Saturday, May 04, 2013

Monument(al) Destruction #13: Defiance (2013)

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Boy Who Said 'No.'" (October 24, 1974)

“The Boy Who Said No” might be the weirdest and wildest episode yet of Filmation’s live-action 1970s series, Shazam (1974 – 1977).   It begins as another “moral of the week” story about a kid making good choices, but ends with a crazy double chase sequence.

In “The Boy Who Said No,” Mentor (Les Tremayne) and Billy Batson (Michael Gray) stop for groceries and park their RV.  While Billy is at the store, Mentor gets robbed, however, by a juvenile delinquent named Ron Craig.  A young boy, Larry Burn, sees Ron at the scene of the crime, but refuses to i.d. the crook because Ron has threatened and bullied him into silence.

The Elders inform Billy that he should “translate” his concern “into fitting action,” but Billy can’t get Larry to budge.  When Ron shows up at Larry’s ranch, however and abducts his father, it’s time to call in Captain Marvel.  The jittery Ron attempts to evade capture first by stealing a helicopter and taking off, and then by car-jacking Mentor’s RV…with Mentor and Larry inside!

The moral of the week comes from Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick), who tells young Larry that all the violence and pursuit could have been avoided if only he’d reported Ron in the first place.  The boy admits he was “afraid to get involved.” 

The kooky aspect of “The Boy Who Said No” arises in the depiction of Ron, the juvenile delinquent.  After robbing an old man in an RV, he commits crimes much worse to evade capture.  He kidnaps three different individuals, and steals two vehicles.  That seems like a lot of work -- and a lot of extra time in jail --- over a wallet that couldn’t have had much money in it.  In other words, in order to evade the authorities for one crime, Ron commits much, much worse crimes.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  At the end of the episode, Ron says he just “needed money,” but if that were the case, why wouldn’t he have surrendered earlier, instead of gravely compounding his guilt?

Mentor is also downright weird in this episode.  He keeps making jokes about eating lunch.  After he is attacked by Ron, for instance, Mentor doesn’t appear overly concerned, and says “Yeah…but what about lunch?”  And at the end of the episode, Mentor says he learned the lesson of the week too: “Don’t skip lunch.”   This is just…strange.  Maybe that knock on the head by Ron really did poor Mentor some damage…

In terms of action, “The Boy Who Said No’ featured twice as much action as most episodes of Shazam, with Captain Marvel pursuing a criminal by air and by land.  The effects involving Captain Marvel grappling with a helicopter in flight actually hold up pretty well, thanks to some better-than-average stunt work.  There’s also a good shot of Marvel grabbing on to a passing tunnel and braking the stolen RV.

Next Week: “The Doom Buggy.”

Friday, May 03, 2013

Cult Movie Review: The Awakening (2012)

Decidedly out-of-step with most supernatural horror films being produced today, The Awakening (2011) is a good old-fashioned ghost story headlined by a compelling heroine.  The film moves at a deliberate pace, and erects scenes of tension one brick-at-a-time until the movie reaches a final act frenzy that will make your head spin, and your mind reel.  Once the dust clears, you may even find yourself unexpectedly impacted by the movie’s surprising revelations and emotional aftermath.

This carefully-constructed horror film opens with a title card reminding viewers that between 1914 and 1919, influenza and world war killed more than a million people in Great Britain.  “It is a time for ghosts,” the movie concludes, ominously.

After that introduction, the film is set in 1921 and introduces audiences to the determined and intellectual Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), celebrated author of “Seeing through Ghosts.”  When we first see Florence, she is masquerading as a woman called “Miss Emerson,” debunking a séance, and exposing a team of charlatans.  Although she utilizes some tools to expose the cynical and the phony, Florence also deploys ruthless, nay merciless, logic.

Following this exercise, Florence is contacted by a man named Mr. Mallory (Dominic West) who works at a rural boarding school for boys called Rootford.  Mallory shows Florenc class photographs from 1903 to 1906…and each one prominently features the image of a ghost alongside the live boys. 

