Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Masters of the Universe (1987)




Watched: 11/20/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Gary Goddard

I should start by saying:  I didn't ever really like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as toyline, cartoon, what-have-you.  Maybe because a lot of the material behind the franchise is simply bad.  The Filmation cartoon was goofily animated and the voice actors always sounded like they were recording out of context and in a well-tiled bathroom.  It featured a handful of wildly annoying characters and artists who really wanted to work in a few rotoscoped shots as often as possible.  (I will say - it DID blend American comic book style art very well, and should have shown Marvel how to do this instead of what they did in the 1990's.)  But mostly, He-Man was a lot of nonsense to sell toys, and that's great.  I support that idea.  I just wasn't into their particular gumbo of elements that made up their cartoon and toys (and found the original line of toys frankly grotesque, and not in a fun way).

Monday, November 16, 2020

Interaction watch - RoboCop (1987)




Watched:  11/03/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  let's not talk about it
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven

I think we'll be podcasting this at some point in 2021, so we're gonna take a pass on writing it up.

But it was fun to watch as a Prime Party, as some hadn't seen it or hadn't seen it in a while.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Escape From New York (1981)

 


Watched:  11/06/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I'm not writing this up.  If you've not seen it, you're all the poorer for it - but it's a fine but of early 80's cinema.  And, of course, established Kurt Russell as a non-Disney star.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)




Watched:  10/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's (and how!)
Director:   Robert Gaffney

Jenifer picked this particular gem for our Tuesday screening, and it was a g-d delight.  

For reasons that are never explained, NASA creates a sort of synthetic man they want to launch into space in place of an astronaut (we are all fine with automation in our space probes, and I'm not sure why the ruse is necessary).  He doesn't actually work very well, but they go ahead with the plan.

Meanwhile, aliens from a distant world that has experienced a wave of self-destruction via nuclear exchange have come to Earth in a space ship roughly the size of a small house, with plans to steal our women - because they have none.  Except for their leader, a sort of imperious-but-fun Space Queen (Marilyn Hanold) in a heck of a pant-suit and head dress.  


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Not That Spooky Watch: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)




Watched:  10/03/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime?  Jamie put it on
Viewing:  ha ha ha... I have no idea
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Frank Oz

I think SimonUK and I are going to podcast this movie after Christmas, so I'm not going to write it up. Weirdly, despite the fact I do watch this movie fairly often - somehow I've never written it up on this site, which is kinda odd.  There's a few mentions of the movie on Melbotis.com, but the format over there was kinda all-over the place. 

Here's a post from back when I did DITMTLOD posts where I talk about Ellen Greene as Audrey.

Anyway, this seems like good incentive to actually cover it on the podcast this winter.




Saturday, October 3, 2020

Mel Brooks Watch: Spaceballs (1987)

 


Watched:  09/26/2020
Format:  Streaming?  Jamie was playing it.
Viewing:  oh, lord, I have no idea
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Mel Brooks

I really enjoyed this movie in 1987 when I saw it in the theater, and despite the fact I've seen it a couple of dozen times, I continue to enjoy this movie.  

Also - every time I'm waiting to see if something at work is going to work, I mutter "come on, Schwartz".  No one ever knows what I'm talking about.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Watch of the Damned: Creation of the Humanoids (1962)




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  First (and last!)
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Wesley Barry


...R.O.T.O.R.

...Santa with Muscles

...Monster a Go-Go...  


Sure, we watch a lot of not-great movies, but some feel as if they exist to test your very sanity.  Some movies are so insanely bad, so weirdly made and uncomfortable to watch - made and released with what appears to be utter sincerity on the part of the filmmakers - sincerity that serves no one and seems like a hallucination more than a delusion...  

These films join our personal canon of Movies of the Damned.  

We've had a wild ride this summer as we've enjoyed our Friday night Amazon Watch Parties, but Jenifer found an amazing entry this week with Creation of the Humanoids (1962).  

It's the movie that dares to ask:  but what if a movie was 96% exposition?  

and

What if everyone just stood on their marks with a minimum of motion for the runtime of a film?

In some ways, I give it credit.  It does nothing but propose a few sci-fi premises and then builds on those premises, asking questions no one asked and providing a sea of answers that no one cares about, only to ask more questions.  And it does it over and over and over for what I am pretty sure was a full calendar year, but you will find to be a neat 75 minute or so runtime.  

