Sunday, April 15, 2007

2007 Science Fiction Marathon

/Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century (1953, Chuck Jones)/ {What else can I say?}

/12 Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)/ [***1/2] {As cleverly-written and visually spectacular as I'd remembered. For all the tension between Gilliam and the studios over the years, the truth is that sometimes he's been able to bring some awe-inspiring visions to the screen with studio funding.}

King Dinosaur (1955, Bert I. Gordon) [*] {Textbook Gordon cheapie, with a weird pro-Bomb ending, in which our heroes, who travel to another planet only to discover that it's populated by hostile "dinosaurs," set off an atomic device and watch the mushroom cloud from a distance as triumphant music plays. Lousy, but a perfect Marathon cheeseball.}

Spaceboy (2006, Raymond Riggs) {Yet another high school movie in which a nerdy outsider wins over a hot popular girl with his eccentricity, despite the fact that he's not remotely interesting. Also, the skirts the female lead wears definitely wouldn't pass dress code, not that I'm complaining.}

Spaceboy (1973, Renate Druks) {This is certainly a love/hate movie for Marathoners, but it's pretty amazing. Trippy as hell, with a clearly aged Florence Marly selling herself as a sex symbol, and Frank Zappa on drums- what's not to love?}

The Great Yokai War (2005, Takashi Miike) [5] {Sometimes fun, occasionally lots of fun, but very little discipline. Why can't Miike die-hards see the almost interminable longeurs in their hero's movies?}

Puzzlehead (2004, James Bai) [7] {A nice surprise- the best low-budget cerebral SF title I've seen since PRIMER. Clearly low-budget, which is why the doubling effects are impressive- we don't expect them to be so well-executed in a movie of this scale. Almost somnambulant performances actually end up working rather than feeling like an affectation- in the grey Brooklyn of the film, they fit in perfectly. Bai marks himself as one to watch.}

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965, Robert Gaffney) [*] {Did I dream this movie? Tons of stock footage, random freeze-frames, a plywood mothership, sequences set to inappropriate songs by long-forgotten (and no doubt studio-imposed) bands The Distant Cousins and The Poets. Also a female lead who appears in scene after scene yet almost never speaks- until she does- and extended driving scenes that almost rival THE BROWN BUNNY. All this and much, much more on a shabby print that somehow enhances the experience in a way that the pseudo-distressed prints of GRINDHOUSE could not. Movies like THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA feel gratuitous next to the genuine article, which this most assuredly is. It's such an empty gesture- why parody a genre that parodies itself?}

Zombie American (2005, Nick Poppy) {Pretty funny.}

Fido (2006, Andrew Currie) [6] {SHAUN OF THE DEAD meets PLEASANTVILLE. Works pretty well, and the crowd at it up. Why doesn't Henry Czerny work more? He does the type-A white-collar sleaze as well as anyone out there.}

/Gravity (1976, Michael Nankin and David Wechter)/ [A Marathon classic returns triumphantly after a few years' absence. Funny as ever.}

Automatons (2006, James Felix McKenney) [zzzz] {After 12 hours or so, the fatigue really hit me hard, although if the film felt at all worth it I would've made the effort. What I saw was interminable scenes of obviously-miniature robots marching interspersed with dire video broadcasts. Finally woke up during the final battle, in which the robots fight each other- typical audience question, "which robots are which?"- and then the film exhausts its budget killing off the human characters in gory ways. Come on guys, you gotta try a little harder than this.}

Chopping Mall (1986, Jim Wynorski) [5] {Pretty fun in an 80s-schlock way. Psychotic Johnny 5s killing teenagers in a mall at night. You'll more or less know from the description whether this is for you. Probably wouldn't bother with it outside a marathon context, which I guess makes it ideal here.}

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