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StuOz (aka Stuart Rawe)
If you like reading my reviews or like seeing my lists or bios, and you feel the need to drop me a post, feel free: https://www.facebook.com/stuartrawe
Please watch this video I made. It is all about my love of Irwin Allen and I narrate it as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61koKDQ6vAI
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The Fantastic Voyage (1966) craft went into inner space, not outer space.
Attack Of The Puppet People (1958) almost reads like a pilot for the Land Of The Giants series.
Village Of The Giants (1965) is a low-budget gem that manages to combine science fiction with comedy very well. Not to mention it also has a really "groovy" musical score.
Fantastic Voyage (1966) is more than just a Giant Vs Little Person movie. It was made at 20th Century Fox in the 1960s when Irwin Allen was almost running the studio with his various science fiction TV shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost In Space, etc) being made in various sound stages. Granted, Fantastic Voyage is not an Irwin Allen production but, in some ways atleast, it feels like one.
Jack The Giant Slayer (2013) is my only more recent take on the theme and, as you would expect, the effects are all done with CGI (but don't let that turn you off).
My favourite Giant Vs Little Person show ever is the big budget pilot to Land Of The Giants titled: The Crash (1968).
In the case of Buck Rogers (1939), Buck had a "Boy Wonder-type" pal and the serial itself had cliff-hanger endings which were later employed in the 1966 series. So what the hell, this seems 66 Batman-enough for me. Why is the very first bat-serial - The Batman (1943) - missing from my list? The casting of the leads was terrible and the serial was often just plain boring - so it does not get in.
With the Aquaman (1967) cartoon, there was another "Boy Wonder-type" pal. Granted, there were a few superheroes with youthful friends, but this cartoon is owned on DVD and the bright remastered colours are not unlike what we got in live action 1966 Batman.
The Green Hornet (1966) was made by the same team and studio (20th Century Fox) as 1966 Batman.
"Omega" had Chuck Heston in the lead role and this is just one of several disaster movies Heston did between 1968 and 1978. "Omega" is outstanding on so many levels - from plot, to casting, to filming locations, to music score! Just a knockout!
My love of Titanic (1997) can't escape an Irwin Allen connection. You see, in 1966 Allen directed a big budget TV pilot - The Time Tunnel: Rendezvous With Yesterday - which was set on Titanic. The 1997 flick is sort of a bigger budget widescreen take on the theme (without time travel).
Two of my eight Allen movies - City Beneath The Sea, Time Travellers - are nothing more than TV movies, but these flicks were made with that traditional Allen gusto and rejecting them on the grounds that they were not made for cinemas seems a bit harsh ("City" was released in theatres in the UK).
Some would say that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, City Beneath The Sea, The Omega Man and Time Travellers were more science fiction flicks than disaster flicks. I personally think these four movies cover both genres with plots about fire in the sky, a giant rock about to hit earth, the apocalypse and the Chicago fire.
I have seen so many disaster movies in my lifetime so you might expect these ten to be perfect? Not the case. Well I guess "Omega" and the two "Poseidon" movies are close to perfect, but disaster flicks tend to be hit and miss affairs. Even the best ones. For example, the titled characters in Time Travellers are not that good but the supporting character - played by Richard Basehart - is a knockout. Titanic was sometimes not so good in the first half but mind-blowing in the second half. And so it goes, got the idea? When these films "hit" they really HIT.
Crap movies/shows not included in list. This list might not make total sense to some...what is Twilight Zone's The After Hours doing here I hear you ask? VTTBOTS has some crazy plot lines in the last two seasons and one included The Deadly Dolls...which resembles The After Hours I guess??
Lots of submarine shows/movies here, lots of disaster movies, other Irwin Allen productions, QM's The Invaders series just seemed later season VTTBOTS-like, Sole Survivor (1970) had Basehart as a General, Revenge Of The Creature (1955)...enough said, The Man From UNCLE (1964) TV series was like VTTBOTS seasons one and two, Radar Men From The Moon (1952) had VTTBOTS effects man Howard Lydecker doing FS1-type effects, Mysterious Island (1961) had Captain Nemo, Star Trek TNG's All Good Things resembled VTTBOTS's No Way Back, etc, etc.
To my current knowledge, Andre Previn only did one score I like - Dead Image (aka Dead Ringer) - in 1964. But this outstanding score was pinched by Richard LaSalle and used in other productions..for example Irwin Allen's 1975 Swiss Family Robinson TV movie. So when you hear it, you will probably know it, as it was re-used.
See also my three sister lists titled: Bernard Herrmann Scores, John Williams Scores and Jerry Goldsmith Scores.
Eight attempts have been made to copy LIS or remake it:
1- Land Of The Giants (1968) Irwin Allen's series about a spaceship that crash lands on a planet filled with giants. Two of the earth castaways (Fitz and Barry) resemble LIS's Dr Smith and Will Robinson in character.
