Monday, May 8, 2017

Caballero and Aliens

Ship of Monsters (La Nave de los Monstruos) 1960


By Hank Parmer

A Sotomayor Production ["It's Supreme-ly Entertaining!"]

One thing you can say about Mexican B-films of the Fifties and early Sixties, they weren't afraid to mix things up: robots and Aztec mummies, vampire women and masked crime-fighting playboy wrestlers. You name it, they could make a genre mashup out of it. Which brings us to today's space oddity, a singing cowboy sci-fi horror-comedy. As far as I'm aware this highly specific sub-genre begins and ends with this one example. Whether the world ever truly needed a singing cowboy sci-fi horror-comedy in which there's no horror and precious little comedy is something I'll leave up to the reader to decide.

Ship of Monsters kicks off with narration, over a montage of miniatures and other special effects lifted from the 1958 Soviet space documentary Road to the Stars:

"Man has learned to release the power of the atom, and with it wants to conquer the universe, but he dreams of leaving the Earth and leaving his seed on a distant planet [Wankers in Spaaaaace!] perhaps with the subconscious desire of starting a new race, one that will remain ignorant of atomic power and warfare. And that is a planet known to us. Let's go, on a characteristically dark night, to Venus."

Oh yes, let's!

"A night on which they are organizing the most important flight in their planetary history."

It certainly seems important, considering there are almost a dozen fetching young women from the chorus line of the Venusian Ice Capades thronging about the tail fins of a rocketship.
 "Okay, girls, line up for the sauna!"

Although, judging from this shot, nights on Venus aren't all that dark. Throughout this sequence, more special effects pilfered from that same Russian educational film, of guys floating around in Michelin Man spacesuits and doing Fifties astronautical-type stuff, are senselessly intercut with the planet-side action.

The Regent and head of the Venusian Council delivers the sorrowful news that the last male on Venus has perished from the "Atomic Scourge". Strange, that ... But why just the men? Did some prankster prey on these guys' insecurities by insinuating lead shielding was for girly-men? Or are the Venusian women made of sterner stuff?

Regardless, the Venusian gals desperately need some new sources of sperm now, to keep their race from dying out. Plus, there's this humongous spider in the Council's bathroom ...

The Regent introduces the commander of this momentous expedition, amply curvaceous blonde Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe) who vows, "I will bring the most beautiful male specimens to Venus, and the most perfect of them will sire the new generations of Venus." You know, this could make a dynamite pitch for a futuristic new reality show!

The Council has also chosen a companion for Gamma: Beta (Lorena Velazquez -- rowr) a real hot tamale from Ur, the Planet of Shadows. Her superb navigational skills and sly, naughty-girl demeanor will doubtless prove invaluable as they scour the galaxy for hunky aliens.

The Regent wishes them a bon voyage; they board their space ship and prepare to depart. Some more ill-matched classic sci-fi film footage is "borrowed" from 1936's Things to Come. And if, like me, you've seen far too many cheesy SF films, you'll also notice that control room has several leftover props from 1958's craptacular Mexican-American production of From the Earth to the Moon, including that ridiculous horizontal centrifuge with its "acceleration tubes".

While the credits roll, their spaceship lifts off -- okay, so it's more footage from Road to the Stars -- and the girls do a montage tour of the galaxy. Where, except for a brief touch-down on the Planet of Dairy Queen, all the other heavenly bodies they visit look like the Moon. Sometime later, while cruising through the cosmos, their robot pal Torr abruptly informs them the left engine has lost two tons. I'm not certain why this causes Gamma and Beta to exchange pleased smiles. It must be one of those lady things. Like those mysterious products that make them feel fresh and confident.

The kidnapped males get to partying too hearty in the compartment next door and wouldn't you know it, that left engine chooses exactly this moment to act up! So Beta opens the door to their berth, waves her freeze ray at the boys, and hastily closes it again.

