Thursday, March 27, 2008

PD Project: Pause

Sorry for the delay on the next part of the PD Project (for any of you who actually read this). Been busy with various things including trying to catch up on Battlestar Galactica in anticipation of the final season and writing proposals to make at the upcoming Texas Democratic Senatorial Convention. Kind of a dichotomy of high-brow/low-brow action it being clear which is which. Galactica is top-notch TV.

I'm also putting together several mixCDs for a group of friends. Two of the discs will be hosted through the Internet Archive and a third will be a sendspace file. I'll post links to all three here for interested parties to peruse.

Next week will see the return of the PD Project with capsule reviews of the Horror 50-Movie Mega Pack. I'm trying to get all the "available on the Archive but not in MPEG2 format" films uploaded before I begin checking which remaining ones might be PD. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sci-Fi 50 Pack Wrap-Up

Here is a complete list of films from the Sci-Fi 50 Movie Mega Pack. Links go to the Archive.org page for the film when available. The (M) go to copies of the MST3K episode that featured the movie, again, when available. All told, 36 of the movies on the box set were PD and are currently available from the Internet Archive.

The Incredible Petrified World Queen of the Amazons
Robot Monster (M) She Gods of Shark Reef
The Amazing Transparent Man (M) The Atomic Brain (M)
Horrors of Spider Island (M) The Wasp Woman
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women
King of Kong Island Bride of the Gorilla
Attack of the Monsters (M) Gammera the Invincible (M)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (M) Teenagers From Outer Space (M)
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crash of the Moons (M) Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Menace From Outer Space
Hercules Against the Moon Men (M) Hercules and the Captive Women (M)
Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon Hercules Unchained (M)
The Lost Jungle Mesa of Lost Women
Assignment: Outer Space Laser Mission
Killers From Space Phantom From Space
White Pongo The Snow Creature
The Sons of Hercules: the Land of Darkness The Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (1964)
First Spaceship on Venus (M) Zontar the Thing From Venus
The Astral Factor The Galaxy Invader
Battle of the Worlds Unknown World
Blood Tide The Brain Machine
The Wild Women of Wongo Prehistoric Women
They Came From Beyond Space Warning From Space
The Phantom Planet (M) Planet Outlaws
Colossus and the Amazon Queen Eegah! (M)
Cosmos: War of the Planets Destroy All Planets

Saturday, March 15, 2008

PD Project Update

Attack of the Monsters
The Phantom Planet
and Warning From Space
are now all available in MPEG2 format from the Internet Archive.

PD Project Part 12

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 12
  • Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960) runtime: 1:23:32

    Glauco and his friend Pirro find themselves on the island of the Amazons during a dispute over the succession of the throne. They'll need all their wits and the help of their friends to escape with their lives.
    This is just bizarre. A movie about Amazons from 1960 is going to be strange by definition, but this is even weirder. I'm not wholly sure what's going on a lot of the time. Characters make references to lines and scenes that aren't in the film. It's not clear if those moments were cut due to bad editing or if it's just a matter of poor translation.
    Also, despite the Amazons, or maybe because of them, this movie is way campier and much more homoerotic than the Hercules movies. That's not to say it's not without it's charm though. The film, or at least the translation, seems to revel in the campiness and the goofiness it affords. You get the impression a lot of the shots were cut just before everyone started cracking up. While there is a juvenile sensibility to the film that grows wearisome, it's that same sensibility that lends it a certain innocence. There's a hint of an eyebrow-raised snarkiness throughout, as though the movie's making fun of itself and inviting you in on the joke. It's nice sometimes to see something that's just goofy fun.
    Archive.org Page.

  • Eegah! (1962)

    A caveman is discovered in the desert and kidnaps a young woman.
    Another one of those movies I didn't watch again. Not only had I seen it on MST3K, I'd also seen it on The It's Alive Show. It's just a purely incompetent movie. Nothing's done right which makes it much creepier and funnier than the producers ever intended it to be.
    I'm in the process of uploading this film to the Internet Archive.
    Wikipedia article
    This was episode 0506 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be purchased on its own: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Eegah!

