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

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Muad'Dib Watch: Dune (2021)




Watched:  10/24/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Denis Villeneuve

Well, whatever opinion I have will be wrong, by everyone who watched this movie.  And, especially, if you read the book.

I've only read Dune once, years ago, at the recommendation of RHPT and StevenH (and probably Lauren, if Steven was pitching it).  That said, I thought it was a singular reading experience.  My inability to return to the book has much more to do with life being short and me doing other things rather than my lack of love for what I read.

I think people who read and grok Dune are changed a little after, maybe in tiny ways, but a bit.  I cannot imagine approaching a Dune movie without having read the book - I know watching Lynch's version without having read the book led to me giving up 20 minutes in.  But after reading it, I was like "oh, yeah, this is maybe not the best way to do this, but ok."  Similarly, before reading the book, I could only follow the SyFy Channel TV mini-series version of Dune so far before I was like "y'all are on your own".

So - I have no idea what those who didn't read the book took away from the movie currently in theaters and running on HBOmax.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Cameron Watch: The Abyss - Director's Cut (1989)




Watched:  08/28/2021
Format:  DVD I bought on ebay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  James Cameron

I would have been about 14 when The Abyss (1989) hit, and it arrived as a sort of prestige sci-fi film.  I remember seeing it in a packed house on a Saturday within the first week or two it was out (with my pals), and it was a*very big deal*.  

It became a staple of our rotation, but one you had to make time for.  The thing was 2.5 hours long.  It felt smart and somewhat relevant.  A Cold War story and not so displaced from our own time and technology, an underwater oil platform made sense - especially as run by roughnecks and fairly blue-collar technical crew.  

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Vegas in Space (1991)




Watched:  06/28/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Phillip R. Ford

This was a Jenifer pick for a watch party, and it was a gd delight.

Filmed circa 1983-85 in apartments and a few borrowed locations in San Francisco, this sci-fi epic follows a group of agents of the Empress of the Galaxy who are sent to Vegas in Space, a pre-fab pleasure planet with an all-female population, to find out what's going on with a crime wave.  To infiltrate the planet, the agents have to change genders and pose as a girl-group performing 20th Century showgirl routines. 

It's probably best to mention - the movie was made on no-budget by a group of drag queens and their friends, and the story of the making of the film sounds like it'd be a hell of a film or prestige HBO mini-series itself.

For something shot by people with minimal experience, it's a surprisingly coherent film, with ideas thrown at the screen every few seconds, tons of wild visuals only someone without proper training would even think of (apparently meth is also a bit of an engine behind the film), and characters with an ocean liner's worth of presence, if not acting chops.  I expected to have some good laughs at the attempt and the "let's put on a show" aspect of the movie, but instead...  the movie just worked.  It's insane, high-voltage camp, and tragically ahead of what I think America was ready for.  I mean, it's really funny, good stuff.

While watching the film, make sure you listen to the ADR'd background chatter.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

PODCAST: "Trancers" (1984) - A Sci-Fi Film Chat w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  06/25/2021
Format:  DVD (Full Moon)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles Band


SimonUK and Ryan are back (in time) to discuss a cult classic of 1980's horror sci-fi. It's time-travel, zombiefication, cults, iffy future governing structures and the promise of everyone in Los Angeles getting an ocean view. So join us as we do some detective work on not just the film, but that it survives with a cult audience all these years later!
Music:
Trancers Opening - Trancers OST, Phil Davies & Mark Ryder
Confrontation on the Roof - Trancers OST, Phil Davies & Mark Ryder

Playlist:

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Shudder Watch: Psycho Goreman (2020)




Watched:  06/19/2021
Format:  Shudder
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Steven Kostanski

It's been a minute since I posted.  We had guests for the first time since COVID, and we've been watching a lot of baseball and Ted Lasso, so no movies of late.

It seems Psycho Goreman (2020) is a bit of a cult favorite at the moment among horror aficionados, and I was looking for something fun to watch on my Friday night.  But aside from "sorta like an 80's family movie", "sci-fi alien" and "hilarious", I didn't really know much about it, which is my preference going into most horror.

And, yeah?  It's horror-ish.  Horror adjacent.  Sci-fi.  Comedy.  Something.  

