young Peter Bogdanovich who directs the film from behind the pseudonym Derek Thomas, as well as narrates under his own name. A year later, Corman donated Peter Bogdanovich three days of an unused contract he had for Boris Karloff and Bogdanovich went away to make the excellent psycho-thriller Targets (1968) and secured a career for himself. Subsequently, Peter Bogdanovich would go onto make acclaimed films like The Last Picture Show (1971), Whats Up Doc? (1972), Paper Moon (1973), Nickelodeon (1976) and Mask (1985).
Three-quarters plus of Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is comprised of footage taken from the two Russian science-fiction films. The launch, the docking with the space station and journey to the planet all comes from The Heavens Call, while the scenes exploring the surface of Venus are from Storm Planet. Peter Bogdanovich has shot about 15-20 minutes of original scenes with the mermaid women. There is no dialogue in any of these scenes they, and the whole of the film, are all narrated by Bogdanovich.
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women falls into the cliches of various 1950s science-fiction films such as Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Cat Women of the Moon (1953), Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1955), Queen of Outer Space (1958) that see outer space as a male sex fantasy that is populated by races of desirable women and no men. The downside of this is that, due to the very nature of the way that Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women was made, the astronauts (which appear in footage that comes from the Russian material) and the mermaid women (which come from footage that was shot by Peter Bogdanovich) never end up meeting, which is usually the payoff in these other films. There is a cheesy corniness to the scenes of the blonde mermaid women lounging about on rocks and occasionally dipping into the ocean. For these scenes, Bogdanovich has simply cast a bunch of Malibu beach bunnies (including Mamie Van Doren as the leader of the group). The scenes of them in their seashell bikinis and low-rider flared pants with the tan lines clearly visible are rather silly.
The film has a very peculiar ending. The mermaid women end up tearing down their monument to the reptile god Terra, seeing it as useless, but then resurrect the robot that was abandoned in the middle of a lava flow by the astronauts (a scene from Storm Planet) and make it into their new god. It is a scene that has a weird B movie pulp poetry to it.
Full film available online here:-