Posts Tagged Science Fiction

Psychic Kids & Sinnin’ Socialites

Teleport City remains in a state of suspended animation, but I’m managing to squeeze out articles elsewhere that might be of interest.

First, an article actually on Teleport City: Holiday Entertainment Extravaganza is a summary of some of our Christmas traditions, which includes episodes of The Avengers, Man from UNCLE, and the BBC’s Ghosts for Christmas specials, as well as music and drinks.


On the Cultural Gutter, my examination of science fiction in folk horror continues with These Lonely, Haunted Places, a look at the controversial British TV movie Penda’s Fen; and concludes with Into the Woods, a reflection on growing up in an American version of a folk horror location as well as a look at three things I think form a foundation for American science fiction folk horror (Phantasm, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and Stranger Things).


While I normally don’t tout my booze writing on Alcohol Professor here, a few of the more recent ones tie directly into Teleport City material (or at least obsessions). Martini and Myth is a four-parter about the origins of the Martini, it’s many variations, and how James Bond came to prefer them shaken and made with vodka. Spies at the Savoy, similarly, is a history of London’s historic American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, the cocktails invented there, and the role it played in World War II. Night of Booooozy Tales was my Halloween article, pairing cocktails/liquors with horror authors (Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Lafcadio Hearn, Margery Lawrence, M.R. James, and Edgar Allan Poe) and one of their famous books or stories. And most recently, Christmas with Nick and Nora is a guide to cocktails you can make over the holidays to make sure your Christmas is a booze soaked as The Thin Man movies.

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Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Taiwan rips off a Thai rip-off of a Japanese Ultraman rip-off

MARS MEN
feat-marsmen“One thing noteworthy about Giant and Jumbo A, as it relates to Sompote Sands’ larger body of work, is that, because it relies so much on recycled footage, it provides little room for Sands to express the perversity that would later become a marker of his work. As such, it may be one of the very few films Sands made that is actually family friendly, free as it is of gratuitous nudity, violence against children, and graphic scenes of animals shitting on people. It is also worth noting, however, that scenes from Giant and Jumbo A later made their way into Sands’ film Magic Lizard, which contains all of those things.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Black Leather, Black Leather, Kill Kill Kill

I’m moonlighting over on the Cultural Gutter, writing about Oliver Reed, folk horror, and atomic annihilation in a quasi-follow-up to the article about Quatermass.

hqdefaultFOLK HORROR FOR THE ATOMIC AGE

These Are the Damned is a curious film that effectively pulls off the difficult stunt of starting off as one type of story but ending up a very different type. As one nears the end of These Are the Damned, one wonders how the hell it ended up where it did — but upon examining the progress of the film, it makes sense. It is equal parts crime melodrama, science fiction, and “atomic age” folk horror within the realm of pioneered by Quatermass 2. There is the remote setting, here the seaside resort town of Weymouth that despite its tourist trade still feels isolated. There’s the naive outsider in the form of American wanderer Simon Wells. There’s suspicious locals, headed up by juvenile delinquent Joan and her over-protective brother and gang leader King (Oliver Reed, who probably counts as an ancient and primeval force of nature).


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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It’s Essential You Have Thunderball Fists

THE SUPER INFRA-MAN

inframanThe greatest compliment you could pay an exploitation film is to say it looks like they designed the poster first and then recreated it on screen. This formulation describes Inframan perfectly. Every one of its scenes could be bullet-pointed with the word “SEE!” in front of it (“SEE! Hong Kong engulfed in flames! SEE! The evil sorceress with an army of kung fu monsters!”) It is, in many ways, a perfect film, in that it is resoundingly successful in achieving what it sets out to do—which is transport its audience into a hyperbolic comic book world and entertain them beyond their wildest dreams. Its production values are high enough that it never seems to be striving beyond its means–its art direction, set and costume design all combining to create a seamless alternate reality. As such, it never once betrays its commitment to being a nonstop celebration of color, speed, style, violence and the joyous suspension of disbelief. In short, it is cinematic escapism in its absolute purest form.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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When Quatermass Met Robert Lippert

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OK, so we’re a little behind schedule, but I’ll try to make up for it by rambling on about three films, with a special guest appearance by Peter Cushing…