The ship is forced to make an emergency landing on where-else-but-Earth, in the state of Chihuahua. Our intrepid manhunters naturally want to take advantage of this opportunity to explore a bit and stretch those superlative gams. So it's time for Gamma and Beta to go traipsing about the wilds of this new planet in a one-piece and black silk lounging pajamas, respectively, and high heels, of course, while Torr repairs their ship.

Now we're introduced to our protagonist: lovable rascal and singing caballero Laureano Gomez. (Played by Mexican actor, humorist, singer/songwriter and screenwriter Eulalio "Lalo" Gonzalez Ramirez, AKA "Piporro".) As he rides into town this fateful night, he sees the rocket pass overhead but mistakes it for a meteor. This, sadly, provides him an excuse to serenade his horse with a tuneful description of his happy-go-lucky ways, and to wish upon that falling star for the perfect woman.

At the cantina, Larry wastes no time in establishing his character as a teller of tall tales, beginning with that classic chestnut about taking out two bandits with a single shot -- by putting his knife blade in front of the pistol and splitting the bullet! Then his story wanders into stranger territory, something about boneless dinosaurs with beautiful plumage, living down by the lumber yard. After this, he segues into a totally whacko narrative about a black-haired, blue-eyed stag who turns into a French bear that he takes on by getting face-to-snout with it and throwing crap in its eyes.

Either this guy's been kicked in the head by his livestock one too many times, or he's sampling the peyote. Or whoever did the subtitles wants to see if we're paying attention.

Now that our "boy who cried wolf" scenario has been set up, Laureano wends his way homeward. He's observed from some bushes near the road by the astro-mamacitas. They're astonished to see a human being, especially one of the hitherto-believed-extinct masculine variety. After a quick discussion, they decide to introduce themselves.

Laureano's horse shies at the sight of them and throws him. Which is understandable, because if you believe this movie, these two lovelies appear to be the sole representatives of their sex in this part of Mexico. It's entirely possible this horse has never seen a woman.

Laureano complains to his lucky star that it screwed up: He only asked for one girl. What's he supposed to do with two? What, indeed ...

To avoid the questions which might be raised by their odd yet alluring choice of evening attire, they go along with Laureano's guess that they're acrobats from the circus. During their conversation, from time to time Gamma puts the caballero on "Pause" for a moment with her scroonch ray, so she can use her portable TV communicator and all-purpose remote control to query Torr about these exotic Earth people and their quaint customs.

(Torr was captured on yet another planet where all the guys got aced by an atomic war, which seems to be a depressingly common occurrence in these parts. But not before they downloaded everything they knew into his computer brain. Thereby turning him into an unbeatable contestant on Galactic Jeopardy, as well as an insufferable know-it-all. Which raises the question why Torr, who seems quite familiar with our Earth civilization, never mentioned to the ladies that there was a planet chock-full of eligible males, right next door to their own. Yeah, yeah, I know: They didn't ask.)

When Laureano starts to get a little too fresh with the ladies, he's scroonched again. They leave Larry standing in the road, immobilized by their ray, until a falling leaf knocks him over.

The gals return to their spaceship. Gamma reports back to the Regent, who's ecstatic to hear they've found a male of their own species. Particularly since the ones they've collected so far, who've been sealed in big, frosted glass display cases, don't appear even remotely human. One of the abductees manages to get loose after she signs off, and he's basically a big hairy spider-tick. He might almost have been a discarded character concept for Sesame Street.

But I guess if you're desperate enough for mating fodder, anything will do. And from spider-tick guy's perspective, even if he is forced to mate with these hairless, repulsively pink and squishy females, he'll probably figure not ending up as a post-coital snack for a lady spider-tick puts him way ahead of the game.

Torr waves his arms and rays the creature back into his case lickety-split.
 Joke ice cubes -- of the Gods!

Too bad he's doubtless lost a big chunk of his value now as a collectible. As a precaution, Gamma decides to have Torr warehouse the creatures in a conveniently-located cave nearby until the repairs on the ship are finished.

Half-convinced he hallucinated his encounter with the mysterious ladies, Laureano returns to his ranch. He has a cow named Lolobrijida, which I imagine is intended to be an arch reference to the outstanding endowments of a certain Italian actress of the era. Given the evident paucity of women in these parts, he might also be a trifle confused about the actual definition of "animal husbandry".