  • Cosmos: War of the Planets (1978) runtime: 1:28:53

    A spaceship makes an emergency landing on a planet after intercepting a mysterious signal only to find the planet ruled by a robotic monster.
    The movie is trying to be a high-tech John Henry tale. The hero, Capt. Hamilton, resents having his life and actions dictated by machines. He thinks humans are innately and eternally superior. However the world his lives in is governed by a supercomputer and every act, even sex, is performed via machine. Think Woody Allen's Sleeper but in earnest.
    So naturally the planet they land on used to be home to a great civilization that eventually let robots do everything for them--including designing and building new robots. Robots revolted, destroyed the society and now have their eyes on Earth.
    Overall not a bad idea--hell, it was great in 2001--but it's so poorly done. The movie drags along, beats you over the head with its at best muddy anti-technology ideology (how do we travel to space without it?) and, like the malevolent computer intelligence, refuses to die. The amazing thing is there are some remarkably rough jump cuts in the film. The original version may have been longer. Yikes.
    Archive.org page
    AVI Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

  • Destroy All Planets (1969) runtime: 1:29:47

    An alien race comes to Earth and tries to seize control fo Gamera to acheive their conquest.
    At what point did every Gamera movie just become a montage of previous Gamera movies? This one opens with Gamera destroying the alien spaceship, then there are two annoying kids being pricks (always with the goddamn kids in these Gamera films) and finally the aliens trap Gamera in some ray and read his mind searching for weaknesses. Of course this takes the form of a replay of his two previous adventures which eats up a good twenty minutes of screen time.
    So the aliens kidnap the two kids and use them as hostages to force Gamera to take the mind-control probe. Later, while Gmaera is destroying Tokyo (not new footage by the way. Old footage from the first Gamera movie--the black and white Gamera movie), the aliens demand the Earth surrender or they'll kill the two kids. So the world agrees to surrender rather than let the boys get hurt. Two boys. While Tokyo is being leveled and other cities are sure to follow. Even little kids wouldn't swallow that crap.
    Of course Gamera overcomes the aliens with the help of the goddamn kids who then proceed to shout Gamera's name over and over again as he faces down the aliens' final assault--a giant squid with a pointy head. Just as the beast stabs Gamera again and again with its head, so too do the voices of those children feel like a knife forever leaping into and out of my ears. A fitting way to end the Sci-Fi box--ninety minutes of unwatchable crap that finds ever-new ways to fail to meet my already lowered expectations. Well done movie. Well done.
    Archive.org page.
    Wikipedia article

That's it folks! That's the end of the Sci-Fi 50 Movie Mega Pack. Next time I'll have all the additional films added to the Internet Archive and a nice handy-dandy list of all 50 films with links to those that are free. Then I'll start on the Horror 50 Pack. Ugh.

