Friday, 23 February 2018

The H-Man


The H-Man
美女と液体人間
(Bijo To Ekatai-Ningen)


A slow-paced allegory about the effects of radioactivity conveyed via a disconcerting clash of plot elements from both the crime and science fiction genres.



Directed by Ishirō Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Screenplay by Takeshi Kimura
Story by Hideo Kaijo
Music by Masaru Sato
Cinematography: Hajime Koizumi
Edited by Ichiji Taira
Production company: Toho
Distributed by Toho
Release date: 24 June 1958 (Japan)
Running time: 87 minutes
Country: Japan


Cast


Yumi Shirakawa as Chikako Arai
Kenji Sahara as Dr. Masada
Akihiko Hirata as Inspector Tominaga
Makoto Satō as Uchida the gangster
Korenari Senda as Dr. Maki
Eitaro Ozawa as Inspector Miyashita
Hisaya Itô as Misaki, the dissolved gangster
Machiko Kitagawa as nightclub hostess
Yoshio Tsuchiya as Detective Taguchi
Naomi Shiraishi as Mineko, Dr.Maki's assistant
Kô Mishima as Kishi, gangster in nightclub
Yoshifumi Tajima as Detective Sakata
Tetsu Nakamura as Mr. Chin, gangster
Haruya Katô as Mattchan the Fisherman
Ayumi Sonoda as Emi, lead exotic dancer




Trailer: Japanese version

Trailer: American version


Read on to find out more........


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Tribute to Eugène Lourié


A film pioneer of many talents

Eugène Lourié, French film director, art director, production designer, set designer and screenwriter was born in Charkov, Ukraine on April 8, 1903. He was well known for his 1950s science fiction movies, some of which have been featured in this blog.

The Early Days

In 1919, Eugène Lourié worked on an anti-communist film titled Black Crowes. Having fled from the Soviet Union, he made his way to Istanbul where he earned enough money for a fare to Paris, France by painting and drawing movie posters.

Film career

While in Paris, Lourié studied painting and stage design. He designed sets and costumes for various ballet companies before turning his attention to film.

In the 1930s, Eugène Lourié worked as a production designer for the likes of such directors as Jean Renoir, with whom he worked on the French films, La Grande Illusion and La Règle du Jeu. Lourié took over as sole art director for the former film.

In the early 1940s, Lourié moved to Hollywood and worked with such directors as Sam Fuller, Robert Siodmak and Charlie Chaplin. He was art director for Chaplin's last American film, Limelight (1952).




In 1953, he made his directorial debut with The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the first of three dinosaur films that Lourié would direct and which tended to typecast him as a science fiction film director. For these giant-monster films, Lourié often did the art direction and special effects on them as well.



After his 1961 film, Gorgo, Lourié stopped directing movies because he did not want to direct "the same comic-strip monsters."

He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1969 for best visual effects on the film Krakatoa, East of Java. In this film, Lourié made a non-speaking cameo appearance playing the part of a lighthouse keeper on the coast of Java in 1883 who observes Krakatoa's final cataclysmic explosive eruption and sends news of it to the outside world by telegraph.

In 1980, Lourié designed Clint Eastwood's Bronco Billy, and had an acting part in Richard Gere's 1983 film, Breathless.


Eugène Lourié’s Filmography

Jeanne (1934) 
The Bread Peddler (1934) 
Dark Eyes (1935) 
The Alibi (1937) 
The Messenger (1937) 
Ramuntcho (1938) 
The Lafarge Case (1938) 
Gorgo (1961) 
Flight from Ashiya (1964) 
Crack in the World (1965) 
Krakatoa, East of Java (1969)



Death
Lourié died on 26 May 1991 (aged 88) due to a stroke while in the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was survived by his wife Laure and a daughter.





©Chris Christopoulos 2018


Friday, 2 February 2018

The Giant Behemoth (1958)

An entertaining sc-fi film hampered by cheap special effects and a lack of originality

Director/Screenplay – Eugene Lourie.
Produced - Ted Lloyd, David Diamond.
Story - Robert Abel
Screenplay - Daniel James
Edited by Lee Doig
Cinematography – Ken Hodges.
Music – Edwin Astley.
Special Effects – Irving Block, Louis De Witt, Willis O’Brien, Pete Petterson & Jack Rabin.
Makeup – Jimmy Evans.
Art Direction – Harry White.
Production Company – Artists Alliance.
Distributed by Allied Artists
Running time - 80 minutes


Cast

Andre Morell as Professor James Bickford
Gene Evans as Dr Steve Karnes
Leigh Madison as Jean Trevatharn
John Tumer as John
Jack MacGowran as Dr Sampson the Palaeontologist
Maurice Kaufmann as Mini Submarine Officer
Henri Vidon as Tom Trevethan
Leonard Sachs as Scientist



Dead fish washing up on the Cornwall coast?
Radioactive fish?
Locals suffering from radiation burns?
Reports of a monster?
A dinosaur revived by atomic radiation?
A behemoth heading towards London, destroying all in its path?


