Saturday, November 15, 2008


There are a lot of nice movie lists to be found on the net. So why another one? I could say it's because any "essential" viewing list should try to cover all the major genres, or at least cover those movies that were most influential in the genre and most often cloned, not merely one persons personal likes or dislikes. That my list does that by being more than merely a "worst of the worst" list by looking for movies with spirit that have become unintentional meditations on awful cinema. Yeah, sure, what a bunch of pretentious twaddle! The truth is the lists got me to thinking which of the movies I've seen (can't recommend moves you've never seen) would make my list if I put one together. So, without further adieu, the 13 "bad" movies I would recommend as essential viewing include. . .

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Some Links below may lead to NWS material. Click at your own risk!

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1. STAR CRYSTAL - This movie is a confused mess that attempts to graft an sappy E.T. ending onto the bloated corpse of an knock-off of an ALIEN clone. That's right this movie attempts to emulate the formulae of other ALIEN clones and bungles the job! The dialogue is insufferable and the acting leaden. A must see for all film critics and wouldbe filmmakers, if only so you can recognize a truly bad movie when you see it! Pair with any of the following for a fun filled night of double feature madness: CREATURE, GALAXY OF TERROR, FORBIDDEN WORLD, or INSEMINOID. (see the Alien Clones category in Ye Olde Cosmic Cinema Shop for purchasing information.)

2. HYBRID - Seeking refuge from an ion-storm a group of post-apocalypse survivors stumble upon an abandoned research facility and take refuge within. However after a shower and some food the group discovers the shelter isn't quite as abandoned as it first appeared. This post-apocalyptic thriller from director Fred Olen Ray, while less of a mess than STAR CRYSTAL, is just as confused. A virtual scene-for-scene remake of CREEPOZOIDS, only done with a more style and a flair for the absurd. Pair with any of the following for an atomic blast of mind-numbing double feature fun: RATS - NIGHT OF TERROR, CREEPOZOIDS, THE TERROR WITHIN, RESIDENT EVIL - EXTINCTION.

3. SPACE THING - The 50s and 60s produced some of the more unusual alien invasion films yet, compared to THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE or QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, SPACE THING is a freak show. You wont believe your eyes as unpainted Testor models of the Enterprise and an U.F.O. from that 60s era TV show you almost remember appear on your screen. You'll laugh at the opening voice over narration. You'll marvel at the Ed Woodian production levels. You'll cringe in disbelief as the actresses disrobe leaving you wondering why Kester didn't warn you this movie had nudity as your family and friends pummel you with popcorn! Pair with NUDE ON THE MOON, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN, or WHAM BAM THANK YOU SPACE MAN and feel your brain turn to mush inside your head.

4. BURIAL OF THE RATS - Starring Adrienne Barbeau in a role you have to see to believe this light on plot schlock fest, set in 19th Century France, comes with a healthy dose of scantily clad females. As the movie opens a young and impressionable Bram Stoker runs afoul of a murderous subterranean cult of rat worshipping highwaywomen. Before you know it he's a captive of their queen and forced to write for her. Pair with movies like TOBE HOOPER'S NIGHT TERRORS or FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S DRACULA.

5. CONQUEST - You've never seen a fantasy movie like this! CONQUEST IS Lucio Fulci's slipstream dark fantasy sword-and-sorcery epic about a nunchuck wielding hero with the moral sensibilities of Deathstalker and the gruff live and let die barbarian attitude of Howard's Conan wandering aimlessly through a world that exists in a parallel prehistoric dimension where shambling swamp zombies lurk in the muck waiting to attack unwary passersby and cannibal dog-headed humanoids roam the land terrorizing tribes of mud covered cavemen; and there's even gore. Pair with any of the DEATHSTALKER movies, HUNDRA, SORCERESS (1982), or BARBARIAN QUEEN.

6. FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS - Here is a fantastically absurd Italian produced mad-scientist exploitation opus that has a carnivorous Neanderthal, a demented dwarf, a mad scientist, antique bathtubs, peeping toms, late night lover rendezvous, suits of armor, girls frolicking in caverns with hot springs, and, of course, Frankenstein's monster. About the only thing missing is coherence. A tad sleazy but otherwise tolerable. Pair with LADY FRANKENSTEIN, COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE, COUNTESS DRACULA, or FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE CREATURE FROM BLOOD COVE for a sleazy good time.

7. HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE - An often maligned sequel that manages to be a thought provoking epic that crosses the boundaries of past, present, and future to create a self contained story that encapsulates the history of the box (this is not a movie about Pinhead) from it's creation to it's destruction. While the Cenobites may be relegated to the background they remain central to this otherwise self contained story. Not recommended for those seeking mindless gore or violence. Pair with LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE, PROJECT SHADOWCHASER 3000, EVENT HORIZON, or JASON X for a interesting bad movie experience.

8. ZOMBIE LAKE - Here's another often maligned movie, and unjustly so, for despite what some would have you believe this is NOT the worse zombie movie ever made. Rather it's a strange tale of World War II Nazi soldiers turned vicious lust crazed aqua-Nazi zombies hungering for the nubile young flesh of skinny dippers. Pair with OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, SHOCKWAVES, or any of the Ilsa movies for a truly jaw dropping cinema experience.

9. THE INVISIBLE MANIAC - H.G. Wells' INVISIBLE MAN is a timeless classic that has been adapted for the stage, made into movies, used as the basis for numerous television series, and even served as the muse for Milo Manarra's BUTTERSCOTCH comicbook series. Thus it would be remise of any essential movies list not to include an invisible man themed movie. THE INVISIBLE MANIAC is seriously off the wall. The acting is bad, there's lots of lame jokes, guys spying on girls as they shower, and of course the titular maniac running amuck and terrorizing the kids. Pair with SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, PRIVATE LESSONS, PARADISE, or PRIVATE SCHOOL for an night of absurd bad movie fun. If you're feeling daring, or just a bit randy, you might even consider making this a hot double feature night with THE EROTIC MISADVENTURES OF THE INVISIBLE MAN.

10. THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING - There's actually more bad vampire movies than good one's so this was not an easy choice. In the end I settled for this because it's a comedy-spoof in the vein of FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, only not nearly as good. A product of psychadelic seventies this flick is witch's cauldron bubbling over with strangeness. You just have to experience it for yourself. Pair with FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, or BORDELLO OF BLOOD.

11. YOUNG DOCTOR'S IN LOVE - Here's another spoof-comedy, this time of medical dramas, and it's pretty hit or miss. Either it'll hit your funny bone, thus causing you a great deal of hurt, or it wont. What makes this noteworthy is the cast. A lot of the actors in this went on to greater fame and infamy. A clichéd mash up best paired with a dry aperitif like DRACULA DEAD AND LOVING IT, AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, or, for the less refined palate, perhaps a more recent vintage such as MEET THE SPARTANS or NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE.

12. TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 - When is a horror movie not a horror movie? When it is a farce. And you can take that however you want. I remember this being a lot funnier when I originally saw it, a thousand years ago in my youth, which sums up the movie in a nutshell. A movie made by and for juvenile minds that possesses a banal immaturity that older audiences may not fully appreciate. Worth seeing only for the cast, which includes Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and Ed Begley Jr. Watch with BEETLEJUICE or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN to avoid brain rot.

13. WAR GODDESS - While neither a spoof or straight comedy this sword-and-sandal Amazon exploitation epic has moments of hilarity that make it a must see. Here's a movie that had a budget, a effective director, and a goodly assortment of veteran European actors yet somehow manages to be one of the more unusual entries in the medium budget sword-and-sandal genre. WAR GODDESS is a historical epic, about Amazons, that also happens to be a classic exploitation flick. For a entertaining themed bad movie night pair with BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS, AMAZONS (1986), THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN, or THE ARENA.