Friday Double Feature: Doomsday and Boy Eats Girl

Doomsday – 4.5/10 as a film, -5/10 for homophobia

On April 3rd (this year!), a virus breaks out in Scotland killing people at an incredible rate. The only solution the UK government has is to seal off Scotland and leave the people to die. 27 years later, England is suffering from massive unemployment and overcrowding and now the virus is breaking out in London. However human life has been spotted in quarantined Scotland. A special team is dispatched to go into the forbidden zone and return with a cure for the disease. Only the survivors don't feel like sharing.
Our heroine, Eden Sinclair, was air-lifted out of Scotland just as the gates are closing, but not before her eye was shot out by a panicked soldier. Now she's a star police officer with a tendency towards recklessness, but always records compromising moments with her removable bionic eye. She takes her crew into the forbidden zone where they've been told people have been reduced to eating each other. So the first thing that happens when they enter the zone is they run over a cow. When they stop to look, they find themselves surrounded by cows. Because with no one around to butcher them, their breeding was unchecked so Scotland now has fields filled with slow, dumb, unsuspecting cows that don't know enough to fear humans.
Which raises the question, why were people eating each other? If there were enough cows left to form a breeding population, you'd think person pate would have been a far-distant plan b. But that's the logic of the film. It's built on the premise of “Wouldn't it be cool if...” Normally I like those movies. They have a goofy, unrestrained charm. Plus, when creative people go balls-out after an idea, they usually create something notable. Not necessarily good, but the piece will have at least one moment that'll make you sit up and take notice. Doomsday doesn't have any moment like that primarily because the people making it aren't creative. Instead of a weird new vision of a post-apocalyptic world that grew up parallel to our own world (how about isolated towns with satellite discs and diesel generators keeping tabs on history's response to their situation?), we get a tired Mad-Max-esque personality cult fighting a group that's taken over an abandoned castle and returned to a medieval lifestyle. Strictly medieval by the way. No hint of steam-punk pretensions here. No attempts to ape modern life with old technology nor any attempt to streamline and improve old technology with modern knowledge either. It's like the heroes fell back in time and then got to use guns and karate against knights. Brilliant.
But maybe you're sensing a certain campy charm to it all. I'm sorry to disappoint, but even attempts to enjoy the film's absurdities are thwarted by the writer/director's uncanny melding of incoherence and incompetence. One example that illustrates the problem throughout: the leader of the cannibal cult takes the stage to address his followers. Loud, poppy music is playing and two pole-dancers are doing their thing. Then the music shifts to the can-can and a kickline of rotund, bearded Scots come out and start doing the can-can (or would it be a bear-bear?). At least, I think they do. It sounds like a funny idea, like a moment where the movie's taking the piss out of itself and maybe even mucking about with the objectification of the pole-dancers (whose various body parts are constantly cut to, but never the whole person herself). But it doesn't actually show you the kickline. It's just cut-cut-cut-ass-cut-cut-pout-cut-cut crowd goes wild. The director has made this thing that must be seen, that only exists to be seen, that is purely a visual gag, and doesn't show you it. And this happens throughout the movie. Fight scenes so aggressively edited that they look like they were spliced by a blender. You see people get hit, but you don't know how, by who or even who took the hit. There's a car chase sequence (right after the lovingly-crafted shots of the car itself, as though there's a car ad in the midst of the movie) where you almost never see the cars hit. The BMW (and they're careful to make sure you know it's a beemer) side-swipes a car, but the evidence of the collision vanishes quickly enough. In fact, even though the BMW is rammed repeatedly, you never see an actual hit. I guess it was a rental.
And on and on. People with no imagination imagining what would be cool. Slightly worse than staring at a blank wall for an equal period of time because you can't help but think they could have done something cool and simply chose not to.
Because they included homophobia. Which I have to note, would be remiss for not pointing out. The movie has a gimp. The movie has a gimp. Guy in a full-body leathersuit kept on a leash. He's supposed to be gay. It's never said he's gay, but he's marked out as sexually “other” and that means gay. Now the gimp isn't problematic on its own. He's introduced after the lead's been captured by the cannibal leader who has her tied up and beats her. The gimp, in that context, becomes an illustration of the devolution of sexuality and humanity in the forbidden zone--he's not depraved, his entire environment is. Later though, when the gimp resurfaces, he's tied, limbs spread, to the front of a truck during the chase scene. Again, just another part of a world that's slipped free of its moorings. However, one of the good guys takes a moment to shout, “You like pain? Then you'll love this,” before side-swiping the gimp's car and sending it into another crashed vehicle where you see the gimp get smashed before bursting into flame. And you see it all clearly. Everything else in the movie is cut too closely for you to see anything, but this they luxuriate over. And the guys in the audience behind me cheered. The only other time they reacted during the movie was when the car was unveiled (they “oohed” and “ahhed” so maybe my distaste at the obvious product placement means I'm just not part of the target demo). They knew what they just saw: the fag got his. And I know, “You're being too sensitive, you're reading too much into it.” No. You see it clearly unlike everything else in the movie and it's the only time a zinger is used during the chase scene. The movie thought this was okay. Remember, the good guys are fighting cannibals. How much “other” can you get? Yet that's not “other” enough. To qualify for special attention, to be notably deserving of death, the person had to be marked out as sexually “other.” That made it okay and that ideology, that logic that says some people are deserving of death and others aren't, that there are lower breeds that can be destroyed, is inherently evil. Remember, the guys behind me thought this was cool. It's not cool.

