Archive for sci-fi

Fiend Without a Face

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on October 7, 2011 by Scott Emerson

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Earth vs. the Spider

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on September 18, 2011 by Scott Emerson

31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Green Slime

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by Scott Emerson

Astronauts unwittingly infect their space station with a slimy green substance from a recently destroyed asteroid in this 1968 American/Japanese co-production. Said goo quickly transforms into an army of one-eyed tentacled creatures–hmm, subtext? Given the film’s Japanese origin it’s not much of a stretch–that threaten to overtake the crew.

Gleefully wacky, director Kinji Fukusaku’s THE GREEN SLIME is a staple of so-bad-it’s-good movie lists, thanks to its cut-rate special effects, wonky science, and hilariously inappropriate monsters. The creatures, played by children in cumbersome rubber suits, are intended to be menacing, but more often than not resemble a pint-sized SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS cosplay party. This of course is what makes the film so damned entertaining.

Plus, it’s got a groovy theme song.

31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Thing (1982)

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2011 by Scott Emerson

John Carpenter’s 1982 update of Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby’s sci-fi classic is often cited among the decade’s best movies, and for my money it rivals HALLOWEEN as Carpenter’s best work. The admiration, though, was hard-fought, withstanding a withering critical and audience reception upon its initial release; the film’s downbeat tone and abundance of violent graphic effects were apparently not what movie-goers wanted at the time. (It should be noted that the film came out in the touchy-feely wake of E.T.) Yet a film as well-made as this does not go unloved for long.

The first time I saw a man’s head sever itself, sprout legs, and scurry around was the closest I’ve ever come to a religious experience.

31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Hideous Sun Demon

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , on August 27, 2011 by Scott Emerson

1959’s THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON was one of my first ventures into the realm of vintage B movies. And despite its inherent silliness–it’s a $60,000 movie in which a radiation-stricken scientist transforms into a lizard when in sunlight–DEMON is a lot of fun, mostly due to its patently ridiculous premise. Director and star Robert Clarke ups the campy ante by wringing out melodrama by the bucketload, whether it’s his tortured monologues about his newfound condition, or the romantic subplot in which he woos a gangster’s moll. It’s a dizzying balancing act–overwrought enough to elciit sardonic laughter, with a healthy dose of earnestness to invest in the story–and probably an unintentional one, too.

The monster makeup, while not iconic, is still a treat, once again riding the edge of goofy and effective. Pair him up with Paul Blaisdell’s She Creature and you’d have one swingin’ ’50s couple.

Reputed to be a favorite of Tom Selleck’s.

31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Fly (1986)

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2011 by Scott Emerson

My issue with the current wave of remakes isn’t so much their ubiquity as their approach. Instead of taking a flawed but promising movie, infusing it with updated effects and invigorated direction to make something special, modern remakes take an established classic and reduce it to pre-packaged pap with no greater ambition than a decent opening weekend. It’d be nice if today’s filmmakers took a page from the 1980’s, when movies like THE THING, THE BLOB, and today’s entry made their remakes genuinely great movies.

I’m not sure I’m willing to call David Cronenberg’s 1986 version of THE FLY his best film (only because his resume contains so many contenders), but I can confidently put it at the top of the decade’s releases. That THE FLY turned out as well as it did is no real surprise; Cronenberg, working with a studio budget, Academy Award-bound effects work headed by Chris Walas and a star turn from Jeff Goldblum (himself giving an Oscar-caliber performance) was almost destined to be great. What’s shocking is that Cronenberg used his body-horror sensibilities to create a poignant, oozing tale about relationships in the face of death and made it–transformed it, if you will–into a crowd-pleasing summer movie. Good luck attempting that feat today.

31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Deadly Spawn

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2011 by Scott Emerson

Shot for a mere $25,000 in the New Jersey suburbs, 1983’s THE DEADLY SPAWN is an exciting example of regional genre filmmaking. Directed by Douglas McKeown, it’s a gory, vicious little number that understands its target audience very well and knows how to play to them. Even though it’s not always on the mark it’s nice to see filmmakers aware of their budgetary limitations while still trying to be ambitious. And it’s obvious they spent their money wisely, investing in an imaginative, hard-to-forget creature–sort of a phallic Venus fly trap with a lot of teeth and an unforgiving appetite. Nor are they shy about spilling the red stuff, siccing their alien spawn upon its cast with sadistic glee; the effects are well-executed and gruesome, a real treat for splatter fans.

In a typical case of marketplace confusion, the distributors retitled this small-scale, rough-around-the-edges gore film RETURN OF THE ALIENS’ DEADLY SPAWN, implying it was a sequel to Ridley Scott’s ALIEN. Whether or not it worked I can’t say, but it make for some eye-catching box art.

Can’t remember where, but I found the above VHS as a kid, and was simultaneously fascinated and repulsed (mostly the latter) by it. The video’s back cover was unusually gory, suggesting to my over-eager brain to be a wall-to-wall bloodbath of epic, nightmarish proportions. I found it all terribly intruiging back then but wouldn’t have watched it on a bet, not squeamish li’l me. Not even for a truckload of STAR WARS toys.