For ordering information for the above listed titles please visit our Ye Olde Cosmic Cinema aShop.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Monday, November 3, 2008

Battle Planet

The Movie: Battle Planet

Year: 2008

Format Viewed: Satellite Broadcast

Official Site URL:

Premise: Soldier crashes on a desolate planet and becomes "locked" in a experimental survival suit with it's talkative A.I. as his only companion. Or is it?

Honest, that's the premise. It may not sound like much but it has the advantage of being simple, straightforward, and befitting the genre. I can earnestly say that this was a movie actually worthy of being on a network called the Sci-Fi Channel. And the look. .

Very nice. Sadly that level of set and CGI integration wasn't maintained throughout as the action, in typical low budget fashion, quickly shifts to a "planet" that conveniently looks like remote Californian countryside seen through post production generated filter effects similar to those used in Space: Above and Beyond. Also betraying the production's borderline shoestring budget were the costumes. While okay they looked like standard issue off-the-rack generic "Space Marine" . .

Of interest were the uniform I.D. badges. They were reminiscent of the I.D. badges worn by officers in the short lived Space Rangers TV series. .

The Reality: It's a guy in a high end Halloween "combat space suit" talking to himself. And, yes, that's just as mind-numbingly tedious to watch as it sounds.

The Story: Soldier is sent on top secret mission. Soldier crashes on desolate planet that turns out to be not so desolate. Soldier encounters hostile terrain, hostile critters, hostile aboriginals, and a few other hostile plot twists. Soldier struggles for survival until audience either loses interest, falls asleep, or changes the channel.

Assessment/ Verdict: This was the Sci-Fi channel's premiere movie for Sunday, November 2, yet they aired no promos during the week prior that I ever saw. So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to discover that their Sci-Fi original movie for this week, Battle Planet, was a Outer Limits style sci-fi story! Granted it was a bit sluggish and stretched a premise better suited to an hour out to feature length, but it was actually 100% science fiction. Alas the title is rather weak and doesn't really reflect the story. The silver lining? The delectable Brea Grant from Heroes has a cameo role. .

The make-up is also rather good. .

Actually, for a Sci-Fi original movie, the quality of the cosmetic appliances and make-up were astounding. .

And, not to be flippant, but there's not a Baldwin brother in sight. That alone marks this as something other than the usual bargain basement horror-fantasy CGI crapfests sciffy usually airs. Another point in Battle Planet's favor are the production values seen early on. They were reminiscent of Babylon 5 (original movie pilot) era CGI and sets. .

Overall I enjoyed the retro aesthetics. Alas the dialogue was so-so and the pacing could have been better. Nor did it help that the commercials seemed to drag on for ever. Despite these minor annoyances Battle Planet had the feel of a well thought out Outer Limits episode turned into a feature length film. If the back story were developed further this easily could have been a pilot movie for a TV series. The more that characters talked the more it became evident there was a very well developed background story. Alas the audience never really gets clued in. There's talk of an "Alliance" and some sort of conflict, which is quickly forgotten as we spend most of the movie watching this guy wig out in a survival suit. Not exactly gripping cinema.

I'd thus rank Battle Planet just below Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. It would be interesting to see the back story retooled, expanded, and turned into a regular series. Battle Planet is okay to watch if you're bored and nothing else is on alas the premise probably wont maintain any but the most hardcore sci-fi audience's interest for the full run time.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

I knew this was coming. I was looking forward to it with equal portions of trepidation and worry, mostly because Terry Goodkind is the sort of author that you either love or hate. Wizard's First Rule, the first book in this series, was the first book I ever threw across a room in disgust. And, yes, it was due to the S&M digressions between a certain Mord-Sith and her captive. But I got over it and finished the novel. And, really, that an author can move you to feel anything is worthy of kudos. No one will ever criticize Terry Goodkind for being bland and boring. But it takes nerves of steel to put up with some of his digressions. Yet. . .

In the first minute Legend of the Seeker was on I was shaking my head and asking myself what the BLEEP was going on as the departures from the novel were already grotesquely obvious. But, wanting to give the writers, directors, and producers the benefit of the doubt I kept watching. After all sometimes you have to make minor alterations and slight adaptations for the big and/or small screen. At least that was what I hoped was going on here.

Alas what I saw over the next half an hour so disgusted and appalled me I almost stopped watching. Only almost because I actually started to get angry. Angry not merely for the appalling travesty of this "series" but angry for the mangling of the author's, Terry Goodkind's, work. And considering that I gave up on this particular novel series because Mr. Goodkind's penchant for traipsing through meandering philosophical monologues got so annoying I actually packed the books up, ostensibly to unload them at some future garage sale- yet here I am writing about an TV series based on his books- that should tell you just how much this "adaptation" got under my skin.

Yes, I gave up on the book series, but I stuck with it up through Chainfire. Phantom left me cold and I never finished it. Even so I liked the early novels and continue to remember them fondly. Alas this, this. . .

This "Legend of the Seeker" is NOT based on Terry Goodkind's novel series in any way, shape, fashion, or form. I refuse to admit any connection between this abortion and Wizard's First Rule. Worse, this is a gross bit of blatant plagiarism. The two key works being ripped off are STAR WARS and, shockingly, the BIBLE; specifically the story of Herod and the slaying of the first born (Mt 2:16). This occurs when Zedd is revealing the truth to Richard of who he is and where he came from, and I quote:

Kahlen: "Tell him who he is."

Zedd: " First you need to know about a man named Darken Rahl- if he is a man and not some twisted wraith of evil brought forth from the underworld to shatter the dreams of human kind. Thirty-three years ago a great prophet spoke on his death bed of the birth of a true Seeker. A child whose destiny would be to seek out and destroy the greatest evil of all; Darken Rahl. With his last breath the prophet named the town in which the child had been born. Rahl sent his assasins and, in one night, they murdered every first born son in Brenaden (?); save one."

As if that isn't disturbing enough there's so many plot points blatantly stolen from Star Wars that it makes my brain hurt just thinking about them. But first some background. .

In the novel Wizard's First Rule we meet Richard Cipher, a woods guide living in Hartland, right after the mysterious murder of his father. Richard is tracking near the barrier boundary where, among other things, he spots a woman walking apace through Ven Forest. As if that isn't unusual enough this mystery woman is being followed by four cloaked men. For those who know those men are a quad (assassins) and the woman is Kahlan (the last Mother Confessor) and the barrier, well, we'll get to that later.

So far this is a simple and straightforward setup, right? No need to "adapt" or "re-envision" what's already been written, right? Yeah that's what I thought too until Legend of the Seeker came on my television screen.

Legend of the Seeker's first scene opened with heavily armored soldiers on horseback chasing two women, also on horseback. One is wearing white so those of us in the know will rightly assume this is the Mother Confessor. But who is this other woman? Before we really get to formulate that question or ponder what's going on she is shot in the back with an arrow and pushing a book into Kahlan's hands urging her to find the seeker.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing, aside from the fact it bears no resemblance to the actual story as written by Terry Goodkind. This, and what follows, is not an adaptation of Wizard's First Rule. Rather this is a reworking of episode four of Star Wars. Viz. --

Star Wars: Luke is living with an aunt and uncle that raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Obi Wan Kinobi; a Jedi in-hiding living as a hermit.

Legend of the Seeker: Richard is living with an father (his wife is dead) who raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Zedd; a wizard in-hiding living as a hermit.

SW: Luke is ignorant of the truth about "old ben", a truth that is revealed after a princess comes looking for him.

LOS: Richard is ignorant of the truth about "old Zedd", a truth that is revealed after a Mother Confessor comes looking for him.

SW: Ben gives Luke a mystical light saber he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Luke will become a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Zedd gives Richard a magical sword he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Richard will to become The Seeker.

