Monday, 27 September 2021

Sci-Fi Future Is Here & Now (Part 15): DYSTOPIA NOW!

Visions of a dystopian future are no longer confined to the realm of speculative or science fiction books and movies. For some time now we have immersed ourselves deeper and deeper into a way of life that would have once been almost unimaginable in a democratic and free society.

The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought this situation home to us as we see more and more of our freedoms that we once took for granted being steadily eroded. This is particularly the case in my home city of Melbourne, Australia in the state of Victoria, as I’m sure it is also the case in many other locations around the world.

Melbourne has the dubious distinction of being the most locked down city in the world, with businesses and schools being forced to close down, people having their freedom of movement restricted along with their right to gather and express their opinion via street protest, as well as having their whereabouts monitored and tracked via the use of mobile phone scanning of QR codes.

The situation has reached a point whereby Melbourne (and other cities in Australia) is beginning to take on the characteristics of a police state. People can be and are stopped by the police and asked for their identification, their reason for being at such and such a place and if their response is not deemed satisfactory, they can be hit with a substantial fine.



We also have the disturbing development of our police force being increasingly militarized and weaponized. Take for instance the terrible sight of riot police with shields and batons battling with anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters, as well as police employing capsicum spray, firing rubber bullets and using tear gas. 

Although the actions of many of the protesters were reprehensible, it was felt by many observers that the actions of the police amounted to an over-reach of their powers. It is not a sight we are familiar with in this country. The question is, why now? Would this have happened had the protest been over a more acceptable “social” issue rather than one that could be seen as constituting a direct challenge to authority?

The state government has given itself emergency powers and citizens find themselves subject to the edicts of politicians, unelected health and other officials, bureaucrats and law enforcement officers. As a consequence, measures such as night-time curfews have been declared without consultation and without being justified on the basis of any factual health rationale.

Is it any wonder that so many feel a sense of powerlessness and that the mental and emotional well-being of large numbers of citizens is being adversely affected? When faced with such a repressive and confining set of circumstances, acts of anger and conflict will often be the result. In the absence of unifying, effective and meaningful leadership, irrationality and opportunistic figures will quickly fill the void.

Our once proud “world’s most livable city” in a country that was the envy of the world for its democratic ideals and values and its tradition of freedom, has been reduced to almost a Stalinist wasteland in which people’s livelihoods and liberties have been stripped away and replaced by the normalization of compulsion and compliance.

The mantra, “No Jab, No Job” now echoes through the empty canyons of the central business district of Mandatory Melbourne.

A particularly disturbing aspect of this pervading sense of compliance and rule by compulsion, is the proposed trial in Victoria of the Orwellian-termed “Vaccinated Economy.” It is simply a euphemism for forcing people to declare their vaccination status in order to participate in social and economic life. Trials are to be conducted in businesses and events across highly vaccinated parts of regional Victoria to, so it is claimed, help the state open progressively as a vaccinated economy when it meets the key double-dose thresholds outlined in the state government's roadmap.

As one radio “journalist” asked the health minister recently about the proposal, “It’s inevitable, isn’t it? It will happen, wont it?” Of course! It is in the nature of trials such as these to be a mere formality – to confirm what is already a fait accompli. Perhaps the journalist should have asked, “Is it desirable?”




And so we are told that eventually we will have a progressively open economy, with greater freedoms for vaccinated people or at least those who are CONFIRMED as being fully vaccinated. And how will they be confirmed? Why, by means of a passport and digital certificate displaying vaccination status. Ah, the wonders of technology – all the better to enslave us further! As if we haven’t already surrendered enough of our personal privacy.

What of those people who are unable or unwilling to provide the required digital tick of approval? Heaven forbid we’ll have a two-tiered system in which discrimination becomes an entrenched feature of the brave new world…...”moving forward!” Well, who cares, they’re only “anti-vaxxers” aren’t they?

One way to dismiss opposition is to apply a derogatory label to them. It saves thinking too much about the issue at hand. I admit, that many of those so labeled are quite barmy in their ideas and it is very unfortunate that many who have actively protested against the government‘s recent measures have conducted themselves in a very stupid and counter-productive manner. Their lack of intelligence has damaged the very cause they claim to be be fighting for and as a consequence any opposition to the government's edicts are seen to be the product of hard right wing, anti-vaxxer and 'nutter' agitation. Certainly there are many dickheads amongst them, but this doesn't explain away an entire opposition group of people.

