Blu-ray. Region B. 101 Films. 12.
Opportunities to plug the gaps in your Mario Bava collection are always welcome… but some are decidedly less welcome than others. Dr Goldfoot & The Girl Bombs (1966) is a typical example of the Superspy craze that briefly gripped Italian studios in the wake of James Bond’s brisk box office business… so very typical that the signal baroque visual flair and black wit that lit up Bava’s sorties into so many other genres are totally submerged in the desperate zaniness of this uninspired yarn. “Meet the girls with the thermo-nuclear navels”? Ah well, if we have to…
Vincent Price is the eponymous doc, an evil (albeit camp-as-a-row-of-tents) genius whose explosive dolly bird androids are copping off with, then blowing up, a series of high ranking Nato generals. This leaves only General Willis, who’s a dead ringer for Goldfoot (i.e. also played by Price.) When the latter kidnaps this guy and assumes his identity, it leaves him in charge of an H-bomb that he intends to drop on Moscow, kickstarting a nuclear dust-up that will eliminate the US and USSR, leaving Goldfoot free to divide up what remains of the world with his Chinese backers. None of which is remotely as interesting as it sounds…
This US / Italian co-production manages to kill two birds (along with 82 minutes of your life and several million of your brain cells) with one stone. AIP released it in The States (under the DG&TGB handle) as a sequel to Norman Taurog’s Dr Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine from the previous year, in which Frankie Avalon thwarted Price in the execution of a similarly nefarious masterplan. The budget of Girl Bombs doesn’t even extend to re-emplying Avalon so here we get the low-rent pretender to his crooning beach beefcake crown, Fabian, aided and abetted by lovely Laura Antonelli (in her first credited screen appearance) and “The Two Idiots”, Franco & Ciccio. To 21st Century British sensibilities, this Sicilian double act’s comedy stylings are… er, broad enough to make On The Buses look like Seinfeld. But they were such a big deal in the land of the big boot that this film was released over there as Le Spie Vengono Dal Semifreddo (“The Spies Who Came In From The Frozen Custard”) and marketed as a sequel to their antics in Giorgio Simonelli’s 1965 Goldfinger Spoof, Due Mafioso Contro Goldfinger. Bava allegedly had more control over the Italian cut but as this means several more minutes of Franco & Ciccio, I’m happy to leave it to Tim Lucas to do the “compare and contrast” duties.
Although he puts in an amusing saintly cameo, Bava’s heart isn’t sufficiently invested in the proceedings for him to rein in Price’s thespian excesses (and why should he even attempt to do so… this is Dr Goldfoot & The frickin’Girl Bombs, after all, not Witchfinder General) and I don’t imagine anything (short of a judicious tasering or two) could ever have induced Franco and Ciccio to cool it. In fact by the end of film they’re confined to some sub-zero Siberian gulag, which is probably the best place for them. Antonelli prettifies the proceedings with a fresh faced charm and lightness of touch that’s a far cry from the controversial roles for which she would subsequently be noted (though her briefly glimpsed, libidinous robotic doppelgänger foreshadows the manipulative sex-pot unveiled in Salvatore Samperi’s Malizia, 1973.)
With Bava’s personal and formidable bag of cinematic tricks reduced to such cliches as speeded-up fight scenes and hall-of-mirror dance routines (Les Baxter’s feeble sub-Bacharach score failing to punch up the “action”), this is strictly kiddy matinee fare and I assume that’s where the young Mike Myers saw this clinker and was sufficiently impressed by it to later nick the ideas for fembots and a super-villain named Goldmember for his Austin Powers trilogy. If you want to see what Bava is really capable of in a shagadelic 60’s comic book context, you obviously need to be checking out the brilliant Diabolik (1968.) I’m amazed that the BBFC have handed DG&TGB a ’12’ certificate, attributed on the packaging to “dangerous behaviour” (sure, I’d hate for some impressionable 11 year old to watch this and then nuke Moscow!)
101 have simultaneously released The Lou Ferrigno Collection in a great VFM Blu-ray pack, affording you all the opportunity to gawp incredulously at Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules 1 and 2 and Sinbad Of The Seven Seas, for which Cozzi and Enzo Castellari persist in blaming each other. Mrs Freudstein (Tess to her friends) and I are currently enjoying Lou’s antics in the Donald Trump version of Celebrity Apprentice… I’ll try and post a review of this impressive package before Trump gets into The White House, at which point girls with thermo-nuclear navels might prove to be the least of our worries!