Thursday, May 01, 2008

Groan! My film diary is getting longer. Not because I'm watching any more movies than normal but because I'm feeling the need to witter on about them in print for longer. I normally punt up a copy of my Everything I've Seen list up here once a quarter, but until my prolixity wanes (now there's a name for a vaudeville act!) I'll do it once a month to save Blogger's servers from crashing.

  1. Starship Invasions - every now and then, people in various governments of the world get it into their heads that they should support their local movie industry by throwing minor shitloads of money at it. I guess they do it in order to assert some kind of cultural identity in the face of the perceived evil and pernicious overwhelming of everything by the Hollywood machine. In France they end up with long, beautifully shot swashbuckling adventures, in Britain we end up with long, beautifully shot movies about the upper-classes being terribly vague in excruciating detail. In Canada they get shit like Starship Invasions, a film so bewilderingly bad that greatness ensues.

    Canadian Astro-Crumpet

    Christopher Lee has done some crap in his time but this must count as the bottom of the barrel as far as he's concerned. It's even worse than End of The World which he made in the same year - in which he played the leader of a bunch of aliens set to destroy the world by disguising themselves as nuns - at least he was allowed to try and act in that one. The director of this pile of poo hit upon the genius idea of having all his aliens (and there are at least three types) communicate by telepathy, which means that all the actors get to do is look meaningfully at one another, or occasionally flare their nostrils menacingly, while voice-overs, recorded in a dustbin behind a steelworks somewhere, tell us what they are thinking. It's brilliant! The whole movie was probably shot in a week and they just whacked the sound in afterwards. It's one of those bewilderingly incoherent movies that looks like it was edited together from a bad TV series, but wasn't. I loved it.
  2. Project Moon Base - A very long 63 minutes; which it turns out (thanks IMDb) WAS edited together from a bad TV series. Most of my time watching it was spent admiring the cunning way 2000' 35mm film reels from the editing department had been used as computer spools...

    A trick also later used in Zontar:The Thing From Venus
    - oh god, I am watching too
    much of this shit!

    ...and waiting for the heroine's rather peachy, hot-pant clad bum to appear again.

    The guy on the right is saying: "Hi, how's it hanging?"

    It's the sort of movie where our crew on the first trip to photograph the far side of the moon wear t-shirts and shorts, dinky little caps (to solve the "If she's weightless why is her hair hanging straight down?" quibbles from nitpickers like me), and had bloody great hand guns strapped to their hips. The film would have been a lot more interesting if anyone had actually fired one of those guns while weightless.

    The most pointlessly uncalibrated dial in the history
    of bad SF movies - and that include this one.

  3. Voyage To The End of The Universe - another American International (bastards!), re-editing of an Eastern European movie I now need to see in the original cut.


    It looked beautiful - what I could see of it between the atrocious Pan and Scan and the moronically written translation.
  4. Serenity - A film which would have been an okay bit of SF nonsense if I hadn't recently watched the entire series of Firefly (to which is this sequel / conclusion) but, because I had, it became a thoroughly entertaining bit of SF nonsense.
  5. Ladyhawke - an almost great film rendered nearly unwatchable by a dreadful, dreadful score which lurches from one bit of mid-eighties synthesised, pseudo rock-operatic, guitar-wank to another. It must have sounded so cool and hip at the time - and for about 25 minutes afterwards - but it doesn't really sit very easily in the timeless late-medieval tragic fantasy world the film was trying to create. (I know, "timeless late-medieval" is oxymoronic. How about 'mythic'? It's hard to get a mythic quality from a film when there's a bunch of session musicians with mullets doing their best to nail it wall screaming in your ear:"This isn't timeless - it's 1985! - and always will be! Rock and Rollllll!" The only film I can think of that got away with this sort of thing was A Knight's Tale, but that used rock music that had already sunk deep into the audience's collective unconsciousness. It was already dated - and let's face it, for the MTV generation Queen's We Will Rock You and Bowie's Golden Years ARE mediaeval). Matthew Brodrick's accent lurched backwards and forwards across the Atlantic a few times during the show too.
  6. Conan the Barbarian - what a beautiful film! Testosterone driven bollocks - but lovely to look at. Funny too.

