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

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Retro Space Opera Watch: Flash Gordon (1936) - listed as "Rocketship" on Amazon



Watched:  02/14/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First all the way through
Decade:  1930's
Directors:  Frederick StephaniRay Taylor 

So, this was a truncated film that cut together the story from the famed Flash Gordon serial from 1936 into a single film.  For whatever reason, it was called Rocketship on Amazon Prime.  

And, frankly, I really can't recommend it enough.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

RiffTrax Watch: Space Mutiny (1988)




Watched:  02/20/2021
Format:  Rifftrax on Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Oh, god... 4th?
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Let's let them live in peace

This movie isn't very good.  

Highly recommend checking out the RiffTrax version on Amazon Prime.  Watched primarily because JeniferSF had watched it, and it seemed like a good idea.  It was.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Watch Cattrall Party Watch: Split Second (1992)




Watched:  02/12/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Tony Maylam


I picked this movie as a Watch Party because it looked like exactly what it was - a 1990's sci-fi Rated-R actioner that wasn't taking itself very seriously, but mostly because it co-starred Kim Cattrall, and after last week's Mannequin 2 viewing, I was like "we should have watched the one with Cattrall", so here we are.

Split Second (1992) is not a good movie.  A quick check after the film finished confirmed what I suspected - the movie had multiple voices seemingly at battle with one another, including star Rutger Hauer having input as they went along.  So, because the story is all over the place - and the story is basically them trying to figure out who (and then what) is killing people, nothing makes sense and nothing matters.

The answer is:  it's a big, Giger-Alien knock off that is maybe invisible, or moves very fast, or something.  They never really say.  I do know they hide the monster till the very end of the movie, but it's featured on the poster?  

We have an odd-ball pairing of the bookworm cop who has credentials that make him seem like maybe the police is a weird place for him to wind up, and Rutget Hauer, who is a loose cannon cop with self-destructive tendencies who clearly needs to be on leave, but they keep him on the streets because... well, in 2021 it'd be because the police unions will be damned before they suggest maybe someone isn't fit for duty.  Here we get a police sergeant just yelling at Hauer and telling him he's dangerous and whatnot, and then handing him back his badge.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

PODCAST: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982) - A Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  01/22/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: 1980's
Director:  Nicholas Meyer


SimonUK and Ryan boldly get into a movie about aging, space pirates, sacrifice and making grown men cry when their space pal is taken out. We're tasked with talking about what a big deal this movie is for us, personally, as well as what it meant for Star Trek as a franchise. 
Music
Main Title - James Horner, Star Trek II OST
Epilogue, Closing Credits - James Horner, Star Trek II OST


Playlists

Signal Watch Canon

SimonUK Cinema Series

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Evil Brain from Outer Space




Watched:  01/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's 

So...  this movie starts off weird as hell, which I salute, then goes to goofy fun and TONS of action.  All of which I salute.  

Apparently this is the third in a series of Japanese kids movies about a fellow name of "Starman" who hails from "The Emerald Planet" and is here to save humanity from interplanetary threats via kicking ass and taking names.  He doesn't have a secret identity, even though he changes from his work-a-day coat and tie into a pretty terrific super ensemble that has a kicky antenna and "not a cape" attached to his arms for added flair.

The effects are better than you figure, the stunts out of this world, and while the movie makes little sense, at least it moves fast and is cool as hell.

Count me as a convert to this whole Starman scene.

Oh, and, yes, there's an evil brain.  from outer space.

 



Monday, January 11, 2021

PODCAST: Aliens (1986) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  01/06/2021
Format:  DVD (Legacy Edition)
Viewing:  lol
Decade:  1980's
Director:  James Cameron


We're talking the movies in our personal canon - the movies that opened our minds, expanded our horizons and maybe helped inform who we are. And what better way to reflect upon oneself than with a rip-roaring sci-fi action horror yarn about motherhood, alienation, personal interconnectedness, unexpected surprises and who will stand by you when life really tears you apart.



Music: 
Bishop's Countdown - James Horner, Aliens OST

SimonUK Cinema Series

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Watch Party Watch: The Running Man (1987)




Watched:  01/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Michael Glaser

The Running Man (1987) - for being a kinda goofy movie about a gameshow where the contestants are framed-up convincts and convicts with crimes like "not teaching the curriculum to school kids", this movie has some uncomfortably prescient stuff baked in as our janus-faced gameshow host plays to his base of folks who *won* in a prior civil conflict, and are joyfully taking part as people are killing each other for our entertainment.  Not surprisingly, such a dynamic show has cross-demographic appeal, and it's not just the folks who came out on top economically, it's also the folks on the streets who can't look away as desperate men run for their lives.  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Trek Watch: Star Trek - Nemesis (2002)




Watched:  01/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stuart Baird

So, this movie wasn't very good.

