Saturday, June 30, 2012

LIE #21: The High School As Will and Idea—a review of “Chronicle” (2012)

Chronicle (2012; Josh Trank) is a bittersweet and thoughtful B-movie antidote to the superhero craze: the film states that even with god-like powers, if you have emotional problems, you’ll still be a mess. Maybe even worse. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

LIE #20: Prepare to Leap to Hyperspace—Uh, Hyperlinks! That's It, Hyperlinks!

LERNER INTERNATIONAL was out of town for a while, checking up on the big radar dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, running time-motion surveys on whether the ionosphere could be ignited to one billion degrees Kelvin…not that you’re authorized to know that…

Sunday, June 17, 2012

LIE #19: “They Live”—The Best “Outer Limits” Episode Never Made

[Not to say that essentially every movie couldn’t be improved by being severely chopped down—but let’s stick to genre product for now, this is Sci-Fi June after all….]

They Live (1988; John Carpenter) is the premiere example of the type of movie that, had it been 45 to 52 minutes in length, would have made a perfect episode for The Outer Limits, that legendary early-1960s sci-fi/thriller/horror anthology TV show (revived in the 1990s).

There are several sci-fi films, mainly contemporary, usually lower budget B-movies, with off-beat sometimes controversial takes on genre situations; I’m not talking “tentpole” flicks like the Transformers movies—(partial list below)—
and all these movies could be edited down to 45 to 52 minutes, and would be great as an episode of The Outer Limits.

But while those movies would need trimming throughout to make the grade (but especially in their early sections), you could let They Live unspool uninterrupted from the beginning until a specific, certain moment roughly 40 minutes in, and like I said before, it’s perfect.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

LIE #18: Stupid Astronauts Tricks—coming soon to Fox! (“Prometheus” reviewed)

[Sci-Fi June checks in with something that’s still in the theaters. Spoilers abound, about a starcruiser’s worth…]

Prometheus (2012; Ridley Scott) is a flick that needs serious mental gymnastics to make sense of and appreciate—if you’re so inclined…

A prequel to Alien, with mashed-up elements of Chariots of the Gods and 1955’s East of Eden thrown in, Prometheus follows explorers with conflicting agendas who are using star-charts from 35,000-year-old cave wall paintings to discover that our ancient astronaut creators are not at all friendly.

Hardly without its flaws—Prometheus is a damn fine flick to look at, technically perfect, partially shot in Iceland’s volcanic fields, with incredible sets and special effects.
Even when the script makes no sense whatsoever (which is most of the time—and completely unravels at the end), director Scott knows how to create mood, suspension and excitement—with plenty of gore.
It’s got all the elements of a “spectacular” crowd-pleaser, even supposedly “deep” theological questions that fanboys and pseudo-intellectuals can chew over later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LIE #17: Space Oddity (a look at DVD MIA “Saturn 3”)

[Sci-Fi June continues with a retroactive Cinema of Weirdness entry]

Saturn 3 (1980; Stanley Donen; screenplay by Martin Amis, from a story by John Barry) is the “Farrah Fawcett vs. horny robot in space” flick that most people do not have fond memories of—and perhaps rightly so.

But time has been very kind to Saturn 3, thankfully, and it deserves another look with fresh eyes, because the film is really more like a tawdry, hothouse remake of Forbidden Planet, if reimagined for Heavy Metal magazine.
And in a genre now over-stuffed with bullshit Joseph Campbell-esque “hero’s quests,” that is a breath of fresh air.

Monday, June 11, 2012

LIE #16: At the "Killer Mountain" of Madness

Killer Mountain (2011; Sheldon Wilson) is a sci-fi/horror/thriller that keeps upping the ante as it rolls along at a steady pace, and is much, much better than its generic/unspecific title and Syfy Original Movie cable-TV pedigree (and accompanying mediocre CGI) would indicate.