SW: Luke rushes home to find his adoptive parents killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Richard rushes home to find his adoptive parent killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming The Seeker.

Those are just some of the more glaring points of similarity. There are a few departures, such as Richard's background, which as previously mentioned is shamelessly lifted from the New Testament. And that I just can't let go of. I mean how pathetic a writer do you have to be to not only rip-off basic plot points from an iconic science fiction movie but to also decide, what the hell, let's steal from the bible too! Yeah, sure, it's technically a public domain work but. . . UGH!
Maybe it's just me but I really don't understand what the difficulty is in taking a book and using it as an guide to write a screenplay. I'm pretty sure Mr. Goodkind probably has the full text of his novels available in a easy to access text file, if you ask kindly. Alas the writer apparently was more interested in writing a lowbrow fan fiction reworking of Star Wars with bits and pieces of the Bible thrown in for no real logical reason other than, apparently, they could do it because no one involved with this production read Terry Goodkind's books. Or maybe they did and they hate the author and decided to buy the rights to his novel series, kill it, then rape it's mutilated corpse. I feel soiled for having watched any part of this wretchedly blasphemous garbage.

That's it I can write no more. It's still on as I type this and it's a mess. My sympathies to Terry Goodkind. I knew these novels would be difficult to adapt due to their themes but this is just insulting.
© C. Demetrius Morgan

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat?

Time was our only option for movies was to see them at the theatre, or wait a year or more for them to play on cable or make it to home video. And if you didn't have cable or a VCR? Then you had to wait a few more years for the movie to make it to television, usually hacked up and censored to make room for commercials. Because that's really all television is, a delivery system for commercials. That's what made cable so alluring. You could get movie channels and actually watch movies, uncut and without commercial interruption. What joy!

Of course this was before corporations plunked down billions in marketing ads to convince us that these older formats were crap. Still it took a while for the average Joe and Jane Consumer to take the bait. Betamax was supposedly superior to VHS. It's tapes were smaller, the video quality better, but it didn't allow us to record and didn't allow for the same length (time wise) of movies as did VHS. So it died. Then along came Laserdisc, DVDs lumberjack grandpapa, alas the discs were too bulky and it cost too much. So it, too, got tossed onto the heap of discarded consumer tech along with 8-track tapes and phonographs.

But, for a while, before we realized how horrible the video quality of VHS was, we actually had it pretty good. There were mom and pop video stores everywhere. The titles available on VHS were an eclectic mix of public domain classics, studio blockbusters (and misfires), and, thanks to the camcorder there was even ultra low budget shot on video flicks. Didn't like the selection in your corner video store? You could always go visit your friend across town and check out the stores in their neighborhood.

Then came the retail chains. The major retail chains squeezed the life out of the mom and pop video store forcing them all out of business. Alas, now that they are the only game in town, these chain stores offer little more than mass marketed mediocrity. Sure they sometimes have DVDs at great budget bargain bin prices. But the problem is they literally dump these DVDs into a bin. That's not just disrespecting the product that's disrespecting the customer. What these stores are telling you is they view you as pigs and the product is slop. So, go ahead, dig on into that bin piggy.

Funny thing is we actually have less of a selection on DVD than we did on VHS. Our choices have literally dwindled down to the same handful of regurgitated Hollywood titles carried by every chain store. And don't even ask about imports. These stores wont even special order domestic releases!

Which leaves online vendors. Alas the lumbering leviathan retail chains hinder the availability and accessibility of these sorts of titles. Without access to these titles on legit DVD we can't buy them. If indie labels and Z-budget studios can't get their DVDs stocked they can't sell them, thus they can't make money, which means the legit DVDs quickly go OOP. Thus even online vendors wont have them.

So what's a person to do? When all else fails they'll likely end up at the site of a gray market "collector video" vendor, if only because these sites will be the only one's to pop up in a search for certain rare OOP titles.

Alas, too often, the prices are way more than the cost of the legit DVD. And what are you getting for your money? Is it a rip of a DVD or a one-off dub from a VHS recording burned to budget media DVDr? There's just no way to know. And don't expect to get a decent case with cover art! You'll be lucky to get a jewel case with that DVDr.

Alas, for too many titles, this may seem like the only option if you want to see the movie before you die. And why? Because the retail chains are acting like thugs, refusing to carry certain titles while filling their shelf space with the same tired old mass produced crap. What's worse these mass market retail chains are a pirate's best friend. Without their virtual monopoly of the market, controlling what gets stocked and for how long, thus creating the perfect cesspool in which bottom feeders thrive, there would be no gray market video.

What can we do? Well for starters we can try to: Complain to our congressman. Complain to the MPAA. Complain to our local TV station. Complain to the management of the retail chain and ask that our titles/product gets stocked. . .

Alas talking to the in-store management of a retail store is like trying to get a earthworm to sit up and beg for a doggy treat, they just don't seem to care. Sadly I speak from personal experience. They'll blame the lack of decent stock on everything but their own incompetence. The most used excuse is the store only carries what they are sent and they have no control over what they get sent. If you try to point out the in-store computers and ask about ordering such items what invariably happens is the manager suddenly "remembers" they have something to do, whereupon they disappear.

And you wonder why the economy is in the state it's in?

I've walked in a certain bookstore chain that carries DVDs, CDs, and even recently renovated their in-store 'café'- if they'd only put that money into STOCKING their shelves!!!!- with a 30% coupon in my pocket and left, empty handed, so many times that it's not funny. For instance to this day I have NEVER seen a single DVD of HUNDRA in a brick and mortar store. Even the aforementioned chain, which has in-store computers and claims they can order stuff for you, couldn't get it. Of course it wasn't their fault. (Is it ever?) But then I've heard so many excuses over the years from them I've given up trying. It's never their fault it's their vendor, the product is on back order, the movie wasn't released yet (total BS on that), or the movie wasn't available because it'd gone OOP or been cancelled (again total BS) or. . .

This is our retail industry? I have money in my pocket and you're giving me excuses rather than product? It's bad enough the people hired to walk the aisles don't have clue one about what's in the store, much less knowledge about the section they are hired to patrol. They're just bodies filling space. And don't ever dare ask them any probing questions that require them to do something so radical as think!

So, as you enjoy your treats this Halloween, think long and hard about which stores you want to support. Because odds are you're not just getting the short end of the stick you're getting tricked.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Have you ever seen a movie that was so insipid, so banal, such an piece of utter gobshite that it left you angry and confused? A movie that rubs you wrong leaving you feeling it was really pretending to be a work of genre cinema but in reality was a tractate cant for some -ism or another? A movie that you blessedly managed to forget until someone innocently mentioned it forcing all those ghastly memories of enduring such tripe to suddenly flood back to the fore of your conscious mind?

That, my friends, happened to me recently. The movie? The movie was Teknolust. But the joke was on me. You see I had no idea I felt this way about the movie. No joke. I was happy having forgotten ever suffering through any portion of this miserable scat. This movie was so awful that. . . Well this was my reaction to a post about it in a movie forum recently: "Having giant bug eyed demonoid alien nazi hell spawn inject the festering puss from the anus of a dead chupacabras filled with fecal ecoli bacteria directly into your eyeballs would be better than watching this!"


Needless to say I did not realize what a psyche scarring experience this movie had been. Someone mentioned this movie and a hate bomb that this celluloid charlatan injected into my subconscious like a fifth column sapper went off. The director of this instant brain mash took what sounded like an awesome premise, the sort of premise that an Al Adamson would have run wild with and made a phenomenal piece of low budget exploitation sleaze or Roger Corman would have run through his cheeze grater camp factory and produced titillating but fun trash, and turned it into tedious soul sucking feckless insipidity.