Laureano casually insults Lolobrijida's milk production before he heads indoors. You see, he's employing reverse psychology in their ongoing battle of wits -- a contest in which the outcome is by no means preordained.

Our hero also has a much younger brother, Chuy, who's fast asleep in his bed. Look, the kid's at least eight years old. He'll be just fine looking after the ranch while big brother's boozing it up in town. In a touching piece of business, Laureano lifts the lid of Chuy's chamberpot, wrinkles his nose, and decides it needs emptying.

After Torr moves all the males into the cave, the robot releases the creatures so the commander can have a quick word with them. Gamma informs them that due to engine trouble, there will be a slight delay before they can proceed to Venus. She apologizes for the inconvenience to these "guests" of her planet.

But they angrily demand their freedom, giving the script a chance to formally introduce our merry monster quartet.

First, the scrawny little fella with the huge, naked, pulsating-veined brain and a mouth like a leech: Tawal, the Artist (formerly known as Prince) of Mars. You should check out his cover of "When Doves Cry" -- it's totally awesome! The prince says he'll never forgive the Venusians. Or the costume designer who's made him look like a cheap knock-off of the bug-eyed "Mut-ant" from This Island Earth, by way of Paul Blaisdell's pint-sized invaders in Invasion of the Saucer Men.

Next there's Uk, King of the Fire Planet, whose costume is another rip-off -- I mean, homage, in this case the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. He's kinda big, kinda strong, always speaks in declarative sentences, and doesn't waste much time with articles, prepositions or words of more than two syllables.

Then spider-tick guy, whose name we now learn is "Crassus, of the Red Planet", even though I'm pretty sure the opening credits identified him as "Utirr". He promises to devour his captors' entrails by the light of Utare and its seven moons. (He's the poet of the group.)

Last, but not least, there's the nameless male who tells us his people lost their material forms. (Butterfingers!) Which doesn't explain why he's swanning about now as a human skeleton topped with a dog's skull, much less how he's expected to sire a new generation of Venusians without the necessary material, so to speak, but just go with it, okay?

To make him even more weirdly annoying, this character is unable to make it through more than a couple of sentences at a time without cackling like a UHF channel late-night horror movie host. "Our visage as well as our power are terrible," he warns Gamma and Beta. Though if the ladies let them go, he swears he and his mates won't retaliate.

But Gamma is not to be swayed from her mission. When the frustrated monstruos attack the girls, Torr zaps them back into their cases.

While I can only admire our Venusian's pluck, and dedication to her quest, even if it makes me look shallow and hung up on appearances I have to believe she's either applied some insanely broad criteria in selecting these "most beautiful male specimens" or the pickings in our galaxy must be awfully lean, humanoid-wise. Then again, since the men on her home planet were dying off, it may be she skipped hygiene class that day at Aphrodite High and has only the vaguest of notions how this mating stuff actually works.

Much to Laureano's delight, next morning the girls turn up on his doorstep. They feed him a line about looking for a place to stay until the rest of the circus arrives. He hastens to inform the ladies there's no hotel in town. Pausing only to wipe the drool from his chin, Larry invites them to crash at his pad. It's "Three's Company", Mexican singing cowboy sci-fi style! Alright, four, if you include Chuy, but really, in this story the kid is little more than an afterthought.

Our south-of-the-border horndog's somewhat dismayed, though, when Gamma mentions they have a friend with them who'll take care of everything. Since she is of course speaking Spanish, her use of the masculine-gendered "amigo" prompts Laureano to scowl and sullenly claim he's run out of beds.

But Gamma gives Torr a tinkle on the communicator, anyway. The robot instantly teleports in, popping up right behind Laureano and causing no small amount of allegedly comical consternation to our hero. Gamma explains Torr is the star attraction of their circus. Laureano's laser-like focus on getting into these ladies' pants prevents him from questioning this obvious fabrication.