FIGHTING THE UNKNOWN: ROCKETSHIP X-M & QUATERMASS

quatermassThe Quatermass Experiment was broadcast in six half-hour episodes during July and August of 1953. Set in the very near future, It revolves around, well, an experiment being conducted by a scientist named Bernard Quatermass. Played by actor and former Royal Air Force squadron leader Reginald Tate, Professor Quatermass is an odd balancing act between compassionate and amoral in his pursuit of scientific discovery. Or rather, he is more than willing to accept that risks (including death) are involved if one wants to achieve scientific greatness. His current experiment, and the one that will launch the serial’s story, involves the development of a rocket capable of space exploration. As the series begins, Quatermass and his team are in a quandary after their most recent manned space flight vanishes without a trace, only to turn up later when it crashes into a farmer’s field. Rushing to the site, Quatermass is baffled to discover that of the three astronauts launched into orbit, only one is still in the ship. no trace can be found of the other two, no clue to their fate.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Duty Now for the Future

BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW

bbraAt the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, directed by Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos, who directed Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra, and Leviathan), a period of quiet contemplation is required to begin unpacking everything one has seen during the preceding 110 minutes. The surreal swirl of stark futurism, psychedelia, and neon indulgence is…pleasantly overwhelming? Comfortably disturbing? Certainly it’s something that demands one’s attention even as it lulls you into a fugue state. It’s a difficult film for one to get one’s head around without setting aside a period to ponder its content and meaning; an oblique, stylish blend of giallo and science fiction somewhere between the riotous visual excess of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the fashion sense of Logan’s Run, and the clinical frigidity of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, within in which is a plot that plays like an unseen side plot that would have appeared in Akiraor an early David Cronenberg film.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Rockers, Racing, & Romance

REDLINE

redline3This is the sort of movie that might spontaneously spawn during a Guitar Wolf concert. Well, this and Wild Zero of course– an oddly apt film to bring up, as the two films share rather a lot besides leather-clad rocker protagonists. It’s over-the-top, anarchic, and every frame is infused with the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll (if not actual rock ‘n’ roll; Redline‘s soundtrack is more thumping techno oriented). It also has a sweet, doe-eyed love story beneath all the engine revving and hair grease — and if you think that is somehow not in keeping with the tough, leather-clad exterior, you might not know many rockers. They are a sentimental lot at their core. Heck, Elvis wanted to be your teddy bear. And Roy Orbison! That dude was all about crying and being sad and taking advice from candy colored clowns we call the Sandman.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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War of the Welles

OK, not a movie, but still…

WAR OF THE WELLES
orson-welles-graphic-5When I was young still and open of mind, my parents set me loose in the University of Kentucky bookstore with the understanding that I was allowed to choose for myself from the racks of tapes and books some manner of entertainment. As I perused the offerings with a diligent focus that can be mustered only by a seven-year-old with a serious decision to make, I contemplated my options. I flipped through the racks, past recordings of old radio dramas. The Shadow? Maybe. Lights Out Theater? Even better. And then I found it. With nary a doubt in my mind as to the correctness of my decision, I took from the rack and presented triumphantly to my mother my choice of prize: a recording of Orson Welles’ legendary broadcast of The War of the Worlds on Halloween eve, 1938.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Mad Science and Martian Maidens

Mad Science and Martian Maidens:
The Science Fiction Adventures of Aleksey Tolstoy

aelita1Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy was Russia’s less internationally known Tolstoy. While the one was writing thousand-page tomes about sad people losing things (pretty sure that’s the plot of most Leo Tolstoy books) that would be forced upon generation after generation, the other Tolstoy was writing slick science fiction adventures like Aelita (1923, adapted into a movie a year later), Engineer Garin (1924), and Count Cagliostro, which American high school students did not get to read, since there was no time left after plodding through Anna Karenina — in which absolutely no one travels to Mars, builds a death ray, or practices alchemy. Both Aelita and Engineer Garin were adapted into films, the first during the silent era, and the second during the heyday of the swingin’ sixties.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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UFO Identified

After our assorted forays into Haunted New York History and an occasional Paul Naschy werewolf movie or two, November at Teleport City is all about science fiction and spy television. And we’re kicking things off with a history of Gerry Anderson’s SPACE: 1999. The Space: 1999 Story – In the SHADO of the Moon takes a brief look at the career of Gerry Anderson and the development of the show that would serve as the eventual origin of Space: 1999 – UFO. There will be silver miniskirts.

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Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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