What makes it all the worse is the movie stars Tilda Swinton (Female Perversions) who seems a rather decent actress, which makes one wonder what possessed her to star in this. Probably it was the idea of exercising her acting ability by playing four distinct roles, each being offshoot reflections of the same central character. That's right she plays the main character and her three clones.

Sounds like a promising science fiction movie so far, right?

That's what I thought, too. Alas this is not science fiction. Rather this plays out like an exploration of neurosis masked by some confused radical agenda masquerading as science fiction. The key character is so wrapped up in her personal psychosis that subjective reality seems to have become little more than a papier-mâché caricature. Too afraid to venture out into the real world for fear of tearing the paper she creates a virtual kindergarten fantasy world within the confined laboratory of her bewilderment.

Enter the clones, each being a clichéd representation of various fixations, none of which are very interesting nor entertainingly explored. Then again I'm not sure this movie was ever meant to be entertaining. (Thus my comparisson to Roger Corman and Al Adamson above are probably unfair. They, at least, were trying to produce entertainment.) It's obviously a "message" sort of movie. That message being: Women are awesome and ultra kewl leet! Men are vile creatures to be despised and pitied! GRRL POWER!!!

But what really annoys me isn't that this was a propaganda movie about an -ism dressed up in the garb of genre cinema. The director merely took the best tricks of the exploitation trade, namely fooling the audience with a sham shell game to lure in the punters. No, that's not what bothers me. What annoys me is this was such a tediously repulsive bore that the mere memory of it, low these many years later, fills me with the hatred of a thousand dying suns. If that's what the director was going for then good on her she worked her black magic ninja mind-fu with her movie. Now, please, let's not ever speak of this movie again.

PSST. Curious if the movie is really all that bad or wondering if I was just having a bad day when I saw it? You can buy it at Amazon and judge for yourself:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles

If the total lack of forum postings about this movie immediately after it's airing are any indication I may be the only person who tuned in- or at least is willing to admit doing so- to watch this. Are we seeing some sort of fallout from the director's dismal Catwoman (2004)? I doubt it. Then again Sci-Fi didn't exactly give this much promo time either. So did you miss anything? Yes and no. Like most sciffy original movies Fire & Ice had it's good points and it's bad. Veterans of sciffy's original movitrocities will know what the bad was. If this describes you there's no real need to read further, unless you're morbidly curious.

The Story - Clichéd yet amusing claptrap. King has daughter but no sons. The only child, Ms. Princess, grows up with the father doting over her and treating her like the son he never had. Princess is thus very headstrong. She rides horses, wears pants, carries a dagger, and does all those other things only "boys" are supposed to do. Then, one day, suddenly, out of nowhere, a "fire dragon" appears to threaten the kingdom. The King does little more than watch impotently from his ivory tower expressing hollow platitudes and talking endlessly about what might-possibly-could-maybe-perhaps be done with his advisor while the dragon devastates the countryside. The daughter, being willful and obstinate, not to mention a sneaky eavesdropper, heads off, on her own against her father's wishes of course, to find a former knight who is supposed to be the only person alive ever to slay a dragon and bring him back to save the Princessdom, er, the realm. So begins this strange not quite epic tale of almost high fantasy.

The Royal Family.

The Cast - Amy Acker, who plays a proto-feminist tom-boy princess; Tom Wisdom, an actor whose IMDB picture looks like a morph between a young Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves; John Rhys-Davies, the inimitable Gimli himself; Arnold "Imhotep" Vosloo, as the princess' father; and Oana Pellea, an Romanian born actress with a hauntingly wicked pic up at IMDB as the princess' mother. Anyhow that's the main cast.

The Movie - Fire & Ice was a lot better than I expected it to be. The characters were entertaining to watch, if not very remarkable, and I really enjoyed the first hour even if it was a bit dawdling in the plot setup and the CGI creature FX were disappointing. Alas for all it's potential Fire & Ice is sadly still a "Sci-Fi Original" and the one thing sciffy is really good at is producing CG infested misfires that come close, but never quite manage, to rise above clichéd mediocrity. Yet Fire & Ice came close, oh so very close. .

Dragon fighters.

Until we reached the second hour midpoint. That's when the movie's lack of forward momentum and attempts to create action through faux drama via quick cuts back and forth between chit-chat, characters traveling (briefly) across scenic landscapes, and flash peeks of a CGI manta bleching flames swimming across the sky started to slowly wear down my interest until, finally, with roughly 38 minutes left I had an interruption and discovered that I just didn't care anymore and returned only to turn the TV off and let the movie finishing recording in a darkened room. That I made a DVDr to get screen caps demonstrates that I do no feel the movie is a total waste. I guess my expectations, seeing that Vosloo and Davies were in this, were set a little too high.

It was actually kind of sad because John Rhys Davies, once he was finally introduced, had some great one liners and rejoinders. His character was fun and endearing. His presence in this feature almost made up for the CGI "dragons" but I have to admit that seeing one within the first ten or so minutes gave me serious doubts about whether to waste a minute more on this movie. Honestly I only stuck around to see what role Mr. Davies had, sadly it was a supporting role so he didn't have enough screen time to save this.

Tangents - I wouldn't be surprised if sciffy lost half it's audience when that CGI critter appeared. What's the problem? Well with safe search on this is the first image that Google's image search popped up when searching keyword "dragon" . .

Black Dragon

That's a "fantasy wallpaper" called "black dragon" from this site. (Warning. Site may contain non-work safe ads.) You can see the entire first page of hits for yourself. Those are dragons. Pick a page at random and you'll see more of the same. Now if you input the words "manta ray" this is the first image from Google. .

Giant Manta Ray

Which, as you can see from the first page of images, is actually a pic found on multiple sites. And here's what Google returns for "devil ray" (again first pic). .

Devil Ray

That is a "bent fin devil ray" from this site. Here's the entire first page of images. And now here's the "fire dragon" from Fire & Ice. .

Fire dragon or flaming manta?

See the problem?

Close up view.

Assessment - When dealing with fantasy there's a certain range of expectations, not the least of which is that if you are going to call your monsters dragons that they are going to look like, well, DRAGONS! Even Dragon Wars managed to have it's beasties look like dragons, albeit oriental dragons, but the things in this movie?

Fire Dragon Side View

NOT dragons. Bizarro world elementals, maybe, a bargain basement budget studio getting creative with stock CGI templates, perhaps, but that is not the dragon of traditional fantasy myth or literature. It's not the sort of dragon genre artists like Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, or anyone else for that matter has ever drawn. This movie thus fails to meet basic genre criteria, cheats it's audience, and falls short of being traditional genre fantasy.

However that would not necessarily be a bad thing IF this "outside the box" approach had been executed well. Sadly what Fire & Ice was attempting, in my opinion, is to present an non-traditional fantasy re-interpretation of what a dragon is. Alas their efforts were a total misfire. The critter is presented too early, almost as if the CGI department is backhanding the audience while sneering their contempt of the genre and those who care for it. I do not believe this was the case, but then I continued to watch the movie and saw the scene where there was a bit of discussion about the dragons- described in very uncharacteristic terms- and feel this was just poorly plotted and/or executed. There should have been build up, a bit of back story or something, prior to the reveal. Some groundwork, such as that atypical explanation of dragon kind, to prepare the audience for the fact this is going to present non-traditional dragons before that ridiculous manta-ray rendering with attached dragon skull head would have been nice.

The anticipation going in was for dragons. Fans of the genre all know what a dragon looks like. Every fantasy artist knows what a dragon looks like. Sadly this movie does NOT deliver proper dragons. That is probably going to rankle quite a few people, and rightly so. And you just can't do that, especially not when you've got the albatross of being a "Sci-Fi Original" movie hanging around your neck. On the up side Fire & Ice was by far better than Odysseus and the Isle of the Mists, which misfired several degrees worse than this production.

