The Outer Limits – The Galaxy Being – Best Horror TV Shows for Halloween

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The Outer Limits

Season 1, Episode 1 – The Galaxy Beingtop-horror-tv-shows

first aired Sept. 16th 1963 on ABC

 

What a truly frightening show this must have been when it aired. This episode still holds a sense of foreboding and dread today, even though most horror fans have moved beyond the fear of Alien lifeforms. A young radio station operator and amateur radio astronomer taps into a frequency transmitted from a far galaxy. Through his computers, oscillators, and electrical equipment he communicates with a being made of electromagnetic energy. He can see him in the spectrometer, a large glowing alien, a real spectacular sight in b&w.

When an overzealous disc-jockey boosts the radio station transmission levels to their highest output, the creature is yanked through the void and into our world. This hour segment rivals the great sci-fi films of the time in visual imagery, thought provoking existentialism and philosophical morality.

This is a real treat for sci-fi fans of the era and beyond. I would be remiss if I didn’t highly recommend it to sci-fi fans around the world. It’s a fantastic beginning to a show that would run for 3 years and offer some of the best sci-fi stories of the time to the TV viewing audience.

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Chronicle (2012) – movie review

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Chronicle (2012)

Directed by Josh Trank
Story by Josh Trank and Max Landis 

starring:
Alex Russell
Dane DeHaan
Michael B. Jordan
Michael Kelly
Ashley Hinshaw

Chronicle is an enjoyable film with lots of action, likable characters and blockbuster special-FX. It is a film in the reality-style, hand-held, video-cam technique, films. It is not a found footage film – we are seeing everything in real time through the camera lens (even though it is being recorded on video). Early in the movie, this style helps build a strong relationship with the three main characters, but as the action begins to escalate it becomes a burden to the film.  The movie appeals to my sense of boyhood adventure and angst, so I think it is more suited to a malechronicle 2012 poster audience.

High school outcast, Andrew, is brought together in friendship with his popular cousin, Matt, and the even more popular, high school jock, Steve, when the three of them discover an underground cavern with a giant glowing metal object buried within it. Contact with the object causes hyper-telekinesis in the three youths. They form an instant bond as they learn to use their new found powers. Andrew documents all their adventures in harnessing these powers on his video camera and we see the tale manifest through his lens.

Just when it seems Andrew is going to shed his outcast and downtrodden social standing, a series of unfortunate events unfold – one, involving his sick mother and abusive step-dad and another mishap at a party that it seems every student from his high school has attended. The film does a great job at making you empathize with Andrew through these harsh issues but you are quickly horrified as the young man turns on his friends and uses his powers in the most destructive ways possible.

The rest of the film turns into a modern-day “Carrie” with a sci-fi angle, crossed with a superhero vs. supervillain battle between Andrew and Matt.  It is during this battle that the hand-held/reality-style camera work becomes a hindrance and the format is suddenly dropped and switches to third person camera angles, interlaced with surveillance camera and news-chopper shots. It was a bit jarring when this happened and led to a bit of a distraction. However, the action is quickly ramped-up, and I for one, was able to make the mental switch and enjoy the rest of the film. Despite the mentioned drawback, I did like the film, perhaps not enough to buy and own it, but it was definitely solid enough to spend a night watching.

Great action in this realistic superhero,  first person sci-fi film!


parlor of horror – movie review

 

Creature Features revisited – There be Giants !

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Creature Features revisited – There be Giants !

A look back at the golden age of sci-fi, the 1950‘s. Our subject today…

Giants – (as in giant people) –

My Top 3 picks

50 foot woman coverAttack of the 50 ft. Woman (1958)
Allison Hayes plays Nancy, a young woman in a strained marriage. Her husband, Harry, (William Hudson) is a two-timer and seems to have only stayed married to her for money. When Harry leaves on one of his many “business meetings,” an upset Nancy drives out into the desert where she has a close encounter with a alien spacecraft. Escaping the clutches of some alien being, she gets back to town, ranting about her encounter. Her husband knows her crazy rant will help escort her to an asylum, and then he would be in control of the $50 million in her nest-egg. Harry tries to overdose her with medication but discovers she has grown to enormous proportions. The doctors sedate her and Harry heads to town for a meeting with his fling, Honey Parker, (Yvette Vickers). Nancy awakes and discovers her husband gone. She heads to town, knocks down power-lines and attacks the local ‘bar & grill’ in pursuit of Harry. In the end, Harry can not escape the clutches of marriage or a woman scorned, not even in death. This is one of the better American, 1950’s giant movies. The masking techniques look better than most, aside from a few spots where the image gets ghostly. The obviously papier-mâché looking giant-hand is not-so-great but I like the scenes anyway. The sound effects are well done including, Nancy’s constant calls, “Harry,”  which are played several octaves lower when she becomes a giant. (Remakes: Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman -1980 w/Darryl Hanna, Attack of the 60 ft. Centerfold, Attack of the 50 ft. Cheerleader)

