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- English: DTS-HD Mono
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Zeta One: Remastered Edition (Blu-ray)
Kino Video / 1969 / 84 Minutes / Rated R
Street Date: March 19, 2013
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- List Price: $24.95
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Reviewed by Bryan Kluger
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I live for films like 'Zeta One.' It's a shame we don't have this genre of cinema anymore. The 60s and 70s were truly a great and bizarre time for all kinds of silly exploitation films that spoofed the more well known movies of the time. In this particular film, we have a James Bond type character in the middle of an intergalactic scheme, complete with technicolor costumes, soft core funky porn music, and enough breasts for two movies.
This falls into the "so bad, it's good" category as nothing in this sexploitation flick is high quality or dramatic. Its characters are dull, the plot is pointless, the pace is slow, and the set designs are so cheap that it looks like a third grader decorated each set. That being said, you don't watch this type of movie to be wowed by it's cinematic marvel. The sole purpose of films like 'Zeta One' is to make you laugh at how cheesy and bad they are, and of course to watch the crowd of gorgeous girls running around nude. And with that, this trashy piece of movie history succeeds.
We mostly center on a man named Word, James Word (Robin Hawdon), who plays the Bond-esque character, however, we never see him doing any spy work. Rather we see Word under the sheets with naked women as he constantly divulges important information of his missions after the latest dirty deed is done. In a flashback sequence, Word explains the main plot of the movie, which entails a far off planet called Angvia (which is an anagram for... well I'll let you figure that out), which is led by an interstellar alien goddess called Zeta, who rules over what seems to be an utopia-like place where women bathe themselves and are constantly nude.
However we discover that Zeta is kidnapping women from other planets, especially Earth, and transporting them back to her planet and brainwashing them into this utopian state of mind. Doesn't sound half-bad, does it? Zeta has honed in on a new specimen on planet Earth named Teddy (Wendy Lingham), who is a stripper with the stage name of 'Clarissa Richambeaux: Queen of the G-String'. However, an evil man named Major Bourden (James Robertson Justice), without any reason, hates Zeta and has his evil henchman track her and the other brainwashed, naked women down in effort to destroy her and Angvia. Can Zeta activate 'Action 69' to stop the evil Major Bourden in time?
Where does Word fit into this? Mostly nowhere, as he is constantly courting women and taking them to bed, rather than trying to figure out how to solve this ridiculous string of events. I've really never seen a scene that involved a poker game that occurred in real-time. Leave it to 'Zeta One' to fix that. Towards the start of the movie, Word and his secretary Anne (Yutte Stensgaard and clearly a Moneypenny-like character) get involved in a game of strip poker. There is no reason for this that I could tell other than to see a naked woman and ensure this film has athe running time of an actual feature length movie.
There is a sea of references to James Bond, Barbarella, and other old cheesy sci-fi romps, and I imagine the idea of 'Austin Powers' and some of its characters were derived from this movie. In addition to its terrible script and slow moving pace, there are quite a bit of editing issues that plagued these cheap grindhouse type of films from this era. Also, it looks like the set designer had a budget of about $100 dollars to make us visualize what a futuristic and technologically advanced world might look like, by adding store bought tin foil and cheap fabric.
The score is funky yet extremely corny, to the point that you will laugh out loud every time the music starts. While 'Zeta One' is awful, I just have a whole-hearted love for this type of bad cinema. It's a lot of fun watching these types of movies with friends with a few beers on tap while we all mock it from start to finish. I love owning these exploitation films and showing them to newcomers as they showcase just how terribly something can be made, and the finished project will leave you wanting more and laughing about it for days.
'Zeta One' comes with a presented as is 1080p HD transfer said it has been restored from the 35mm negative in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Kino is known for releasing "as is" video, meaning that there has been no digital clean up of any sort. With this in mind, there are plenty of dirt specs and other nuances that pop up throughout the film, with a layer of grain. Most of the time, I would come down hard on a video presentation like this, however this being the trashy film that it is, these imperfections simply add character to the movie. I only wished it was cleaned up better than this.
The colors are very bright, with tons of neons and vibrant colors, which never seem to be over-saturated. The detail is decent enough but is never very sharp and seems soft at times. The flesh tones, and there are tons of exposed flesh, always seem to be natural, which is key to a movie like this. The black levels run fairly deep here as well. I did not notice any edge enhancement or image noise with this and made for a good and nostalgic way to watch this movie.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD Mono Audio mix, which, given the material and how it was recorded, does its job the best it can. I wish this had a better audio presentation, as there are some instances of hissing and cracks from time to time. However, with these annoying pops, the dialogue is very easy to understand and mostly clear. There is no directionality to this and the dynamic range is on the low end of things. The score however is where the audio mix shines. It's loud and funky as we can hear every instrument play those cheesy sounds that all come together to make this soft-core porn soundtrack.
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'Zeta One' is awful from start to finish on almost every level, however this movie packs enough fun, laughs, and breasts for endless nights of enjoyment, especially if you're with friends or showing this to someone for the first time. I still hate the fact that Kino never adds a subtitle track to their releases, as a lot of their audio mixes are poor quality. The video and audio do have their problems, but I believe it's all part of this exploitation experience. And with only a couple of trailers on the disc, I might be inclined to say skip this release, but this genre of film needs to be seen and enjoyed, and I'm glad studios are releasing the rare oddities like 'Zeta One'. If you're a fan of this type of film, definitely pick up a copy.
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