And then Mr. Mallory shows Florence last year’s photo, which depicts the same ghost, only now looking down through a window above the assembled class.   This ghost, Mr. Mallory fears, is responsible for the death of a young student at Rootford.

Accordingly, Mallory asks Florence to return to Rootford, a private house-turned-school, with him.  He informs her that the home’s head mistress, Maude (Imelda Staunton) is such a fan of her work that she keeps Florence’s tome “Seeing through Ghosts” on the bookshelf next to the Bible.

Florence agrees to investigate Rootford School and meets Maude, the students, and the teachers at the Academy.  She promptly sets up camera, magnets, “differential thermometers” and other technological tricks of the trade to search for ghosts.  When she doesn’t find any, at first, Florence seems not relieved or victorious…but depressed, even suicidal.

Soon, however, Florence has ample reason to believe that Rootford School is indeed haunted….

I’m not generally a big fan of staid or buttoned-down English drama -- even supernatural drama -- set in large, rural estate houses, wherein all emotions are kept buried behind a stiff upper lip. 

And point of fact, this “Howard’s End”-style doesn’t always work especially well within the formalist horror genre.  Exhibit A is the 1990s effort Haunted (1995), which starred Aidan Quinn as a ghost debunker who visits just such a rural house, and finds his beliefs about ghosts tested.  The movie does feature a nude scene by a young Kate Beckinsale, but other than that big surprise, Haunted plays fast and loose with its narrative details, so that viewers are asked to believe, essentially, the impossible during the climax.

Although quite similar in set-up to Haunted, The Awakening is a much more compelling film, in part because of Rebecca Hall’s riveting central performance, and the very nature of her character.  Florence lost a lover in World War I, you see, and she blames herself for this grievous loss.  Florence’s rigorous, ongoing attempts to debunk ghosts arise not from some desire to destroy belief in the supernatural, but -- ironically -- to find it.  At one point in the film, when Florence is certain ghosts don’t exist, she attempts to kill herself.  She can’t live with the fact that the man she loved is dead and gone, annihilated once and for all.

If Florence could have just one psychic encounter, she would know, finally, that her lover goes on or continues in some form, in some shape.  So like a dedicated masochist, Florence keeps setting herself up for failure, keeps testing the limits of reality, and keeps re-proving her thesis that there is nothing beyond death.

“You can’t hunt what doesn’t exist,” she states flatly, when another character terms her a “ghost hunter.” In essence then, Florence is imprisoned by her logic, her own rationality.  She keeps using logic to search for ghosts, and keeps boxing herself in, because logic alone can’t prove their existence.  It’s quite a character dilemma.

But since this is a horror movie -- and a spine-tingling one at that -- Florence does begin to discern ghosts after initially dismissing the Rootford case.  And as this cerebral, brilliant character moves from emotionally-restrained certainty to the beginnings of wild belief, Florence’s physicality begins reflecting the change.  Florence goes from pulling her hair tightly back, to letting it flow wildly.  She goes from crisp, insightful declarations of logic, to hysterical fits of anger and emotion.

In other words, Florence’s physical presence reflects her emotional journey, and that’s just one aspect of the film I appreciate.

The Awakening also goes to great lengths to play inventively with the definition of the word “ghosts.”  For instance, there are those beings that, apart from individual perspective or perception, live on beyond death in some form.  But then there are also those people around us who are haunted by the things they have done and seen, whether in war or in love.  “It’s tough to separate past from the present,” one character notes in the film, and that line is a key to understanding the nature of the ghosts here.

Make no mistake: The Awakening isn’t a balls-to-the-wall, roller-coaster-type horror film with lots of gore and violence, but it nonetheless featuring some very frightening sequences.  Throughout the film, for instance, Florence keeps finding a large dollhouse in different rooms.  This dollhouse is built to resemble, down to minute detail, Rootford School.  Florence finds it in an attic, a class room, and ultimately, in a forgotten basement.   She sometimes sees it fully decorated inside, and sometimes it is empty.