In my own case, it was my choice, MY CHOICE to be fully vaccinated based on reputable information sources and a cost-benefit analysis in terms of my own health, the interests of those closest to me and the community I live in. But I’ll be damned if I’ll download and produce on demand any digital certificate to any individual, law enforcement officer or business enterprise in order to participate in society. Anyone who tries to force me to can just go to hell. It is up to each of us to decide whether or not the world we live in evolves into the kind of dystopian nightmare portrayed by science fiction books and films.



©Chris Christopoulos 2021


Next post will be about the sci-fi classic film,
"2001 A Space Odyssey" (1968)


Thursday, 9 September 2021

SILENT RUNNING (1972)



A melancholy sci-fi film that makes you think about what could happen, and is in fact happening to our planet, along with the consequences for us all if no action is taken.


Directed by Douglas Trumbull
Written by Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, Steven Bochco
Produced by: Michael Gruskoff, Marty Hornstein, Douglas Trumbull
Cinematography: Charles F. Wheeler
Edited by: Aaron Stell
Music by: Peter Schickele
Production company: Universal Pictures
Running time: 89 minutes
Budget: $1,350,000


Cast


Bruce Dern: Freeman Lowell
Cliff Potts: John Keenan
Ron Rifkin: Marty Barker
Jesse Vint: Andy Wolf
Mark Persons: the Drone
Steven Brown: the Drone
Cheryl Sparks: the Drone
Larry Whisenhunt: the Drone
Joseph Campanella: Neal - Berkshire' Captain (voice)
Roy Engel: Anderson (voice)




Trailer


Spoilers follow below....




The viewer is at first treated to a close-up view of a slice of nature in all its colorful and vibrant splendor. The camera takes us on a journey through water droplet speckled plant-life along with glimpses of its insect, amphibious and other denizens.



As the camera pulls out, our view is jarred by the sudden appearance in the shot of a section of an artificial surface feature which appears to be a metal foot-ramp. Next we see a monk-like robed human figure and behind and above him a star-strewn view of space. This is not what might at first have been expected.



The robed individual is Freeman Lowell, one of four crewmen aboard American Airlines space freighter Valley Forge. Lowell is the resident botanist and ecologist who maintains the various plants, cultivates the crops and attends to the animal life, all of which are contained in enormous, geodesic greenhouse domes attached to his and other large spaceships.

The lush foliage being framed against the pitch black of outer space and contained within a marvel of human technology makes the existence of the flora and fauna all the more remarkable and miraculous.



“On this first day of a new century, we humbly beg forgiveness and dedicate these last forests of our once beautiful nation, in the hope that they will one day return and grace our foul Earth. Until that day, may God bless these gardens and the brave men who care for them.”

This is the not too distant future, where all plant and animal life on Earth is becoming extinct. What remains has been preserved in the domes of the 2000 meter long orbiting space freighters. The plan or mission is to eventually return the preserved plant and animal life to earth. The Valley Forge, is part of a fleet of freighters currently located just outside the orbit of Saturn.

Freeman Lowell is passionately and one might say obsessively dedicated to his work of preservation and conservation. Not so, however his crew-mates whose main priority is to return to Earth after their one-year deployment to space.


“Do I have to put signs up here to keep you guys off my grass?”

The tranquility of the scene is rudely disrupted by the antics of Lowell’s crew-mates who burst in on Lowell driving motorized buggies, tearing up the soil and nearly bowling Lowell over. Blowing off steam and having fun is a lot more appealing to Lowell’s crew-mates than dedication and respect for what’s around them and their responsibility toward it.

In the next few scenes featuring his interaction with his crew mates, Lowell comes across not just as some hippie drop-out intent on merely shunning civilization. Instead, this is a man who appreciates the natural world and all that it offers, who is adept at working in partnership with technology as a tool and one who can play a mean hand of poker which suggests skill at strategy and bluff. He probably just prefers the natural world and technology to his fellow ass-hole human beings and is fully committed to the ideals behind the forest preservation mission.

More importantly, Lowell appears to be a hopeless and naive optimist who fervently believes that the authorities back on earth have indeed paid attention to his communications and that “they're about to re-establish the parks and forest system” with him as director. After all, he’s spent the last eight years dedicated to the project and that “here's no way they're gonna announce cutbacks, not after this amount of time.”



“You don't think that it's time that somebody cared enough to have a dream?”

What Lowell doesn’t seem to understand is the fickle and self-absorbed nature of human beings as alluded to by crewman Wolf who tells him, “it's been too long, Lowell, people got other things to do now.”

This sentiment is underscored by a radio transmission from Con Central in which their boss, Anderson informs the crews of the fleet that orders have been received to “abandon, then nuclear destruct, all the forests and return our ships to commercial service.”





