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Showing posts from June, 2015

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

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I have to say that I have loved Doctor Who from the moment I first saw it.  It was on PBS, like most Americans got to see it, and it was John Pertwee as the third incarnation of the Doctor.  I can't remember exactly what series it was, but it caught my attention at a young age.  Which, I found out later, it was meant to, since it initially started off as a children's show. 

In fact, a British friend of mine still derides it as a kid's show and doesn't understand why Americans like it so much.  I also don't think she likes science fiction too much.  Yes, I'll admit, many of the earlier shows were a bit on the juvenile side, but the show quickly evolved into the video equivalent of gold and silver age science fiction.  Yes, most of the science part is non-existent, but throughout its run the actors who played the Doctor and, to no lesser extent, the companions, have carried the show through the sublime and the ridiculous.

Throughout the show there were always …

World Without End (1956)

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In 1987 a hit-and-miss sketch comedy called Amazon Women on the Moon featured the titular movie title as the wraparound device to hold together the different skits.  In it, the crew of a spaceship lands on the moon and, not only finds the atmosphere hospitable, but that it is also occupied by beautiful women.  Some are savages that want to kill our heroes, but of course the good ones can't resist our lantern-jawed heroes.

While the parody used a number of '50s sci-fi cliches (borrowing heavily from the more serious space exploration film Destination Moon from 1950), watching World Without End gives one an idea of where they got some of their material. 

Rather than the moon, the astronauts, consisting of Captain John Borden (Hugh Marlowe), radio operator Herb Ellis (Rod Taylor), navigator Hank Jaffe (Christopher Dark) and the scientist Dr. Eldon Galbraithe (Nelson Leigh) are on a flight to photograph Mars for a potential future landing.  They lose radio contact for Earth, and …

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

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Like many people I remember 1986 for a great blockbuster movie by a guy with the initials J.C. - James Cameron.  It was Aliens, the sequel to Ridley Scott's low-budget 1979 haunted-house-on-a-spaceship film.  It was such a big deal that few people saw a movie by John Carpenter that years later would be just as respected, though it was a one of the year's major flops.  This was Big Trouble in Little China.

John Carpenter, of course, is one of the most well-respected horror directors, and he was still at his peak at this point.  His 1978 slasher film Halloween was a major hit, and he had been able to keep things going with the Kurt Russell vehicle Escape from New York.  Despite this success, and the fact that he was constantly improving (we'll set Christine aside), his follow-ups at the time were failures.  His 1982 remake of The Thing, regarded as a classic both in science fiction and horror failed, and the studio he was working for was getting impatient.  When this third …

Mad Max 2 (1981)

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The early 1980s was quite a special time to be a kid.  Yes, the "R" rating is still around, and a few theaters support it just so they don't get involved in some article put out by a "concerned parents" group, but since the 1990s it has be de rigeur that if we want to avoid kids in any theater we make sure we go while the kids are still in school.

In the 1980s seeing your first rated-R film was a rite of passage.  For me, it was John Carpenter's remake of The Thing.  It feels like you are being suddenly trusted with something as an adult - at least until you realize you hear worse language from your friends at school and (at least at that time) saw almost as much nudity and sex in PG-rated films.  Still, it was special, and for many in my generation Mad Max 2 (re-titled The Road Warrior in the United States because the distributors of the first Mad Max film mucked things up so bad that no one saw it here) was the first and, for me, probably the second or t…