But in one scene, Florence gazes into the doll-house and finds it perfectly decorated to match her moment reality.  The children dolls are sitting where the real children are.  There’s a Maude doll standing where the real Maude should be in that instant.  And there’s a Florence doll too…actually gazing into a toy version of the real dollhouse.   As Rebecca gazes more closely at this vista, she sees that a small child figure is standing behind the doll representing her…in the very room she is standing right now.  She slowly turns around and…

…Well, you get the idea. 

The Awakening is dominated by scenes like that one; scenes that might rightly be termed chilling.

Equally unsettling is the scene, early on, in which Rebecca attempts to debunk the class photographs by noting that a living child could run from one end of the class line to the other while the camera is snapping and thus appear like a “ghost” for a split second, on film. 

This is all perfectly logical until Mallory reveals to Florence the photograph with the ghost peering down on the children, from behind the glass of a window pane.  There’s simply no way a child could have gotten inside, in that room, while the picture was being snapped…

In addition to Haunted, there are moments in The Awakening that will remind you strongly of The Others (2001), and also The Innocents (1961), based on Henry James The Turn of the Screw.   These familiar touches work both for and against the film’s success, in some ways, both rendering parts of the narrative overly familiar at the same time that they overturn expectations regarding English “haunted house” stories.  The film plays with its form a bit, so just when you think you understand what the ghostly manifestation means, a new fact gets added to the mix.

The key to The Awakening, perhaps, rests in its title.  Once you understand fully who is “awakening” and what to, precisely, you’ll have a pretty good idea of this haunted house’s dark secret.   And then -- when you put that information together with the clue about separating “the past from the future -- shivery realization dawns.

Like I noted above, I’m not an ardent admirer of this staid brand of Brit horror, but few films pull it off with more aplomb than The Awakening manages here.

Movie Trailer: The Awakening (2012)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pop Art: Captain Protein Edition

Collectible of the Week: The Black Hole “Assortment of Fun” (Western Publishing Company, Inc; 1979)

The year 1979 was one of my favorites in childhood, no doubt because it saw the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Alien, Moonraker, and last but not least, Disney’s The Black Hole.  I collected toys, magazines, model-kits, comic-books, novelizations and more from each of those productions.

But as a fourth grader, I really, really loved The Black Hole.  

This boxed set from Western Publishing Company, Inc., includes many activity books and paper toys based on the film including a “Little Golden Book,” “A Golden Poster Storybook,” A Golden Book of Things to Do,” “A Press-Out Book,” “A Coloring  Book,” “Crayons” and “2 Robot Puppets.” 

The two robot puppets, as you might surmise, are V.I.N.Cent and Maximillian  And the press-out book allows the intrepid kid to build paper versions of the Cygnus and the Palomino.

The back of the box describes the set as “an astronomical assortment of fun that’s out of this world,” and to a ten-year old kid, that’s precisely what it was.  

I remember that my (now-deceased) grandfather bought me this box set at a five-and-dime at the Jersey shore in the summer of 1980, and that during the whole week at the beach, I wanted to stay inside the rental and play with the Black Hole ships and robots.  My parents had to force me to actually go to the ocean.

I know…I’m a geek.  But one of my favorite parts of this toy is a paper backdrop of the Cygnus bridge, and small cut-outs of all the major characters, from Captain Holland and to Commander Reinhardt.

To this day, I remember that beach trip because of this very toy set, my grandfather's gift, and the time I spent imagining further adventures and sequels to The Black Hole.

Model Kits of the Week: Strange Change

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cult Movie Review: The Lords of Salem (2013)

Rob Zombie’s new horror movie, The Lords of Salem (2013) culminates with a long, slow circle.  

As the end credits roll, the camera -- pointed skyward -- spirals around, gazing at telephone poles and the upper stories of old, Salem architecture.  We see the same “one way” sign at least three times before the screen fades to black.  The shot has no meaningful ending.

This circular, repetitive closing visual is a pretty good metaphor for the movie itself.  The Lords of Salem is a long, slow, drawn-out affair which spins round and round, but never really builds to a crescendo or gets to the point.

However, this description is not meant to suggest that the movie is an artistic failure.   The Lords of Salem is a hell of a crazy ride while it lasts.

