Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 20: Sci-Fi!

A violent alien nightmare in blood!

41 comments:

  1. BADLY-REPURPOSED-ORIGINAL-SOURCE-MATERIAL SCI-FI DOUBLE FEATURE!

    BATTLEFIELD EARTH (2000, 118 min.) on Netflix Instant for the first time.

    Yep, this is as bad as everyone says it is. After one thousand years of enslavement by the Psychlos alien race that is mining planet Earth of all its resources, a human rebellion starts taking shape after slave Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) learns the language, secrets and weaknesses of his alien oppressors. How and why is this happening? Because Psychlo security chief Terl (John Travolta) is so pissed off at his superiors for not promoting him into a cushy job back at the home planet that he teaches Jonnie some basic alien knowledge so his tribe will dig for gold. And since the Psychlos underestimate their slaves at every turn, sharing that little bit of info isn't likely to get Terl or his fellow aliens in any trouble. EXCUSE ME??!! :-O

    That is just one of dozens of bad creative decisions by all involved (including Forest Whitaker when he agreed to be Travolta's whipping boy for two hours) that add up to an angry, joyless and confusing sci-fi journey. Why the same "wipe from within" transition effect over and over? How would slaves remember "golden archers" instant food service that none of them have seen for centuries? Did John McTiernan get royalties for this flick stealing his lips-close-up translation trick from "Hunt for Red October?" Most importantly, who thought an L. Ron Hubbard 1982 space novel warranted a $75 million budget? Ask Leah Remini, and ye shall know! ;-) Avoid it, not worth the aggravation.

    RIFFTRAX LIVE! SPACE MUTINY (2018/1988) at Phatom Events Theater for the first time.

    The bad news first. As expected, Mike/Kevin/Bill were unable to even come close to matching the near-perfect riffing they did for their 1997 "MST3K" episode of o̶r̶i̶g̶i̶n̶a̶l̶ ̶"̶B̶a̶t̶t̶l̶e̶s̶t̶a̶r̶ ̶G̶a̶l̶a̶c̶t̶i̶c̶a̶"̶ "Space Mutiny." All the better jokes from that insanely rewatchable experiment ("Shake it, Ralph Macchio!," "I'm insane!," "Sting, Debbie Reynolds, and God!," "Graphics by Kenner," "Bill McLarge Huge!", "♪ Spider-skank, Spider-skank! ♩") were running through my head as the guys just layed many softball observations ("How long ago were you 15-years old?") with an occasional standout riff ("Bacon Von Manwich!"). Some of the jokes (the poor masked guard getting his groin both kicked and laser blasted) were even blatant lifts from 21 years ago.

    The good news? With (a) 20 previously-unriffed minutes of additional movie to make fun of plus (b) the majesty of a big screen presentation with surprisingly clear sound (not that the dated "Galactica" footage or crummy Casio-sounding music benefit from the scrutiny), "Space Mutiny" is one glorious ball of 80's sci-fi cheese to enjoy. Reb Brown's beefy hero screams like a girl and punches like one. Cameron Mitchell, like his ancestors before him (and Kevin on-camera), still tapes wool over his face. John Phillip Law's Kalgan chews industrial basements worth of scenery, and Cisse Cameron's cleavage (covered by a CG Instagram gorilla... thanks a lot, Bill! :-P) has more nuance than the foot fetishist that imprisons her. Glad I caught this last night (Tuesday), but I'll stick with the "MST3K" version from here 'till eternity. It's what that dead woman who re-appears on the bridge after she's been murdered would have wanted. xD

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    1. I also saw it last night, and agree with you overall. I did enjoy the HG Wells short! Especially the stuff with the Dad close-ups. But, shorts are almost always a blast.