war_of_the_colossal_beast_1958 coverWar of the Colossal Beast (1958)
Sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man, this is my favorite of the three radioactive giant man movies (The Amazing…, War of…, and The Cyclops). Joyce, the sister of the Colossal Man hears about food truck deliveries being robbed across the Mexican border and is convinced her brother is still alive. Along with an Army officer and a scientist, they go to investigate the incidents. They find Glenn Manning, but he is now a beast with aggressive nature and a torn up, zombie-like face. They capture him and bring him to a Los Angeles Hanger, hoping to find a remedy to his affliction. He escapes and rampages through LA. When cornered he picks up a bus and threatens to kill everyone inside. It is here that Joyce gets though to him saying he has hurt a lot of people and that is not the man she knew. Seeming to understand what she has said, he goes to the nearby power lines, purposely grabs the wires and electrocutes himself, so that his ordeal will finally be over. I like this film the best, mostly because of the make-up effects on the giant’s face and the night scenes which make it creepier to have this giant zombie-like creature walking around. The scene of him holding the bus over his head with the search lights trained on him is the highlight of the film.

7th voyage cover artThe 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
I was debating about putting this in here because it would probably fit better in my Top Mythology Movies post (at a future date). The film is not just about the giant Cyclops, but is a fantasy adventure film, and also, it is in color and not what you would envision for a Creature Feature film. But, you can not deny that the horned Cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is perhaps the best rendition of a giant anywhere in film. Harryhausen’s work on this film began a new series of mythology movies in his partnership with Schneer, garnering larger budgets than previous films and enabling them to go color in 1958. The Cyclops is a masterpiece of effects work and modeling. It is the standard that all other mythological Cyclops in film are now compared to and none have been able to touch this iconic figure. Ask anyone to think of what a Cyclops looks like and they will most likely picture the one from this movie first and foremost. Cyclops even made an appearance in the Xena: Warrior Princess, video game (my daughters game, I swear!).

Honorable mention:

the-amazing-colossal-man coverThe Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

Masking techniques make for some interesting scenes in this sci-fi movie but the film is mostly about the tragedy of the man who is afflicted with this radioactive gigantism. Growing to such a size his heart can‘t pump blood to his brain fast enough and he goes insane. Scientists try to give him a drug to stop his growth but he takes the giant needle and impales the scientist – a shocking scene in the 1950‘s! Then, he grabs his girlfriend and tramples through Las Vegas, knocking over a few signs and throwing cars. He is cornered at Boulder Dam. They shoot him down and you think he is dead, until one year later…. War of the Colossal Beast.

The_Cyclops coverThe Cyclops (1957)
Susan Winter (Gloria Talbot) looks for her fiancé, Bruce, a pilot of a small plane that went down in the countryside of Mexico. She forms a search party and they land in the uncharted area finding rich deposits of Uranium. Marty (Lon Chaney Jr.) wants to cash in on the find, but scientist, Russ, (James Craig) warns that the radioactivity is too high and could possibly have irreversible effects. As they search for Bruce, they run into several giant animals. Then, they are chased and locked in a cave by a mutant 25 ft man, with a twisted, “melted cheese” face and only one eye. The man grunts aggressively at them until he sees Susan. Could this mutant man be Bruce? This film has many similarities to ‘War of the Colossal Beast‘. In the end The Cyclops attempts to stop the search party from taking off and is stabbed in the eye by one of the men with a tree branch. The only reason I would pick this over, The Amazing Colossal Man or War of the Colossal Beast is because the acting is a notch better and the characters are more defined.