Boy Eats Girl – 8.5/10

I rented this movie for several reasons: I've been wanting to for a while, I wanted to have a Friday double feature to post about, and I wanted something to wash the taste of Doomsday out of my mouth. So I went for the horror/comedy zombie picture. There are only two things I'm a big sucker for in movies: werewolves and zombies. And this is a zombie pic with trailers for two really awful-looking werewolf films! Score! Plus it's an Irish film.
Did I say there are only two things I'm a big sucker for?
An Irish zombie horror comedy. I think I just wet my pants.
Nathan is in love with his long-time friend Jessica, but fate (aka Jessica's father) conspires against them meeting the night he plans to tell her how he feels. In a truly spectacular depression, he empties a bottle of whiskey, considers hanging himself... and through a bizarre but not untenable series of events sets off a zombie plague.
Despite the zombies, the movie's about teen angst and it portrays it well. The kids are all snarky, sex-obsessed and generally overreacting to everything around them, which is about how I remember high school too. The movie shines in the details. It gets the way kids lie about sex to each other and assault each others' reputations. It also avoids easy dichotomies. Yes, there are kids who are bullies and villains and they die horrible deaths. But there are also kids who are absolutely unsympathetic, they're archetypes, there to be hated and then die, and the movie breathes life into them, makes them somewhat sympathetic so that you're actually a little crushed when they bite it.
The zombie make-up is okay. Fast zombies, but since they're moved by a voodoo curse and freshly dead, that's not very annoying. The movie is very Irish—Catholic Church, snakes, music by Snow Patrol—but it's those particularities that make it charming. This movie was like eighty minutes of happy for me, I don't know what else to say about it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PD Project Part 11

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 11
  • They Came From Beyond Space (1967)

    Meteorites carrying a malevolent alien intelligence crash in rural England and begin taking over the minds of the nation's leading scientists.
    I saw this movie as part of an Elvira Movie Macabre double feature (Gamera, Super Monser was the other feature) and she says just about everything that needs to be said about this movie. What is "beyond" space? And since the aliens actually come from the moon, is that really space at all? In many ways standard sci-fi fare: dumb white-guy hero who doesn't actually figure anything out, aliens of profound intelligence thwarted by dumb luck and a warm, almost fuzzy-wuzzy conclusion that's basically, "Well why didn't you just ask? We'd be happy to help you. A-hyuck." Nice and brutally stupid. So much so that there isn't even a Wiki page for this flick. The movie was made and set in Britain but is based on a novel entitled The Gods Hate Kansas. I would guess because the Gods have been there.
    I'm in the process of uploading this film to the Internet Archive.

  • Warning From Space (1956) runtime: 1:27:48

    Aliens arrive on Earth causing a panic. However, when people figure out what the aliens really are, they find themselves facing a wholly different threat.
    Star men with one eye who must destroy humanity because of our "blood rage." "Blood rage" sounds like a metal band whose unbounded power to rock threatens the very walls of reality. I'd see that act.
    But this movie is so slow. It takes a good fifty of the ninety minutes to arrive at the eponymous "Warning." There's a battle over a formula for an explosive more powerful than an A or H bomb which seems really unnecessary but it's just one of many plot holes and inconsistencies. For instance, the aliens already developed the formula for the super-bomb but abandoned it because they recognized that it was too dangerous. Then they develop the bomb anyway to destroy the incoming planet that threatens Earth, but they need the formula--which they had already figured out an discarded a generation ago--from the professor. And what of the men who kidnap and then abandon the professor? The whole thing just doesn't add up. And none of this addresses the issue of our "blood rage," the issue the aliens were going to confront us over in the beginning of the film. What a gyp. I was promised blood rage and, being denied it, feel as though I'm about to enter one.
    I'm in the process of uploading an MPEG of this film to the Internet Archive.
    AVI Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

  • The Phantom Planet (1961) runtime: 1:22:00

    A spaceship crashes on an invisible asteroid whose tiny inhabitants enlist the astronaut's aid in defeating their enemy.
    Honestly, I didn't watch this movie. I remember seeing the MST3K version and that's really enough. Very few of these movies warrant repeat viewing.
    I'm in the process of uploading an MPEG of this film to the Internet Archive.
    iPod Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article
    This was episode 0902 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be purchased as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 8.