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    2. Didn't have room left to talk about the Wells short (been hitting the 4,096 character limit in my posts lately). Yep, Rifftrax exceeds at shorts and this one had me howling when the creepy-looking dummy came to life and then the magician made the kid disappear in front of his dad. Heck, like "Space Mutiny," the short made fun of itself so well Mike, Kevin and Bill's riffs were cherry atop an already-delicious slice of so-bad-it's-good cinematic trash. 'Rock 'n' roll martian! XD

      Even better, after the Rifftrax show ended I decided to take a stroll through midtown Manhattan, walked by Cinema Village on 12th Street and stumbled on the feature that I'm doing for Free Space Day. Check it out, 'cause it's a doozy. :-)

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  2. DARK STAR (1974, dir. John Carpenter)

    Carpenter got a chance to turn his film school project into a feature release. It is about a spaceship called Dark Star, which is travelling around the universe blowing up planets that are likely to leave their orbit. The crew are bored with everything around them while one technical mishap after another occurs. Although it looks like just another cheap sci-fi flick of the period, Carpenter and his fellow students, including Dan O’Bannon, crafted a quirky and lively space saga with meager resources. The comedy worked better than I thought it would. Featuring a beachball with feet masquerading as an alien and the most unlikely philosophical debate I have ever seen in a film, Dark Star renders it ridiculousness into a strength. Far from perfect but proof of the quality that talent and a good idea can produce.

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  3. Galaxina 1980

    “in space no one can hear your siren.”

    The movie tries to parody all the classic Sci-Fi movies Alien, Star Trek, Star Wast and a Space odyssey, some better than other.

    We follow the crew on the Space Police cruiser Infinity, and that’s about it. There really isn’t any plot speak of us. At some point they a task with getting a rock from the Blue Star, and the try make the robot, Galaxina more human, mostly so Master Sergeant Thor can have sex with her. It’s a weird movie with an old ancient cult worshipping Harley-David-Son. Yes it’s a biker gang.
    At least the set, monster and ship design is ok.

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  4. Paradox (2016, dir. Michael Hurst)

    Yeah, this movie's no good. It tries to be a twisty mindbender but fails at pretty much everything: story, dialogue, acting, effects... Not worth your time. Zoë Bell is the only redeeming factor, but the script doesn't do her any favors.

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  5. Matinee (1993)

    Eh, hmmmmm, not REALLY a SciFi exploitation movie, but its Dante, right? Besides, it's a movie ABOUT sci-fi exploitation movies. It counts!!

    Wow this movie is jam-packed with great character actors and eye-popping color. There's even a "holy shit, her?" cameo by a young Naomi Watts in the living shopping cart flick. Glad they didn't fully film in the Keys, cuz man, I could find fifty other towns in Florida that look identical but don't charge four figures for a hotel.

    Needless to say, John Goodman is an absolute delight. I could listen to his schiestery director wax about the inmate human desire for the visceral thrill in cinema. You almost want him to step out the movie, put his arm over your shoulder, and rip you right off. Also, I'd 100% be crushing on the "commie girl" in high school, too, and I feel like Dante totally gets it.

    I also can't help but relate to the palpable paranoia and anxiety this film captures, and wish it wasn't still so relevant. But the picture is ultimately about expressing those anxieties through the distraction and buffer of the cinematic experience. So in that sense it's serving it's metatextual purpose. Hell, I may just watch The Iron Giant after this as a kicker. Would recommend.

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    1. It totally counts! That's a perfect, joyful masterpiece. Easily in my Handshake 5. ;)

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  6. Event Horizon (1997, dir. Paul W. S. Anderson) The ultra-rare movie that I wish was longer! I wanted to spend more time in this world. Man the production design is awesome. Cool movie.

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  7. They Live (1988)

    First time viewing. (Yeah, yeah... I know, I know...) I had been meaning to get to this one during every Junesploitation for a few years now and I finally did it! I'm honestly not sure what put the idea in my head, but I guess I had always resisted, figuring it was going to be schlocky and nothing more. Maybe because of an athlete/non-actor in the lead? I don't know. Well, I obviously don't need to tell anyone here this, but I could not have been more wrong. It's so smart. And subversive. And I love how it looks. The effects. The score. That fight scene. I seriously just love everything about it. Compared to everything happening in the country these days, this movie feels like a warm blanket and a hug. I will be re-visiting it often.

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  8. SALAMANDER (1987)
    A peaceful planet is under attack by evil aliens called Bacterians and a giant fire-breathing dragon, which is the titular Salamander. Three hotshot pilots are called in to save the day. There’s a lot of standing around and talking before we get to the spaceships-versus-dragons action we were promised. The final battle is fun, but over pretty quick. This is based on a series of video games I’ve never played that’s a spinoff of another series of videogames I’ve never played, so I’m probably missing a lot of context.