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The 1960’s had a few giant films worth mentioning, too:

the beast of yucca flats pic 1The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
Ex-wrestler, Tor Johnson, plays a Russian scientist defecting from his country. He accidentally runs into the nuclear test area at Yucca Flats. Barely a giant movie, because Tor was so big, I guess the filmmakers didn’t think they needed any effects to make him look like a giant – he just looks like the big guy that he is. The film is famous for the wacky narration by an unseen narrator speaking through much of the film. Lines like – “nothing bothers some people, not even flying saucers” and “touch a button, things happen, a scientist becomes a beast.” and my favorite, “flag on the moon, how did it get there?”  – make the film worth seeing for its (unintentional) comedic aspects. Perhaps, a worse film than, Plan 9…?

village giants coverVillage of the Giants (1965)

A bunch of party-hungry teenagers become giants and take over a small town. No more adult rules in this town, daddy-o! It’s a fun spirited, drive-in flick. Ron Howard stars as a young boy, a prodigy scientist who accidently creates the goop that makes living things Giant. The film is famous for its psychadelic, slo-mo dance party- a flight of teenage abandonment -watched with horror by the adult town folk. (talk about some bad dancing!)

frankenstein conquers coverFrankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

A giant Frankenstein monster battles dino’s and rips up Japan in this Ishiro Honda classic. This is one of my fave Toho films, so I will do a more in-depth review at a later date.

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Horror Art – Heavy Metal Magazine – cover art

Heavy Metal Magazine cover art

Heavy Metal Magazine, the adult-themed illustrated publication started in 1977.  It became very successful and continues to this day. It is full-color inside and out and features illustrated dark sci-fi and fantasy, combined with some light erotica. Its name has nothing to do with the music style. Gracing the covers you can find fantastic artwork from famous artists like, Giger, Frazetta, Boris, Rowena, and Royo.

OK, this is the final post in this series. Hope you all enjoyed it. It was enjoyable to me, to revisit some of the underground literature, pulp, magazines and comics that I grew up with.
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Just a quick question, if you don’t mind. I set this one up as a Gallery. Do you prefer the single pics layout or the Gallery layout?

Creature Features revisited – Strange Creatures

Creature Features revisited – movie reviews

Old movies still enjoyable to watch today

For those who love to indulge in the old 1950’s sci-fi horror scene here are some gems of the time. With so many movies being made in that era, it is easy to end up watching a complete dud or incoherent Z-grade film. So, I’ve picked out some films that are a cut above the rest. Naturally, you would need to have some love for the films of the era, some nostalgic enjoyment, and not compare them to today’s super fast-paced entertainment.

The Fiend Without a Face (1958)
I had been looking for this film for a long time, only – I didn’t know the name of it. I assumed it was The Atomic Brain or Donavan’s Brain, but I was wrong. Then I see a pic from the film on a website and bingo! With a little description you’re going to say, Oh, Yeah! I know that flick! The creatures in this film are nothing more than a brain with the spinal cord still attached. The creatures move by using their spinal cords like an inch-worm. They spring through the air using their spinal cords to attack and inject a needle into the back of your neck, at the brain stem, where they can suck out your brains. In the end, a group of folks are trapped in a house surrounded by these creatures and shoot at them when attacked. Kinda’ reminds me of the bizarro, Night of the Living Dead. In NOTLD its bodies without any brains – In this its brains without any bodies. In both they are trapped in a rural area house fighting to keep the creatures outside from getting in. One potent element in this film is the ‘squish & deflating’ sound made every time one of these things is killed.

 
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The Trollenberg Terror – aka The Crawling Eye (1958)
There is something alive in the mist, horrible creatures from another world with giant tentacles… This is not a description from the recent film, The Mist. It is from the ‘50’s British, sci-fi/horror gem, The Trollenberg Terror. Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker), on his way to Trollenberg, Germany and the highest peak of the German Alps, meets two sisters, Sarah and Anne Pilgrim (Jennifer Jayne & Janet Munro). Anne has clairvoyant powers and is soon receiving thoughts from some entity atop the Trollenberg peak, which is  always  shrouded by cloud and mist. She sees the deaths of several mountain climbers and they are found, headless among the rocks. Deaths continue as Alan meets with a fellow scientist at the observatory keeping watch over Trollenberg. The perceived threat of Anne’s insights brings the creatures down from the peaks and they trap both tourists and scientists in the observatory. This film has a solid story, great acting, and the creatures are magnificent by ‘50’s standards (tentacles are always the hardest thing to animate). Definitely one of the better sci-fi films from the ‘50’s. Originally had an ‘X’ rating because of the gruesome decapitation scenes – although, they are mild by today’s standards.