    Breugel the Barbarian

  7. Beyond The Time Barrier - reputedly shot back-to-back with The Amazing Transparent Man with a shooting schedule of only two weeks. That's not two weeks per movie - that's for the both of them! two feature films knocked off in 14 days - and they look like it. Beyond the Time Barrier does have one redeeming feature however; a terrific set. For a cheapo sf film made in Texas it has the look of a much more expensive film (that is until anyone actually starts talking - or, for the second time on my TV this month, wiggling their nostrils at each other while they communicate telepathically). After some interminable setting up, our hero lands in the usual doomed underground civilisation of the future with its giant pyramidal modular set which, with very little redressing, serves for offices, bedroom, corridors, laboratories - everything. It's a nifty bit of design. All walls, doors and windows are equilateral triangles. I spent most of the running time looking at the walls. It's all pretty groovy until the director or editor had the spiffy idea of using an equilateral triangle as a wipe between scenes - and suddenly the whole thing looked like a crappy Buster Crabbe serial from the 30s. The leading lady was dead good at pointing as well, and she pointed a lot. Usually with her whole arm, and usually at the doorway she wanted the hero to leave by - which was pretty often, what with him being an all-American red-blooded male, and her being a telepathic deaf mute with pointy tits.
  8. I Diafanoidi Vengono da Marte - (AKA Diaphanoids, Bringers of Death; Gamma I Quadrilogy Vol. 2 ; The Deadly Diaphonoids; The War of the Planets etc. etc.) Laugh out loud 1966 Italian Space opera which made no sense whatsoever. Something to do with some sort of hive mind from Andromeda (represented on screen by a vague green light and an off-screen grip with a smoke machine) invading people's minds and making them outrageously over-act. There are four movies in the Gamma One series. I have the other three sitting downstairs and if they are all as mind-bendingly dreadful as this I will have to ration myself before I do myself an injury. As always with make up the story as you go along, cruddy Italian SF translated into English Lite by bilingual illiterates, the thing was chock full of unforgettably awful dialogue like this: (A whole space station has just vanished in front of everyone's eyes.)
    Military Commander: "What do you make of it?"

    Scientific Adviser: "It's Zero, to the tenth power*. - All I can offer you is a sum of questions: Did something happen? - if so what? Then we can ask Why? - - - and How?"
    *ie still Zero!

    Everyone turns and solemnly stares at the general's desk until the editor eventually notices the scene has ended and cuts away to some model spaceships.
  9. Кин-дза-дза (Kin-Dza-Dza) - Two hour long Russian absurdist SF movie which made me laugh more than anything I have seen for ages. (It was supposed to be funny.)


  10. The Wild, Wild Planet (I Criminali Della Galassia) - Not Fair! Episode one of the 'Gamma Quadrilogy' turns out to be not terrible! An Italian SF movie with a budget and some groovy groovy design - how can this be? This is what the future looked like when I was a kid. Cars with fins all over the place and perspex domes on the top! Oval skyscrapers! Girls with capes and kinky boots! It was nostalgic watching. Some weird special effects, dodgy model work and a plot that came out of the SF ark, but better than it had any right to be dammit. I hope the other two sequels I have, and yet to watch, are far far worse.
  11. War Between the Planets (Il Missione Pianeta Errante AKA Mission Wandering Planet, Also AKA Planet on the Prowl, War Between the Planets, & That Piece of Shit with the Stupid Helmets.) After last night's momentary lapse - in which I wondered, while watching the almost passable Volume 1 of this series, if my overexposure to this stuff had rendered me incapable of recognising crud when I saw it - tonight's Gamma I Quadrilogy Vol. 3 has restored my faith in the sublime crappyness of the 1960s Italian movie industry. I'm used to bad science fiction making no sense but it usually takes some thought to work out why it makes no sense - the longer you have to think about it before its internal logic starts to unravel is some sort of measure its worth (as SF). Really bad science fiction makes no sense without you having to think about it at all. Really really bad SF movies like this one just leave you incapable of thinking.
  12. Gojira - A 1954 Japanese black and white classic which deals with the trauma of the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the responsibilities of the scientist to the greater good - which sounds a lot better than 'I just watched the original Godzilla thanks to The Guardian newspaper who gave it away free the other week'. It's a pity about all the sequels and remakes which turned Godzilla into a sparring partner for a wildly weird and wonderful range of Monsters of the Week, because the original Godzilla turns out to be a great little movie which, rubber-suited sumo guy representing a 350 foot tall reptilian metaphor for nuclear war stomping on models apart, had some terrifically understated and touching moments. Brilliant soundtrack too, the music is wonderful.
More next month

1 comment:

sfoofie said...

I had a St. Bernard doggy named after #6. He wasn't quite a barbarian...more of a "destroyer"
I should watch that movie again. (sorry but the other movies sound weird)

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