The robot suddenly raises its arms and advances on little brother, while it emits a weird shrilling, something like a triangle mixing it up with a musical saw. The Venusian commander reassures nervous Laureano that Torr likes children.

"Raw, or cooked?" demands the caballero.

No, she explains, he likes to play with them. (Yeah, well, didn't you ever read "Of Mice and Men"?)

But Torr gently cradles Chuy in his metal arms and croons a wordless electronic lullabye to the terrified-looking child. Laureano snidely observes Torr's acting more like a lady robot. Convinced now that the metal hombre isn't muy macho enough to be a threat to his prospects, Larry gets back down to business, inquiring if the girls are single, married ... or do they [leer] "swing the other way"?

They don't understand the question, and are even more perplexed when he enthuses about this mysterious Earth emotion called "love". So, as is all too predictable, it's time for Laureano to explain it with another of singer/songwriter's Piporro's own compositions.

Laureano somehow got his hands on a jukebox, which will supply the instrumental track for this next musical interlude. The script tries to milk some laughs from Laureano's annoyance at Chuy, because the kid mislaid their coin on a string. So Larry has to grudgingly cough up a 20-centavo piece of his own before we can get to the song. Yep, that's our boy: horny and cheap.

During the course of his tune that ol' green-eyed monster rears its ugly head, when the lady from the shady planet Ur realizes our hero prefers wholesome Gamma. But headstrong Beta scroonches Laureano and for some unfathomable reason calls "Dibs!" on this sweaty weasel, although she graciously offers to let Gamma keep any other Earth guys they might collect. Gamma insists it's up to the Council to decide these things. Uh-huh ... She cuts the argument short and orders Torr to teleport Beta back to the ship.

Gamma un-scroonches Laureano; he immediately begs her to marry him. He even reluctantly admits he's willing to have that robot hanging around the house. (At least he's not likely to spray, or claw up the furniture.) Although mightily tempted by his proposal, Gamma is still bound and determined to carry on with her mission.

Laureano follows her out the door, leaving Torr alone in the house. The robot takes advantage of their absence to molest the juke box. "Oh baby, what lovely bulbs you have!" he pants, as he thrusts himself against the helpless machine's console. (No, I'm not making this up.)


Back in the control room of their rocketship, Torr informs terribly conflicted Gamma that repairs are almost complete. Beta, however, is nowhere to be seen, and won't answer her calls. Gamma decides to check up on her through the telescanner. Oh no! She looks on aghast as Beta turns into a vampire, swoops down on a hapless geezer and buries her fangs in his throat. (Actually, they flub the wire work on this shot: The stunt double comes in a shade too low and it looks like they collided with the guy's shins. That must have smarted.)

 "I love some spicy Mexican!"

Gamma sends Torr to fetch the girl from Ur, then contacts the Regent to dish on her shipmate.

The Regent sternly reminds Gamma that drinking human blood is the worst crime in the galaxy. Though the commander pleads for Beta's life, the Regent invokes the ultimate penalty: Beta must be disintegrated before morning.

Torr subdues Beta with another sound effect from Forbidden Planet -- they get a lot of mileage in this movie out of Louis and Bebe Barron's instantly recognizable electronic "tonalities" -- and teleports back with his prisoner. Surprisingly, Beta appears meekly resigned to her punishment: She only asks that Gamma go ahead and disintegrate her immediately, instead of prolonging the inevitable.

But this was just to put the Venusian off her guard. Beta suddenly wrests the remote from Gamma, shoves her into that compartment, and commands Torr to henceforth obey only her orders. Now, exults treacherous bad girl Beta, she can conquer Earth for her blood-sucking brethren on Ur!

She goes to the cave and sets the boys loose. Beta riles them up even more by claiming that now the Venusians have found a new supply of males from a more compatible species, Gamma intends to dump the guys -- with extreme prejudice. Beta confides that she, too, is under sentence of death, but she has other ideas: She wants to set them free, to conquer this "weak, beautiful planet".

"Kill! Destroy! Make Mankind go mad with terror!" she exhorts the creatures. This will bring the humans to their knees, Beta explains, and then we can take over.