Rob Zombie’s movies are universally the product of his strange, singular imagination, not focus-polling and committee film-making, and so, even when his work doesn’t entirely hit the mark, his visuals linger in the memory.  There’s a “disreputable” and dangerous air about all of Zombie’s films that suggests he’s willing to break taboo, shatter convention, and leave decorum to the mainstream cinema. I appreciate and groove on the director’s almost untrustworthy aesthetic, as well as Zombie’s unswerving ability to craft a personal horror film in a corporate age.  Halloween 2 (2009) may not be a “good” franchise film by any means, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a work of mad genius in its own right, once amputated from the series whose name it carries.

Because Zombie’s films move in such unconventional and therefore dangerous fashion, they often welcome various artistic interpretations.  Yet at the same time they require -- in a case like the Lords of Salem (2013) -- some high degree of patience. 

If you’re willing to go the distance with Zombie, and keep your mind open during the journey through his film, you may find moments of delight and terror here. 

Contrarily, if you seek a more mainstream, conventional, and “safe” horror movie alternative, you should stay very far away from The Lords of Salem.

In The Lords of Salem, a radio DJ and recovering drug addict, Heidi Laroq (Sherri Moon Zombie) in Salem, MA, receives a wooden crate in the mail addressed to her.

Inside is an old vinyl record from a group called “The Lords.”  When played, the strange, unearthly music on the disc has a strange, lingering effect on Heidi, as well as several other women whose families are long-time residents of the city.

A guest on Heidi’s show, writer Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), find something eerily recognizable about the music of “The Lords of Salem” and finds that the composition originates in the diary of Revereand John Hawthorne (Andrew Prine), a man who in the 1600s burned twenty-five witches in Salem. 

When Matthias interviews an author who researched Hawthorne -- A.J. Kennedy (Richard Fancy) -- he learns that when the coven leader was burned alive, she visited a curse on Salem’s women, and upon Hawthorne’s blood line, which would become the vessel for Satan’s ascension on Earth.

Over the course of a week, Heidi experiences weird visions and hallucinations in her apartment.  

Although her land lady, Lacy Doyle (Judy Geeson) insists that no one is renting the mysterious apartment 5, Heidi persistently hears strange noises from inside it.  As Heidi’s dreams become more and more vivid and disturbing, she begins using drugs again to escape them.

Soon, a second wooden box is delivered to Sherri’s radio station, promising a free concert in Salem by the mysterious Lords.  Sherri knows she must attend, and listen again to the demonic, mesmerizing music…

From a certain perspective, The Lords of Salem is best viewed and interpreted as a 21st century book-end or response to Rosemary’s Baby (1968).  In both films, a plot is afoot to make a lonely woman the mother of the Anti-Christ, essentially.  And both horror films also involve a kind of sinister apartment building and cheery-on-the-surface but Satanic-underneath elderly neighbors.

Where the two films differ is in historical context and in overriding philosophy. 

Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby concerns the feelings of powerlessness a “modern” woman of 1968 might feel in that very, very patriarchal Mad Men world.  In the film, Rosemary isn’t permitted to make decisions about where to live, if she should get pregnant, when she should get pregnant, or even which obstetrician she wants to see.  As her “little boy” hair-cut late in the film visually reminds viewers, she is infantilized by the dominant Male Only Club of New York in the 1960s, and sold down the river by her narcissistic husband.

By contrast, Zombie’s The Lords of Salem takes place in our contemporary society, and Heidi is not controlled by a dominant and exclusive male culture, but nonetheless paralyzed, it seems by the freedom of choice all around her.  Heidi boasts a highly-addictive personality, and while recovering from a drug addiction she pounds the tequila and chain-smokes.  Heidi’s modern apartment décor suggests her only “religion” is old movies, and her constant companion is a loyal…dog.   She is isolated and alone.

In short, forty-five years have passed since women like Rosemary Woodhouse were routinely powerless in American society, but The Lords of Salem suggests that there are still insidious others who seek to impose their will and agenda upon lost souls.  Here, male domination is not the evil that lets the Devil in.  Instead, it’s a world with near-infinite choices regarding self-abasement and self-destruction.

