With Halloween and the horrific fading, fast from view, like a distant star, twinkling its last twinkle above morning's horizon, perhaps it is fitting that we turn our gaze skyward.
The cosmos. To infinity and beyond... The night sky with its immense, inky, blackness, punctuated by the light of celestial bodies is of course a prime inspiration for sci-fi.
And sci-fi is where Id like to take you with the next 5 blogs dedicated to my most seminal sci fi moments.
As I have said in previous blogs, the line between sci-fi and horror is a thin, blurred one, forever changing its position. And although many of my sci-fi memories did in fact shock and scare me, there wasnt that lasting terror; that lingering, creeping dread that I found horror movies gave me.
For my love of sci-fi I have my dad to thank. Writers like Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlen, and Vonnegut inspired and moved him, and filled his sober moments with the fantastic. In his not so sober moments he would listen to the Beatles and dance around the front room in his underpants.
At a very young age he took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Now I already had a footing in sci-fi, as I watched the early saturday morning, black & white, episodes of Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon, and 2001's opening scene of ape men braining each other had me sold for the next 20 minutes. But after that... I fell asleep. This is not to say 2001 isnt a great movie, but my neonate mind just couldnt reach far enough to grasp its lofty concepts, or indeed scenes with 15 minutes of dialogue. Where are those crazy ape men? I kept thinking.
Fear ye not. My father did not give up on me. 20,000 leagues under the sea followed. Soylent Green. Logan's Run, Planet of the Apes, Silent Running, The Omega Man.
There were not many 70's sci fi flicks that we missed. Just like mum would waive my usual bed time so I could stay up late and watch horror with her, dad was a very charming man, and got me past many a cinema attendant to see films whose ratings I was far to young for, feeling my minds expansion would be safe under his supervision. After all, who knows their son better than their dad.
And sure enough my palatte began appreciate the vintage of sci-fi.
Whereas horror delivers sudden scares and an instant gratification from its gore, a taste in sci fi usually has to be acquired, developed; their concepts are meant to plant seeds for further thought. Most sci-fi films are asking that you start to view things in a different way. They are designed to move you very differently from a horror film.
That really is not to say that there are no horror films that do this. Just that the premise of each genre has its archetypes... and ironically enough, one of these archetypes is the very film I fell asleep to.
And so my narrative brings us to my seminal sci-fi moment number 5.
Logan's Run was my first vision of a future dystopia... disguised as a future utopia... You see? Quite complicated for a young kid. But, I got it. Even my young mind could discern that the virtues of this 'utopia' were far outweighed by its inherent flaws. Dead by 30? Even at my age, 30 seemed uncomfortably close. My dad for instance was 30 when he had me, and so would have been Carousel fodder long before he would have had a chance to take me to see the film.
Michael York's character is again a complicated prospect for a 5 year old. A sort of anti-hero who has been picked for an undercover mission, fucked over by the central computer, and alienated from his friends. Its only halfway through the film that he realises, and decides that growing old might be a viable possibilty and alternative to getting blown up on your 30th birthday.
The book is markedly different, and although the film was my first exposure to the Logan's Run universe and a precious memory, I do actually prefer the book, where lastday age is a measely 21!
Saying that, the imagery in the film is great. The lastday Carousel scene is... unfortgettable. The costumes are futuristic but still retain a funeral dread and spooky look to them.
The scene is terribly unsettling. Its not just the fact that consenting 30 year olds are being vaporised to the climactic chants of the looneys in the crowd, there just seems something fatalistically orgiastic about the writhing participants, and something grotesquely voyeuristic about the slavering, spectators. Although I couldnt have said those words at 5 years old, Im sure I kinda felt that same vibe.
The scene I think labels my point about sci-fi and horror being close bed-fellows.
This has to be my seminal, sci-fi moment No.5
Tune into my next blog for a piece of very English sci-fi.
Big D out.