Perhaps best described as a more sophisticated occasionally psychedelic companion piece to Orgy of the Dead (1965).
You can’t blame screen wannabes and future Hammer queens Swedish bombshell Yutte Stensgaard (Lust for the Vampire, 1970) and Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, 1971) for wanting to kick-start their careers any way they can. But you have to wonder what career nadir James Robertson Justice (Doctor in Distress, 1963) and Dawn Addams (The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, 1960) found themselves in to have signed up.
Compared to Orgy of the Dead this has a helluva plot though it takes its sweet time getting there. Secret Agent James Word (Robin Hawdon) has the details of his previous mission (to Scotland!) dragged out of him – no torture required just strip poker followed by sex – by secretary Ann (Yutte Steensgaard).
The story, told in flashback, recounted by Word mostly in bed – perhaps this is where Game of Thrones acquired the notion of “sexposition” – concerns the efforts of spy boss Major Bourdon (James Robertson Justice) to prevent Zeta (Dawn Addams) leader of a race of women from repopulating her planet Angvia by kidnapping females from Earth, having set her eyes this time on a Soho stripper.
The Wonder Woman race of women theme – the Sumuru version a bit more aggressive – has been given a good airing in contemporary times, but where those ancient Amazons kept themselves busy with sport and battle training, the Angvian women do little more than disport themselves in the most minimal of costumes – even for contemplation and hibernation – although to be fair topless nudity is hidden from prying eyes by the use of purple nipple pasties. There’s a definite hint of bondage in costumes held together by rope and the Sapphic angle is teased out.
Bear in mind this was made before alien abduction became a huge trend but the idea of men being kidnapped for the sole purpose of impregnating beautiful women might be the real reason why so many cases of alien kidnapping later came to light.
The women are superior in every way, peaceful and with an aristocratic bearing, though with a tendency to wear trendy thigh-high boots, and willing to put up with the intrusion of an occasional male for the sake of perpetuating their community. But the men, as instanced by the Major and Word, are a pretty crude and dumb bunch. Word is only too happy to indulge every female he comes across without appearing to extract any information while the Major, clearly lacking the sex appeal to get himself into a similar situation, relies on cruder means, torture the most obvious.
If it weren’t so crass you could point to feminism, a superior world that survives mostly independent of men without their base desires and who can channel inner power when it comes to physical confrontation rather than relying on old-fashioned weaponry. At its worst it’s just a parade of naked and semi-naked women (Ann, for example, rarely seen clothed), but at its best it’s a somewhat ham-fisted sci fi spoof with it has to be said the occasional burst of humor (the names, for example, have connotations) and if nothing else should provide a cautionary tale for stars whose careers are imploding.
This was produced by Hammer’s sometime rival, Tigon, the Tony Tenser outfit that sexed up the horror field. It’s ironic that the three stars, Stensgaard, Leon and also Robin Hawdon (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970) were snapped up by the competitor for later top-billing. I’m not sure we heard any more of Yutte’s original voice than we did in Lust for a Vampire where she was more famously dubbed.
The first and last film of director Michael Cort who co-wrote the screenplay with Alistair McKenzie, who never wrote another one either, possibly a separate cautionary tale.
You might enjoy it more by star-watching. Carry On favorite Charles Hawtrey pops up as Bourdon’s sidekick and you can spot the future “wifelet” of the Marquess of Bath Hungarian Anna Gael (Bridge at Remagen, 1968), German Brigitte Skay (Isabella, Duchess of the Devils, 1969), British character actor Rita Webb (The Strange Affair, 1968) and Carol Hawkins (TV series The Fenn Street Gang, 1971-1973).
I came to this having wondered about the apparent demise of Dawn Addam’s career after Where the Bullets Fly (1966). That’ll teach me to indulge my curiosity. The best you can say is she doesn’t disgrace herself, not being required to strip, and has a more commanding presence than the random James Robertson Justice who just looks suitably embarrassed.
2 thoughts on “Zeta One / The Love Factor (1969) **”
I’ve been following Leon on Twitter, wished her a happy birthday last week, she’s in London today doing a guest appearance. I’d suggest tweeting this to her if it wasn’t for this film being so much more fun to read about than to watch; Zeta One is absolutely awful.
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Those involved might have a different memory. Why don’t you ask?
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