After the indignities they've suffered, the boys don't require much persuasion to join in with her evil albeit somewhat sketchy scheme. Beta gives them their marching orders: Crassus the spider-tick will devour the children. Dog-skull guy will do likewise with las mujeres. Uk gets to kill all the animals.

I'm beginning to think Beta has a touch of OCD, because it sure seems like she's made this process unnecessarily complicated. For instance, what if Crassus runs into a mixed group of children and women? And they're herding sheep or something? Are these strict rules of engagement, or more in the nature of guidelines?

Last but not least, Tawal is honored with an invitation to join Beta in feasting on the earthlings' blood. (Which is pretty smart of her, because, as we'll see, Tawal can't even hold his own against an eight-year-old child.) She makes eyes at the Prince of Mars, who admits that although she's not as attractive as the red Martian women, Beta has some admirable qualities.

Go-getter Uk sets to work immediately and pays a visit to Laureano's ranch. Roaring like a lion, he smashes his way through the gate and stalks menacingly toward the remarkably unconcerned Lolobrijida. Laureano and Chuy return from a grocery run to find the poor beast still standing where they left her, tied to the hitching post -- but the flesh has been completely stripped from her bones! Wow! Who would have guessed Uk was such a fastidious eater?

Laureano is inconsolable. Thirsting for revenge, he orders Chuy to wait at the ranch for Gamma, takes a lantern and, leading his trusty steed, follows the marauder's three-toed, size 18 tracks out into the night. Which doesn't seem a particularly bright move, but he may be too dazzled by the prospect of the fame and fortune which will be his, if he bags a chupacabra.

After a bit of lame humor involving an owl, he encounters the King of the Fire Planet, who promptly kills Laureano's horse with a single blow of his fist. This really hasn't been a good day for the livestock on the Gomez spread.

Laureano, finding bullets won't kill Uk, goes mano-a-mano slapstick with the thing. But when the rest of the monsters show up and join in the fight, he takes to his heels. Wait a second ... since Larry's neither a child (physically, anyway) nor a woman or an animal, isn't he off-limits to everyone except the Prince of Mars?

Hot-footing it into town, Larry bursts into the cantina and tries to warn the patrons about these hideous monsters on a rampage. Of course his previous fabrications now catch up with him: They all have a good laugh over that crazy Laureano's latest fantastic lies.

On board the spaceship, Beta -- who's switched out her slinky vampire togs for a Venusian one-piece -- locates Laureano with the telescanner. Beta commands Torr to fetch the object of her thwarted affection. But before the robot can set about his task, for some reason, Uk attacks him. Beta separates them and puts the King of the Fire Planet in a timeout in the next compartment with Gamma. Torr teleports to town, while Uk slobbers over unconscious Gamma.

Beta takes advantage of this lull in the action to elaborate on her plans for world conquest: First, she tells Tawal and company, they will destroy this nearby settlement, unleashing a wave of death and terror. Then they'll go from town to town, doing the same. The earthlings will have to choose between being our slaves -- or perishing!

While it may have the virtue of simplicity, Beta's plan doesn't appear particularly well thought out. For starters, it's difficult to see how all this killing and terrorizing will get done if the monsters just hang out in the control room and ogle their leader. These sleepy hamlets don't turn into smoking, corpse-strewn rubble on their own, you know. Considering that their score so far is exactly one cow and one horse, they've certainly got quite a bit of catching-up to do if their conquest of the Earth is ever going to get off the ground.

But the Prince of Mars is too smitten with the Uranite to risk her displeasure by pointing out the obvious flaws in her scenario. Beta is an inveterate tease as well as a vampire: After cuddling up to the prince, she puts the moves on Crassus the spider-tick, too, while Tawal watches. Kinky ...

Back in town, Laureano manfully responds to this life-or-death crisis -- by getting plastered. While his trusting little brother Chuy waits out at the ranch, alone, with (as far as Larry knows, anyway) murderous monsters lurking all about.

He reels down the street, leaning on a drunken compadre. A mariachi band trails along behind them. Meaning it's time for yet another musical number from Piporro! Hurray!