It's a post-nuclear-holocaust future and man is barely hanging in there despite shiny outfits, women with rocket bras, nifty architecture and the help of our robot friends.  

People seem to be on their way out, as robots seem to be figuring out self-replication.  There's a herd of guys running around yelling MAGA dressing in shiny Confederate uniforms and harassing robots.  They have a cute clubhouse and everything.  Meanwhile, Robots are, in fact, secretly rising up to replace humans.  

All of this is told, not shown, in lengthy, lengthy speeches which would make a high school forensics teacher proud.  

The make-up on the humanoids/ robots is weirdly excellent - the work of Jack "Universal Monsters" Pierce himself, apparently slumming by 1962.  

I can't do this movie justice.  I hate it so much I like it.  It's mind-bogglingly inept, except that... the cinematography, sets, and make-up all work fine.  It's just that there's only 4 sets, and long, long scenes that will not end containing nothing but nonsense sci-fi talk that can and should have been SHOWN.  Just when you think this might be an allegory for something - NO.  We move right on past that and it's right back to a very concrete story about the concrete problems of robots.  It's like the mad ramblings of the worst nerd in your class who gets why robots are interesting, but not at all how a story works.  And was given money to make a movie.  

I... I'm worn out just thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Forgot to Post Watch: Catwomen of the Moon (1953)



Watched:  07/10/2020
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Arthur Hilton

This is a very, very silly movie, but it stars Marie Windsor, so it can't be all wrong. 

They aren't women who are cats, they are women in cat suits.  Cat women.  You know. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Regret Watch: Vibes (1988)



Watched:  08/23/2020
Format:  TCM Underground
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Kwapis


Ostensibly movies are there to be a popular entertainment enjoyed by many people, which will earn the filmmakers, collaborators and investors some money. 

I am reminded of the comedian Amber Ruffin and her series, Amber Says Why?

Who was Vibes made for, and why did they think people would enjoy it?  Why?  Was it made on a dare?  And if it was a dare, who was daring whom?  And was this the winner or loser of that dare?  Why did they choose to make this, and what is the this that they made?  Is it a comedy, and if so, what part of it is funny?  How did they get to the point where they had a camera and a set and people there to make the movie, and how did they think this was a good script?  And if they thought it was good, why did they think it was good?  Did they want to make money or did they hate money and try not to earn it, and if they thought it would make money, who did they think would pay for watching this movie?  Why did Jeff Goldblum chose to do this movie? And did he know he'd be cast with Cindy Lauper?  Did they cast them because he is tall and she is short? Why did they think psychics and Ecuador were a good fit? And why did they go to Ecaudor for real and a soundstage other times with terrible props?  Was that Elizabeth Pena? Why was she in the movie for five minutes?

WHY?

First - I always thought this was a Manhattan-based comedy about psychics running a scam with other psychics.  Second - this is like a no-budget version of Romancing the Stone but furious at the idea you should like the leads.  Third - wow, clearly Lauper and Goldblum had absolutely no chemistry.  And - Fourth - what could have maybe partially redeemed the film with FX and character moments in the end is just a plastic prop that must have looked so bad they avoid showing it, and Cyndi Lauper telling us something that happened off screen.

But, I am still mostly mad this had Elizabeth Pena and then immediately took her away.  Like, what is wrong with you, movie?

WHY?

Forgot to Mention It Watch: Barbarella (1968)


Watched:  07/24/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Roger Vadim

I've never actually *liked* Barbarella (1968), and watching it a third time did nothing to improve that opinion.  Even back in high school when the hint of boob was a welcome thing, I thought the movie was so clunky (and not in a fun way) I turned it off. 

As a grown-assed watcher, it's a slog.  I am sure a certain kind of 1960's beatnik probably liked it, but I am not one of those beatniks.   For a movie that prides itself on sexiness, it's attempts at sexiness are so awkward, it's deeply unsexy and boring to boot. 

Visually, though? - it's astounding, so I recommend putting it on mute and playing it on your TV during a party. 


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Cyborg Watch: Running Delilah (1993)



Watched:  08/16/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Richard Franklin

So, I was scanning the sale items on the Kino Lorber page and was like "Kim Cattrall in a spy movie?" so I read the description and was like "Kim Cattrall as a CYBORG in a spy movie?"  And promptly hit "buy".*

I think this was intended to be a pilot for a very 1990's TV show, probably in syndication.  What's weird about it is that all the pieces are there for what could have been a serviceable stand-alone movie.  In 1993, stars Kim Cattrall and Billy Zane weren't huge stars, but I knew who they were.  The director, Richard Franklin, had handled a couple of mid to low-cost films I'd similarly seen - FX/2 and Cloak and Dagger.   This came out in the wake of La Femme Nikita and multiple RoboCop films.  Instead, it's a reminder of what telefilm and a lot of television looked at during a certain window, and that sci-fi was not always well-served by this sort of production.