It is at this point that something within Lowell’s psyche seems to snap and begins to unravel. It is as if there is no place in the universe anymore for logic, reason, for rationality, for a sense of right and wrong. To him, such a destructive course of action as the blowing up of the Earth’s last remaining forests in space is just “insane.”


"Rejoice in the Sun"

♪ Fields of children ♪
♪ Running wild ♪
♪ In the sun ♪
♪ Like a forest is your child ♪
♪ Growing wild ♪
♪ In the sun ♪
♪ Doomed in his innocence ♪
♪ In the sun ♪
♪ Gather your children ♪
♪ To your side ♪
♪ In the sun ♪
♪ Tell them ♪
♪ All they love will die ♪
♪ Tell them why ♪
♪ In the sun ♪
♪ Tell them ♪
♪ It's not too late ♪
♪ Cultivate one by one ♪
♪ Tell them to harvest ♪
♪ And rejoice ♪
♪ In the sun ♪

(Joan Baez)


A future time where all flora and fauna is extinct on Earth.
The planet's ecosystems exist only in large pods attached to spacecraft.
Commercial interests have now taken precedence.
The pods are to be jettisoned into space and destroyed by nuclear devices.
The crew of Valley forge and other ships can return home to earth.
Botanist and crew member Freeman Lowell has tended the plants for eight years.
How will the dedicated Lowell take the news?
Is the earth destined to lose the last of its forests and living creatures?

Read on for more....

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

O Grave New World!

The following poem is a bit of a reflection on a pervading feeling during the current trying times we are facing with an eye to the future. Science fiction tends to deal with change and human responses to that change, sometimes with an over emphasis on hardware and technology, particularly in films. This poem considers aspects of human nature, much of which has developed over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and which we will carry with us well into the future. How will our basic instincts serve us in such crises as we are facing today and those we cannot begin to imagine in the future? How will they enable us to cope with enormous technological and social change? It’s hard enough as it is right now in these grave times!

With special thanks to the master, Mr. Shakespeare….





O Grave New World

I have opened a door and gazed upon a world
I no longer know nor understand.
I wander its streets, an unheeded and unnoticed
Indistinct reflection in a puddle on a wet pavement.
Each street leads in the same direction
Through many ages of uncertainty,
To finally converge at one final destination.


O grave new world that has such people in’t!
Who can gaze at the heavens down through screens
To wonder at billionaires bobbing about
Within the void and vacuum of their egos,
Just brushing at the edges of space,
And yet failing to reach the heights once gained
By giants propelled by dreams and fueled with the right stuff.
And you wonder now what’s wrong with the human race!
Who seek equality by kneeling and taking a knee
When every fiber of a man demands taking a stand
On two feet with hand on heart and clenched fist
Held aloft – defiant and determined to demand.
Who can’t even define such nonsense terms as “race,”
Fodder for mad Mengele murderous minds
To justify their exit from the human race.
Where “he” is now a “she” and “she” is now “they”
And “old white guys” are told they must cringe with shame,
While the disliked and vilified are deemed “these people.”
Confetti words and labels scattered day after day
As sad dead-eyed masked faces scuttle by
Disguising skin colour, culture and place of birth
And mask-mouthed muffled sounds from far-off places,
In a babel of tongues none no longer comprehend;
None of which amounts to “Race” so why pretend?
Who can willfully trample on the corpses
Of freedom fighters of ages past,
And demand to see permits, passports, passes;
Denying entry to those without the required code,
And proceed to prescribe, restrict, direct and regulate -
Stay tuned for their latest edict and update.


“My, how beauteous and clever mankind is!”
Who can deny truth, facts, evidence and life’s realities
If they threaten their medieval mental fantasies.
Apes with the power of processors, under the power
Of algorithms’ spells and social media mesmerisms.
Time’s ripe for scapegoats and seeing off reason
So dust off the stocks and pillory and light the pyre;
It’s time now to shed all caution and play the game,
And inform on your neighbors all without shame.
Who can be besieged and bewildered by invisible invaders,
A mere prelude to the final future reckoning,
To be met again by proclaiming “we’re all in it together”
Until we break on through to the other side.
Break on through to the other side.
Break on through….
Break…
B...


“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..”
Foolish jig-saw puzzle patch-quilt world
With ill-fitting pieces and frayed edges,
That sleepwalks while going forward into the future
Of consequences unforeseen but long suspected.
Eyes shut tight against the sky’s orange glow,
Pace unhurried despite lashing flames of heat
And scorching of the feet from hot coals below.