How annoying is that? Three paragraphs just "assessing" the silly looking CGI "dragons". It's not even that the CGI is poorly done, it's actually pretty decent, rather it's the rendered depiction looks so wrong it's irritating. Apparently far more so than I realized when I first sat down to type up this review. And that says it all. .

The End!


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's another "world premiere" event of a sci-fi channel original. I know what you may be thinking; Kester's gone mad. No I've just been waiting for this latest John Rhys-Davies sword-and-sorcery epic to come out since I first heard about it. That's right the professor from Sliders, Gimli himself, will be starring in a movie to get its first airing on Sci-Fi tonight!

Alas I stumbled onto Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles being on, tonight at 9 PM EST on the Sci-Fi Channel, while watching Sanctuary on Friday. (Which stars Amanda Tapping and her talents are better used in this than they were in Stargate Atlantis BTW. Alas it's too much like the X-Files meets Special Unit 2, sans the humor, which is exactly the problem with Fringe.) The promo for Fire & Ice showed the CGI dragons, which are laughably absurd. But this being sciffy we all knew that already.

Also appearing are Amy Acke and Arnold Vosloo. Alas as my DirecTV receiver only gives me roughly a 48 hour window into what's about to air that means I literally did NOT know about this until late last night and as I've been experiencing connectivity issues- none of which are helped by sciffy turning the portal to their site into one massive advert for the video game Dead Space, thus forcing those of us with iffy connections to wait in Limbo until we can bypass that garbage, then wait in the foyer to Hell as their orgy of ungodly flash loads- meaning this heads up may be a bit late for some. So sorry for the lack of a sciffy link but their site is so overdone with pointless flash that finding specific information on anything is like trying to wade through a sewer during a storm surge looking for a gold ring in a bubbling froth of turds. For those who miss it I will try to have a review up by Monday.

Official Site:

IMDB link:

Friday, October 10, 2008


The Movie: Mermaid in a Manhole

Year: 1988

Format Viewed: DVD (Purchased at a Flea Market.)

Score Card:

Premise: Depressed painter finds a sickly mermaid in the sewer and takes her back to his apartment to "paint her forever" with revoltingly unpleasant results.

The Reality: The movie seems to be an exploration of a artist's journey into madness, which serves as the backdrop (and excuse) for extreme gore effects. The dialogue is minimal. The movie, which runs for 57 minutes from title roll to credit scrawl, plays out like an extended, if laboriously slow, Twilight Zone episode. Alas the movie is really just an excuse to show grotesque puss filled pustules squirting revolting viscous multicolored fluids, something which could have been accomplished in half the time with twice the impact.

The Story: A lonely depressed Japanese painter, who may have just lost his wife, that regularly goes down into the sewer to paint the disgusting detritus and cast-off refuse of society discovers a mermaid during one of his sketching excursions. Being an artist he is immediately mesmerized by her beauty and sets out to sketch her, until she moans in pain and reveals a mass of tumorous polyps infecting her side. The man, taking pity on the mermaid, sees this as the perfect excuse to take the new object of his artistic fantasies back to his apartment where he orders a brand new bathtub for her and begins to paint her. Things go abruptly downhill from here.

Video/Sound Quality: Acceptable. This was obviously shot on video and there are times the source is betrayed by video artifacts, otherwise a well presented DVD.

Extras: This DVD was a double feature and included trailers for other Guinea Pig features and still galleries.

Verdict/Analysis: Before the current torture porn phenomenon there was the Guinea Pig series. The Guinea Pig films have achieved some minor notoriety thus this was an very unexpected Flea Market find indeed. This particular entry in the series explores the selfish selflessness of the artistic mind, wherein daylight reality and nocturnal fantasy merge to the point of becoming indistinguishable. Mermaid in a Manhole is thus the sort of movie that has to be experienced first hand. Yet, a word of caution, this movie is not for the squeamish. This is a movie produced by gore hounds for gore hounds therefore it is more disgusting than shocking with lots of colorful gore FX mixed with some blood. Suggested viewing for hardgore fans of the macabre and bizarre. You have been warned.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cafe Flesh

The Movie: Cafe Flesh

Year: 1984

Format Viewed: VHS (Purchased at a Flea Market.)

Score Card:

Premise: In a post-apocalyptic future dystopia some sort of plague or virus or something renders people (Sex Negatives) impotent, or rather physiologically disinclined to having sex. Those whose bodies are capable (Sex Positives), whether or not they are willing, are required by law to perform live sex shows for those who can't. Café Flesh is one of the clubs where these stage shows take place.

How do we know Café Flesh takes place in a post-apocalyptic future world? Well there's the door to the club. .

It's large and round like a bank vault door. And when the doorman (an Igor in-training) opens it a smoky mist roils in from outside. .

There's also a character or two with what could be radiation sores on their face. .

The Reality: Virtually the entire movie takes place inside the titular club where jaded patrons sit, watching impotently, the various vignettes unfold on stage thus making Café Flesh something of a surreal anti-porn porn movie with pretentious psychotropic art house delusions. .

The Plot: The premise, as outlined in the opening narration, paints this as being the usual sort of post-apocalyptic bleak future world. Yet the actual story that unfolds on screen defies genre expectations. Not to repeat myself but, honestly, those used to high octane Mad Max clones will be disappointed as Cafe Flesh really is simply a bizarre movie with art house pretensions. .

Could it have been better? Perhaps. Then again the same can be said of many low budget sci-horror movies of the period. Despite the short running time, and the fact this is an "adult" feature, this is one strangely fascinating flick. .

While it never becomes gibberingly incoherent Cafe Flesh nevertheless has the feel of a film that began with a threadbare concept whose details were hastily revised and hashed out during principle shooting and post. For instance one thing that is hard not to notice are the stage shows. They are all performance art pieces. From the start you are assailed with weirdness. .

How bizarre is it? Well there's three men in diapers in the background. A woman sits in a recliner. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, comes a guy wearing white tights, a rat mask and tail carrying milk who then proceeds to dance around and 'seduce' the woman. .

All this while the man-babies look on. Very odd. Disturbing even. But what does this have to do with anything? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything. The survivors are merely going through the motions of living, thus it is an effectively bleak representation of life in a post apocalyptic world. As each stage show gets progressively more surrealistic and bizarre the movie draws you into it's absurdity until it's strange incongruous crudity crescendos with a rather abrupt conclusion.

Verdict: For a Flea Market find this was not half bad. However this being an "adult" movie my expectations going in were pretty low. But if you ignore that aspect of the film this plays out like a post-modern parable. Alas it also comes close to breaking down as it's internal suspension of logic falters and totally bursts the bubble well before the final scene. But that may have been intentional as the final scene ends rather abruptly, as if the director either just gave up and decided to call it quits or is asking the audience to decide for themselves whether any of what they just watched meant anything at all. Definitely not for everyone. Even hardcore (no pun intended) fans of post-apocalypse movies may want to think twice about renting this one.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Moon Zero Two


NOTE: This movie is part of Warner Brothers "Sci-Fi Double Feature" DVD series, which are a Best Buy exclusives. Purchase price, before tax, was $16.99. Beware of listings on eBay and elsewhere that inflate the price.

Starring James Olson (The Andromeda Strain) and Catherine Schell (Space: 1999) Moon Zero Two is a Hammer Films sci-fi 'western' set on the moon. In fact the blurb on the cover proudly proclaims this "The first 'moon western'" - which is unfortunate because Moon Zero Two has more the feel of a espionage/crime drama than it does an action movie. It also endeavors to portray life on the moon realistically, or at least as realistically as future life on the moon was imagined to be like projected forward from the late sixties.

