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.

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