Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Blackest of Holes.

A slighlty darker tale than the usual Disney outings of the time, and riding on the tail of the Behemoth that had thundered through our lives in 1978 to leave its footprint indelibly on the sidewalk of sci-fi, cinema history,The Black Hole was at best, a forgettable story with some very memorable characters and moments.
Vincent as the sass talking, hovering robot and Ol' Bob as a forgotten, obsolete model with a redneck accent were instantly endearing to the young, Disney staple viewer such as myself.
Maximillian Schell as Reinhardt was delightlfully, manical and menacing in equal measure

and the rest of a very solid cast (Anthony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine et al) gave adequate performances.
But I think as a movie for youngsters it is ultimately... unsatisfying. Watching it again as an adult, I still like it and think there is some great moments, but most importantly the very unsettling and spooky moments seem just as spooky as when I watched it as a kid.
That bit where Anthony Perkins rips the mask off of the face of a supposed robot to find a zombified crew member, is still vivid and chilling.


Which brings me to my raison d'blog: Spooky Robots.
Maximillian is at No.1. There you have it.

Not because he is singularly the most spooky of robots, but simply because in this film is he put in a context that makes him a truly awful thing. An enforcer and taskmaster to the zombie crew members. A sadistical, silent, bully whose only appendages seem to be for the sole purpose of shredding people he deems fit to shred. And that dog-like obedience and loyalty he expresses for Reinhardt, which culminates in the horribly spooky scene where Maximillian and Reinhardt embrace in space and then become merged as one atop a precipice in a Hell-scape within the Black Hole. Egad! Freakily spooky!


So ends the Top 5 Spooky Robots countdown. Please tune in to my next blog where we'll find out if I have any ideas left.
Big D out.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Stepford MILF's

A great sci-fi thriller. The 1975 original was a great piece of social satire, and still makes for both chilling and thought provoking watching today. Full of twee, effete housewives in floppy hats, flowery dresses and pinnies gliding around in a very unstettling suburban dream.
I could swear some of the sets were re-used in the late 70s early 80s porn films as, Im sure, were some of the wives.... and if they weren't they should have been. Grrrrr...
Im not sure I fully understood its impact when I first watched it as a kid. It was billed as sci-fi/Horror, yet there were no monsters, no robots that looked like robots, and definately no space battles. Of course the chills came from much subtler devices. The growing concern and eventual maniacal, panic of Katherine Ross is played to perfection and is really what carries the story along so effortlessly. The scene that still haunts me today is the films climax. It hasnt lost any of its power and it still gives me a twinge of the galloping hoopazootiks.


video

Of course many films have used the doppleganger to chilling effect. Both Invasion of the Bodysnatcher films (1956 & 1978)  were masterful, and I've even mentioned The Two Faces of Evil from the Hammer TV show in an earlier blog, as my most chilling doppleganger moment. Even in the scene above with her nipples like carpenters thumbs, and a pair of devil's dumplings so pert you could tell the time by them (Im sure they said a quarter to nine), it doesn't detract from the horror, but cleverly juxtaposes it with something titillating and arousing. A combination that always makes me shift uncomfortably in my seat.
'...Help me somebody.... I dont know how I feel...'
Heres another great scene which proves spookyness doesnt need ghosts or the supernatural:


video



I thought we were friends indeed... Spooky robot No.2: The Stepford Wife.

Now before I sign off, time for another quick rant:
What the fuck did they do with the 2004 Stepford Wives remake? You thought I'd forgot about that eh?
Not fucking likely.
Christ! They had a half decent cast as well. Nicole Kidman can do a very good beleaguered wife (Dead Calm), Glen Close can definately do spooky (Fatal Attraction) and Bette Midler.... Well, she can do anything, and usually does.
A comedy? A bad comedy at that. It cut the dangling balls straight from under the true story's hairy crotch.
The Maitres of the Hollywood Cookie Cutter and the non-existent audiences they think theyre appealing to..... A little message.... FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU ALL..... HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD TO ME!
That is all...
Tune in for No.1 in the top 5 spookiest Robots countdown in my next blog.
Big D out.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Robo-ginga!

Little bit of an esoteric one this. I am hoping some 'real' nerds read my blog, as its only a 'real' nerd who would know what Im talking about when I say: Demon Seed.
1977. (Again with the 70s!) The lovely Julie Christie stars as in a rather strange role that has her impregnated, or rather raped and impregnated, if you want to get down to mechanics, by an artificially intelligent computer called Proteus IV.
Proteus IV is apparently a system, incorporating organic elements in a quasi-neural-matrix giving it, to all intents and purposes, the power of thought. Now the voice alone is spooky. Spooooookily spooky, and believe it or not, it is none other than the voice of Robert Vaughn, who requested his name be removed from the credits. Vaughn in my opinion does the best spooky computer voice EVER!

But this is the Top 5 Spooky Robot Countdown, I hear you cry! Of course children, of course. Proteus IV isnt my choice.
It's Proteus VI's offspring that is so spooky it has to be seen to be believed.... (ROBO-GINGA ALERT!)




Another creeped-out creation of Proteus' is an invalid's wheelchair with a mechanical limb attached to it. Yes, you heard me correctly. Like something straight out of Herbie Hancock's 'Rockit'.
So, what do you call the child of an artificial intelligence and a human? I suppose the term 'robot' will fit loosely. This particular robot gains a hell of a lot of extra spook points for having ginger hair as well. (ROBO-GINGA ALERT!)
So the Demon Seed is No.3 in my Top 5 Spooky Robots countdown.
The films premise is an intelligent, thought provoking one, but one which I think is not fully exploited due in large part to production values. Originally a novel by Dean Koontz, it is still worth a read or in fact a watch.
Tune in to Spooky robot No.2 in my next blog.
Big D out.