What makes this movie unique is it's one of the few purely science fiction movies Hammer, a studio whose name has become synonomous with cult horror, produced. When critics refer to a movie as being produced in the "Hammer Style" it's a high complement for Hammer was renowned for utilizing vibrant costumes, great sets, and top-notch talent. Hammer studios were responsible for such movies such as The Vampire Lovers, The Evil of Frankenstein, and Rasputin, the Mad Monk. Yet Moon Zero is not a horror movie. In fact it's unlike any other move they produced. And they produced camp classics like Creatures the World Forgot, The Viking Queen, and, the very movie paired with Moon Zero on this Warner Brothers double feature, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

Moon Zero's plot concerns a gemstone rich asteroid, a corrupt greedy millionaire, larceny, and murder. There is also a space bar, a laughable zero-G bar brawl, product placement. .

Dancing girls. .

And there's even some nice miniatures work. .

But does Moon Zero Two qualify as a western?

Well the Moon is in the process of being colonized, thus it's 'frontier' territory, and there are miners with claims to jump. Alas there aren't any moon natives to fight over land with, thus no moon cavalry, nor any of the myriad other oft used western clichés. The characters are archetypal- the greedy millionaire (land baron), mercenary salvage pilot (reluctant hero), gun-toting bodyguard (gun slinger for hire), the sheriff (female space cop), prospectors (miners)- but they're also generic, almost too generic. So, yeah, Moon Zero Two qualifies as a 'western' set (of course) on the moon.

And the story?

In brief Captain Kemp (first man to land on Mars) and his partner are currently living on the moon eking out a living using an old lunar lander to ferry passengers from place to place and collect space debris for salvage. In fact when we first meet Kemp he's taking a spacewalk to collect a malfunctioning satellite to bring it back for salvage. .

Alas, since there's not much on the Moon besides Moon City and miners working stake claims that doesn't exactly give our would-be hero much to do. That is until Clementine Taplin arrives looking for her brother..

Ms. Taplin's brother is missing. It gets better, he's a moon miner who sent her a message about striking the proverbial mother lode of, well, something. She's not sure what. It's all very vague and borderline mysterious.

So a man has gone missing on the Moon and his sister comes looking for him, a millionaire is conspiring to grab a gem rich asteroid, and in the middle of all this is Captain Kemp. The mystery about the missing brother stretches on and becomes little more than a hazy background sub-plot used to get our hero from point A to point B as a matter of convenience to move the lumbering plot forward. Which is part of the problem.

Moon Zero Two is a movie could have developed as a murder-mystery or even a espionage flick ala James Bond but, instead, it just sort of trudges along almost as if those involved with this production weren't quite sure what to do with it. At least the signature Hammer cinematography is in evidence, as are great looking sets and costumes, and the movie does manage to entertain despite itself. But if you're on the fence about science fiction or prefer fast paced action movies then this will likely disappoint.

Moon Zero Two is a movie most have probably never heard of, I certainly hadn't before buying the DVD, but it grows on you. Perhaps it was the "mod" space fashions, which also appeared in better-known TV series such as Space: 1999 and UFO, or the sets and costumes. .

Either way Moon Zero is a great introduction to the wild and wacky world of 70s era "mod" science fiction. I thus heartily recommend this movie for it's kitsch style.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

SF Double Feature coming in October!

Sometimes the most amazing things turn up in a random search that you weren't ever looking for in the first place. For instance the discovery of a "Exploitation Cinema" double feature pairing :

Galaxina and Starcrash!

According to Amazon dot com "This title will be released on October 14, 2008." That's two cheezy sci-fi camp classics that should be in everyone's video library!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Inhumanoid (AKA Circuit Breaker)

Here's a review I did a while ago. It's classic B-movie Corman schlock. Enjoy!

Review by C. Demetrius Morgan

Country: U.S.

Year: 1996

Cast: Richard Grieco, Lara Harris, Corbin Bernsen, Brittany Ashton Holmes, Robin Gammell, Ilia Volokh, Renato Powell, Conrad Goode, Grant Mathias, Cole Nelson, Jeff Dixon.

Director: Victoria Muspratt.

MPAA Rating: R

AKA: Circuit Breaker

Inhumanoid is a strange little flick. It's like the first ten or so minutes were based on a really great sounding idea for a quickie space opera adventure film that got tacked onto someone's really bad elementary school script. We're talking a script that had been mouldering in a old sock drawer since the author was thirteen yet, amazingly, this doesn't seem to have bothered anyone. Which perhaps explains why nothing in this heinous waste of a movie makes the least bit of sense.

If you can imagine a movie whose basic plot was lifted from Dead Calm but takes place in a low budget and totally uninspired Event Horizon style setting with a classic Lost in Space (the series) gone wrong feel that's basically this movie.

Inhumanoid is a experience best shared with friends who like to verbally annihilate bad movies after the end credits roll. Of course I totally recommend this bewildering piece of trash cinema as grade-A viewing for bad movie night. You really never know what's coming next, which is always a plus. Sure it could have been better but that's the point. You watch this and come away wondering how it was ever made and wishing you could somehow magically re-edit it. If this movie doesn't inspire you to grab your folks old camcorder and turn your garage into a movie studio nothing will.

The Movie

This movie is an insufferably tedious Corman produced knock-off of Dead Calm set in space that has only one thing going for it, Corbin Bernsen. Alas even this esteemed actor realized half way through shooting what a steaming pile of crap he'd been conned into starring in and gave up. That the villain of the piece is played by a bloated and dazed Richard Grieco, who plays one of the least convincing Cyborgs in cinematic history, does little to alleviate the torture which audience members must endure. The supporting cast, which includes Edie McClurg (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) and Brittany Ashton Holmes (The Little Rascals), whose presence is wasted, put forth a noble and valiant effort that sadly does little to save this tasteless hasty pudding.

Compared to Future War
, which was an incoherent mess shot on a bubblegum budget, Inhumanoid is an incoherent mess shot on a super sized McDonald's lunch menu budget. The downside is you have to suffer through not only Richard Grieco's cringe-worthy performance but also a sex scene with him too. It's soul shuddering cinema!

And what, exactly, is going on here?

Good question!


A husband, wife, and their daughter encounter an hostile entity while traveling through the depths of interstellar space.

The Setting: Space, primarily aboard a small commercial grade private space vessel.

The Characters: The main characters are a married couple, Katrina (Lara Harris) and Foster Carver (Corbin Bernsen), and their daughter Amy (Brittany Ashton Holmes). We also encounter one Dr. Marianne Snow of the EMMC (Emergency Mobile Medical Center) who is actually a secondary character that's more interesting than the villain. The villain being one 'Adam' (Richard Grieco) who is supposed to be a cyborg.

The Story: While traveling through space aboard their personal little craft space family Robinson encounter problems, get into trouble, and then things really fall apart. There's a few twists, like the wife apparently having a shady past. It's a bit of a unintentional mystery involving her being an addict. It's all very strange, witness the fact the wife, at one point, wanders into the corridors, strips naked, then hallucinates being raped by this space-beast-werewolf thing. . .

From here on the movie really becomes a disjointed mess. The wife stumbles back into bed without saying much of anything about her psychotic episode but, before you can blink, they are talking to some doctor woman via view screen then discovering a derelict vessel. The husband decides to investigate, the derelict vessel not the female doctor, thus leaving his wife and child alone on their pleasure craft.

What? I thought people only did stupid things like this in twilight zone episodes!

The Inhumanity: Inhumanoid is a mind boggling mess of a movie. For instance Inhumanoid has a Cyborg in it, but it isn't really a Cyborg movie. There's a woman who, apparently, is a drug addict experiencing a psychotic episode. Yet the movie never even tries to explore the psychological aspects that could have made it a provocative horror thriller. Worst of all it's set aboard a spaceship traveling in space, yet it's not a proper space opera.

