Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Wasp Woman (1959)


Although not a Corman classic, The Wasp Woman is an under-rated, low budget and entertaining film with good pacing but pretty tacky special effects


Directed by Roger Corman, Jack Hill
Produced by Roger Corman
Screenplay by Leo Gordon
Music by Fred Katz
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Edited by Carlo Lodato
Distributed by Filmgroup, Allied Artists Pictures Corporation
Running time: 73 minutes
Budget: $50,000 (approx.)


Cast


Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin
Fred Eisley as Bill Lane
Barboura Morris as Mary Dennison
William Roerick as Arthur Cooper
Michael Mark as Dr. Eric Zinthrop
Frank Gerstle as Les Hellman
Bruno VeSota as Night Watchman
Roy Gordon as Paul Thompson
Carolyn Hughes as Jean Carson
Lynn Cartwright as Maureen Reardon
Frank Wolff as Delivery Man
Lani Mars as Secretary
Philip Barry as Delivery Man
Roger Corman as Hospital Doctor (uncredited)
 




Trailer

The perils of fading beauty! 
The promise of anti-aging miracles! 
A serum derived from the enzymes of wasps?? 
The first human trial of the miracle serum! 
An unexpected turn of events! 
The consequences of vanity…...

Welcome to the final post in this blog that will feature sci-fi classics from the 1950s golden era of sci-fi on film. And what a way to finish off with a little gem from the maestro, Roger Corman and his film,
 
The Wasp Woman!

Read on for more.....


Monday, 3 February 2020

The Head (1959) (Die Nackte und der Satan, or The Naked and the Satan)


A rather salacious and mildly atmospheric film with a silly premise


Directed by Victor Trivas
Music by Willy Mattes
Cinematography: Georg Krause
Distributed by Prisma Film
Running time: 1h 37min
Country: Former West Germany


Cast


Horst Frank as Dr. Brandt - alias Dr. Ood
Karin Kernke as Schwester Irene Sander

Helmut Schmid as Bert Jaeger
Paul Dahlke as Police Commissioner Sturm
Dieter Eppler as Paul Lerner
Kurt Müller-Graf as Dr. Walter Burke
Christiane Maybach as Stella - alias Lilly
Michel Simon as Prof. Dr. Abel


A serum that keeps a dog's head alive after its body dies! 
A mad scientist!! 
Serum’s inventor loses his head – literally!! 
Human experimentation!! 
At what cost?

Film Clip

Read on for more....


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci-Fi Films: “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells


Science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds was written by H.G. Wells and was first published serially by Pearson's Magazine in the UK. and by The Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. in 1897.

The War of the Worlds is set in the late 1890s in England and is one of the earliest stories to feature an alien invasion of Earth and the subsequent conflict between humanity and the invading extraterrestrials

Wells’ novel is a first-person narrative of both an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and of his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded by Martians.

Wells may have used the British impact on indigenous Tasmanians as a model or template for his own story which offers a consideration of what could happen if the technologically advanced Martians did to Britain what the British had done to the Tasmanians. 


(audiobook)
or
(audiobook)




Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds was part of CBS’s "Mercury Theater on the Air" program and was based on the H.G. Wells’ story of a Martian invasion. It achieved notoriety through the widely reported effect it had by frightening many listeners who thought Martians had really invaded and were attacking.

During the broadcast, Welles was to interrupt a music performance with apparent news reports of a Martian invasion in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Many startled listeners missed the broadcast's opening, which mentioned that it was a work of fiction. The show was supposed to have caused widespread panic and hysteria across New Jersey and the country. More than likely it generated a lot more anger and annoyance!


War of the Worlds 1938 Broadcast
(download)


The year 1953 saw producer George Pal's and director Byron Haskin’s film adaptation of Wells’ novel. In the film, a small town in California is attacked by Martians as a prelude to a worldwide invasion. At first the residents of the town are thrown into a bit of a flap when what looks like a flaming meteor lands in the hills. Scientist Clayton Forrester and Sylvia Van Buren are among the first to arrive at the site of the meteorite crash. Soon after, an alien war machine emerges and begins killing and destroying with a death ray. The aliens possess machines that fly and hover and are protected by force fields. Even the military is no match for these alien invaders. The race is on to discover the aliens' weakness – if indeed they have one!