2- Lost In Space cartoon (1973) They managed to get Jonathan Harris to voice Dr Smith but just about everything else in this bomb is different.
3- Irwin Allen's Swiss Family Robinson TV series (1975) I have not viewed this series since 1990 so it is a bit hard to comment on it now. Just like Land Of The Giants, two of the castaways resembled LIS's Dr Smith and Will Robinson. The story goes that "Swiss" was not actually viewed as a bad show, but rather that is ended after one season because it was up against ratings giant 60 Minutes.
4- The Fantastic Journey (1977) I boat gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and finds an island of various time zones and cultures. Part Star Trek, part Time Tunnel, part Lost In Space. However, Irwin Allen did not make it. Yet again, we have two characters that resemble LIS's Dr Smith and Will Robinson. I did and do like this ten episode series - too bad it did not last!
5- Earth 2 (1994) 22 episode series made three years after Irwin Allen's death. You guessed it - another Dr Smith clone! In the 1990s having a creepy old man buddy up with a little boy might have looked a bit suspect so the gender of the child was changed to female. Earth 2 is mildly watchable but I was glad to see it go!
6- Lost In Space the cinema released movie (1998) I love it and it is a crying shame that it did not do well enough at the box office to get sequels.
7- The Robinsons: Lost In Space unaired pilot (2004) Boring as hell. Nothing to add. Just boring.
8- Lost In Space the Netflix series (2018- ) I had serious issues with the first season, in fact the reboot made me just plain angry - it seemed so unlike the original series! However, at the time of this post (December 2019) I have heard reports that season two shows vast signs of improvement. It might be as late as December 2020 when I finally see all of season two, but at that time I will review it here!
This list is a combination of the mainstream and nerdsville cinema.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019) might go down as not only the best movie of 2019, but the best movie since Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)....not that the two movies have anything in common (with the exception of nostalgia for the 60s or 70s). "Once Upon" really makes the viewer feel like they are in the 1960s - just a knockout film!
I am an Australian so I put a few very unknown Aussie titles in here: Red Billabong, Sanctum, These Final Hours and Throwback. I am big on disaster movies in general (old ones, new ones, US ones, Aussie ones) and I actually regard These Final Hours as one of the best disaster movies of this century (so far).
This list also reveals my love of science fiction movies.
This list also reveals my love of Batman, two of the titles are actually reboots of the old 1966 Batman series with Adam West and Burd Ward. These two shows were not released in cinemas but I felt the need to put them in this list as they were just so good, and they don't get enough attention. RIP Adam West: The Light Knight. A couple of other titles were also not released in cinemas (2017's Wake In Fright) but they were included in the list for the same reasons.
Spring, Birdman, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Throwback, Red Billabong, Zombeavers, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and the two 1966 Batman reboots are the only titles with comical elements...everything else is played straight.
Hunter Killer is listed here because I am a sucker for TV's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68) and any submarine movie that has just a touch of VTTBOTS gets in my list.
One film - The Ash Lad - is from Norway. You might start seeing more non-American or non-Australian films is this list as I have recently got my hands on a 24 hour movie channel with very international flicks.
The Six Million Dollar Man had some amazing music cues in the first two Bigfoot episodes (a non-regular composer here!) but The Seven Million Dollar Man episode had the greatest bionic music ever!
DECEMBER 2019 UPDATE: I just got the DVD box set of Hawaii Five-O (1968-80) and am expecting to put many episodes of that series in this list. However, screenings will take place very slowly (one episode a week) so it will take a few years for all my Five-Os to be put here.
It is all here - other Irwin Allen shows, period dramas, other time travel shows, other Whit Bissell shows, etc.
Flash Gordon (1936)
Flash Gordon (1936) Vs Buck Rogers (1939)
Very early science fiction space serial regarded by many as a classic.
This Universal serial has some knockout moments (mainly in chapter one) but I seem to be apart of the very small minority that likes sister serial of the day - Universal's Buck Rogers (1939) - more.
The Flash Gordon serial seems very studiobound while the Buck Rogers serial had outstanding location filming at Red Rock Canyon (26 years later B&W Lost In Space would film at this location).
The Flash serial has perhaps the most annoying unwatchable character in screen history - a fat man with wings (Prince Vultan) who lets out this stupid sounding laugh every 30 seconds. Seriously, I had to turn off the DVD once because the guy was getting on my nerves so much. The Buck serial might not be perfect but there is nothing in the whole four hours that is painfully annoying or unwatchable.
But once again, the Flash serial has some great moments, and those monster miniature effects must have seemed out-of-this-world way back in 1936. But, to me atleast, if you want a B&W Universal space serial to watch today - Buck Rogers is the one to watch! If, after the four hours, you still want more, then I would put on Flash Gordon (1936) after it.
Buck Rogers (1939)
Batman And Robin In Space - Love It!