To be clear - all my favorite ST:TNG people are back (even Wesley Crusher), and they're all good.  The movie even co-stars a very young Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman and good ol' Dina Meyer.   But.  The very premise doesn't make a lot of sense, it weirdly includes what amounts to a rape scene of Troi (handled in the most ham-fisted and traumatizing way possible) which comes from nowhere and is seemingly there only to motivate Troi in the final reel to play Space Ouija Board to find the baddies.*  

But, yeah, Star Trek: Nemesis is about off-brand Romulans and a clone of Captain Picard (Hardy) picking a fight with Picard by planting an early-model of Data on a nearby planet.  They seem to have a modestly large-sized ship that, for reasons I was not clear on, will somehow overtake all of Earth's defenses if the Enterprise crew doesn't stop them.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Trek Watch: Star Trek - Insurrection (1998)




Watched:  01/03/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Jonathan Frakes

I had mostly blocked out my prior viewing of Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), remembering it as "the one that felt like a very long episode of the show".  And, indeed, minus the movie suggesting Picard has found the love of his life (who is immediately never again discussed), the movie is more or less a stand-alone episode with some effects that are okay but never amazing.

Mostly, it feels like the cast of Trek screwing around for 45 minutes before the movie remembers it needs to get its act together and do a movie.  And even then, Gates McFadden looks like she's visibly smiling while going pew-pew-pew with a phaser rifle, like "ha ha!  They're letting me do stuff!"  

So, things I liked:

  • Frakes directing himself in a sequence with Troi in a bathtub, irritated that Starfleet is calling
  • Worf does not need to be there, but is, and goes through Klingon puberty for some reason
  •  The Enterprise E is a pretty sweet ride
  • The cast insisting on finding a way to fit in Gilbert & Sullivan during a space battle
  • Hiring F. Murray Abraham at the height of his fame and then making him unrecognizable under layers of make-up
  • Gates McFadden generally just looking pleased to be there even if she has *nothing* to do

But mostly the movie itself doesn't make much sense and goes to some extraordinary script-lengths to create their scenario that is wildly hand-wavy.  But Trek fans should check the set up that leads to the titular "insurrection" as a reminder of how horribly run Starfleet is during Next Generation episodes.  It was a weird staple of ST:TNG that Starfleet was consistently making horrible decisions that Picard would need to rebel against like a cool teen showing up the stuffy principal that of course it made it into a movie.*  I understand a Star Fleet is a tough thing to run, but maybe by the 10th tribunal where Picard is having to do his best Perry Mason, check the man's service record, remember he has no particular reason to be a Romulan agent, and stop threatening to disassemble Troi or whatever they're doing that week.  

Anyway - this is a very weird, very obviously inexpensively made era of Trek-movie, and while I am thrilled the cast is having fun, this whole movie needed a lot more workshopping at the script level than anything else.  

One day they will make a Trek-show where the Captain is not constantly the point man on every dangerous operation, but this movie is not that.  And Ryker flies the Enterpise by joystick AGAIN.

A final note - the movie casts Broadway darling Donna Murphy as Picard's love interest, a 300-year-old alien living on a planet that seemingly will keep her young and rejuvenated forever (she has an action figure and everything!).  Doesn't let her sing or anything.  She has a lot of TV credits, and was coming off doing a stint on the briefly popular Murder One.   But she is actually very solid on a show that I usually just take for granted "look, the lines are nonsense, so if we get 'wooden' as a performance, that's a win sometimes."   

But I strongly suspect I'll immediately forget this movie again, because it makes very little sense.


*So, yeah, next time you're complaining about Picard and saying "Picard would never quit the Federation!  I don't like New Trek", remember the approximately 52 episodes of the show where someone in a bathrobe showed up and Starfleet decided the Enterpise needed to be shutdown or whatever.   Sooner or later, you take your pension and go drink in France.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Day of the Triffids




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1963
Director:  Steve SekelyFreddie Francis

I forgot to write this up in September, and now it's too late.


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 bit 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.