Cattrall plays Delilah, an undercover agent for a US law-enforcement agency (I never caught who), , collecting evidence against a Greek arms dealer (who seems to really want to see her eat Greek food for some reason).  Her handler, who is "running" her, is played by Billy Zane.  And the two spend about 7x more time talking about the fact they aren't going to bonetown than they do the case at hand.

Delilah is found out and the baddies take a flying attempt at killing her with lots of bullets.  Zane retrieves the almost-dead agent, and because he loves her (but phrases it as wanting to go to bonetown, because 90's), does as you do and brings her to a French cybernetics guy who happens to work in his building.  There's a bit where she, of course, believes she's a monster.  Remarkably, she gets over it really fast when she finds out she's now the Bionic Woman and can do all kinds of things within budget.  This is one chipper cyborg!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Invasion! Watch: War of the Worlds (1953)


Watched:  07/11/2020
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: 1950's
Director:  Byron Haskin

War of the Worlds (1953) the movie and the Mercury Theatre radio play from 1938 are so baked into my formative years, they're alongside Superman, King Kong, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and other popular fictions that make up the mythology and common language for a lot of born in the shadow of the mid-20th Century.

I saw the movie after buying and listening to the Orson Welles radio program when my dad found out I was interested in the radio show and the events surrounding it that I'd read about in a magazine.  My dad, always one to say "if you liked that, you need to check out this", got me to the video store within a few days and we sat down and watched it together.

What's remarkable is how genuinely *thrilled* I was by the movie, in both senses of the word.  The movie only has one or two quasi-jump scares, but - as was the novel (which I finally read about 15 years ago) and the radio show - the movie is so relentless in putting all of Earth on its heels, from the moment the three pals approach the ship waving a white flag onto get atomized, it's some weird viewing.  There's no brilliant but dangerous plan to be enacted that defeats the aliens - humanity loses this one.

As I've pitched the movie - in the middle of a pandemic, it's a lovely reminder of the time germs were our friends.

Lovingly restored by Paramount and just released by Criterion, War of the Worlds is a movie geek's dream.  There's so many technical aspects to the movie worth discussing, from the original three-strip technicolor to the construction of the Martian crafts, to the myriad visual effects, matte paintings and absolutely perfect sound effects - an army of character actors, and two leads who've somewhat otherwise fallen through the cracks of film nostalgia - it's an amazing technical achievement, done so well it holds up as a visual masterpiece.  And, in fact, with this restoration, is just an astonishingly crafted, visually beautiful film.

If the last time you've seen the movie was from the 2005 re-release, run (don't walk!) to watch this version, which recovers the original color palette employed in almost punchy candy colors, restores the visual effects to maximum effectiveness, and has cleaned up audio and re-created sound effects by no less than Ben Burtt.

The movie features the typically generous collection of extra features that get me to pay the entry fee for Criterion discs.  There are a few documentaries, the 1938 radio drama, an interview from San Antonio's KTSA with Orson Welles and HG Wells, and more.

The movie itself is just as gripping as ever.  From small town America to the final scenes in the fall of Los Angeles, it's anchored by focal characters Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) - a scientist and professor of Library Science, who happened to be there when one of the initial craft came down and are there throughout.  And, of course, there's a romance a-bloomin' between the two.  Through Barry and Robinson, we get the realization of the horror of the situation, but the still very human need for connection in the darkest hour.  A parable for any time, really.

If you've never seen the movie - now is the time!  This restoration is utterly remarkable.  If you have seen it but it's been a while - do it for the same reason and to remind yourself of one of the md-20th Century's finest technical filmic achievements, and to get all the bonus materials from Criterion.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

PODCAST: "Total Recall" (1990) - Arnie-Fest continues with SimonUK and Ryan!


Watched:  06/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven

More ways to listen - choose a podcast format


We get our respective asses to Mars and talk Arnie's big-budget sci-fi opus, "Total Recall". Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? Simon and Ryan dig into this 1990 fan favorite full of rad ideas, great sets and design, a terrific cast and a pace that's hard to beat. From the director of "RoboCop" and Sharon Stone's star turn! Open your minds and join us!
 