Trailer


Read on to find out more…..



Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Fly (1958)



The film treads a fine line between comedy and seriousness. It benefits from a good script, production values and capable performances but wastes many opportunities to become something greater than it is.

“It does indeed contain, briefly, two of the most sickening sights one casual swatter-wielder ever beheld on the screen.” 
"The most ludicrous, and certainly one of the most revolting science-horror films ever perpetrated!" 
“One of the better, more restrained entries of the "shock" school.” 
“A quiet, uncluttered and even unpretentious picture, building up almost unbearable tension by simple suggestion.” 
“It holds an interesting philosophy about man's tampering with the unknown."
“Stands in many ways above the level of B-movie science fiction common in the 1950s."

Directed by Kurt Neumann 
Produced by Kurt Neumann, Robert L. Lippert (uncredited)
Screenplay by James Clavell
Based on short story The Fly by George Langelaan
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography Karl Struss
Edited by Merrill G. White
Production company: 20th Century Fox
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Running time: 93 minutes

Budget: $325,0000 - $495,000 approx.
Box office: $3 million


Cast


David Hedison as André Delambre
Patricia Owens as Hélène Delambre
Vincent Price as François Delambre
Herbert Marshall as Inspector Charas
Kathleen Freeman as Emma
Betty Lou Gerson as Nurse Anderson
Charles Herbert as Philippe Delambre
Eugene Borden as Dr. Éjoute
Torben Meyer as Gaston



Trailer


Scientist Andre Delambre is crushed to death in a mechanical press.


WHO OR WHAT WAS RESPONSIBLE?

It has fallen to his wife Hélène to recount the events that led up to her husband’s death to both Andre’s brother, Francois Delambre and police Inspector Charas.

WHAT HAPPENED?


Read on to find out……

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Destination Moon - Once Again!



The poem that follows was inspired by the film that really opened the classic age of sci-fi films of the 1950s, George Pal’s somewhat eerily prescient, Destination Moon (1950). I also had in mind President Trump’s recent directive to NASA to have Americans return to the moon supposedly as a stepping stone to Mars and beyond. NASA has had its sights firmly set on missions to Mars and I wonder what impact this directive will have on NASA and the future course of space exploration. A lot will depend on finding the right answer to the questions posed in the last stanza of the poem I suppose. That may have been an important factor in the previous manned missions to the moon….finding the right answer.

Anyway, I close this year with my little poem and wish you A Happy New Year! Never stop wondering…..What If?



Once more unto the Moon, dear friends, once more!

We chose to go to the moon…..
In a George Pal sci-fi spectacular
Just a mere five years after The War,
When Truman was President of these here United States
And H-bomb production pushed up the stakes.


We chose to go to the moon….
In glorious Technicolor and mono sound
As Korea became yet another battleground,
While industry grew fatter with profit,
And a baby boom got set to sky-rocket.

We chose to go to the moon….
Committed and depicted up on the screen,
Beating them Commies so evil and mean!
While winds of a Cold War made us shake and shiver,
And we warmed up with sessions of duck and cover.

We chose to go to the moon….
Believing that we were in a race,
In which we had to set the pace,
To be first to put a man on the moon,
And get it done and done real soon.

We chose to go to the moon…..
With faith in our industry and enterprise
Asking: What’s the payoff? What’s our prize?
Knowing: the race is on and we’d better win it;
Control the moon and all others will submit!


We chose to go to the moon…..
Not yet ready to catch and match the fiction,
Of a Woody Woodpecker demonstration,
Filled with optimism and basic principles,
And all kinds of kids’ cute cartoon visuals.


We chose to go to the moon….
When Kennedy set out a nation’s challenge,
One that would not be easy to manage
And one that would be hard to achieve
But one in which all could believe.

We chose to go to the moon…..
Having once lost a race into space,
Now a new race began to help us save face
Where the goal was to win and claim first prize:
Global pre-eminence and all that it belies.

We chose to go to the moon…
And did we rush in headlong haste -
To land a man on the moon and be the first
To safely return him to earth! Ah, there’s the rub!
Dangers abounded while Time stood poised to drub.


We chose to go to the moon….
With men who had the right stuff,
But would all this prove to be enough,
With the aim just to win a sprint,
To plant a flag and leave a footprint?


We chose to go to the moon….
And by Mercury, Gemini and Apollo we did!
Ethereal images both ghostly and splendid
Hailed us from another world with words well-timed
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”


We had chosen to go to the moon….
And for a moment we stood there as if in a trance,
Struck dumb by the stark desolation and silence,
In awe at a blue marble suspended in a velvet black sky,
And then we began to fiddle and fidget and wonder WHY?