Monday, May 31, 2021

PODCAST: "RoboCop" (1987) - A Signal Watch Canon PodCast w/ JAL & Ryan



Watched:  05/24/2021
Format:  BluRay (Arrow)
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven



Dead or alive, you're listening to this PodCast! JAL and Ryan stay out of trouble and talk a 1980's sci-fi action drama satire that's way the hell better than it should be. We look at the movie that may have had way more about to say about our present day back in 1987 than near any other sci-fi of the last 50 years. Join us as talk what we love about a movie about a guy we call "Robo".




Music: 
Drive Montage -  Basil Poledouris, RoboCop OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Regret Watch: Star Trek V - The Final Frontier (1989)




Watched:  05/29/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Shatner

I always like me some Trek, but the last time I watched this movie was in 1989, and it was the last time I saw it for a reason.  

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a weird mess of a film, with no coherent plot or threat, or goal.  Coming off the Star Trek II - IV trilogy, which had run the gamut from revenge-driven space battle to whale wrangling comedy, coming up with what was next for our crew as they now had The Next Generation nipping at their heels was going to be a tall order. And, over and over again, the movie just fails to deliver as an adventure, a sci-fi premise, a philosophical exploration or a comedy.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Space Truckers (1996)


 

Watched:  05/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First (complete viewing)
Decade:  oh, so 1990's
Director:  Stuart Gordon

Way back around 2001 or 2002, one day I noticed a movie called Space Truckers (1996) was showing on HBO.  If you've been hanging around this blog since 2003, then you know:  I immediately tuned over and caught something like 30 minutes of it.

I was shocked to see name actors Stephen Dorff, Dennis Hopper and Debi Mazar in what appeared to be a mid-budget sci-fi comedy that I'd never heard of, galivanting around space in a long-haul space-truck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trek/ Cattrall Watch: Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country (1991)




Watched:  05/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Nicholas Meyer

This is... my third favorite Trek movie?  Pretty remarkable for a movie that has very few ship-fetish shots and plays like a 3-part episode of the TV series.  But, man, it just works.  

I believe it was advertised as the final movie for the original crew from Star Trek before The Next Generation gang took over, but as an excitable 16 year old, I thought "nah, they just got their mojo back on this one.  They'll make more."*  

So, yeah, shocker, I am into a tight murder mystery set in space with the fate of the galaxy in the balance.  Throw in ship-to-ship combat, several rad supporting cast members beyond the usual crew, plus Sulu as Captain of his own ship (and, my god, had they just given Takei a spin-off series back then...), \more wildly over-the-top Klingons in the form of Plummer's Shakespeare spouting warrior, Chang (love everything about this character) -  and it's like Trek was just punching "Ryan will like this" buttons.  

And, of course, Kim Cattrall as Lt. Valeris.

Monday, April 26, 2021

PODCAST: "Blade Runner" (1982) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ Ryan and SimonUK


Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  BluRay - version - The Final Cut
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ridley Scott


More PodCast than PodCast, that's our motto! Ryan and SimonUK sit down and check our emotional response to this 1980's favorite of design and theme! There's nothing artificial about how we chase down one of the best of the sci-fi genre that defined an aesthetic, crossed genres, and asked the big questions.


Music:  
Blade Runner Main Theme - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST
Tears in Rain - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Watch Party Watch: They Came From Beyond Space (1967)




Watched:  03/30/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Freddie Francis


Meteors fall to Earth, specifically Britain.  Scientists are dispatched to check them out - minus an American who just happens to mention having a silver plate in his skull.  I *think* the story is that alien brain waves were living inside the rocks?  Anyway, the alien psychic waves transfer over to the brains of the science team and build a little fort from which they begin shuttling people to the moon to make more brain transfers with more aliens.  And there's a plague?

I fell asleep for part of this movie, but not much, and it's been a week, but I can't really piece it all back together.  I do know the heroes wind up wearing goofy helmets and going to the moon where a badly made-up Michael Gough awaits them (wearing a robe, because: alien).  

I can't recommend the movie as "good", I can recommend it as "this is whackadoodle".   It's Jenifer's selection from last week, so here's her words on the topic.

