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20090919

Flesh & Drones

Entry 1606 posted in: 7. Star Trek - The Original Sucker


Movie Poster Does anyone remember Signs, the 2002 movie by M. Night Shyamalan? Hundreds of aliens play peek-a-boo with the world population, tension rises to Fahrenheit 451 and in the end it all comes down to the fact that these aliens urgently needed lunch and mistook ZZ9 plural Z Alpha for the restaurant at the end of the universe. What a stupid lot of alien buggers they were weren’t they? Lucky for me there still is badmovies.org that is a constant source of inspiration. Their review of Sins Of The Fleshapoids made me watch the movie and it must have been the most miserable 47 minutes of my life. But that, of course, is what Bad Movies is all about.

A review that won’t be found on Bad Movies is the 1977 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Love Drones. Aliens want to conquer Earth and their attempt is far more intelligent than the green lizards strategy in Signs.

The Plot (contains spoilers)

It is 8:02 AM. George Reevis (Eric Edwards) gets out of bed and goes to the bathroom to have a morning pee. His girlfriend Joann (Joann Dudd), wearing a cute nightgown, listens to the news on the radio clock and hears how an unidentified space ship has been signalled outside the Earth’s atmosphere. She quips about the little green men who want to conquer our planet but George can’t reply as on that particular moment he is beamed over to the alien ship. Just before he is transported we get a view of his frankfurter, giving the scene that extra realistic feel that he is being abducted at his most vulnerable.

The alien ship is manned (?) by a talking computer, nothing spectacular so far as this is standard alien spaceship equipment, and two scarcely clad woman who seem to have stepped out an audition for the musical Hair. The two woman are not real, but holographic (actually holomatter) simulations. They move and dance a bit, not always in unison, and invite the puzzled man to join their fertility dance. At the six minutes mark any reviewer can witness that the seduction scene is getting serious and that the females know a mouthful of human lovemaking. It doesn’t take too long before George is turned into a love drone whose task it will be to conquer Earth. Probably this involves some nano-robot technology, as his voice suddenly turns metallic, but the exact conversion process isn’t clearly shown. Although the aliens have an advanced technology that includes a holodeck and a teleportation device they have never mastered the technology to make a computer, nor a love drone, speak with a normal voice., what is quite weird.

After his initiation George returns to Earth, walks out of the bathroom as if nothing had happened and makes morning love to his girlfriend, who also turns into a drone. Although it seems improbable at first that a single man can conquer an entire planet, the plan is mathematically simple and brilliant.

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Exponential Growth

There is an old fable about the invention of the game of chess. It tells how the creator of the game refuses a treasure for his invention but asks the king to put one grain of wheat on the first chessboard square, two on the second, four on the third, doubling the amount of grains on each of the 64 squares. The process is called exponential growth and finally amounts to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains (or 461,168,602,000 tons, if one may trust Wikipedia).

When the two love drones meet up with other humans they will double the alien population to 4. Four will become 8. Eight will become 16, and so on. With each round of lovemaking the alien infiltration doubles and a simple calculation proves that the human race, 4.230 billion people in 1977, can theoretically be eradicated in only 33 rounds.

But as always these aliens make a crucial mistake and when George volunteers to join a sex clinic experiment the professor, who listens to the cute name of Dr. Deborah Femme (Viveca Ash), finds out about the invasion, mainly because these love drones talk way too loud (and too metallic) about their plans when reaching a climax.

Area 69

Dr. Femme does the American patriotic act of informing the FBI and is immediately believed when she tells FBI director Willard that human beings turn into space creatures while procreating. Unfortunately the first secret agent falls into the hands, and other body parts, of a recent convert. The same fate awaits a second secret agent, female this time, at a club where aliens practice the ancient game of chess. Deborah Femme realises she is the only one who can stop the aliens and this culminates in a scene of truly Shakespearian drama.

But already the aliens are spreading all over the world and newsreaders warn us that England, France, Germany and India have succumbed to the pandemic. An attempt to destroy the alien ship with a nuclear missile fails and when Dr. Deborah meets a horny sun glassed weirdo with the wrong shirt the future of the Earth seems doomed. Nothing and no one seems able to stop the planned planetary orgasm resulting in the same effect as when all Chinese would jump up and down at the same time. But while bare breasted women are dancing on incredibly weird seventies disco music Dr. Femme’s assistant Andrea (Babe Blonde) devises a cunning plan. She injects herself with a killer virus while citing Hamlet’s soliloquy:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

And its about time, because agent provocateur George Reevis has been beamed back to the mother ship, not only to report to the Hair rejects but to fecundate the frightening Alien Queen (Yolanda Savalas), who looks a bit like offspring between Grace Jones and Fritz Lang’s Maschinenmensch.

It seems that all drones feel and act like bees in a beehive and when the parasite inside Dr. Femme attacks Andrea (who is now carrying the lethal virus) all drones on Earth abandon their human hosts who, with the exception of some sore limbs, appear not to have been damaged too much. The alien space ship retreats, Earth is saved and if the aliens have learned one thing it is never too underestimate a blonde babe (although she will probably die a horrible death once the disease kicks in).

The movie

Maybe you didn’t realize this until now but Invasion of the Love Drones is an adult movie with quite some explicit scenes (although most of these are inserts). It tried to cash in on the porn chic trend of that era when ‘normal’ movie theatres in the USA started to show X-rated films to the ‘normal’ public. Some followers of the genre believed that the boundaries between X and R would disappear and that mainstream pictures would include hardcore scenes, but despite some notable exceptions this never happened. While adult movies in the Seventies had a budget, a story and some (not always successful) acting this seems to have disappeared altogether in the 21st century.