We then chose to leave the moon…..
When Cynicism set in as adventure turned routine,
And the latest sitcom was the thing to be seen.
A blanket of boredom spread over a fickle world
Chilled by millions and billions at the moon that were hurled.

Selene: Greek moon goddess

We choose now to return to the moon…..
When what had once been revered and respected;
When what held our world balanced and protected;
And of our imagination sparked and illuminated,
Had for too long been ignored and taken for granted.

Do we now choose to go to the moon…
Because others are there for reasons suspect?
To corporatize a chunk of space unchecked?
To have a stepping stone to Mars and yonder?
Or to help us understand, know and wonder?



 *********************


2018 will open with a post on the classic 1958 sci-fi film…..

THE FLY!!!!!






©Chris Christopoulos 2017




Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Colossus of New York (1958)


An under-rated, admirable and well-crafted sci-fi film that explores concepts that are relevant to modern audiences.

Directed by Eugène Lourié
Story written by Willis Goldbeck
Screenplay: Thelma Schnee
Music by Van Cleave
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date: 1958
Running time: 70 minutes


Cast


John Baragrey: Dr. Henry Spensser
Mala Powers: Anne Spensser
Otto Kruger: Dr. William Spensser
Robert Hutton: Dr. John Robert Carrington
Ross Martin: Dr. Jeremy 'Jerry' Spensser
Charles Herbert: Billy Spensser





There’s something about The Colossus Of New York that I still find to be eerie and disturbing. It is one of the lesser known vintage sci fi films from the 1950s that I believe deserves much greater attention. While watching the film once again recently, I was reminded of the Cybermen characters from the Doctor Who series in which hapless human beings are forced to undergo an “upgrade” by having their humanity and their very emotions stripped away as they are turned into cybernetically augmented humanoids. There have been instances though when the essential humanity of an “upgraded’ individual has managed to break through the impassive impenetrable façade of a Cyberman.



So, what is this technological Frankenstein movie all about?

Following an accident in which he was killed, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jeremy Spensser has his brain transplanted into the body of a huge cyborg by his scientist father, William Spensser. William wishes to save his genius son's mind so that it can continue to serve mankind, BUT……

What will be the effect on Jeremy Spensser’s brain?
Will there be irreversible changes to his personality?
Will the very essence of his humanity be at stake?

Read on for more.....

Thursday, 23 November 2017

"SURVIVORS": A Poem Inspired By The 1951 Sci-Fi Film, "Five"




SURVIVORS


From Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower
Doomsday warnings wail hour after hour:
Imminent collapse of the human race!
And in a flash the world is laid to waste.


A shocked raggedy-doll stumbles and staggers
Along aimless paths seeking survivors,
While calling out plaintive piteous pleas
Of, “Can anyone help me please!”


The path leads Raggedy-doll to another:
A sensitive Poet and Philosopher
Waving absurdity laid bare and unfurled
Of a once cheap honky-tonk of a world.


Here comes a beetle-browed financier,
Well – just a mere assistant cashier
Counting out a life paid in denial and delusion;
Here he enters in wide-eyed confusion.

Supporting him is the Black Samaritan
Strong of shoulder, pride and passion,
Who once dreamt of being something

more,
Only to end up minding a door.


“I am one who was once blind but can now see;
Who once had settled for a piece of security
In a city where I had never seen the lights,
Nor till now what is important in life.”

The four soon become five
When they save one just barely alive,
Through iron willed-soul so black and depraved
And from whom they will have to be saved.

Beetle-brow cashier now on vacation
Has arrived at his final destination
Which he has yearned for in his dreams
For a whole life-time to him it seems.

“I often dreamt of going on vacation,
But my work was my life’s obligation.
And so I sat behind self-made prison bars
Dreaming of sleeping under the stars!”


The need is felt to stay alive 
As once again four become five 
When Raggedy-doll gives birth to future hope 
Without which our survivors would not cope. 

Iron-will’s hope hides in a fascist fantasy 
That seeks salvation through supremacy 
By force of power, violence and destruction: 
And all that sow the seeds of annihilation. 

“I climbed Mt. Everest. I alone. Always alone. 
And there I’ll sit atop the mountain on my throne 
Invincible and possessed of a special immunity 
With a plundered world spread out below me!”

Clinging to his tattered rags of self-delusion, 
Iron-will’s life force leaks away with the radiation 
Of an inner poison of violence and domination, 
That once robbed a new world of a wise Samaritan.


What of the Poet, Raggedy-doll and Future Hope?
Will they leave behind the Past’s mistakes as they grope
Their way to a new Eden that heals and mends;
Where people work together, live together, like friends?

*****************

Thanks for reading my little poem inspired by and based on the science fiction film,





©Chris Christopoulos 2017