  • Planet Outlaws (1953) runtime: 1:08:33

    Buck Rogers, frozen for 500 years, is awakened and joins the forces of the Hidden City against the despot Killer Kane.
    A compiled Buck Rogers serial. A least they're up front about it. Brutally cut though. It's just each episode's plot point and cliffhanger. Very little breathing room. Just plot point, plot point, plot point. To describe it as "manic" would give the impression that it's much more sedate than it is.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

I'll be back next time with the final disc, Disc 12: Colossus, Arch Hall Jr., dubbing and, of course, the king of pain, the master of cinematic disaster, Gamera!

Monday, March 10, 2008

PD Project Part 10

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 10
  • Blood Tide (1982) runtime: 1:23:11

    A newlywed couple is searching for the man's lost sister only to find her on an island that used to be home to a sacrificial cult. Strange things start to happen after an archaeologist unseals the chamber the cult used for their sacrifices.
    I'll admit that I'm a sucker for anything remotely Lovecraftian. This has forbidden cults, suspicious natives and an eldritch horror. Hell yes! Plus it has James Earl Jones saying words. He's one of those phone book guys--he could read a phone book and it'd be awesome.
    The movie loses some points for being a little slow and not really having any cults. There used to be a cult on the island, but now nobody talks about the old ways. C'mon! More secret sacrifice cult! Even Casablanca could have used that.
    There is an AVI of this film on the Internet Archive, but as I said earlier, I can't imagine a film from 1982 being in the Public Domain so I won't be adding an MPEG to the Internet Archive.

  • The Brain Machine (1977) runtime: 1:20:56

    The government co-ops an experiment on over-population to test out a machine that reads minds.
    I don't even know what this movie is about. Eighty minutes of never knowing what the hell was going on and it wasn't like there was a whole lot of action to confuse me either. It was just eighty minutes of "Huh?"
    This may be PD. I couldn't find any copyright information on it under any of its sundry titles. It seems this film literally passed like a fart in a wind tunnel--the people involved knew it happened and they were the only ones who ever will.

  • The Wild Women of Wongo (1958) runtime: 1:11:58

    After offending the Dragon God, the women of Wongo must offer themselves for sacrifice.
    After watching this movie, I had to ask if I'd offended the Dragon God and if this was my punishment. How seriously can you take a movie titled The Wild Women of Wongo? Awful acting and stupid lines, it's never clear if the movie's trying to be cute... there's no "or." This is an aggressively stupid movie that feels like it's a parody of some genre, only there's nothing quite like this film. Makes me want to weep.
    All that, though, takes the movie seriously. And after watching Prehistoric Women it's clear that there actually was some weird prehistoric people finding love genre. That doesn't mean this movie's not stupid or poorly done (long stretches of nothing happening throughout the piece), but it does have a kindergarten-level charm. You get the impression watching the film that the people involved had no idea what they were doing and thus it carries the tone of an old VHS tape of a kid embarrassing himself at a family gathering, but being too un-self-aware to realize he's embarrassing himself. I could see this film being broken out at one of the actor's 50th wedding anniversary. "What was life like back when mom and dad met? Well we have a little footage here..."
    I'm pretty sure this is PD and I'm working on an upload.
    Wikipedia article

  • Prehistoric Women (1950) runtime: 1:12:50

    A prehistoric tribe of women sets out to capture some men to make their husbands.
    This doesn't have the cheeky charm of Wongo, and I didn't like Wongo. The movie's done in the style of an anthropological documentary--footage and narration. Only the narration is largely over wrought and unnecessary. It's literally telling you what's happening on-screen. So bad. Night shots aren't even day-for-night, they're just unlit night shots. Screen's nearly black for minutes at a time. It's hard to think of anything funny to say. Wongo was at least ridiculous (and called Wongo). This doesn't even have that. It's just nothing.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