The end credits of adult movies are always a good laugh. The Hair rebuffs are played by actors Jenny Erotica and Sara Goodbody and another actress listens to the name Greater Garbo. The Queen of the Love Drones is listed under the pseudonym Eve Felatio but the original movie poster changed that into Eve Latio for obvious reasons. One of the production assistants is the mysterious Marga Rita.

The (spoken) sound of the movie is not good; probably there was no time or money for overdubs in a studio, so it is no wonder that most steamy scenes only contain a musical background (another theory goes that there was a 3 years gap between filming and editing). The music credits however are interesting…

Music Effects The soundtrack

The musical score can be divided in two parts: some modernistic pieces that have been heavily influenced by the 2001 soundtrack from György Ligeti and cheesy love scene, rock and disco tunes that are typical for all B-movies of that era.

Mike Michaels & Richard Lavsky

Richard Lavsky can look at a career of creating and producing original music, sound design, dialogue, underscores and voice-overs for TV commercials, programs, promos, theatrical films, and industrials. As a winner of 15 Clios, 3 Cannes Film Festival Lions, Hollywood International Broadcasting, and many other awards, he has worked for every major advertising agency, creating music and sound design for clients such as: IBM, Nissan, Pepsi, Purina Cat Chow, Nabisco’s Oreo Cookies, MasterCard, NY Lotto, Reebok, and many others…

But back in the Seventies he was director of Music House and Mike Michaels was his music and sound effect editor (he composed some tunes for Dennison’s chili and Pearl’s beer commercials as well).

Music House was a company that produced (and Lavskymusic still produces) tunes for anyone who waives with a fistful of dollars, but Doris ‘Sorrel’ Hays comes from an entirely different musical spectrum.

Doris Hays

Hays studied piano in Chattanooga and Munich and won first prize at the Gaudeamus Competition for Interpreters of New Music in Rotterdam in 1971 that lifted off her international career as a performer of contemporary classical music. In 1972 she premiered a composition called Hands and Lights that included a piano, photocell activated switches and flashlights.

Sorrel Hays, she removed the Doris from her name in 1985, has written music for films and is herself a filmmaker, but her website fails to mention the soundtrack for Love Drones for one reason or another. However her discography and videography mention several works where electronic and classical instruments do interact.

On the liner notes for her album Dreaming The World Hays wrote:

My first tape combination was in 1971, of chopped-up words. Those were years of traveling around the U.S. and Europe with a Buchla keyboard synthesizer, patch cords and tone and envelope generators in a Samsonite case. I performed concerts with sound from transducer mikes on audience throats and Barcus-Berry transducers on the piano soundboard processed through the Buchla synth and mixed with tape. (…)
I like machines. The temptation to (try to) control the world of perception is beguiling. In the end it is also isolating, when aural language becomes too distant from the cultural context. Designing aural structures within a computer is similar to plotting your house plan in three dimensions on the computer screen. Computer music software is a wonderful tool. I use it to track down the mind's misty imaginings and to give substance to the details of my dreams.

In 2007 Hays worked on an opera titled Our Giraffe. The libretto was written by Charles Flowers, author and coauthor of 75 books, two operas and a cantata, as well as numerous songs, articles, reviews, columns and broadcast pieces. He revealed in a rather hard to find interview:

Composer Sorrel Hays and I have known each other almost since sandbox days in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has created a full and various career as performer and composer in Europe and here in the States. For more than four decades we have occasionally and idly chatted about doing an opera together some day.
(We did work together on a film called Invasion of the Love Drones, but never mind.)

The (additional) Dialogue

I wrote Charles Flowers and asked if he could remember something about the movie in question. To my bewilderment he answered almost instantly:

As they say, I'm gobsmacked! As you might imagine, I have often dined out on tales of that film, but I thought it was lost to history. And very quickly thereafter, of course, that particular genre of soft porn distributed by a well-known Italian organization was swept away by the home video revolution.
An assistant Professor of English at the University of Rochester [NY] back then, I was down in Manhattan in an expensive East Side sublet for the summer months, sinking into penury. Jerry, the director/producer, was a close friend of Sandy [Anthony E.] Weymouth, one of my Harvard roommates back in the early 60s and then a budding primal scream therapist in the city.
And so, whatever the credits say, Jerry, a wealthy South American heir, hired me to create "additional dialogue" for the film (not one word of which I recall) and asked if I knew a composer.
Indeed. I had known Doris Hays since high school days in Chattanooga, TN. She was Miss Central at our most detested rival but married the band captain at City HS. As it happened that marriage was relatively brief and she was living on the upper West Side composing and performing. My recollection is that she composed overnight 10 or 12 straightforward melodies on her Moog. In other words, what seem to be disco/rock pieces are her work, I believe.

The Soundtrack (update)

In an article from August 2010 Psychotic Cinema revealed that:

...the mellow music played during the alien couple sex scenes on the spaceship is taken from a 1972 library music album by Stringtronics called Mindbender and the track is called Dawn Mists. It also appears on the compilation Barry 7's Connectors (a 2001 compilation, note by FA).

Actually the Mind Bender - Stringtronics album was a 1972 French compilation with tracks from Barry Forgie, Anthony Mawer, Nino Nardini and Roger Roger. Original copies of the album reach prices up till 900$, but thanks to the lounge-revival of the past decade the album has been re-issued in 2004 by Vadim Music.

The Dawn Mists track was originally composed by Barry Forgie, who now directs the BBC Big Band. The Love Drones version however is an electronically enhanced version of this track and mixes Barrie Forge's version with additional electronic effects, sounds and drones from Doris Hays or the Music House.


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