Availability: This one may be hard to track down as it's video title is "Circuit Breaker". Alas it has been released only to VHS and Laserdisc (from Image Entertainment) so far. Which is odd considering this played as part of the "Roger Corman Presents" Showtime lineup. I believe most of those titles have made it to DVD but are OOP. Perhaps that's the case here, alas I have been unable to confirm this as having recieved a DVD release under either title.

Moral: One shouldn't expect much of movies released straight to cable TV.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bogus Series, or Overtly Optimistic Indie Producers?

To this day I still scratch my head about this one. So take this as a warning when using IMDB as a reference. The entry you may be reading might not just contain erroneous information it my be totally bogus to boot; or not entirely up-to-date in the realm of daylight reality. . .

So there I was, looking through my message history to check up on movies I've posted about, when I noticed this strange entry: "() re: vaporware".

"Huh?" thought I.

Well I clicked the link and got an error. The message (heck the entire entry page) was apparently no longer there.

"Interesting," thought I.

Took me a while to figure out what this was for, as it was a post I'd made some time ago. But the long and the short of it is this: One of the biggest frauds perpetrated against sci-fi fandom has finally had it's listing removed from IMDB. I am, of course, talking about the vaporware scam (?) called Starhyke, supposedly starring Babylon 5 alum Claudia Christian. Great actress so I figured if she was involved this must be something special. To misquote Puck, "What fools we poor mortals be!"

I know, harsh words, but at some point you have to see the spots and call a leopard for what it is. I don't like to say it but it's been a couple years and, seriously, if Star Trek fans can manage to produce fan series like Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and Star Trek: New Voyages then an, presumably, professional production company shouldn't have any problems getting a series out of post and onto the air. So, yeah, this leopard showed it's spots.

But you know what I'm not angry, though I should be, mostly I am just disappointed. Claudia Christian is a great actress and I was really looking forward to seeing her return to a sci-fi series on the small screen. At least that's how I felt when I furst stumbled on the entry for Starhyke two some odd years ago. Still nothing. Sucks.

I even posted in it's IMDB message board asking if anyone knew anything about this since there was NOTHING online save a static page that was more of a mock-up place holder promising information. Problem was the year it was promising there to be information posted by had long since come and gone.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not bashing the premise of the series, which is supposed to be a comedy (starring Claudia Christian) about a spaceship from the future flung into the past where they have to deal with primitive social customs and mores totally alien to them. What gets my hackles up is this is a non-entity, vaporware, a series that wasn't. The premise itself wasn't too terrible sounding, if a bit clichéd, and there could have been room for some fun antics. Alas, there appears to be nada, zilch, zippo in the way of actual epsiodes.

Oh, sure, there were statements about principle photography being finished; years ago. But if principle photography, as was claimed, had been finished and they were just waiting on the CGI SFX then, sorry to say, there's no hope for this if it hasn't appeared by now. Think about it. They're claiming principle photography finished, well, now it would be something like 3+ years ago. If true I'm sure the actors have long since moved on to bigger and better things.

It boggles the mind. No airdates, no webisodes (that I know of), no DVDs just. . . Empty claims and vacant promises. How does IMDB allow such non-entities to post listings?

At one point someone claiming to be involved with the production came by the IMDB message board and stirred up a hornet's nest with their comments and excuses. Funny thing is buried in all the vitriol was actually a few informative posts which, one day, just disappeared along with all the negative comments and aspersions made by this mystery individual. Now you may be thinking, "But, Kester, I'm sure the modstaff and adminstaff had a good reason for removing such messages."

I don't doubt that. I'll grant some of the messages were worthy of removal. But they also removed messages that contained technical information and details allegedly about the status of the series, and virtually all my posts disappeared as well. But THAT is not what really irks me as it just showed the guy was a fraud claiming things that were obviously BS. (He claimed the series would be airing soon on certain UK stations but then revealed the series had NO BACKING by any major studio and that this was all done independently. Which means this series was, at best, a overreaching fan production, at worst fraudulent BS.) It's the loss of posts about the status of the CGI and excuses about difficulties with the CGI that were noteworthy. There were also links and, if you Google for the series today you may not even be aware that what snapshots you are seeing now are NOT the CGI shots of the ship(s) originally shown a couple years ago.

That's right this leprous lesion on IMDB had been around for YEARS. I don't know what IMDB's policy is on fan productions or how they determine what are fraudulent entries but it should have been obvious about the third time they CHANGE THE YEAR on the entry this was vaporware. I mean, honestly, a entry for a series that has aired NOWHERE has no plans on being aired ANYWHERE and is, essentially, a fan production without an actual episode that can be seen? What's that all about?

I sure don't know. All I do know is I got suckered like a lot of other people. So kudos to IMDB for finally removing this entry, even if it seems to have taken way too long to realize this wasn't a legit entry in the first place.

}end rant

Friday, July 11, 2008


DISCLAIMER: The author of this review holds a strong affinity for science fiction, especially swashbuckling space opera adventures, and makes no excuses or apologies for his predisposition towards liking the genre or these sorts of movies; no matter how silly they may seem.


Country: Italy

Year Filmed: 1978

First Video Releases: 1980 (Italy & Germany)

DVD Release: 2008

Starring: Sirpa Lane, Vassili Karis, Lucio Rosato, Roberto Undari, Umberto Ceriani, Maria D'Alessandro, Giuseppe Fortis, Venantino Venantini, Dada Gallotti, Giuseppe Lauricella, Marina Hedman, Iren Szeremi.

Director: Alfonso Brescia. (AKA: Al Bradly)

Director Alfonso Brescia's movies tend to be overlooked and largely forgotten. Which is a shame since they are gems of an bygone age of Italian cinema. From tongue-in-cheek sword-and-sandal epics like Helen, Yes... Helen of Troy and Battle of the Amazons to action movies like Miami Cops he'd chased most of the popular trends during his career. However it is his spaghetti space operas that really take the cake. One can not watch movies with such teasing titles as BATTLE OF THE STARS (1977), COSMOS - WAR OF THE PLANETS (1977), WAR OF THE ROBOTS (1978), or STAR ODYSSEY and not come away with a sense of incredulous wonder. BEAST IN SPACE is the final entry in Alfonso Brescia's space opera quintology and Severin's R1 DVDs mark the first video release of it in the U.S. or Canada, and the first time the movie has had a legit DVD release anywhere.

The movie itself is a jaw dropping wonder to behold. The costumes in BEAST IN SPACE, which were recycled from the previously mentioned Brescia spaghetti space opera epics, were obviously patterned after uniform costumes from the golden age of sci-fi. .

A look that was much imitated in B-movies for many years. This gives the movie a peculiar retro look that modern audiences may find silly. Alas while this uniform was the look FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS began life with in both comic strips and matinee serials it had long since been rendered obsolete by the fabulous fashions of the seventies. Too, television series like STAR TREK and movies such as STAR WARS broke the mold and created clichés of their own. Indeed, by the late 70s to early 80s sci-fi costuming had become revitalized with fresh and unique designs as seen in such series as Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, and the numerous Saturday morning series targeted at kids like Ark II and Space Academy.

Even contemporary Italian movies of the time like The Humanoid and Starcrash had moved beyond the campy 40s and 50s era 'space fighter pilots' look. Which is why, I feel, these movies were produced with tongue planted from in cheek. From the silly caps, the change from vinyl "space suits" to cloth uniforms, just about everything in the movie feels like a send-up of sci-fi movies from earlier decades, including the GAMMA ONE movies, just done on a shoe string budget. This look is really bargain basement sci-fi at it's best. But what Beast in Space really seems to be poking fun at is the Italian space opera PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. .

A movie that obviously had a large influence on the style and look of Brescia's movies (not that you can see the images very clearly, but that's the best Blogger can apparently manage). .