Trailer





In 2005, Steven Spielberg released his adaptation of War of the Worlds. The film can be seen as being a reflection of the time and events surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath. The story begins in New York City, and this is where the alien attack first begins. The scenes that follow the destruction of the city would remind audiences of the horror and trauma that accompanied the events of 9/11.


Trailer



The new BBC One three-part series is set in Surrey at the turn of the 20th century, in keeping with Wells’ original story. Although I haven’t as yet seen it, I’m hoping that this adaptation does not follow the trend that has been evident in many of today’s film and TV efforts and depictions: an infusion of feminist effluvia, modern PC / inclusiveness check box criteria and inappropriate grafting of 21st century concerns on to a past historical setting. Then again, despite recent sci-fi on-screen disappointments I probably ought to reserve judgment! In the end, it's a testament to Wells' story that it keeps re-emerging so long after its original publication.


The War of the Worlds BBC (2019) Clip


Additional Note:

I have indeed since been fortunate enough to watch BBC One’s War of the Worlds and I must say that overall, it is quite well worth watching. It is good to see yet another well-made science fiction TV series coming out of Britain.

There do seem to be a few references being made back to HG Wells’ original story from the opening narration, setting and time period, to the nature of the alien tripod machines through to the consideration of the effect of British colonialism. I felt that this last point could’ve been made in a far more considered and reflective manner than was the case.

The treatment of the story is not surprisingly made with modern audiences in mind. For instance, unlike Wells’ story, we have in addition to male characters, a central unconventional female protagonist who tries to make her way through a rather admonishing conservative patriarchal society. At least it is not laid on too thickly and rammed too forcefully down audiences’ throats as has often recently been the case in other films and series.

Instead of focusing exclusively on the carnage and destruction being visited on the earth by the aliens, the series almost uses that as a backdrop to an exploration of the relationships between the characters and the kinds of choices they find themselves forced to make depending on the circumstances they find themselves in.

I must say that I had to modify my original preconceptions about the series and found myself being pleasantly surprised. My recommendation is that you should go ahead and enjoy it for what it is and try not to be too nit-picky about it.


BY THE WAY!

Just to whet your appetite......


Here’s a link to a full-length presentation involving a fictional Martian (based on War of the Worlds) invasion of the earth in 1913 in the style of a docudrama. The Great Martian War 1913–1917 is a 2013 Canadian/UK made-for-television science fiction presentation, that appears as if it is an episode from the History TV Channel. WOW!






©Chris Christopoulos (2020)

Sunday, 12 January 2020

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)




A very thought provoking end-of-the-world tale dealing with matters that are more than just black and white or merely skin deep. 

Directed by Ranald MacDougall
Produced by Sol C. Siegel, George Englund, Harry Belafonte (uncredited)
Written by Ranald MacDougall
Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall
Based on novel The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel and
story End of the World by Ferdinand Reyher
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography: Harold J. Marzorati
Edited by Harold F. Kress
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Running time: 95 minutes
Budget: $1,659,000
Box office: $1,085,000 


Cast




as Ralph Burton 



as Sarah Crandall 



as Benson Thacker 




The title of the film comes from the Litany in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: "From all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, spare us, good Lord." In Christian theology, the world, the flesh, and the devil has been viewed as being the three enemies of the soul, the sources of temptation, and as standing in opposition to the Trinity.
************* 

Trailer

As the end of one decade and the beginning of the next approaches, “negro” coal mine inspector Ralph Burton finds himself in the bowels of the earth conducting a preliminary structural inspection of a disused section of 3rd level, tunnel 8.

Read on for more......

Monday, 30 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Forbidden Planet” by W. J. Stuart



To begin with, the film Forbidden Planet (1956) was actually loosely based on William Shakespeare's, The Tempest. This sci-fi classic film in turn went on to influence other films and series of that genre including Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey.



Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a play that is set on an island near Italy where Prospero, who had at one time been Duke of Milan, and his beautiful daughter, Miranda, live with a spirit servant called Ariel and a strange wildman called Caliban who is Prospero’s slave. Prospero uses magic to conjure a storm and torment the survivors of a shipwreck, including the King of Naples and Prospero's treacherous brother, Antonio. Prospero's slave, Caliban, plots to rid himself of his master, but is thwarted by Ariel.

Magic, betrayal, love, forgiveness and repentance are among the main themes dealt with in The Tempest.




The sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet (1956) is set in the year 2371 on a desert planet called Altair-4, where the crew of the Cruiser C-57-D arrives on a rescue mission and to determine the fate of a group of scientists who had been sent there decades earlier. When Commander John J. Adams and his crew arrive, they discover only two people: Dr. Morbius and his daughter, Altaira who was born on the remote planet. The questions that need to be answered are:

What happened on Altair IV? 
and 
Why is it that only Morbius and Altaira are the sole survivors?


Shortly before the film was released, a novelization appeared that was written by W. J. Stuart (Philip MacDonald being the pseudonym he wrote under). His story largely follows the events and characters depicted in the film with some minot alterations and additions. In the novel, the story is told from the point of view of three different narrators: Dr. Ostrow, Commander Adams, and Dr. Morbius.


The novel goes into far greater detail concerning the mysterious Krell and their disappearance. In fact, before viewing the film, it would pay to read the account in Stuart’s novel of Morbius’s repeated exposure to the Krell's brain boosting technology and how it ultimately led to his and the Krell’s own downfall, both of whom did not take into account the role played by their imperfections and primitive base drives.

One of the added story elements that was not present in the film involves Dr. Ostrow’s dissection of one of the dead Earth-type little primates whose internal structure suggests that it had never been alive in the way we would understand a biological organism as being alive. This creature along with the other animals are therefore conscious creations or constructs of Dr. Morbius using Krell technology that can project matter in any form. And what of the power to create life? Can such hubris and arrogance be permitted? - “We are, after all, not God."



Movie clip: Id Monster


Forbidden Planet PDF Download

Forbidden Planet Radio Play Download

Forbidden Planet Full Movie Link

Blog Post Movie Review


I’ll have the last of the sci-fi films from the 1950s for your consideration early in the new year. After that, I’ll present a fairly random selection of what I consider to be among the best classic sci-fi films from the 1960s – 1980’s. They wont be dealt with in any particular chronological order and quite a few films will not be included at all.


Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and the very best for 2020! Thank you for stopping by this blog and I sincerely hope you managed to find something of interest.

A special thought and prayer for those people here in Australia who are enduring horrible drought conditions and bush-fires. May things turn around for the better as soon as possible!

Donations to help individuals and communities affected by bush/wild fires and the ongoing drought can be made at:









©Chris Christopoulos 2019

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Deadly City” by Paul W. Fairman (1916 – 1977)



Paul Warren Fairman (1916-1977) was an editor and writer in a variety of genres under his own name and under pseudonyms. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic.


Fairman's science fiction short story"Deadly City" appeared in the March 1953 issue of Worlds of Science Fiction: If, under Fairman's "Ivar Jorgensen" pseudonym and was made into the motion picture, Target Earth which is features in this blog.


Target Earth (1954) is set in an eerily deserted Chicago and involves a small group of people who have been overlooked during a mass evacuation of "the city that never sleeps." The evacuation has occurred due to a sudden invasion by hostile robots (well, at least one in the film!) possibly from the planet Venus.

Fairman’s story, however focuses less on the alien invasion aspect than the film does. There are no robot invaders. Instead, the invaders are glimpsed once and only from a distance. The printed story is also far more gritty, noirish and brutal than the film version.


A new Roger Corman double feature on the Classic Sci-Fi Double Feature Page.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Future Fears For Now (A Poem)


The following poem was inspired somewhat by the film, The Tingler which was the subject of my last post. I borrowed the idea of “fear” and tried to consider the almost pervasive, paralyzing and distorting effect that fear can have on individuals and on our modern society now and into the future.

The poem kind of just fell into my head after I finished writing about The Tingler, and I quickly wrote it down as it occurred to me so it reads a bit like stream of consciousness.

Anyway, for what it’s worth…..