I will say - the poster promises something the movie absolutely refuses to deliver upon, but I have heard Amicus and Hammer both made the posters first to get financing, and then made the movies.  And, somewhere along the way, whatever they had in their heads about folks with sleek helmets, catsuits and space ray flamethrowers got turned into this.



Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home (1986)




Watched:  03/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Leonard Nimoy

Until Lower Decks and a few one-off episodes, one of the few attempts at light comedy/action in the Trek franchise, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home  (1987) caps off the trilogy that started in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, bringing our crew finally back to Earth after giving us the thrill of seeing them wandering the streets of 1986 San Franciso as a slightly disheveled away team.

I am 85% sure I've written this one up before, so I won't do it again.  It's the one with the whales.  


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Deathsport (1978)




Watched:  03/05/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  probably best we not dwell on it

This is kinda the new bar for our Friday night watch parties.  We've sampled many flavors of movie over the year we've been in lockdown (we started off live-tweeting The Shadow on April 10th of 2020!) - and you never know how it's going to go.  But I took the advice of Nathaniel C, a guy who really knows his genre stuff, and chose Deathsport (1978) as our feature of the evening.

Do you like motorcycles?  Explosions?  Exploding motorcycles?  Plastic swords?  Iffy sci-fi dialogue and boobs?  Friends, Deathsport (1978) has all that and more.  It may lack plot, character, direction and a steadi-cam harness, but it doubles down on what it does have.  

Sometime in the distant future, after a nuclear war of some sort, matte paintings of cities will be ruled by guys who look vaguely like Johnny Cash's ill sibling.  The wastelands between will be inhabited by mutants (people with ping-pong balls cut in half and covering their eyes), and "rangers", an idea stolen awkwardly from Tolkein.  The city's will have something called "Deathsport", which is like a motorcycle stunt show with murder.  

I cannot stress enough that you can get a flashlight that will disintegrate people, horses and doors, but folks seem obsessed with using swords and motorcycles to do their murder.  I should mention - the swords are well intentioned - someone made them out of plexiglass and the basic concept is kind of cool.  Except they look exactly like plexiglass, and I have to assume they broke a few in production.  

With an inevitable dash of pretention, the "rangers" have their own code and manner of dialog that isn't inherently bad.  I've seen similar pulled off just fine in all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy, but here - it just isn't working.  And so it is very bad, indeed.  I don't know if it's the flat line delivery or that we keep seeing Carradine in a diaper and Uggs, but it just feels like no one was sure how it would or should work.  

The movie is titled Deathsport, but unlike, say, Deathrace 2000, there's very little Deathsport.  Deathsport is a gladiatorial game that David Carrdine and his lady-friend (Claudia Jennings) get thrown into as Rangers, versus city-dwelling Statesmen, who hate the Rangers.  They are mercilessly driven near by guys on dirtbikes - here called "Death Machines" - who ensure they are within sword range and very, very combustible.  Like, look at them funny or a strong breeze hits them just right, and they're blowing up with 5x the capacity their gas tanks could have mustered.  So many explosions, just blasting off everywhere.

I guess there's a story, but it doesn't matter.  An argument is made about a lack of fuel and remainin technology, but it doesn't play into the movie - kind of the opposite.  Instead, it's Richard Lynch taking his helmet off and chasing Carradine and Jennings across very familiar terrain if you've ever seen anything ever shot outside in Southern California.*  There's a slowly maddening head of a city who is just a dick, gets his while taking a moment to torture a nude lady with Christmas lights in PVC pipes.  It's a whole thing.

Maybe the most remarkable part of this very remarkable film is the sound, both music and sound effects.  I can kind of see why letting a cat run across your synth would seem like a fine idea for a score, and there's all kinds of music that gets inserted in - including sexy sax during a fight scene.  But the score is... just really something.  

I don't know who did sound design on this, but it was not Ben Burtt.  Someone chose a few sounds, did not pay attention to whether they would be awful if you had to hear them every time a motorcycle passed the camera, and then never reviewed their work before releasing the film.  It's some absolutely insane/ maddening stuff.  Every choice made to suggest the motorcycles do not sound like dirtbikes is a tragic mistake, and may the sound designer find peace, for they were clearly a tormented soul if this was working for them.

Anyway - highly recommended.


The Vasquez Rocks may be the single most filmed location on Earth.

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.