    SALAMANDER: MEDITATING PAULA (1988)
    The Bacterians are back, and our three heroic fighter pilots are here to stop them. This was a definite improvement over the first, with a lot more action throughout. The emphasis is on the pilots and their space-swashbuckling, without any of the dreary our-planet-is-doomed drama of the first.

    SALAMANDER: GOFER’S AMBITION (1989)
    Now the Bacterians are threatening the three pilots’ homeworld. The prince from the first movie, who is hilariously named “Lord British,” gets in on the action by fighting alongside the pilots. This finale adds magic crystals and psychic visions into the mix, resulting in a whole lotta crazy. I guess I enjoyed these three movies well enough, but they’re pretty forgettable.

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    1. "Gradius" is the shooter videogame series that spawned the "Salamander" series, both from Konami. I had no idea there were movies made about "Salamander" back in the 80's. That'd make these the earliest movies based on videogames, almost six years before "Super Mario Brothers." :-O

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  9. The Return (1980)

    One of the few holes in my Greydon Clark filmography viewing has been filled. A crazy overqualified cast that includes Cybill Shepard, Jan-Michael Vincent, Martin Landau, Raymond Burr, Vincent Schiavelli, and Neville Brand star in a pretty slow-moving story of alien encounters and cattle mutilations. Not as crazy or as energetic as Clark's other movies and kind of a disappointment. With a few minor exceptions, this really felt like a TV movie.

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  10. Planet of the Vampires (1965)

    Imagine the movie Alien somehow mating with the original Star Trek and you’ll probably come up with something approximating the tone of this colorful monster mash. The story finds a crew of interstellar explorers coming upon a planet of vampiric creatures and eventually having to defend themselves against their own undead crewmates. As if that wasn’t bad enough, their leather spacesuits also do not look very comfortable at all.

    There was a comic book adaptation of It! The Terror From Beyond Space a few years ago that I feel may have been more beholden to this movie than that one (though the two movies share quite a few similarities). This movie feels so comic booky that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see some Creepshow-meets-Walter-Hill’s-cut-of-The-Warriors panel transitions. That’s a compliment, by the way, it’s super fun and even the expository moments are so bursting with color that it never feels dull.

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    1. I have not thought about this one for a while, JP.

      Yes, those colors. The visuals of Planet of the Vampires are frequently beautiful. This is probably Mario Bava's most extravagant use of color.

      The film is also full of atmosphere and paranoia.

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    2. I'm planning to sneak this in today. My DVD finslly arrived!

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    3. Ahh, one of the main films I plan to see every Junesploitation and never do.

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  11. Forbidden Zone (1980) Dir: Richard Elfman

    Boy this movie defies description. I knew I was in for a weird one when I started but I was unprepared for just what I was getting myself into. 8 AM at my work desk was not the time or place to watch this. I understand it's cult appeal but unfortunately it wasn't for me.

    Sequence Break (2017) Dir: Graham Skipper

    This was so close to being fantastic. Unfortunately it falls short for me. Graham Skipper is a talented actor, who also clearly has skills behind the camera so I'm excited to see what he does next, but this had that first-time filmmaker feeling. It's still worth watching because there are some interesting things happening and it stars Chase Williamson and Fabianne Therese, who are both delightful. I enjoy watching them both in almost anything and this is no exception, I just wish the movie surrounding them was better.

    Starman (1984) Dir: John Carpenter

    Yet another missing movie from Carpenter for me that I was happy to correct. I was not even remotely prepared for how much of a wreck this movie would make me. Maybe it's just what's happening in the world right now, but I found this to be a completely emotional and moving experience. The relationship and chemistry between Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen is totally compelling, Carpenter's direction is as sure as it ever was, and Jack Nitzsche's score can induce tears all by itself. I overlooked this one for years because it didn't fit my definition of a "Carpenter" movie but that was a huge mistake. It may now be my favorite Carpenter movie, I absolutely loved it.

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    1. Starman is movie I absolutely love. I'm not sure if it's my favorite Carpenter movie. There's more like a top 5 that's constantly shifting around, but Starman would be on that list.

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    2. I definitely need to give it more time before saying it's my favorite definitively. But it was the perfect movie at the perfect time today. I can absolutely agree that it's top five for sure.