Future Fears For Now 

Your eyes suddenly snap open in terror
from an image burned into your mind:
an after glow of last night’s nightmare
of you sitting and sweating at a white table
under a searing ultaviolet sky,
playing polka on the lawns of the White House
with three silhouettes, one of whom shuffles
giant cards from a marked deck.
Texas hold ‘em, winner takes all,
but no, not you - you knew you had to fold
for the game was rigged in favour
of the player with the highest hand.
And now you fearfully ooze out of bed
to face a day-long fearful future
itemized by your AI assistant
who despite “her” faux-feminine ways
really doesn’t give a shit about you
‘coz the chatty cunt can’t.
On command “she” switches on the lights
and tells you about today’s weather
‘coz you’re far too scared to look outside
while the AI toothbrush brushes
your teeth at your precise preferred angle
‘coz you’re far too frightened to do it yourself.
Thank God for your smart devices
as you unwittingly continue to devolve:
driver-less and aimless without a destination;
autonomous while robbed of real autonomy;
connected but disconnected from life;
freed up to obey your device’s insistent
clamoring for your time and attention -
Emails, tweets, texts and notifications -
while the world slides by tinted windows
and you fail to notice a patch of blue sky
before the tallest smart building in the world
windshield wipes it away as it rains
to be replaced by a shadow cast over a past
psychic link to the earth and the universe
long since severed and replaced by junk piles
of mass-produced obsolescence and infant fears
of one hot day being hailed as a heatwave
while failing to feel the steadily rising fever
of the being stirring beneath your feet
and the march of the times that are a-changin,
of the earth’s climate that’s a-ragin’
of an order that’s re-arrangin.’
Watch as your ice-palace pleasure domes 

melt 
a
w
a
y,
while whole horizons of looming towers slowly 

s
u
b
s
i
d
e.
Status quo is death and decay, but life is change,
only if you can see, learn, adapt and evolve.
Or will you wait for the slow shifting sands of time
to roll in where you can dig a hole to bury your head?
Like the rest, you walk with bowed head and covered ears,
existence canceled out of your mind,
except for Bluetooth voices inside your head:
a modern techno zombie with a screen as guide,
afraid of the world around you and what it might say.
The hole in your head quickly fills with fears
of being unfollowed, unfriended and finally blocked
as you flee from vicious slack-jawed dyslexic trolls.
Hey, Facebook phony, snap a pic of your lovely lunch
and add it to the Instagramed lies of your life!
More uploaded delusions to feed your ego,
Owned by others you fear to fail to impress. 




What’s this? Feelings of paranoid fear
Of being watched and tracked and stored.
Eyes in the sky and spies in your phone
never knowing what it is to be left alone.
But you told them where you’re going
and showed them where you’d been,
let them know what you were doing
and who and what you had just seen!
When speaking to others, you watch what you say
for they can sniff out offense and strain at the leash
while barking their outrage at the feelings you hurt.
For God’s sake, don’t open the door for her!
Too late – you now stand accused:
1. of male chauvinism
2. of outright sexism
3. of playing patriarchy
What the farky??
It’s all in the PC Handbook available online.
Read it over a re-usable cup of “coffee”
surrounded by non-alcoholic Vegan Millenials
and Gen ZZZZZZZ –(sorry I nodded off, now I’m woke!)-
who can soberly rattle off LGTBQIA in a breath
while thumbing a QWERTY touch keyboard to death.
OK Boomer, how does it feel to now know
That Christmas is banned and God is dead;
that the world is really flat and science is divided?
Or should we build more jails or toughen up sentences -
or to ban or not to ban - 
talk-back radio cure-alls for all our woes?
Who really cares what reason and research shows,
when opinion can be protected from such foes
Behind the safety of walls and barriers,
where you take comfort with your own tribe
and from where you can hurl abuse and vilify
using trebuchets and catapults of free speech? 
And the Power Elite tweet, divide and yell,
while the rest of the world goes to hell
in a cauldron of civil war and civil strife,
but not before you check out Netflix,
and turn in for the night,
and intone..
“OK, Google - turn off the light.”










©Chris Christopoulos 2019