Spectre

Unfortunately, the remainder of the film’s obsession with mythology building and referencing previous films results in a tangled mess that, despite being over two hours in length, still feels like an hour of the film is missing.

Cultural Gutter: Keep Searching

April at The Cultural Gutter is the month we take a break from our usual beat (mine is science fiction) and write about something else. So I wrote about The Search for Weng Weng and how passion for film (or any creative art) can lead to real-life fun and adventure.

Space 1999: Aliens Are Jerks

The short-lived television program Space: 1999 taught us many things about our depressing universe. Chief among its concerns: reminding us every week that our fellow inhabitants of the galaxy are at least as awful as we are, only with magic powers. Space: 1999 taught me two valuable lessons. The first is that space is depressing…

Streets of Fire

The two Michaels. Way cooler and more obscure than making obvious, played out jokes about the two Coreys. Michael Beck and Michael Pare — these two guys were both pegged at the beginning of their respective careers as the next big thing. Both sported a brooding, introspective air of mystery and toughness much like James…

Signale — Ein Weltraumabenteuer

Some years ago, a trio of colorful, contemplative, and sometimes a little bit absurd science fiction films from East German studio DEFA found their way onto home video in the United States. Of them, The Silent Star was the most beloved thanks to its combination of serious speculation and pop-art design, as well as the…

The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman

If you took special effects film pioneer Georges Melies and combined him with stop motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen and surreal fantasist Terry Gilliam, then taught him to speak Czech, you’d have a film maker very close to Karel Zeman. I was strolling across Prague’s Karluv Most, as is the way of a jetsetting international…

Raumpatrouille Orion

To the very limited extent that the German science fiction series Raumpatrouille Orion (full English title: Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Starship Orion) is known in my own United States, it tends to be the victim of a certain unfair association. On those pitifully rare occasions when it’s mentioned, it’s seldom without…

Some Girls Do

In addition to flying sports cars and a machine that mixes the perfect martini, one of the accoutrements of worldly masculine adulthood that impressionable young boys weaned on sixties pop culture grew up to expect is the ready availability of pliant female robots. What surprises me about this particular trope is not just how much…

Cultural Gutter: Death to Life Day

My latest Frolic Afield over at The Cultural Gutter, and my last there for 2013. What better way to close out my first (half) year with The Cultural Gutter than with one of the worst things around. From Bea Arthur torch songs to wookie porn, Death to Life Day spoils the holidays by reminding you…

In the SHADO of the Moon

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were best known for “supermarionation” shows like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons when they decided they wanted to move into live-action scifi programming. So was born U.F.O., and from that, Space: 1999. As a kid in the 1970s, I watched Space: 1999 fairly religiously. And perhaps not entirely unpredictably,…

Snow Devils

The snow devils appear when the Gamma One team stumbles across some space yetis in a cave. Rod and his crew are taken prisoner by the yetis, who seem primitive despite their cave being decorated nicely. It turns out the decor is courtesy of the head space yeti, who dresses like a terrible superhero and politely explains the entire nefarious plan.

The Stabilizer

Compared to the appellations given to the protagonists of other 1980s action films — the Exterminator, the Punisher, the Executioner — the Stabilizer sounds pretty benign. You’d almost think that he was given that name only because all of those others had already been taken. But then you learn that what the Stabilizer is in…