I'll be back next time with Disc 11, the penultimate disc: pain, pain with Buck Rogers, pain with the Japanese and pain with the British. And this is not the worst disc in the batch.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

PD Project Part 9

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 9
  • The Astral Factor (1976) runtime: 1:35:23

    A serial killer learns to turn himself invisible and it's up to a police lieutenant to stop him.
    There's a half-assedness here that you normally don't see outside of a third or fourth sequel. The film is not bad, it's just not much of anything. There are ham-fisted attempts at drama and character development, but it's pretty clear those moments are there to fill time rather than advance the plot. And it's a simple plot--psychic serial killer. He strangles people wile invisible. Okay, but if the cops are looking for an invisible stalker and they're staking out his next victim, why not lay some flour down and wait for foot prints? That seems like a workable early-warning system.
    Under copyright somewhere, somehow even though I couldn't find any concrete information about it on copyright.gov. There isn't any visible copyright notice on my print, but there is about a minute of black screen at the end as the closing theme plays. Since there's evidence throughout that this is a work print (I hope it's a work print. I hope they didn't intentionally release this with the A/B roll and edit-sync marks carved into the film), this might be an honest-to-god bootleg. Which is kind of neat. This film didn't see a US release until 1984 and, although it might be presumptuous of me, there's nothing from 1984 that's PD.

  • The Galaxy Invader (1985) runtime: 1:19:59

    An alien crashes and is hunted by the area's rural inhabitants. Only the inhabitants pose a greater threat to each other than the alien ever could.
    Everyone in this film is an idiot. From the townspeople to the college professor to the alien itself. It seems to be written from the point of view that "everybody's an idiot except me." I'd have to disagree with the director on that point and cite the film itself as evidence. Not one likable character. Not one. Fortunately most of them die.
    I know this says very little about the film, but there's very little to say about the film. The best scene is where the college professor and his former student who saw the alien ship crash are in a bar. They overhear one of the patrons talk about seeing the alien. So the professor tells the kid to get her to come over. What's the kid do? Shouts over to her, "Hey, c'mere a minute." The film is such that you can't tell if that's meant to be a joke or not. The entire movie's that way--is this a parody or is this done in earnest? Added bonus, the opening credits list Don Dohler for just about everything and then just about every member of the Dohler clan for the other roles and jobs. Literally like a City Council member from a backwoods town in Maine said, "I know what'll make the town lots of money: Let's make a movie! I'll even write it!" This movie is proof that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, only sometimes you just shouldn't.
    copyright: V3541D110/2006-08-16
    Wikipedia article

  • Battle of the Worlds (1961) runtime: 1:23:51

    A planetoid on a collision course with Earth suddenly stops in orbit and begins attacking our planet.
    Thrill as a planet threatens Earth even though a scientist says it's not! Amaze at the same scientist being grumpy and unapproachable! Stand in awe as he's short and brusque with people who are asking him to stop the planet from dying!
    This film could be called "Claude Raines Missed a Social Security Check." The esteemed actor is spliced into this dull sci-fi pic that's been dubbed from the Italian and he doesn't seem to be happy to be there. Makes for a bit of absurdist fun, but ultimately isn't worth much.
    This film is available on Google Video from Public Domain Torrents, but I found a copyright.gov entry for the film for "new narration, editing, and some new cinematography" which describes the Claude Raines portions and I can't find a distinct version by the claimant U P A Productions of America. So I think this film is still under copyright. PAu001073719/1987-11-25 Wikipedia article