Accordingly, Heidi becomes known and deified in the film -- in a remarkable and unforgettable Satan Madonna visual portrait -- as the Devil’s “Vessel.”  In other words, Heidi will become famous (or notorious) not for whom she actually is, or for the choices she makes, but for what she carries in her blood-line and belly.  She is this “Vessel” precisely because she is so beaten down by her failures in life, by her addictions and stresses.

Some reviewers have criticized Sheri Moon Zombie’s somnolent performance in The Lords of Salem, but in some sense her choices as an actress augment the movie’s point.  Heidi is a vacant, empty person, unable to find meaning in her life, merely drifting from addiction to addiction.  

There’s not a lot of “there” there, which is why, I submit, the film’s final “flashback” vision of Hedi playing happily with her dog doesn’t work nearly as effectively as the home movie shots of Annie (following the character’s death) in Halloween 2 did.  There, an effervescent life was cut short.  Here, we never see Heidi in The Lords of Salem as anything but adrift; a broken human being  Even Heidi’s job at the radio station is a farce, as the fake, exaggerated special/sound effects in her “show” underline very well.  On on hand, Sherri Moon Zombie’s literal sleepwalking performance sells the character’s “fate” perfectly, while on the other hand, Heidi isn’t a particularly compelling character to spend 100 minutes with.

Rosemary’s Baby and The Lords of Salem both feature a surfeit of spiky demonic imagery and visions.  Where Rosemary’s Baby went for a more abstract feel in its hallucinations, particularly with the drugged Rosemary aboard a yacht when she was actually in wait to bed the devil, The Lords of Salem treads into a lot of really visceral, really biological stuff.  There’s one dream sequence in which Heidi (vigorously) performs fellatio on a Catholic priest and at his moment of sexual climax he ejaculates black goop from his mouth.

Another, borderline camp moment finds Heidi orgasmically-riding a stuffed goat as if it were the mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy (1983). 

Indeed, some of these images are so baroque and exaggerated that they register not as scary, but as a little comical.  But for every phantasm that misses the mark by a degree, Zombie stages another one that will take your breath away and truly disturb, like the aforementioned Satanic Madonna, which he cross-cuts with a famous image of Jesus Christ. 

Another scene of authentic terror involves Heidi spitting up blood from her mouth, and several demon doctors appearing in her friend’s apartment to “rescue” her.  Those hideous things -- with faces of ash -- are terrifying specters.

Like other Zombie films, there are many villains in The Lords of Salem, but no real heroes.  Bruce Davison’s Mattias likely comes the closest to serving as a hero, but he’s actually more of an investigator and carrier of screenplay exposition.  When the time comes for him to put up or shut up, Mattias gets hit in the face with crockery and doesn’t put up at all.  Instead, he is treated to an ignominious death courtesy of Dee Wallace’s character, Sonny. 

Even Heidi’s friends, Munster (Ken Foree) and Whitey (Jeff Daniel Phillips) aren’t given any closure in the film, their fates left hanging.  Maria Conchita Alonso plays Mattias’s wife, and her character is also dropped with no sense of closure.  The most compelling character in the film is the landlady played by the still gorgeous Judy Geeson.  Her restraint and thoughtful eyes perfectly embody her character’s “enigma” and nature.

I’ll be blunt. Rob Zombie’s movies always evoke conflicting emotions in me.  On one hand, I admire the hell out of him for his brand of personal filmmaking, and for exploring so fully -- and without holding back -- his unique artistic vision.  On the other hand, his films sometimes give short shrift to character development and even to clean, clear narratives.  The Lords of Salem again represents the yin and yang of this artist’s work.  At the same time that the movie is dazzling and mesmerizing, parts of it feel incomplete and half-thought out.  Individual moments have more impact than the movie’s overall story.

Ultimately, I suppose, you make a deal (with the devil?) when you accept Rob Zombie, filmmaker, into your heart. You know his movies aren’t going to very polished, let alone entirely coherent.  But his work always bears the stamp of an artist and boasts the capacity to show you the darkest places conceivable.  Zombie knows precisely how to paint a very disturbing, even unforgettable picture.