To put things into a broader sci-fi/horror B-movie context, Killer Mountain is a monster movie that would fit in fine in a fantasy film fest that also included
Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Crawling Eye, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1958), and the Martian sand-shark episode of The Outer Limits.
It may not be High Art, or shockingly original, but the best kind of cheap thrill: an engrossing entertainment.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

LIE #15: Cops Versus Ants (1954’s “Them!”)

Them! (1954;Gordon Douglas) takes a potentially harebrained starting-off point, and by playing it as sane and sober as possible, ends up creating a classic film, and one of the best giant monster movies to come out of the 1950s, as well as an exceptional “cop flick.”

Saturday, June 9, 2012

LIE #14: Hero Zero (an appreciation of Godzilla movie, “Monster Zero”)

Monster Zero (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Monster Zero; Invasion of the Astro-Monster; 1965; Ishiro Honda; special visual effects by Eiji Tsurubaya) is a dopey movie that’s awesome.

A kid’s favorite—
If you like giant monsters, flying saucers and the swingin’ 60s, check out Monster Zero (my preferred title of the many this movie seems to have).
All the best Godzilla movies are mash-ups (more on that theory in a moment), and Monster Zero is a combo of Toho’s popular space battle/alien invasion movies (like The Mysterions), kaiju (men in monster suits), and Japanese New Wave detective flicks, like Go to Hell, Bastards.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

LIE# 12: The Walls Have More Than Ears (a review of DVD MIA “The Stone Tape” (1972))

The Stone Tape (1972; Peter Sasdy; written by Nigel Kneale) is a very modern and very English ghost story that may look cheap by today’s standards, but is so rich in ideas that will challenge you and stimulate the brain.

Monday, June 4, 2012

LIE #11: Nuke Me Slowly (a review of “The China Syndrome”)

The China Syndrome (1979; James Bridges) is the type of film I include on science fiction lists to remind people that it’s not always about spaceships, the future or robots
That there’s no reason a fictional film about a real piece of scientific technology like nuclear reactors couldn’t also be in this all-embracing genre—especially when the film in question is about that science going awry.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

LIE #10: Sunday’s for Sinning on Mars! (or, Martian Bukkake: An interpretation of 1953’s “The War of the Worlds”)

[In case you’re wondering, all three of my loyal followers (love ya!), LERNER INTERNATIONAL will not be a site concentrating solely on science fiction flicks—The Cinema of Weirdness has tentacles in all genres! “Sci-Fi June” is more of a tribute to those long-gone days when revival houses around NYC would celebrate the start of summer by scheduling sci-fi movies.]

The War of the Worlds (1953; Byron Haskin; produced by George Pal) is orgasm after orgasm of pure unadulterated destruction, brought to life in glorious Technicolor by the finest technicians 1950s Hollywood could provide—a subtextual destructo-porn flick that ends as soon as its studs can’t get it up anymore.
When Philip K. Dick said, "The Martians are always coming,” he wasn’t exactly right.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

LIE #9: Back in the day, MAD magazine called it “Rollerbrawl”

[Sci-Fi Month at LERNER INTERNATIONAL continues, rolling into the future!]

Rollerball (1975; Norman Jewison) is perhaps the reason the fast-forward button was invented.

The sequences on the Rollerball track are perfect, and beautiful to watch as sport and cinematography work together making kinetic art—an action movie lover’s dream.

Friday, June 1, 2012

LIE #8: Kronos, My Favorite Robot! (& the start of “Sci-Fi June”)

[This is the first installment of LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s “Sc-Fi June” month-long celebration of science fiction—with much more on its way! Thanks!]

Kronos (1957; Kurt Neumann)
When I was a kid—oh, who am I kidding? I still do it: I doodle the giant robot from the 1957 film Kronos obsessively. (example above)

Not that I don’t think the flick’s a snoozer on the whole, but
Kronos is my favorite robot from the movies. Sure, sure, sure, other robots are better, cooler, more agile, smarter, have a fascinating personality, can get drunk, look like a hot chick, speak 8,000 languages, be more awesome, fire .50-calibre rounds out of their butt—whatever. I’m sticking with the Big K.