A sexy sci-fi caper starring a bevy of naked alien astronauts and Charles Hawtrey?
The first attempt to mix British sex comedy with an episode of Star Trek, Zeta One is partially based on a comic strip that appeared in short-lived fantasy magazine Zeta in the late 1960s.
Adapted for the big screen by writer/director Michael Cort, the story is told in flashback by British secret agent James Word (played with the minimum amount of effort by Robin Hawdon), whose prime objectives are shagging blonde girls in his funky plastic apartment and smoking in bed. Apart from that, he does absolutely nothing.
His boss, ‘W’, despatches his nubile secretary, Yutte Stensgaard, to visit Hawdon at home for an intimate chat. He immediately wants to slip her a few classified inches. She, however, just wants to hear him recount his latest top secret mission.
They agree to compromise by playing strip poker first, a laboriously sluggish game, the build-up to which lasts some 15 brain-numbing minutes . . .
Zeta (Dawn Addams) is the leader of a giant colony of extraterrestrial superwomen from the planet Angvia (it’s an anagram for the lady bits, geddit?) who abduct earth-women, brainwash them and transport them back to their world through a time machine.
The only benefit seems to be that the women get to wear long black wigs, suede mini-dresses and white, thigh-high patent leather boots.
As the Angvians continue their spree of kidnapping – using Valerie Leon as their chief abductor – the aliens’ activities come to the attention of gruff ‘public enemy number one’ Major Bourdon and his simpering, effeminate ‘henchman’, Swyne.
Played by James Robertson Justice and Charles Hawtrey respectively, this has to be the low point of both men’s careers. These baffling star turns culminate in the bizarre, and not entirely welcome, spectacle of Justice and Hawtrey torturing a topless Carol Hawkins (an Angvian girl they have kidnapped) on a medieval rack.
A bunch of topless Angvians – naked bar skimpy knickers and the icing from Midget Gems stuck on their nipples – invade Justice’s secret hideaway en masse and do battle with his calamitous band of tweed-capped gamekeepers.
Suddenly all is well in the mysterious world of large-breasted space ladies and even secret agent Hawdon gets abducted by Yutte (an alien in disguise, you see) and made to inseminate all the Angvian women in a prolonged bout of fifth-dimensional sperm donation.
Zeta One is camp, colourful space-junk enlivened only by Martin Gascoigne’s innovative set design – big plastic shapes, shimmering foil walls and flashing multi-coloured chequer-board lights – and a sequence or two filmed through a lava lamp.
The endless rushing-about and cheap special effects are basic in the extreme, and if it weren’t for the topless lovelies you would definitely think this was filmed for the entertainment of children.
James Robertson Justice