Outstanding serial with themes and ideas used in much later Hollywood productions.
Firstly, I was not a child of the 30s, I was a child of the 70s. I think my age might make me look at this production in a different light to the older viewers. By that I mean, Buck Rogers is often compared to sister production of the day - Flash Gordon (1936-40) - but because I was not around in that day - I am not too concerned with Flash Gordon. Now that we have that out of the way, my review.
I once saw a very edited down version of this serial (lasting about an hour) but today in January 2020 I finally saw the full complete four hours and I was blown away by how good this Universal serial is! Columbia's Batman and Robin (1949) still stands as my favourite old time B&W movie serial but this must come in second or third best.
Buck has a youthful pal "Bud" who has touch of "The Boy Wonder" in him. In fact there was a point in one of the later chapters where I had to remind myself that I was not actually watching some very early take on Batman and Robin - as "Bud" just seemed so much like Robin in his actions with Buck!
The planet Saturn (seen here) seems like the alien planet seen in 1965's Lost In Space - that is because both shows were filmed at Red Rock Canyon.
The suspended animation theme would be used for another classic hero in Irwin Allen's The Return Of Captain Nemo (1978).
My point? You walk away from Buck Rogers (1939) feeling like several 60s/70s Hollywood productions were getting ideas from this show. You feel like it is the start of something. That alone makes it one of my very favourite pre-1940 productions period. And it does not always feel like a 30s show. It could pass as a 50s show without any problems.
Granted, the villain might not compare to the deep voiced Wizard (seen in 1949's Batman and Robin) but he does an okay job. Granted, there is a male-only feel to the production as there is only one female present (Wilma) in the whole four hours and she is so covered up in heavy clothing (from a distance she could almost be confused as male).
So basically, if you want girls, I might suggest you turn to Flash Gordon (1936) instead, but if you want a knockout boys club which might have given Hollywood some ideas later on - Buck Rogers (1939) is for you!
The Krofft Supershow (1976)
Bigfoot And Wildboy Was/Is My Favourite Of The Bunch
Saturday morning TV composed of a few totally different live-action adventure shows.
Filmation and Krofft were the big guns of Saturday morning TV in the 70s. However, even in childhood I thought that Filmation shows looked more professional as they were made on film (not video tape) and went out on location - unlike Krofft (with the exception of Bigfoot and Wildboy).
However, both studios were and are well loved.
A few comments about some of the material seen on The Krofft Supershow:
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. This is great fun to watch for an episode or two but it soon becomes obvious that each new episode is a clone of the last. It has been described as the female take on 1966 Batman but it just does not compare in terms of quality and acting. But hey, great to watch for an episode or two!
Dr Shrinker. A very cheap version of Irwin Allen's Land Of The Giants series (1968-70) but while LOTG took itself deadly seriously, Dr Shrinker always winks at the viewer and it sort of gives you some insight on what LOTG would have been like if the producer (Irwin Allen) did not demand everything be played totally straight. If all the episodes of Dr Shrinker were bunched up together and watched in one hit it would only take 240 minutes to watch it all. However, don't be turned off by the terrible first episode! When re-watching the series today I became a fan again when viewing the tale called - "The Other Brad" - so maybe that would be the best place to start?
Bigfoot and Wildboy. As I stated above, this looks rather lavish in production and music cues compared to what came before with Krofft. This series does wonders in the area of style over substance! Granted, not much happens, but you just get so sucked into the look and feel of the show that you just can't stop watching! The first season was better than the second, However, the whole series is just crying out for a DVD release!
Simply speaking, The Krofft Supershow was/is a knockout!
Lost in Space: Space Beauty (1968)
The Second Last Episode In Production Order
Judy Robinson is wanted in a beauty contest.
The fourth last episode in screening order but the second last episode in production order. Which means the famed "talking carrot episode" was not the second last filmed adventure as many people think.
In production order, Junkyard Of Space was the last episode, but as that tale was a bit average, I personally think Space Beauty would have been a better show to end the series on.
Space Beauty is a campy episode but there is good LIS camp and there is bad LIS camp. The bad LIS camp was often found in the second half of season two. In Space Beauty, the humour mostly comes from the Leonard Stone performance as Mr Farnum - he is outstanding! So good in fact that, after watching this, it will be a struggle to take him seriously in any other role (for example his performance in 1973's Soylent Green).
Also, Marta Kristen (Judy) finally gets something to do.
Lastly, the Mullendore musical score perfectly captures the light fantastic nature of the hour. See also his score for LIS's The Haunted Lighthouse.
Basically, if you want the straight adventure of season one - stay clear of this hour! But if you want a wonderfully scored hour with a villain who behaves like he just walked out of the 1966 Batman set...you will get a blast from Space Beauty!
Gray Lady Down (1978)
Submarine Disaster Movie
Little known disaster movie about a doomed submarine.
I should begin by explaining that I am one of the world's biggest fans of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968) TV series. That series, which lifted sets and models from a massive budget movie of the same name, did a lot of what was done here in Gray Lady Down.
In fact one early B&W VTTBOTS episode - "Submarine Sunk Here" - is so much like GLD it is not funny. So this all made GLD seem very familiar to me.
But it is still well worth a look for the great acting of Charlton Heston as the sub Captain and the rescue attempts to save the sub are well made and filmed.
The musical score by Jerry Fielding is okay but he would do much better disaster movie music the following year with - Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979).
The Hindenburg (1975)
Despite Several Flaws - I Love This Movie
Historical facts are thrown out the window in this telling of the Hindenburg disaster.
Okay call is bad, call it historically wrong, call it a bit dull in parts - say whatever you like! But I am such a disaster-movie-nutcase that I can watch and enjoy most of these films, even ones like The Hindenburg that bombed at the box office. The trick is to view it as some sort of fantasy take on what really happened and just go along for the ride.
The 25 foot model of the Hindenburg might be enough of a reason to get the DVD. It is not often Hollywood builds a craft that big, the model of the submarine Seaview in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) was 17 or 18 feet long and I always viewed that as an amazing bit of model work.
Nearly the whole cast of the film is pleasing, helped by the fact that I know most of them from some 1960s show (Hogan's Heroes, Batman, QM's The Invaders, The Graduate), so those who put down the cast probably don't know them like me.
Basically, if you are willing to put up with flawed disaster movies, you might just get a blast (sorry) from The Hindenburg.
Special note: some viewers might be curious to see The Hindenburg blast done with today's CGI. If so, watch the pilot episode of a short lived 2016 series called: Timeless.
Black Sunday (1977)
Part Thriller Movie, Part Disaster Movie
Another thriller, after Two-Minute Warning (1976), about disaster at a football game.
I personally call myself a disaster movie nutcase but am just a casual fan of traditional thrillers. Well over 50% of Black Sunday can be defined as a thriller and it is not until the later sections that it gets into disaster-movie-mode. As I am a fan of Bruce Dern (he deserved top billing here!) and an even bigger fan of composer John Williams - I liked the whole movie!
Today's younger viewers might be turned off some sections of the dated photography (rear projection all over the place) but to a middle aged viewer like me the photography was no problem.
The above mentioned John Williams score sounds more like a Jerry Goldsmith action score for Capricorn One (1978) or The Swarm (1978).
I probably like sister film - Two-Minute Warning (1976) - just a bit more but both flicks are a knockout.
One Of The Best Looking Movies Of The 1980s
A computer hacker is forced into the digital world.
This has improved with age. I clearly remember seeing this in 1982, I enjoyed it back then, but despite me being a life long science fiction fan, in 1982 I just could not totally get my mind around the far fetched plot. I am a bit more comfortable with it today.
Today, I am simply amazed at the use of colour in the film. In fact, I would say that TRON is one of the very best looking movies of the 1980s.
One problem. During this period it was just expected that science fiction movies have a grand musical score (Star Wars, Empire. Jedi, Disney's Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica, etc) and when such a score was missing - as it is with TRON - the viewer left the cinema feeling like something was missing from the flick. We get that here.
But all things considered, TRON it well worth owning on DVD as you will wish to return to it with repeat viewings. As for sequel TRON Legacy (2010), it is well worth seeing, but don't expect the fireworks you got with this original.
City of Ember (2008)
Under-rated, Under-rated Gem - Parhaps Too Retro For 2008??
Kid's film about dramas in an underground city.
Take away the CGI in the later sections of the flick, and you get something that could pass as a movie from the 1980s or 1990s. And I think this is why it failed at the box office. Everything from the slow pace to the fine musical score was like something from the last century. Today's kids get a diet of super fast paced epics and this quirky little gem would have seemed a bit out of place to them.
But to a middle aged science fiction lover like me, it was great. And I have not seen such great set design since "Titanic" all the way back in 1997. An older viewer like me also welcomes the sight of crusty Martin Landau who did science fiction all the way back in the 1960s and 1970s (B&W The Outer Limits and Space 1999).
In a nutshell: for lovers of retro science fiction but try and get the kids to give it a chance.
Wonder Woman (1975)
A Review From A Science Fiction Point Of View
Prime time 70s superhero series about a woman with fantastic powers.
Firstly the theme tune, and the images (animated or non-animated) that go with the theme song, are outstanding. Each season the opening would change so there are in fact three or four intros you must track down on YouTube! All intros rank as some of the best intros seen on TV ever!
The series itself? It was enjoyed more in my 1970s childhood but some of it still stands up today. I personally call myself a science fiction fan rather than a Wonder Woman fan so I liked the episodes with a strong sci-fi element the most:
Season 2: Mind Stealers From Outer Space (two-parter). Love the Star Wars (1977) look. Love the stock footage from This Island Earth (1955).
Season 2: The Bermuda Triangle Crisis. Stock footage of the submarine Seaview from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68) is used.
Season 3: Time Bomb. People from earth's future appear in the 1970s. Stock footage from Space 1999 (1974-77) is used.
Season 3: Gault's Brain. Character actor John Carradine does the voice of a living human brain in a jar. Outstanding guest stars all round!
Season 3: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret (two-parter). Misleading episode title as this more about remaking Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.
These seven episodes are from the years when WW had left the 1940s and moved into the 1970s. The series started in the 1940s. WW season one was billed as a "campy" female take on 1966 Batman. Well, I can proudly say that I think 1966 Batman is one of the greatest TV shows ever made so someone like myself should welcome WW season one with open arms, correct? I liked year one and found it amusing sometimes, but frankly, instead of the promoted "camp" I was more interested in the wonderful 1940s vintage cars all over the place. Make of that what you will?
Why the switch to crazy sci-fi in season 3? The show got a new producer that year - Bruce Lansbury - who was known for a cult sci-fi series: The Fantastic Journey (1977). He brought with him a new music composer - Richard LaSalle (ex-Land Of The Giants) - and you could say that Lansbury and LaSalle turned the Wonder Woman series upside down in a really good way. Enjoy!
Still Okay But Shazam! Is Better!
70s Saturday morning kid's show about a female superhero: Isis.
I had two reactions to this series so here we go:
My 1970s childhood reaction. I thought this series was one of the great wonders of the world. Isis seemed supercool to me, the series plots were fine, the action scenes were outstanding and this series was generally speaking: must-see-TV.
My current middle aged adult reaction. Today I often proudly go down memory lane and watch TV shows of my youth, and I have a great time. But I am sorry to report that this Isis series is missing a lot of the punch it had but related series of the day - Shazam! (1974-76) - still stands tall the way it did decades ago.
But that does not mean that Isis is not worth a look in this century. There are a few episodes that are still wonderful entertainment - mainly "Lucky" and "The Sound Of Silence". "Lucky" is a touching tale of a kid's relationship with his pet dog. "Silence" actually introduces science fiction into the series as a stolen force field makes trouble for all concerned.
And there were a few episodes where John Davey (Captain Marvel in Shazam!) made a guest appearance, and this was a thrill. Isis and Shazam! also shared many of the same music cues during the run of both shows. I would say the music cues were about 40% of the entertainment value in Isis.
However, the Isis series really ran into problems towards the end and the last three episodes - Year Of The Dragon, Now You See It..., ...And Now You Don't - rank as some of the worst Saturday morning TV of the 70s.
If you wish to re-visit all those old live-action 70s Saturday morning TV shows I would consider watching Shazam!, Ark 11, Land Of The Lost, Bigfoot and Wildboy...and maybe leave Isis to the end of your viewing list. Enjoy!
The Six Million Dollar Man (1974)
A Review From A Science Fiction Point Of View
Hit and miss science fiction series of the 70s about a part-mechanical man.
I personally call myself a science fiction fan, so I was drawn to the episodes that had a strong science fiction element (the various tales about killer robots, the $7 Million Man, killer death probes, Bigfoot, space aliens, the spacey lost island). Also, season five had a two-part show set on the moon - The Dark Side Of The Moon.
The Lost Island two-hour adventure has plot points that were later pinched by the famed - Lost (2004) - series! I am tempted to reveal these points here but am concerned there might still be people who have not seen Lost (2004) and I don't wish to reveal what happens in the later seasons of Lost.
"Six Million" was sometimes just fine even without the science fiction plots. Season three had a great hour called Big Brother about Steve helping out a guy in trouble, season five had a semi-disaster movie about a Killer Wind. Season five also had a two-part tale called - Sharks - that had just a touch of 1960s series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
There were several episodes (the pilots and season one went all out with this) where Steve Austin would go to some less advanced country and deal with some problem. These episodes, obviously filmed on the Universal backlot, were where the series ran into problems with me. In fact, at times I was even clicking the picture search on my DVD player because the slow pace was just killing these tedious adventures. Also, the maker of the series, Harve Bennett, proudly explains that "the military were always willing to help us out in filming the show". Well, in my opinion atleast, they helped out a bit too much. We were swamped with footage of jets, jets and more jets. Boring!
The "Six Million" DVDs are advertised as being "totally re-mastered" which is a load of rubbish. The picture quality is often rather average. Oddly enough, the box set features a few episodes from sister series - The Bionic Woman - and these episodes ARE re-mastered?
In a nutshell, if you are a sci-fi nut like me, I strongly suggest you get the DVD box set, but you might need to be a bit selective about which episodes you decide to watch (so this review will help you out). Enjoy.
Lost in Space: Target: Earth (1968)
Clever Dialogue, Outer Space & Time Tunnel Props
Will must stop aliens from invading earth.
Wow! We are now in 1968 episodes and young Billy Mumy (Will Robinson) is starting to look taller and older.
In my memory I have always paired up this episode up with another year three hour - The Anti-Matter Man - as both tales take themselves rather seriously and John Robinson has an evil double in both shows. However, Matter Man has better direction, much better photography and is free of the silly start seen in Target: Earth.
But Target: Earth has a lot to offer and is often set in outer space - unlike Matter Man! So both hours are very special to me!
The best moments of the hour come when when the doubles of the Robinsons come out with clever dialogue - "Sandwiches are earth food Dr Smith, not ours" (Judy), "Quickly, your name, the planet of your birth and your normal life span?" (John).
And finally, a touch of QM's The Invaders (1967) as the doubles have mutated hands and The Time Tunnel (1966) power core prop can be seen in the alien base.
The Fly (1958)
Well Made Sci-Fi/Horror
By mistake, a scientist turns into a man-sized fly.
Creepy, creepy stuff! I like horror movies but am more into science fiction. This film covers both genres very well. Unlike many 1950s sci-fi flicks this one is in colour which gives it a lavish look and feel. The script is solid, the acting is fine and it contains two scenes (one being the famous ending) that you will remember forever.
Is the movie for kids of this century? Well it was not kids of the 1950s to 1970s I can tell you that much but the youth of today might be able to handle it a bit better (but the ending will scare them).
Sequel one: Return Of The Fly (1959). Reasonably entertaining but the switch from colour to B&W is a way too obvious hint that the budget for this one was way lower than the first. Okay movie.
Sequel two: Curse Of The Fly (1965). IMDb actually has several positive reviews for this movie? Some even like it more than the first one? All I can say is that this is just so different to the first two movies that it can hardly be called a "Fly movie". For starters it was made in the UK and not Hollywood?? I hate it but some others like it.
Destination Inner Space (1966)
The Other Side Of The Coin To Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Underwater thrills with a sea creature mixed with personal human dramas.
The sea creature is the true star of this flick and he can be seen in colour for once, unlike the older Creature From The Black Lagoon monster which was in B&W.
I like this Destination Inner Space a lot but the underwater miniature effects are terrible and the human conflicts are well performed but take up just too much screen time. In some ways this film could be described as the the other side of the coin to the Voyage to to the Bottom of the Sea TV series of the day (which Gary Merrill even appeared in once).
In VTTBOTS producer Irwin Allen demanded no small talk or human drama of this sort in the monster episodes. Also, VTTBOTS won Emmy Awards for the outstanding submarine miniature effects which leave the Destination Inner Space miniatures for dead!
But this is beginning to sound like a bashing of DIS, no it is not, I love the movie, but I just wish to point out that I like VTTBOTS more.
Great Look At Low-Budget Movie Company
Very detailed and sometimes funny look at Cannon Studios, a film company that was big in the 1980s.
Cannon kept putting out films like there was no tomorrow, they never stopped to check their books to see if they could afford to do these block busters, it was always just full steam ahead! This was part of the problem.
Late 80s flicks Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, Masters Of The Universe and Superman 4 are the movies that caught my attention back then. I never knew all the behind-the-scene-dramas back then - now I do thanks to this tell-all movie!
After watching Electric Boogaloo, you will find yourself wanting to re-visit these old films and look at them in a new light. Invaders From Mars is actually a well made re-make of an old 1950s film by the same name. Very entertaining.
My only mild issue with this Electric Boogaloo is that title itself. Perhaps they should have dumped the EB and just called it The Untold Story Of Cannon Films. I never knew about this movie in 2014 as I probably just read the first two words of the title, and only found it by going to my local DVD library in 2019.
Doctor Who (1963)
Very Famous UK Science Fiction Series
One of the most famous science fiction shows ever!
I mostly became a fan after the 2005 reboot appeared, I started hiring out old DVDs to see how it all started in 1963 to 1989.
The reboot is a lot more fast paced and the world (earth) seems to be coming to end all the time, this Doctor Who series of the last century is slower and less eventful. I don't think I have a favourite of the two, the old stuff and the 2005 reboot both have their strong points and not so strong points.
However, I don't like the 2018 change of Doctor Who being played a by woman. Perhaps she/he (???) will go back to being a man one day??
Here are some of my favourite 1963 to 1989 Doctor Who shows. Many good ones have been left out for the simple reason that I have not had time to watch them all yet....
The Tenth Planet (B&W). The Mind Robber (B&W). The Moonbase (B&W). The War Games (B&W). Carnival Of Monsters (Colour). Terror Of The Autons (Colour). The Two Doctors (Colour). The Five Doctors (Colour). Paradise Towers (Colour).
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Deadly Serious Visual Epic Is Much Grander Than "Inner Space" (1987)
Scientists are shrunk and injected into the artery of a human being.
A wonderful science fiction film that never gets old to me. The special effects are outstanding, the cast is interesting, the full-scale model of the submarine is impressive and the Leonard Rosenman musical score adds a lot to the wonder and danger of the plot.
A very visual epic that demands to be seen on widescreen DVD. For decades (1970s to 1990s) I got a bunched up TV print, so for a long time I never saw the flick as it was meant to be seen. So if you have not seen the DVD copy, you must!
Another thing I like about Fantastic Voyage is that it takes itself deadly seriously. It never winks at the viewer. Sadly, this can't be said for the other "trip inside human film" - Inner Space (1987). Granted, the 1987 movie was made in a different time and after a different market, but the light tone of Inner Space turned me off. Whatever.
Most of the Fantastic Voyage production crew also worked another Fox production of the day - the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series - so this film might get you heading for the submarine Seaview!
Fox's second Planet Of The Apes movie - Beneath The Planet Of The Apes - re-employed Leonard Rosenman because he did such a great job on Fantastic Voyage.
Enjoy this outstanding film!
Irwin Allen Talks A Lot Here
The making of Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979).
Irwin Allen is a name always seen in the credits of 1960s science fiction TV shows (Lost In Space, etc) and 1970s disaster movies (The Towering Inferno, etc) but it is not too often that you see the guy talk, talk and talk - well here is your chance!
The good news - he comes over as a highly normal film producer/ director! Maybe he has changed a bit over the years?? Cast members of Land Of The Giants and The Time Tunnel have officially reported that one of Irwin Allen's main concerns with actors was their hair styles - male or female hair styles! (see the DVDs of "Giants" and Tunnel" if you think I am talking BS).
This review is sounding like an Irwin bashing but it is not! As my IMDb review history reveals...I love the guy and his work (including Beyond The Poseidon Adventure)!
The most interesting thing to come out of the making of BTPA is Allen's final comment that the film was his "toughest shoot in 25 years"??? Really? Harder than the action scenes in The Towering Inferno (1974)? Harder than dealing with all those bees in The Swarm (1978)? Harder than making the most expensive TV pilot of the 1960s (the Land Of The Giants pilot)??
Maybe Allen was not thinking straight when he made this comment?
In this making of BTPA Michael Caine and Sally Field seem like they are having such a great time....but in later years they revealed they were not too happy with this film at all. But who cares? I love them in it. I love Irwin Allen. And I love Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (including this Behind the Scenes).
Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974)
All The Best Episodes Were Bunched Up At The End
Comical reporter Carl Kolchak hunts down creatures in Chicago.
People call this a horror/mystery/thriller series but I always defined it as a "monster-of-the-week-show", and I have always had a soft spot for retro monster shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Outer Limits, etc) so it only seems right that I review Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
I like the series. I liked the first Night Stalker TV movie of 1972 , about the vampire, a lot more, but the series really shined...mainly in the last few episodes:
Episode 17: Legacy Of Terror. During the daytime CHIP's Erik Estrada seems like just another businessman but during the evenings he gets up to all sorts of tricks. Enough said.
Episode 18: The Knightly Murders. This episode is a fine example of comedy and a monster coming together to form something really special. John Dehner plays an old cop who has very amusing conversations with Carl Kolchak.
Episode 20: The Sentry. Probably the most memorable episode of the series as a reptilian creature is killing construction workers in an empty tunnel. Also, great music cues here.
And finally, I would like to make one more comment about the series as a whole, it has a less talked about cast member - Chicago itself! All 20 episodes would often cut way to stock footage of Chicago (taken from the air) and this would be done with great music cues playing. Granted, I am fully aware the city has changed since the 1970s, but to this day, whenever I hear the city of Chicago mentioned in the news anywhere or anytime...I have flashbacks of this Night Stalker footage.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker combines monsters with comedy very well and it is well worth watching today.
Star Trek (1973)
Loved In Childhood But Now...
Animated Star Trek with the original cast doing the voice work.
I had two reactions to this series, so here we go:
My 1970s childhood reaction: I would get up at 6am or 7am on a Sunday morning to see this. I loved it. During this period, there was much less Star Trek around (today it is all over the place) so I really welcomed the chance to see Trek with the original cast doing the voice work. In this period I watched a lot of cartoons and I clearly remember this one being more "complicated" in plots than stuff such as Superfriends.
My current middle aged adult reaction: Today I often walk down memory lane and watch childhood favourites of the 1970s...but for reasons that are not too clear...this Star Trek cartoon is a struggle to watch today! There is something a bit off about how William Shatner (Captain Kirk) speaks his lines...not sure how to describe the problem...it seems like he is not putting his heart into the work here. I don't like the new regular characters added (the weirdo aliens on the bridge). The animation sucks.
As an adult, the best thing I can say about Star Trek The Animated Series is that the ever-present music cues (which were re-used in 1974's Shazam!) are about 90% of the show's entertainment value. There is so much of Star Trek around today, so the cartoon is not as special as it once was.
Battlestar Galactica (1978)
It Has Improved With Age
Massive budget space series of the 1970s.
Forever known as the TV show that ripped off Star Wars! The two productions do resemble each other a lot but I don't care about this now (can't remember if it bothered me as a kid?). BG has actually improved with age as they just don't make space shows like this anymore! Today it sort of comes over as a refreshing oddity compared to Netflix's Lost In Space reboot and Netflix's Star Trek Discovery.
BG is a great looking series! It looks just so good - from the full-scale spacecraft model work, the laser battles, to the Cylons, to the cast, the cast costumes - they really knew what they were doing in the looks department.
A few nice things to listen to as well with Lorne Green's amazing voice and the cool music scores/theme.
But having said all this - BG does not make it in my top ten TV show list. Despite some wonderful elements from the series as a whole, it is often missing that spark/energy you would expect from this sort of series.
And despite it's brief run of just one season, it managed to dish up the odd stinker in that time! You would expect any TV episode with Hollywood legend Fred Astaire to have some sort of spark - but his BG episode bore the crap out of me! And frankly, when I was meant to laugh at the regular characters, I was not laughing. The humour in the sister show of the day - Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (1979) - worked better for me.
But let me forget about the negative points for now. You could do a lot worse than watch this show today. In terms of clever/memorable plot lines, I guess the winning hour goes to the very final episode when Apollo (Richard Hatch) and Starbuck (Dick Benedict) got some very oddball radio messages from some not often used hardware on the Galactica craft. In terms of grand epic adventure, the first two hours (the got a cinema release) is the show at it's best.
Puppet-less Gerry Anderson Series Is Still Cool Today
Earth is invaded by aliens in 1980.
Gerry Anderson produced a few science fiction TV shows in the 1960s/1970s but only four of them really captured my imagination - Stingray, Thunderbirds, UFO and Space 1999. I don't have a favourite of the four.
They all have their strong points and not so strong points. They were all set in the future, they all used miniature effects of space crafts, air crafts or submarines. And, with the exception of Space 1999 season two, they all had wonderful Barry Gray music cues that were actually about 40% of the entertainment value for each series.
In my 1970s childhood, UFO was viewed by me as one of the great wonders of the world, back then it seemed like such a polished production. Re-runs in the 1980s and 1990s seemed to be missing a lot of the punch I got in the 1970s. Finally, in about 2007, I got the re-mastered DVD of the series, which to my surprise, contained "more adult" episodes that were never previously replayed in my country (Australia). So here I was, in my early 40s, having to re-think my lifetime views of UFO as the DVD put it in a different (and better) light.
All 26 episodes of UFO are watchable today but I personally feel the series improved in the later half of the year when production was switched to Pinewood Studios, the odd cast member was dropped, and the episodes started moving faster, quicker than the early slower hours.
I don't watch a lot of British TV/cinema, but you could say that Gerry Anderson and James Bond are the two names I think of first when I think of UK TV/movies.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
Slow Visual Movie Is Okay
An astronaut is stuck on Mars with no food or water.
I was reluctant to review this film as I have never been that big on these sort of flicks where a single actor is stuck on an empty area (planet/island/town) for a good part of the time. To my way of thinking, these movies only work when the lead has such amazing screen presence - like Charlton Heston in 1971's The Omega Man - that you simple can't take your eyes off the screen. Lead Paul Mantee is no Chuck Heston.
The first 40 minutes, of a guy alone doing very little, will test the patience of many watching - however the moody Van Cleave score (Twilight Zone composer) helps things as does the Winton C. Hoch photography (he worked on the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series).
IMDb's page for this film has great stills of this movie, so I am sure those photos alone will get you wanting to see Robinson Crusoe. A bit of a War Of The Worlds (1953) connection to this movie...enough said. Enjoy!
This Will Get You Hooked On Season Five
After last seasons explosion, people are trapped everywhere.
The opener to the final season! At this point this series had clocked about 80 episodes and many science fiction shows start to show signs of problems (out of ideas) when they reach this point. The original 1966 Star Trek ended after 79 episodes. The final season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine (1993-99) had a singing James Darren (Help!) in the final year.
But I am pleased to report that Stargate Atlantis seems to be holding up to the pressure of being around for a while and you will be happy with this opener.
The episode title - Search and Rescue - really does say it all about what goes on here. We also a have a pregnant woman giving birth which once again reveals how hopless McKay can be at times.
Some of the set work is impressive.
But it is the final scene that makes the whole hour so memorable. It seems Atlantis is going to have a crusty old male commander this season - Richard Woolsey played by Robert Picaldo - which should rock-the-boat a bit.