“Awake and arise, and say how thou camest here.”
I sought safety in numbers and was carried by the tide
And was swept along by currents of fear and loathing.
I turned my back on tempestuous winds
That flattened my home and shredded my life.
With head held high, I stood up on tip-toes
While waves lapped around the side of my nose.
I tried to hold back the raging inferno
By pissing on the flames ever advancing.
I guess I missed the CODE RED warning,
Distracted by my shouting for my rights,
While evading all of my responsibilities
.

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’’
For that is our quest, the holy grail for humanity.
To start with, we must awaken our hearts and souls
And be moved to feel by all that’s best in our being.
To feel your soul touched by that conjured to appear
By another’s soul, just sit back and…….


           CLICK HERE

If you were moved by what you have just heard
Then there is future hope for our grave new world.


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



[Music: Spiegel im Spiegel, (“Mirror in the Mirror”) by Arvo Pärt]




©Chris Christopoulos 2021

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

NEW STAR WARS FAN FILM “FORSAKEN MANDALORIAN AND THE DRUNKEN JEDI MASTER” A CINEMATIC FAN EXPERIENCE

A CINEMATIC FAN EXPERIENCE LAUNCHES AUGUST 6th ON THE POPULAR YOUTUBE CHANNEL: CREATE SCI-FI!



This July, strap in for a fun STAR WARS fan film from writer / director Anthony Ferraro: "Forsaken Mandalorian and the Drunken Jedi Master!"

“The goal was to make a fan film driven by dramatic performances rather than winks and nods to the franchise. But not to worry, we do some winking and nodding ;)” ~Anthony Ferraro, Writer/Director

A forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

"Hope Hinges On Two Men With No Hope"

Anthony will be launching “FORSAKEN MANDALORIAN AND THE DRUNKEN JEDI MASTER” on his popular YouTube channel “Create Sci-Fi”- A How-To channel for independent filmmakers, hobbyists and digital dads, with over 1.6 million views and 28K subscribers. Many prop and costume builds from this film are on the channel providing a deeper dive.


https://www.youtube.com/c/createscifi

"Deep into COVID lockdown, it occurred to me I could shoot a Star Wars fan film outdoors with a Mandalorian as a lead character. The Mando costume by design is full body PPE. I wrote two-person scenes to be filmed safely with a skeleton crew and cast myself as the “Drunken Jedi” to add more stealth to the production. The project was born out of a need to keep creative during the pandemic but, at the end of the day it's one of my finest films and I am excited to share it." - Anthony Ferraro



###

UPDATE!!!!!

NOW LIVE! NEW STAR WARS FAN FILM
“FORSAKEN MANDALORIAN AND THE DRUNKEN JEDI MASTER”

A CINEMATIC FAN EXPERIENCE HAS LAUNCHED TODAY ON THE POPULAR YOUTUBE CHANNEL CREATE SCI-FI:

https://www.youtube.com/c/createscifi

###


YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihxIH8Aqbfg

Trailer / Teaser: https://youtu.be/lpNxnpmVQcg


Image Downloads: https://bit.ly/3Bx0pkr


You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/createscifi


Twitter: https://twitter.com/zenamerican


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/createscifi

Friday, 23 July 2021

Demon Seed (1977)


A chilling prescient and deceptively complex sci-fi thriller of a film


Directed by Donald Cammell
Produced by Herb Jaffe
Screenplay by Robert Jaffe, Roger O. Hirson
Based on novel, “Demon Seed” by Dean Koontz
Music by Jerry Fielding
Cinematography: Bill Butler
Edited by Francisco Mazzola
Production companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Herb Jaffe Productions
Distributed by United Artists (United States), Cinema International Corporation (International)
Running time: 94 minutes
Box office: $2 million


Cast


Julie Christie as Susan Harris
Fritz Weaver as Alex Harris
Gerrit Graham as Walter Gabler
Berry Kroeger as Petrosian
Lisa Lu as Soon Yen
Larry J. Blake as Cameron
John O'Leary as Royce
Alfred Dennis as Mokri
Davis Roberts as Warner
Patricia Wilson as Mrs. Trabert
E. Hampton Beagle as Night Operator
Michael Glass as Technician #1
Barbara O. Jones as Technician #2
Dana Laurita as Amy
Monica MacLean as Joan Kemp
Harold Oblong as Scientist
Georgie Paul as Housekeeper
Michelle Stacy as Marlene
Tiffany Potter as Baby
Felix Silla as Baby
Robert Vaughn as voice of Proteus IV

Film Clip



A human has created
a machine
Now the machine
wants to create
a human!