However the less said about SFX and the model spaceships the better. All things considered this is worth seeing by film students and genre fans purely as a curiosity. BEAST IN SPACE is just one of those movies you have to experience for yourself. There's no other way to fully assimilate the weirdness. That said. .





A mustached lothario walks into a spacebar, glances around the room with the devilish grin of a cat in heat, and quickly notices a lonely beauty sitting in a corner. Glancing up the hot space honey smiles coquettishly, the lothario's mustache rises in expectation, and with a peacock strut he saunters over to the bar. Meanwhile a slimy lounge lizard "Trade Federation" merchant wearing Han Solo's cast-offs zeros in like a greasy heat seeking missile on the sultry space siren, who endures some of the worst pick-up lines since Captain Kirk's shore leave on Regulus. That is until she is rescued by the mustachioed lothario who, of course, shows her that real men use their fists not their mouths.

After the pointless brawl our space siren and lusty lothario surf naked under red and green lights. All of which is an important set-up for the "morning after" scene in which seductive space siren wakes up screaming, which leads to her recounting the tale of a nightmarish dream of her being chased through a forest on a mysterious planet by sinister forces. Then the movie starts for real!

What follows is a story so convoluted that one may wonder if the writer didn't use an Enigma machine to type the script on and neglected to pass on the cipher to the director. Long story short the previous scenes were merely foreshadowing things to come. The lothario is actually Captain Madison, the seductive space siren is really Lieutenant Richardson, and the brawl with the merchant from the trade federation turned up a substance called "Antalium" and that is what sets the stage for the rest of the movie. That's right this entire mess is ostensibly about the search for Antalium on a distant mysterious world.

Confused? Not surprising. This movie is a send-up, a parody, and comedy doesn't translate well. But, and this is important, Severin's sub-titles appear to be a fresh translation, at least they are different from what appeared on the bootleg dubs I have seen. However it's amazing how a few words can change the substance of a scene. .


A mustached lothario walks into a spacebar, glances around the room like a curious cat in heat, and quickly notices a lonely beauty sitting off in a corner. Glancing up the hot space honey smiles coquettishly, the lothario's mustache rises in expectation, he walks toward the bar and the sub-titles read: "Hurry up. One bottle of Uranus milk."

Wait, he said what?

The injection of that one word "milk" in the subtitles changes the entire texture of the opening scene. Take it away and it's a fairly simple, straightforward, and even mildly amusing drunken bar scene in which a guy is ordering some strange space brew. Now I don't speak Italian, and the dialogue is spoken so fast the words meld together, but I'm not hearing the word "latte" so why it's called milk is anyone's guess. But when you're reading the dialogue that’s the sort of non sequitur that makes your mind come to a screeching halt as it attempts to figure out if your eyes really just read that, thus you end up playing catch-up with what's happening on screen; and we're not even a whole two minutes into the movie yet!

But it gets better. Just around the two minute mark our sultry space siren is approached by a greasy Han Solo type with a Kirk complex who sits down uninvited and tries to chat her up with such wonderfully smooth lines like: "My name is Juan. And, as you can tell, I'm a member of the trade association. At the trade association, we are experts at judging women. You have something special. You're fabulous!"

That’s just horrible. I mean, honestly, what sort of a sleazoid comes up with line like that? But even worse is this minor detail. .

Doesn't that badge look familiar? Makes you wonder who they got to do the translation. Maybe it was someone's elderly aunt who doesn't know much about science fiction because me, I look at that badge, and I can tell you exactly what the sub-titles should have read: "trade federation". That's the joke. That's why the camera zooms in on it right when the sleazoid mentions who he is. It's so obvious that it's painful. Alas this is how reference comedy gets lost in translation. Still a fairly funny scene though the reference obviously went over the poor translators head.

However I should point out that the sleazy guy in the bar actually says he's from something that sounds like "federation di americante" but I am not certain of the last word, it could be an attempted double entendre on "ammirazione" (admiration, to admire) or "ammiccare" (to wink), either way it seems like the translator was listening to an entirely different audio track. The word "federation" is clearly spoken and unmistakable. If I, a non-Italian speaker, noticed this it does make one wonder what else the sub-title translations got wrong. And we're not even three minutes into the movie yet!

The remainder of the subtitles tell a pretty straightforward, sometimes dull, story. Alas, since this is a comedia that's bad. The subtle nuances of this farce may have been either ignored or just not picked up on alas, as I don't speak Italian, all I have are questions. Still it's better than the dubbed dialogue of the movies mentioned above. (If there's any native Italian speakers out there who have either of Severin's DVDs I'd love to hear your views of the actual spoken dialogue.)


Before we compare the DVDs, and for purposes of fair and full disclosure, let me state that I received three DVDs from Severin. The first actually being a DVDr of the raw pre-release movie. Content wise the commercial DVDs are virtually identical to this raw pre-release which had a run time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, 33 seconds. Picture quality of all versions is light years beyond any of the VHS presentations. Note that the Unrated DVD clocks in at 1 hour, 32 minutes, 3 seconds; while the XXX version runs 1 hour, 32 minutes, 5 seconds. At a glance both movies appear to be identical to the DVDr presentation, sans extras, and, of course, the minor differences made to create a softcore vs. hardcore edit. Also each of the commercial releases have their own unique menus. A nice touch that!

But what are these differences? Mostly they're superficial. Completists will want both DVDs. And their may be reason to get both as seen in the comparisons below. .

It's hard to see in the thumbnail Blogger produces but there is a slight difference in contrast and darkness levels. The difference is so subtle you may not notice it unless you make screen caps or play the two version side by side on different sets. Also there's the content differences, which are fairly substantial.


For full details of the various pre-DVD releases of this title click here. That link will take you to the archived copy of my old Beast in Space review.


Considering the number of releases, each under an astonishing assortment of alternative titles, this director's other spaghetti space operas have received on "PD" labels it's a real treat to finally be able to see BEAST IN SPACE, and see it on a proper R1 DVD release! Alfonso Brescia's spaghetti space operas are unique hybrids that stick to a formula of emulating established and well-known movies and stories with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Movies such as Antonio Marguerite's "Gamma I Quadrilogy" and George Lucas' Star Wars. They aren't just knock-offs or cheap copies, rather they are unique movies unto themselves.

Alas the look chosen for the costumes was already well dated and past it's expiry date by the time these movies were made. Combined with the fact most audiences, in the wake of Star Wars, had long since grown accustomed to a far more refined costuming thanks to television series like Star Trek (1966-69) , Space Academy (1977-79), and Space: 1999 (1975-77) modern audiences are likely to find the retro costumes laughable and thus dismiss the movie before giving it a chance. Which is a shame because that's part of the movie's charm.

But the real question to be asked here is: How does Severin's release compare to previous video releases?

The answer, quite simply, is it puts them to shame. The video quality is outstanding. The run time is longer than any extant video release known, and while an English track is not included at least English sub-titles are present. Which is probably for the best since these sort of movies too often got dubbed incompetently.

In short Severin has done a superb job bringing this obscure space opera to DVD. While Beast in Space had received multiple VHS releases to the best of my ability to research the facts there were no LD or Beta releases. Until Severin's release this title was not just AWOL on DVD there was serious doubt it even existed in the English speaking world as it lacked mention in print resources. Compared to extant VHS releases Severin's appears to be more complete, has better video quality, and is the only way this movie should be seen. However, like every other movie in this series I have seen, Beast in Space has left me utterly dismayed. The editing is quirky. At times the pacing seems better suited to a television series.

Of course I heartily recommend this movie to all fans of science fiction. Beast in Space may not be the best space opera ever filmed but it's far from the worst. Perfect for bad movie night and an excellent choice for a stocking stuffer or birthday gift for that special sci-fi fan in your life.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan