1/19/07

819 Invasion of the Neptune Men

(1961, Children/Action-Superhero, b&w)

This is the Neptunian Bay of Pigs.

Rating: 1/2*

In a nutshell:

The ineffectual Space Chief defends the earth from the even less effectual Neptune Men.

Summary:

Prince of Space...Chief.For the sake of relieving my boredom with this film, and for the sake of dressing up a plot that is aggravatingly free of content, I will break the summary into three parts, each describing roughly thirty minutes of screen time. Enjoy, won’t you?

Part I: The Neptune Men Invade, But No One Notices: Six to twelve male children in short shorts frolic through the fields of rural Japan. The bullet-headed Neptune Men land nearby to strangle them. A man in a flying car arrives to jump around several feet away. This causes the Neptune Men to fall down. The kids name their costumed savior “Space Chief,” and run to a nearby top-secret military installation to warn the adults. No one believes them.

Part II: The Neptune Men Invade Some More, And Everyone Notices: The Neptune Men make clocks, record players, and trains run backwards all over the globe. This causes a nuclear reactor to explode. Fortunately Japan has a spare, and uses it to power an energy shield to keep the Neptune Men’s bombs away from their cities. Some Neptune Men dress as lady soldiers and infiltrate the reactor base. Acting on the warnings of six to twelve male children in short shorts, Space Chief kills the pseudo-female interlopers—but not before they blow up that reactor as well. Fortunately, Japan has yet another spare. Unfortunately, the Neptune Men come inside the energy shield during the brief outage.

Part III: The Neptune Men Get Their Rear Ends Kicked, Eventually: The Neptune Men fly around and blow things up, while Space Chief flies around trying to stop them, while six to twelve male children in short shorts cower in fear. The little problem from Neptune is eventually solved with a lot of surface to air missiles.

There, now wasn’t that enjoyable?

Introduction:

Taking solace in memories of happier times.Tom and Crow read about eyelash mites in an issue of National Geographic, and decide the little monsters simply must go. Mike tries to tell them it’s a symbiotic relationship—the mites eat bits of food and garbage and keep his eyelashes clean—but Tom says they’re ravenous eyelash monsters that ravage eyelash villages. Crow appeals to him to think of the tiny, big-eyed eyelash children.

Host Segment One:

The nanites invade Mike’s eyelashes, and are slaughtered by the superior tactics of the eyelash mites. Tom and Crow blame Mike for their deaths in grim narration set to Barber’s Adagio. Quoth Mike, “Can’t the nanites just repair themselves?” It turns out they can. Down in Roman times, “Mad Goth” Bobo enjoys his celebrity status at post-fight party. A nude, forty-foot statue of him is unveiled, much to Pearl and Brain Guy’s horror. They put off their suicides and agree to recover Bobo, thus protecting the space-time continuum and the continued existence of Chicken In A Biscuit crackers. Up in the Satellite, Mike’s newly mite-free eyelashes have become choked with filth and debris.

Host Segment Two:

The ‘Bots prepare to stage a Kabuki play for Mike. Mike says he likes Kabuki, but he prefers Noh Theater. “So you don’t like any theater at all,” say the ‘Bots. Who’s On First-ish confusion ensues.

Host Segment Three:

Servo has contracted a disease called Roji-Panty Complex. (Actually, it’s the name of the odd alien metal used by the Neptune Men.) Mike administers panties while Tom begs him for more. “Your body can only absorb so many panties per hour,” says Mike. Down in Roman times, Pearl and Brain Guy whisper to Bobo from behind some makeshift foliage. Given grapes and a forty-foot statue, Bobo doesn’t care that he can’t remember his past life. Flavia arrives to cut down the foliage and chase Pearl and Brain Guy away.

Host Segment Four:

Broken by the empty wretchedness of the film, Mike and the ‘Bots embrace suicidal despair. The Phantom of Krankor arrives from episode 816 to laugh his interminable laugh and spew awkward invective. The Satellite crew catches him off guard by welcoming him with open arms. They laugh together and tell lame jokes that eventually break down into tearful expressions of appreciation. They have a group hug, and Krankor goes home.

Host Segment Five:

Crow has made a suggestion box and stuffed it with suggestions for Japan. He leads off by suggesting that they stop making movies, and then moves on to cast aspersions on Sailor Moon and Sumo wrestling. Down in Roman times, Pearl and Brain Guy wait in line for Bobo’s autograph. Pearl uses her turn to try and help him remember, but breaks her slate over his head when he flirts. The blow jogs his memory, and he blurts out Pearl and Brain Guy’s true identities at an inopportune time. Quoth Flavia, “Guards, seize them!” To be continued...

Stinger:

The chunky kid falls down.

Thoughts:

Phantom of...Neptune...Men...I guess.Invasion of the Neptune Men is just like Prince of Space, only less so. Everything bad I said about the latter applies to the former. Regrettably, this is not also true of the latter film’s good points.

Of note, this film contains the longest, most pointless scene portrayed in the MST3K canon. (In case you’re interested, the second longest, most pointless scene is the sandstorm sequence from Hercules Against the Moon Men, and the third longest, most pointless scene is the rock-climbing sequence in Lost Continent.) I refer, of course, to the bombing run/dogfight at the end of the film. The aerial footage lasts a full fifteen minutes (the counter read 1:11 at the beginning and 1:26 at the end) and one could make a convincing argument that the lead-up and denouement count as well, taking the total time well above twenty minutes. It consists of spaceship model footage, followed by stock footage of World War II bombings, followed by the same spaceship model footage, followed by the same stock footage of World War II bombings, repeated ad nauseum. The only remotely interesting thing that happens is the destruction of a building plastered with an enormous banner pledging Japan’s support to Adolph Hitler. Seriously, it’s got an eight-story picture of the infamous xenophobe giving the whole country a Nazi salute. I can’t imagine why the filmmakers thought it would be appropriate to include this image in a children’s film, made more than a decade after the Third Reich’s genocide came to light. Unfortunately, they only show it explode once.

Once again, the best host segments take place on the Satellite of Love. My favorite by far is the Kabuki vs. Noh Theater sketch—a funny idea executed with impeccable timing by Mike and the ‘Bots. Mike’s “Police Action” against the eyelash mites works well too. Tom’s Roji-Panty Complex is a great idea, but it goes sadly underused to make way for more competent but bland story-advancing scenes down in Roman times. Crow’s anti-Japan rant makes a funny point about that culture’s fixation with prepubescent gun-toting blondes, but then it peters out without a real punchline.

One of my favorite lines in the film segments happens when a pair of railroad workers steps away from their work at a broken bit of track to let the train go past. This leads to Crow’s question, “Do the Japanese practice ‘Just In Time’ railroad repair?” Other funny comments include Mike’s summation of all the war footage, “Let’s face it, this is the only thing mankind has ever done well,” and their unison recitation of, “Ha, ha, ha, ha! Your costume is ridiculous!” when Space Chief and the Neptune Men meet each other for the first time. The comments become sparse near the end; the dogfight is so tedious that Mike and Crow run out of things to say about it and walk out of the theater for several minutes, leaving Tom to make desperate, unrelated quips about the Magnificent Ambersons. Invasion of the Neptune Men is the second of two Japanese superhero films appearing this season. I suppose you could watch both of them, but you’d probably have a lot more fun watching Prince of Space twice.