  • Unknown World (1951) runtime: 1:13:51

    Fearing extinction due to nuclear holocaust, an expedition descends into teh Earth's crust seeking a refuge for humanity.
    An exploration picture that's a little better than the others, though there's still no real characters. Challenges are met in the course of finding an ideal cavern for... something. I was a little unclear of the mission's goals. I got the impression they were searching for a refuge because they didn't expect humanity to survive the duration of their trip. Several times they debate turning back only to press forward "because we must!" But they don't have the supplies to restart life. So why not turn back and, for example, stock up on water? Nothing happens to make it a one-way trip. Then there's the ending where the surviving characters awaken a new hope within themselves, only they didn't seem that despairing to begin with. In fact none of them seemed very anything to begin with. Which makes moments of character-based conflict more than a little odd.
    copyright: PA000D807720/1984-02-02
    Wikipedia article

I'll be back next time with Disc 10: James Earl Jones quote Othello because he can, a film from the late 70's getting all 70's on us and two films about prehistoric women finding husbands that. And all of them are much, much more painful than you can even begin to imagine. Start studying braille because you'll be cutting out your eyes real soon.

PD Project Update

First Spaceship on Venus
The Lost Jungle and
Zontar the Thing From Venus
are now all available in MPEG2 format from the Internet Archive.

Also, Part 7, for reasons unknown, didn't get posted last week. It is available now.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

PD Project Part 8

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 8
  • The Sons of Hercules: the Land of Darkness (1963) runtime: 1:20:17

    Argolese, son of Hercules, must save his betrothed and her townspeople from the evil cannibalistic Demulus.
    This is pretty chaotic. Argolese saves a maiden from a lion, then her town from a dragon, then the town's sole survivor from a bear and on and on. It's a stunningly bad film, and fun for being so bad--bad editing, bad dubbing and just bad ideas. There's even a trailer for the last part of the movie in the middle of the movie. Seriously, the movie just cuts to an ad for the rest of the film. Not just bad, inventively bad. Has to be seen to be believed.
    Archive.org page

  • The Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (1964) runtime: 1:32:06

    The evil Gainor murders his king and tries to seize the thrown, but the princess escapes and finds Antar who helps her in her quest to rescue her people.
    Not bad. Again, these Hercules movies are better the less Hercules is in them, or at least the less central he is to the plot. If Herc has to be the hero, it's good. If Herc is what people are fighting over and trying to manipulate, it's bad.
    This is still a Herc movie though so it has its own non-sequiturs. There are a few instances where tumbling worked in. It looks nice, but why is it there? Plus there's this mute kid. Called "Mute." Who hangs around Antar. While both are wearing just diapers. Okay. There's a fight with a rhino which is much less dramatic than it sounds and a chamber of mirrors. While it's hard to think the mirrored room could be as perilous as it's portrayed, they are nice shots.
    Archive.org page

  • First Spaceship on Venus (1960) runtime: 1:18:26

    A spaceship is dispatched to Venus after a meteorite is found to be a relic from a crashed ship. However, the more the crew learn about the Venusians, the more they uncover a sinister and catastrophic secret.
    I'm struggling to find more ways to say "slow and boring." Nothing happens, no tension. This is sci-fi in the vein of imagining what might be encountered in space rather than any conflict based around what might be encountered. Essentially there's no story here--no characters, no plot, nothing. Then at the very end, everything goes haywire and several crew members are lost, but so what?
    I'm in the process of adding an MPEG of this to the Internet Archive.
    iPod Archive.org page
    trailer on Archive.org
    This was episode 0211 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be viewed on YouTube (in 10 parts) or downloaded from the Digital Archive Project.

  • Zontar, the Thing From Venus (1966) runtime: 1:20:13

    An alien from Venus arrives on Earth and starts trying to take over the planet, one person at a time.
    I have seen this film more times than it warrants. A stunningly crappy flick. You want a hero who's spared because he's brilliant but can't figure you what's going on? You got it! You want a dick who's blind to the monster's machinations but has a last-minute change-of-heart? You got it! You want an entertaining 80 minutes of film? Oh, gee, sorry, fresh out.
    I'm in the process of adding an MPEG of this to the Internet Archive.
    Wikipedia article

I'll be back next time with Disc 9: low-budget reaches a new low as we face an invisible strangler, rednecks hunting an alien and two films with cranky scientists descending into caves.