BarbarellaBarbarella
Director: Roger Vadim

Cast: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law and Anita Pallenberg
Review by Brian M. Sammons

This is a trippy, ’60s, sexy, sci-fi adventure that I first saw as a young teenager on late night cable. Naturally when I saw the beautiful Jane Fonda doing her zero-G striptease, I suddenly found myself very interested in this weird movie, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. Hey, this was before the internet and this was as close to porn as I could get. So Ms. Fonda supplied ample material for my spank bank, but other than that, I really didn’t like this movie all that much.

Jump to 2012 and I am much older, hopefully wiser, and a flick can’t just win me over with nice pair of sweater puppies anymore. So when I got this new Blu-ray from Paramount I honestly didn’t know how I would take to this movie. Would it be a nice bit of nostalgia, something better Fondaly (ha, see what I did there?) remembered than actually experienced, or would I appreciate it now as a grown man in a way a horny teen could not? Well let’s just say that I was surprised on many levels with my most recent trip through the groovy galaxy with Barbarella.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that this movie was rated PG. Really? With all of Ms. Fonda’s lovely bits on display and all the sexual situations, I can’t believe it. There’s no way in hell this would be rated PG today, not even PG-13. How sad is it that America has taken huge steps backwards to our puritanical roots as far as the MPAA is concerned, but I digress.

Now this isn’t to say that this movie is some soft core, Skinemax flick, but it is, shall we say, racy. The film begins with the aforementioned gravity-free strip, then our heroine gets dressed in a spacesuit with a clear chest piece to make sure her goods are not covered up, she encounters a couple of aliens, has sex with them, has a memorable encounter with a huge sex organ (no really) and I could go on and on listing all the titillating bits, but that would do this movie an injustice as Barbarella is more than a collection of naughty bits. It’s also way weird and pretty funny too.

Barbarella is a beautiful woman, cruising the galaxy in her shag carpeted spaceship, who one day gets a call from the president of the unified earth who wants her to find a scientist named Durand Durand who has made a death ray. She crashes on an alien world, gets abducted by a bunch of kids, goes for a manta ray ski ride, is attacked by dolls with metal teeth, and that’s all in the first twenty minutes. So without giving away all the wonderful odd parts, let’s just say that Barbarella goes to a wicked city built over a Lovecraftian-like entity that feeds off evil deeds and thoughts, nearly dies to a swarm of killer parakeets, boinks an angel (yep it always goes back to sex), and helps lead a revolution against The Great Tyrant. And yes, that is me leaving a bunch of the weirdness out.

The movie is chock full of ’60s psychedelic goodness, so it acts as a nice time capsule for that Flower Power decade for anyone too young to have experienced it themselves. It’s also very funny at times, like when the villain tries to sex Barbarella to death with an orgasm machine, only to have the sexy space lady short out the machine. Or when she has sexy future style and it literally curls her hair. And no, not every joke in this movie is about sex, but the majority of them are, and that’s fine with me.

Perhaps the only down side to this new Blu-ray release is the actual Blu-ray itself. It’s as barebones as barebones gets with the only extra being a trailer. Oh yay, can’t you just feel the love Paramount has for this movie? Well at least the film looked pretty darn good for being 44 years old. I guess that’s the most important thing, but still, you expect more from a Blu-ray and I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with this disc’s lack of any special features. Yeah I’m sure Jane Fonda doesn’t want to talk about this film now, but I’m also sure someone out there wants to.

While I wish Barbarella had a better Blu-ray release, it is a great slice of sexy sixties cinema that’s still as much fun today as it was all those years ago. For fans of surreal sci-fi with a fun and sexy edge, you can’t do much better than Barbarella. In one word, this movie is fun. I enjoyed it a lot, and not just for the awesome free-floating stripping. Although that sure didn’t hurt.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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