Cultural Gutter: Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

War of the Welles

The country was, in the autumn of 1938, primed for a panic. Amid this air of paranoia, a little known dramatist named Orson Welles stepped behind the microphone for another broadcast of a radio drama, CBS’ The Mercury Theatre on the Air. When I was young still and open of mind, my parents set me…

Japan Destroys the World

When the only country in the world that has had atomic bombs dropped on it puts a mushroom cloud in one of its movies, it tends to have more resonance than when, say, the Italians do it. When the Italians set off an atomic bomb, it almost always heralds the arrival of post-apocalyptic, dune buggy-driving…

Roller Blade

You know what I love? I love that “post apocalyptic rollerskating movie” isn’t a description of a movie, but instead of an entire genre. Granted it’s a genre created almost entirely by a single man, but when the man is dedicated and prolific enough, suddenly you have a whole section in the old time video…

Warriors of the Apocalypse

I think I’m detecting a pattern here, thanks in large part to the number of cheapjack genre films that used The Philippines and local Filipino crews and extras during the 80s and 90s. Need to make a cheap Rambo rip-off? Let the lush jungle landscape of The Philippines stand in for Vietnam. Need to make…

Future Hunters

Cirio Santiago’s Future Hunters resembles some ancient horror buried for millions of years at the bottom of a pit beneath some black and unnamed ruin of a city comprised primarily of forms and colors that have no corresponding point of reference in our own universe. In fact, when first I purchased this movie on VHS,…

Cyborg

It is “the future,” but not too far in the future. Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war and a plague, leaving the place in tatters. The United States is a smattering of fortified cities isolated from the larger landscape of desolation.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

There was a period, brief but never the less real, when we paid to see television shows in the theater instead of watching them for free on, you know, television. This started back when some crafty producer would take a couple episodes of a TV show and splice them into a single movie — even…

World Without End

In the great scheme of things, Forbidden Planet is still probably the coolest of the 50s sci-fi films, if for no other reason than it’s completely weird musical score, but World Without End is a two-fisted action-packed little brother that may not be as respectable or ambitious, but just might be more fun.

Escape from The Bronx

“In the near future.” More times than not, it’s a euphemistic way for a science fiction film to say, “We were too broke to afford interesting sets.” Setting a film in “the near future” is a great way to get around a variety of stumbling blocks, not the least of which is a low budget….

1990: Bronx Warriors

In recent years, pop culture fascination with the end of the world has resurfaced after years of dormancy during which we were all enjoying the good ol’ years of Bill Clinton, the dotcom industry, and a relatively peaceful time as long as you ignore that whole Balkan thing. Yeah, we might have used a giant…

Fallout 3

Eventually, I began to wonder if this wouldn’t be better classified as something other than a video game, or if the term video game needs to be radically redefined