*********

“A beautiful woman…
A master computer…
The most shocking act
Of creation ever imagined!!”

*********

A woman...
imprisoned
and
forcibly impregnated
by an
artificially intelligent computer!

“Fear for her!!!!”


Read on for more.....

Monday, 19 July 2021

ARACHNOPHOBIA 30th ANNIVERSARY panel



VIRTUAL PANEL CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF "ARACHNOPHOBIA" WITH DIRECTOR FRANK MARSHALL AND SPECIAL GUESTS!


https://vimeo.com/567142543

AND

SLEEPY HOLLOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS OCT 15-17 2021

WITH POP-UP DRIVE-IN THEATER AT KINGSLAND POINT PARK

IN HISTORIC SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 16, 2021 - Sleepy Hollow, NY

Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival, Creature Features and La-La Land Entertainment present a special 30th anniversary virtual panel celebrating the acclaimed creepy-crawly suspense comedy-thriller ARACHNOPHOBIA with director Frank Marshall and special guests!

Recorded in November 2020, moderator Mike Matessino hosts a lively and informative discussion with ARACHNOPHOBIA's director / executive producer Frank Marshall, co-producer Richard Vane, actor Peter Jason, production designer James Bissell and entomologist Steve Kutcher.

No stranger to delighting audiences worldwide for decades, Mr. Marshall, producer of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, POLTERGEIST and JURASSIC WORLD, made his directorial debut with ARACHNOPHOBIA in 1990, bringing rapt audiences to the edge of their seats with laughter and shrieks in equal measure. The film has remained a beloved fan favorite to this day and its appreciation continues to grow as it connects with a new generation. Now, Mr. Marshall and special guests take you behind the film, its production, and its astounding spider effects and action!


Watch the ARACHNOPHOBIA 30th ANNIVERSARY panel NOW!


https://vimeo.com/567142543


SLEEPY HOLLOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS THIS OCTOBER

After its thrilling inaugural year in 2019, the SLEEPY HOLLOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SHIFF) returns to historic Sleepy Hollow, NY this October 15-17 in the form of a pop-up DRIVE IN THEATER located at Kingsland Point Park, nestled in the legendary town of Sleepy Hollow on the bank of the Hudson River. Three nights of big-screen fun under the stars will be complemented by SHIFF's online festival, via Filmocracy. The famed Tarrytown Music Hall, the Fest's 2019 anchor theater, will return as a SHIFF venue next year, in Oct 2022.



Programming, events and ticketing will be announced soon. Visit www.sleepyhollowfilmfest.com for forthcoming festival information and for film/script submission rules.


(Stay tuned for the next post which will feature the 1977 sci-fi film, "Demon Seed")

Sunday, 20 June 2021

The Last Man on Earth (1964)


A thoughtful and absorbing post apocalyptic movie that has soul


Directed by Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo B. Ragona
Produced by Robert L. Lippert
Screenplay by Logan Swanson, William F. Leicester
Italian version: Furio M. Monetti, Ubaldo B. Ragona
Based on “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson
Music by Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Cinematography: Franco Delli Colli
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Italian version: Franca Silvi
Production companies: Associated Producers Inc.; Produzioni La Regina
Distributed by American International Pictures (US), 20th Century Fox (International)
Running time: 86 minutes


Cast


Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan
Franca Bettoia as Ruth Collins
Carolyn De Fonseca dubbed for Franca Bettoia's voice in the English release of the film.
Emma Danieli as Virginia Morgan
Giacomo Rossi Stuart as Ben Cortman
Umberto Raho (billed as Umberto Rau) as Dr. Mercer



“By night they leave their graves, crawling, shambling, through empty streets, whimpering, pleading, begging for his blood!

Do you dare to imagine what it would be like to be... the last man on earth... or the last woman?

Alive among the lifeless... alone among the crawling creatures of evil that make the night hideous with their inhuman craving!”

“HOW MUCH HORROR CAN YOU FACE?

...where lifeless hands reach out for the warmth of human flesh

...where terror walks on tiptoe begging for the blood of...

The Last Man on Earth!”


A plague devastates life on Earth and turns all of humanity into the living dead!

Dr. Robert Morgan is the sole unscathed human survivor on the planet.

For three years his daily routine consists of killing the zombie-like creatures by night and fortifying his house for his own safety by day.

With his wife and daughter having been taken by the outbreak, Morgan faces a constant battle against loneliness while trying to preserve his sanity.

But is there any point to all this?

It seems that the odds are against this last remnant of humanity……

Trailer


Read on for more........