Every two years or so, that’s a deal I’ll happily make.

Movie Trailer: The Lords of Salem (2013)

Theme Song of the Week: Sea Hunt (1958)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ask JKM a Question: Where did the Moon Go in Planet of the Apes (1968)?

A regular reader, Steven writes about Planet of the Apes (1968):

Like you John, I think this is one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made, and which still holds up today.”

“In Planet of the Apes (1968) after the astronauts splashdown in and abandon their A.N.S.A. spaceship we see a clear blue sky as Taylor wanders with the others, speculating about what this planet is and stating "...there is no moon...". We know there was a nuclear war that devastated the surface of the Earth, but what happened to the Moon? It is a clear blue sky and no moon at all. What do you think?

I know the answer that it blasted out of Earth orbit on September 13th, 1999 will be very tempting...”

Steven, you read my mind about the Space: 1999 solution. 

It’s clear to me that Moonbase Alpha and the 311 scientists and astronauts stationed there escaped the rise of the planet of the apes when the moon was blasted out of orbit…

But seriously, I think the most likely answer is that Taylor (Charlton Heston) is simply mistaken about the presence of a moon. 

He doesn’t see a moon, but the moon is still there, obscured, perhaps, by the thick clouds we see “glowing” later that night. 

Another possible answer is that the moon is itself destroyed.  Since the film takes place nearly 2,000 years from now, we could speculate about a cosmic collision of some type, or perhaps even the moon crashing into the Earth, a catastrophe which I suppose could account for some of the desolate, inhospitable terrain of the Forbidden Zone and other areas.

If there were one line of dialogue I would remove from Planet of the Apes, this “there is no moon” line would be a prime candidate, because in retrospect is seems put there just to throw audiences off the track. 

We believe that this strange world can’t be Earth in part because Taylor has established there is no moon.  

It’s one of the few facts we get during the course of the film that leads us to believe we actually are on a faraway world.  And of course, we’re not.  Taylor has come home.

Planet of the Apes features so many virtues, and yes, it is my favorite science fiction film of all time.  But if it came out today with this line of dialogue intact, I might point it out in my review as a kind of cheap way to maintain secrecy for the surprise ending.  The funny thing is that the film could have probably gotten away with not mentioning the moon at all. But then I guess nitpickers would ask why Taylor doesn’t just look up at the moon and realize he has come home to Earth…

Very interesting question, my friend!

Don’t forget to ask me your questions at

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Libraries

A library is a repository for information and information resources utilized by a particular community for purposes of reference and history. 

Libraries date far back into Antiquity….approximately 5,000 years, with the first being constructed in ancient Sumeria and consisting of cuneiform tablets.

Throughout cult-TV history -- and especially pre-Internet -- the library has proven a critical setting in terms of science fiction and horror programming.  In many series, heroes make use of the library to learn information about a case or person they happen to be investigating.

In the late 1960s, Star Trek envisioned a futuristic library called “Memory Alpha” in the third season episode “The Lights of Zetar.”  This planet-sized library houses the “total cultural history and scientific knowledge of all Federation members” and is available to all scholars in the galaxy.  

During the course of the episode, the undefended facility is invaded by life-forms consisting of light, and severe damage is done to the library.  Fortunately, the Enterprise conducts repairs.

In the same season, another episode titled“All Our Yesterdays” involves an alien library, one where each data disc (forecasting digital storage…) opens a gateway to another time and place in planetary history.  The librarian on this world, Sarpeidon, is named Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe)…as in Mr. A-to-Z. 

Another futuristic, planet-sized library is featured in the Doctor Who universe (2005 - ).  In the two-part story “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead,” the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna (Catherine Tate) visit a vast, empty library in the 51st century, and find that it is haunted by the hungry Vashta Narada…creatures that live in the shadows.  This is also the narrative wherein the Doctor first encounters River Song (Alex Kingston).

In Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2002), Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) Scoobie-Gang is headquartered in the Sunnydale High School Library during the first three seasons. There, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) maintains an extensive collection of books concerning the Hellmouth and all manners of demons.  These books become a problem for MOO (Mothers Opposed to the Occult) in the third season episode, “Gingerbread.”

In another popular cult series, Veronica (Kristen Bell) works in the Hearst University Library during the third season of Veronica Mars (2004 – 2007). 

Both Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos: A Personal Journey (1980) and SeaQuest DSV (1993 – 1996) traveled during their runs to the ancient Egyptian library of Alexandria, the great repository constructed during the reign of the Ptolemys (323 – 246 BC).  The library burned down in real life, but through the wonders of cult television magic, it was once more made to seem “real.”  In the latter case, the first season SeaQuest episode “Treasure of the Mind” involves a group of raiders stealing relics from the recently discovered Library, found at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Cult-TV Faces of: The Library

Identified by Carl: The Twilight Zone: "Time Enough at Last." (New York Public Library)

Identified by William Mercado: Star Trek: "The Lights of Zetar" (Memory Alpha).

Identified by Carl: Star Trek: "All Our Yesterdays," (Library of Sarpeidon).

Identified by Carl: Land of the Lost, Library of Skulls.

Identified by William Mercado: Cosmos: A Personal Journey, Alexandria Library.

Identified by Carl: The Simpsons. Springfield Public Library.



Identified by Carl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Sunnydale High School Library.


Identified by Carl: Doctor Who: "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead." - 51st Century Library.

Television and Cinema Verities #68

"I came in kind of sullen and all the other female actresses came in bright-eyed and bushy tailed…. I was thinking, “Please let’s get this over with, I’d like to go home and go to bed. Thank you very much.” Of course Gil was challenged…. If you meet Gil you’ll find he’s quite charming and funny, and he had this sullen woman who he kept trying to make smile. And the more he worked, the more sullen I got and the more in his face I became…. It ended up being the perfect dynamic for the test, and for the character."

- Erin Gray discusses her audition, alongside Gil Gerard, for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 - 1981) at Wired.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Monument(al) Destruction 12: Oblivion (2013)

Star Blazers Episode #8

The eighth episode of the animated series Star Blazers (1979) continues the story-line commenced in the previous installment.  Specifically, the Gamilons have used their powerful new weapon, the Reflex Gun, to disable the Argo and send it sinking to the bottom of an ocean on Pluto.

In this story, Captain Avatar plans to strike back by using the Gamilons’ reflective satellites against them.  

When the Reflex Gun fires once more, the Argo personnel are able to use the satellites to determine its position (under an ice field on Pluto…) and launch missiles to disable it.

Meanwhile, Wildstar commands a dangerous mission to the Gamilon base and meets the first non-aligned aliens in the series: Pluto’s cute Protozoa creatures, who “feel like slippery grape gelatin.”  The alien creatures look like the Blob, only with eyes.  These aliens aren’t advanced, and perhaps lack much more than rudimentary intelligence.  They are put to sleep with harmless gas so Wildstar can gain access to the enemy headquarters.

Once inside that base, Wildstar must avoid booby traps and blow up a reactor, thereby destroying the threat to Earth from additional planet bombs.  Victorious, Captain Avatar declares “And now…onto Iscandar” with just 354 days remaining until Earth’s destruction.

In a deliberate mirror image of that victory, Desslok orders his defeated forces on Pluto not to return to Gamilon until the Star Force is destroyed.

As I wrote about in regards to episode seven, Star Blazers has become a fairly formulaic show, featuring strategic move and counter-move, but with little forward momentum and almost no character development to go along with the pitched battles.  I’m hoping it’s just a rough patch here, because this has only recently become the case.

I’m hoping this is the last “Gamilons test new weapon on Argo, which ekes out a surprise victory” story for a while.  When I watched the series as a kid, I don’t remember it being a military war show to the exclusion of every other consideration.

I’m with Avatar: let’s head out into unexplored space, to Iscandar, and see what’s out there.  I’ll let you know next week where the ninth episode takes the developing narrative…