Thankfully, Torr soon appears and instantly whisks Larry back to the rocketship.

Beta, having sent her minions away, makes a major play for the cowboy. She confesses to Laureano that she's desired only him from the first. Larry tries to explain he doesn't like her in that way, but as a sister-in-law. (If only Beta had caught a few episodes of our afternoon talk shows, she would have realized that's really not ruling much of anything out.)

It finally dawns on our hero that there's something odd about his surroundings. Beta informs him they're in a spaceship from Venus.

"Venusians?" he exclaims. "I thought you were white women."

This must be one of those jokes which doesn't translate so easily.

To sweeten the proposition, she promises to make him her king, once she's Queen of the Earth, but Laureano steadfastly resists her wheedling. So she has Torr teleport him into the compartment where Gamma's imprisoned. The compartment that's less than twenty feet from where they're standing. Now that's just showing off.

Meanwhile, Chuy finds the rocketship and seeks a way to get inside.

Back to Gamma and Larry: The Venusian laments that she's helpless without the "control belt" -- which is actually a box on a shoulder strap. A cunning plan begins to take shape in Laureano's normally one-track mind. Their tender moment is interrupted when Beta joins them, this time using the door. The inexplicably infatuated alien threatens to destroy the village if Laureano won't be hers. He suggests they ditch Gamma and go somewhere private where they can talk it over.

Chuy sees them exit the spacecraft. Although Laureano spots the kid and surreptitiously orders him to scram, little brother instead takes the opportunity to sneak onboard. Awestruck by the high tech of the control room, Chuy inadvertently powers up the engines when he backs into a lever. Then he's trapped when he accidentally stumbles into Gamma's compartment.

Beta takes Larry to the cave for a cozy tete-a-tete. The monsters are all there -- aren't you guys supposed to be off somewhere massacring women, children and livestock? -- and they clamor for a piece of the caballero. She commands them to back off: He's a hostage and she intends to interrogate him. Beta leads our boy to a grotto where a fog machine's been hard at work.

Beta demands that Laureano tell her what he's been saying to Gamma, and threatens to make his planet disappear if he won't. She insists that he explain this "love" thing yet again -- with a song, naturally. This one's a sort of languid cha-cha with a jazzy bridge. It's by far the most tolerable of the musical numbers in this nonsense, partly because it's not a Piporro special, and mostly because Beta is a pretty good dancer, as well as a looker. So they foot it around a boulder in the calf-deep fog, warbling a romantic duet about the sun, the moon, the seasons and el amor while Laureano waits for his chance to grab the remote.

They reach the climax of their song, and Beta rushes into Larry's arms. He takes advantage of her passionate kiss to steal the control and make a break for it. She belatedly attempts to incinerate him with her blaster. Dodging past the monsters, he emerges from the cave and sprints toward the spaceship.

With an amazingly swift costume change, Beta is back in her vampire getup, complete with cape and fangs. She hisses with fury.

Laureano has a bit of trouble getting aboard the spacecraft. While fumbling with the remote, he accidentally triggers the gadget's anti-gravity function. Oh, come on, there's nothing more hilarious than a guy floating in the air and flailing his arms and legs. Right? Right?

When he eventually manages to come back to earth and get inside the spaceship, Laureano begs Torr to tell him how to shut the power off, but the robot's been deactivated. Our klutzy caballero accidentally pushes another lever, which ignites the rockets just in time to drive back Beta and her monsters. The spaceship lurches skyward, with much hilarious confusion exhibited by this panicky goof. Just in the nick of time, for no apparent reason the door to the brig opens and releases Chuy and Gamma. With the aid of more Soviet space fx, she quickly takes charge of the craft.

Gamma lands the rocketship with uncanny precision, in exactly the same spot where it first came to earth. Laureano sends Torr and Chuy out of the cockpit, while he kisses Gamma and tries to argue her into staying on Earth; she's clearly wavering ... when she suddenly remembers that Beta and the monsters are still out there running amuck!