 
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The Monster that Challenged the World (1957)
This film never gets much respect, probably because it is often paired up as a double-feature DVD with a less than respected partner. So, I’m here to give this film some deserved praise. OK, the monster does not challenge the world, it challenges a small town and naval base at Salton Sea, CA. Located on the San Andreas Fault, an earthquake releases some horrid creatures from a fissure in the sea floor. These giant snail creatures have a taste for human snacks. Decent (robotic) creature effects drive this film. Stated as snails, they don’t look exactly like snails, they have mandible pincers, a gaping circular mouth, and their eyes are not on stems but are receded into the head. They are menacing looking, especially when one traps a little girl and her mother in a room at the naval base. Decent script and well acted, this film should be a ‘thumbs up’ for all 1950’s sci-fi aficionados.

 
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More Monster Pics:
  
  
  
     

Precursor: Movies that influenced movies

Precursor: Movies that influenced movies

These are films with striking similarities. In most cases, if you like the blockbuster film, you will like the film that came before it.

There wouldn’t be this, without that…

The Terminator (1984)
This blockbuster movie featured the unstoppable, self-governed, android killing machine. Although it had a relatively small budget sci-fi fans loved its ideas and concepts and helped turn Terminator into a succesful Franchaise. At the time, the film seemed to be a one-of-a-kind look at a possible and dismal future…

however,
11 years prior…

Westworld (1973)
Westworld is a luxury resort for the wealthy, where you could re-enact gunfights and showdowns and live the life of the old west. The reason you are able to shoot the bad guys is they are all actually advanced robot androids. Everything was going well until one android in particular (played by Yul Brenner) was no longer satisfied with constantly losing his gun battles to the inferior humans. He loads his gun with real bullets and becomes… an unstoppable killing machine. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, you can also draw some parallels to Jurassic Park.

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The Matrix (1999)
This mind-bending blockbuster movie melded the real world with the cyber world. It really changed the game for action films and was praised for its modern concepts. It felt like a totally new and unanticipated field in science fiction.

However, It probably would not have been
created if it weren’t for 8 years earlier….

The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Based on a story by Stephen King, a simple-minded landscaper is linked/ interfaced with a computer as a science study for improving intelligence. He becomes a super-genius and within a short time learns how to control aspects of the cyber world with his mind. In the final act of the film, he leaves his physical body and becomes a cyber entity only, as he prepares to take control over all computer systems of the world for his own conquest. The film uses some early CG effects that are not all that impressive by today’s standards but really contrast the advances made in the field within the decade. There is a big nod to The Lawnmower Man at the end of the Matrix, when Neo says, “It will start with a million phone calls…” This line is also the ending of the Lawnmower Man as he tells the scientist how he will connect with all the computers in the world.

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Avatar (2009)
Avatar features a race of different beings that live in a world that honors a sacred tree. The film became a blockbuster hit and won awards for its depiction of this strange new world. The films use of CGI to create a whole new universe of fantasy and sci-fi, is praised by fans and critics…

But six years previous,
a lesser known film…

Kaena – the Prophecy (2003)
A young female rebel wants to know more about her tree bound existence and questions her elders about whether there is something beyond their tree-world. As unseen forces threaten to doom their world it is up to Kaena to discover ancient secrets and save her race from utter annihilation. Decent CGI was praised for creating a convincing and beautiful fantasy and sci-fi world. This film is not nearly as advanced as Avatar but fans of the animation and fantasy/sci-fi genre will enjoy it.

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Alien (1979)
This groundbreaking film brought sci-fi and horror together like no other while overtones of social issues and human conflict highlighted some of the issues of the human condition. The movie featured magnificently filmed spacecraft moving amongst the stars, a small crew in dense confinement that breeds dissention and conflict, and an uninvited visitor that hitches a ride with one of the characters (like a Trojan horse), getting into the secure inner sanctum of the ships confines. Compare that to a film 11 years earlier…

The Green Slime (1968)
It is stunning how the plot points and pacing parallel each other in these films. An unknown life form on a meteor hitches a ride back to the space station on one of the films characters, penetrating the secure inner sanctum of the ship. There is heavy conflict among the two main characters on how best to handle the situation. The alien life form breeds and mutates threatening to take over the whole station. The main concern in the film is to not give this life form a path back to earth where it could breed out of control and threaten mankind’s existence. There are some impressively filmed space craft scenes in this movie for its time. The dialogue is cheesy at times and the acting a bit stiff but those who like B-movies will enjoy this. The aliens are a bit rubbery looking and not all that impressive by today’s measure and seemed more like FX-techniques left over from the 1950’s sci-fi era.

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here are some photos:

more to come….