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  12. Event Horizon (1997)

    Decent entry in the stoic Larry Fishburn captains spaceship (The Matrix), Sam Niell goes insane (Mouth of Madness), and Hellraiser in Space (Hellraiser: uhhhhhhh... Bloodline?) Genre. Though the CGI is a little dated, I enjoyed how self aware some of the references were. Despite that, they needed to be a little less precious about killing off the cast early and often. Plus I don't believe anyone in the future piloting spaceships will be named "Justin". Sorry, Justins of the world.

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  13. LOCKOUT:
    let's forget the thing with John Carpenter for a while. my only insterest is to have fun. as action/sci-fi go, i've seen worse. the bad CGI date the movie a little bit, but i can get over it. i think the interogation scene at the beginning is great and is a good way to setup the main character, though Guy Pearce push it maybe a little too much after that. the rest is fine. worth it to kill 90 minutes.

    and then i watched GATACCA, inspired by todays podcast episode. i still love it, none of the hangups brought up by Mr Bromley and Mr Holland came to me. most of them were pretty typical to me. story beats that leads nowhere, weird relashioship between characters. i've seen worse. most of it can be explained by shoot schedule, script issue, deadline or movie lenght. in this particular case, none of it bothers me. i'm not saying our 2 hosts are wrong in their thinking, on the contrary. i guess i can let it go easier in this case because i love the movie so much. as Mr Holland pointed out, the low key sci-fi like this movie is sorely missing. i need more.

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  14. Forbidden Planet (1956, dir. Fred M. Wilcox)

    One of the big sci-fi classics I'd never watched before. I remember Brian on Pure Cinema describing this film as "a B-movie with an A-budget". That describes it perfectly. Unlike most '50s sci-fi, this movie is brilliantly in color. The effects are amazing for the time and still look great today! I really enjoyed this film a lot. I acknowledge the story is a bit clunky in how it's told, as there are many scenes of characters dumping TONS of exposition. Still, I found the story interesting and it goes to a place I wasn't at all expecting. And any scenes of characters just having casual conversation are really good. Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis have great chemistry and all their scenes are the most entertaining.

    Fun sci-fi classic!

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  15. Zardoz (1974)

    Was hearing about this one as a wacky almost "dare" film, so I had to check it out for Junesploitation. This is a very intelligent film with a lot to say. Yes a lot of it has layers of cheese and some of the artistic choices are a bit jarring but this movie has a lot to say. Pretty sure Rick and Morty have also aped this one.

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    1. yes they did, when Morty gets a kid with a sex robot in the first season

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  16. Westworld (1973)
    A lot different than I was expecting it to be. I’m a fan of the show, and had never seen the original film, but always heard it was fun. I was surprised how laid back most of the movie is. Before the movie switches to malfunction mode, there’s even a really long bar fight scene that plays like a goofy pie fight.

    I also thought Yup Brynner did more than he does, but once I grew accustomed to how his character is played, I really liked the second half.

    It’s a fun robot western movie, and it made me appreciate how the show took the material and expanded on it.

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    1. Yup Brynner sounds like Yul’s wacky cousin.

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  17. Liquid Sky (1982)

    It's probably going to take some time for me to digest this movie about invisible aliens that kill people who have just had an orgasm in order to use the released endorphins to get high. That description makes the movie sound wackier than it is, as it really has more to do with a woman who gets assaulted multiple times throughout the course of the movie and then turns the tables and starts using her sexuality as a weapon. There's a somewhat interesting psychedelic look to a lot of the movie, but I feel like this is a movie I may need to revisit at some point to fully get it.

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    1. Please do rewatch it, Ross. Once the shock of what you're watching wears off you will see themes and an actual world emerge before your eyes. :-)

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    2. Nice write-up. I bought the blu-ray so I'll be watching it again at some point, I'm sure.

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  18. Time Walker (1982, dir. Kennedy)

    This was my first blind Amazon Prime pick of the month. The poster, and the description of an alien "terrorizing a college campus" sounded awesome, but the movie was a huge letdown. Turns out the marketing team had their work cut out for them trying to craft an appealing poster-logline combo wombo out of this slow, uninteresting movie. There's not really anything happening here. "Terrorizing" is definitely hyperbole in this case, and the tagline of the film gives far more flare to the thin story than anything in the actual movie does.