Music: 
Total Recall Main Theme - Jerry Goldsmith



Playlists

Arnie-Fest



SimonUK Cinema Series

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Tweetalong Watch: Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)



Watched:  06/12/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Richard E. Cunha

Oh.  Oh my.

Well.  So.  I dunno, you guys.

I mean, "Oliver" Frankenstein just doesn't sound right. And I don't know why he was turning the pretty young lady he was living with into a monster in the evening with a potion he kept passing off as fruit punch.  I was never clear what was going on with the girl's uncle and what he was science-ing upon.  But we do run over a kind of catty young lady and she gets turned into a shambling monster.

Anyway.  There's a backyard cookout with a band and a very long musical interlude.



Tuesday, June 9, 2020

PODCAST: "Predator" (1987) Arnie-Fest Continues w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  06/04/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John McTiernan

For more ways to listen, visit the link.

Arnie-Fest continues as Simon and Ryan get to da choppa and do not camouflage their adoration of this 1980's sci-fi actioner staple. We talk about the cross-genre bending of the film, the changes to action in this era, Bill Duke, exult the acting skills of Arnold, and generally have a grand old time talking about what is maybe one of the best remembered movies of the second half of the 80's - and with darn good reason.



Music:

Predator Main Theme - Alan Silvestri


Playlist:




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sci-Fi Watch: Cocoon (1985)



Watched:  I actually am not sure.  Roughly 05/05/2020
Format:  Cable
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director: Ron Howard

I don't remember seeing Cocoon (1985) after about 1989 or so, but it was a surprise how much of the movie stayed with me on a rewatch.  It's also amazing to think that this sort of thing, which was a huge hit when it came out, would now be pitched as a stunt or aimed only at the Boomer crowd (and would certainly be derided as a fantasy meant to hurt Millennials somehow).

Monday, May 11, 2020

PODCAST: The Omega Man (1971) - Quarantine Watch w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  04/17/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1970's
Director: Boris Sagal


More Ways To Listen

We're in quarantine, and there's one sci-fi movie that's been on our minds. Join us as we talk about being the last man on Earth! At least the last sane man on Earth. Except for those other people out there living in the 'burbs. Anyway, it'd be nice to just drive cars off the lot without having to haggle.




Music:
The Omega Man Theme - Ron Grainer


Playlist:




Saturday, May 2, 2020

Tweet-a-Long Watch: Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)



Watched:  05/01/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director: Jimmy T. Murakami, Roger Corman

I dunno, man.  It's Battle Beyond the Stars (1980).  It's a not-great sci-fi movie that hasn't aged particularly well. 

Mostly I had fun watching it with a whole bunch of folks on the twitters!  Thanks for showing up, every buddy!

One day we'll understand why that ship has a rack/ looks like a diagram of the female reproductive system.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Live-Tweet on Friday Night (05/01) - "Battle Beyond the Stars"


On Friday night, join us for a live-tweet-a-long as we watch Battle Beyond the Stars, a movie I was led out of, totally freaked out, when I was five.

It is in no way scary.  I was a sensitive kid.


Watch at:  Amazon Streaming or other popular streaming sites
Day:  Friday, May 1st, 2020
Time:  8:30 PM Central
Hashtag:  #shiprack

We're going to start when I say GO on twitter.


Get queued up to about the 3 second mark on the movie.  Pause and wait on this image til you get the signal:

it is really hard to get a screengrab of an Amazon Prime video.  I am not spending time learning how to do it.  Your reflection may vary.

Then get ready to behold what happens when a small studios sees Star Wars, wants in on that money and decides "it's a western in space".  Then proceeds to rip-off a very specific, very famous western/ samurai movie.

But this movie has B-movie Queen Sybil Danning as a Space Valkyrie with the rad-as-hell mid-80's new-romantic band name of "St. Exmin".

I'm gonna fight on *her* team


Also stars George Peppard as the embodiment of my spirit, Robert Vaughn as Robert Vaughn In Space, John Fuckin' Saxon!, Sam Jaffe and the guy who played John Boy on The Waltons, Richard Thomas, officially killing his chances at making it to the big screen.  It also has a spaceship that, if memory serves, is trying to be both mother and lover to John Boy.

So, 8:30 PM Central time on Friday!  3 seconds in at that image above!