Although, considering the decidedly lackadaisical pace of this reign of death and terror, Gamma and Larry probably have plenty of time for a honeymoon in fabulous Acapulco, at a likely cost to our planet of only a few chickens, and maybe a goat or two, tops.

They exit the airlock, warily. Gamma clutches the remote; Laureano has armed himself with a ray carbine. Gamma warns they're in great danger, but Laureano bravely declares he's willing to sacrifice his life, if it will save the village.

When they reach the entrance to La Cueva de los Monstruos, Larry is of course much too macho to let her accompany him into the cave, because, he tells her, on Earth the man is in charge. As he edges toward the opening, she urges him to shoot to kill.

Proving that Gamma is in her own special way just as awful a person as Beta. Why can't she just re-freeze the guys and return them to their home planets? That would seem only fair. After all, the creatures didn't ask to be shanghaied onto this screwball Venusian version of The Love Boat. It's not their fault Beta misled them into attacking the earthlings. Besides, judging from their terrorizing progress to date, they're either consummate slackers or they've been having major second thoughts about taking on an entire planet.

And to be honest, Larry doesn't appear all that eager to go charging into the cave, either, despite his heroic posturing of a moment ago. The problem is resolved for him when he's jumped by Crassus the spider-tick. Of course he drops his ray gun first thing, and has to wrestle with the thing. Gamma frantically warns Larry to beware of the monster's poison fangs. Oh ... so that's what those things in his mouth are.

Chuy and Torr now join the fray, taking on Tawal and Uk, respectively. (Um, guys, what happened to the skeleton with the dog skull? Whatever ...)

Vampire Beta swoops down to put the bite on her rival for Larry's affections, but that pesky problem with her depth perception crops up again: She misjudges her flight path and impales herself on a sharpened branch. Oops.

 "How did that get there?"

Laureano turns Crassus' poison fangs against him, by tricking the creature into biting his own arm. The alien from the Red Planet staggers back, spins around, and collapses butt-first onto the cabellero, trapping him in a hollow at the base of a tree.

Meanwhile, Torr has Uk, King of the Fire Planet, in a bear hug from behind. Make of that what you will.

Chuy breaks away from Tawal, reaches into his back pocket and produces his trusty slingshot, with which he puts out the Prince of Mars's left eye. This in turn causes the poor little guy's huge, pulsating brain to fatally deflate. Though you'd think if he'd been at all aware of such an easily-taken-advantage-of vulnerability, Tawal would at least have donned protective goggles before going into battle.

Torr gets the better of Uk, by burning his opponent's face off with the handy welding torch built into his claw. Which seems, to say the very least, awfully harsh retribution for poleaxing a horse and devouring just one cow.

Chuy and Gamma drag Crassus' corpse off Laureano, releasing him from the tree hollow before he can be suffocated by the spider-tick's lethal ass aroma. He's rarin' to duke it out with Beta and the rest of her hench-monsters, until Gamma assures him they're all dead.

Laureano decides that since the villagers wouldn't believe his "finely-crafted" lies, they aren't ready to face these ugly truths. He turns his blaster on the aliens' remains.

Returning to her spacecraft, Gamma rings up the Regent on Venus to report the failure of their mission. She promises to send all the details along with Torr, then advises her leader that Venus should leave the Earth alone from now on. (Don't make the planet have to get a restraining order!)

What, not even an exchange program? Darn. Oh well, guess it's back to the drawing board, then, on that extinction thing. Here's a thought: Have they tried the Galactic Classifieds?

Ignoring the Regent's protests, Gamma informs her leader that now she knows the true meaning of Earthly love, she's made up her mind to stay with Larry. Despite the pomade stains on the pillows. She's sending the rocket back to Venus, with Torr at the helm, while she remains behind.

The lovers watch the spacecraft depart. But don't feel sorry for the robot: He won't be lonely on this voyage -- he's run off with Laureano's jukebox. ¡Muy divertido! Unfortunately for our amorous automaton, he's apprehended as soon as he sets foot on Venus and winds up doing a nickel in the space slammer for transporting an underage mechanism across interplanetary lines.

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