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  19. i was about to watch something else, just to take a break, but then i remembered i bought PHASE IV a long while ago. this is the only full lenght (85 minute) movie by the great Saul Bass. yes, the one and only creator of some of the greatest Hitchcock opening credits (and more for other directors). PHASE IV is fantastic, beautifully shot and while not the most original movie ever (it's an alien ants invasion), the way the movie is made makes it one of the most original movie ever. shot with real ants, you end up taking their side. you'll feel sad for them, like when one of the ants drags its dead buddy away, with sad music and all, the shot lingering. it's great. ya'll need to see this.

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  20. Forbidden Planet (1956)

    I enjoyed this for the most part. The majority of the sci-fi that holds up from this time kept the special effects to a minimum so as not to draw attention to itself. This one reaches far and attains a lot. The twist at the end is silly but strangely works.

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  21. Men In Black (1997)

    Movie night with the family, so showed the kids MEN IN BLACK for the first time. They liked it...enough. I, however, totally dig this movie and miss Tommy Lee Jones.

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  22. Outland (1981):

    A Sean Connery space western with shades of Alien, Blade Runner, and 2001. A Pure Cinema recommendation with some fun moments, but it definitely fits the "ripoff" tag.

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  23. Futureworld (1976 - dir Richard T. Heffron)

    For some reason I didn't click before I watched this that this was a Westworld sequel. Now I have not seen the orignal yet, and have only seen a few episodes here and there of the show. So I watched this in a some what different context.

    It's fine. Peter Fonda and Bythe Danner are fine. Though there is a bizzare dream sequence with Danner and Yul Brynner. This time around (I gather) it's a more behind the scenes of the theme park/resort with two intrepid reporters. It has some interesting bits and I liked where it went. It wasn't just another robots malfuction movie. However, it is a lot of people walking around in tunnels, and holding random robot limbs, and neither of these move the plot forward they are just meant to be sinister and remind you there are robots around.

    It doesn't help the last few minutes of the movie feel like a sitcom ending, and now I have questions. But yeah the movie is fine, and I have to go and watch the orginal.

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    1. Futureworld is definitely problematic, but i liked it enough to not regret my buying of the blu-ray.

      i stronly recommend the Westworld movie. i don't care about the tv show.

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  24. Cyborg (1989)

    How the hell did I miss out on this goofy shit my whole life? Seriously, I would’ve eaten this dystopian, bootknife-to-the-throat, chainmail shirt wearin’ monster man, ATLANTA!!! piece of cinema badassery with a bigass lunch lady spoon if I had seen it in middle school. The plot is so tropey that it passes seriousness, slingshots itself around irony, and comes back around to fun ridiculousness. Van Damme’s biggest weakness has always been his dialogue delivery and wooden performances, which this movie luckily circumvents by making him the silent, stoic badass out for revenge. Vincent Klyn is simply insane. I’m not sure if the ice blue contacts are more or less ridiculous than him constantly screaming through the final act. The kid in me has always loved the ‘Mad Max’ junk apocalypse style, so it seriously blows my mind that I’ve never seen this until now.

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  25. Planet of the Vampires (1965 - dir Mario Bava)

    Yes, Hill or O'Banon or Shusett or a combination of the three might have seen this movie. I am not knocking them or Alien (cause that movie is a master piece). But one of the many things I love about this movie was seeing how influentional this movie is on modern SciFi. There is another movie this could easily dove tail into this at the end. You'll know when you see it. I agree with JP I love the comic book feel and pacing of the movie. Even I haven't figured out how anyone moves in those outfits.

    I think Mario Bava maybe my favourite.

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  26. eXistenZ (1999)

    Am I real? is this place real? What’s really real anymore?

    It may not be Cronenberg’s best but it keeps you fully engaged at all times. Bone guns with teeth bullets and some great cameos along the way, everything adds to the experience that keeps you guessing what is reality and what is virtual reality.

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  27. Galaxy Quest (1999) - first watch -Sci-fi

    Fun as hell. Don't know how I've never seen this before. Watching the Star Trek movies and revisiting TNG was higher on my list, I guess.

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