The War in space

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1977

You know how a kid would play space ships? They’d have the ship going at it in these fierce, but short battles fitzzzz, pleeeow, splooottt. The ships would do these daring crazy maneuvers trying to destroy each other and quickly it would be over. The writers of this movie must have been playing with toy spaceships too and they created these runs at each other and imagined lots of kapows. Then they decided they also liked two boats so let’s spaceships that look like toy boats (actually this was common in Japanese films). They put the two together and having all this fun imagining explosions and lasers and damage and oh wait, this it a feature length film. Oh, man we have to add some plot and some pesky dialog. They might even have to hire actors to say this dialog stuff, what a drag. They wrote this thing called a script and waited for the actor types to say their line “blah, blah, blah” and “yackety, yackety, yack, yack, yack”. At least they threw in some laser gun fights, but they didn’t want to spend too much time on that because they have to get to the ships! There’s a mean space warlord type, Darth Nasty or something or other. There’s also an axe wielding guy who looks like the offspring of a wookie and a bull. Wait, too much about characters. Finally after talking so much they get to the space battles and the writers of this thing probably wet themselves when that moment finally go there. They were probably leaping in the air and clapping when these parts were on. Hooray for spaceships! Then they tossed in some more of that dialog, smialog and then the film was over. Roll the credits and play with those ships some more!

The negatives-The plot is a bit uh what was that word oh, yeah forgettable. The pace varies from fine to frequently uneven and some of the editing in the earlier space ship attacks adds to the odd feel. The laser battles are quick and some of the actors acted like they had no idea how to hold a gun. A lot of the earth destruction scenes are borrowed from older movies. One of the ships was a re-worked version of the Atragon. The plot borrows a lot from Battle in Outer space.

 

The positives- The miniature ships are cool of course. The planet and space sets are not perfect, but strong enough. I generally like the costumes and sets a lot too.

This film was made by Toho who were for their Godzilla films, but by the late 70’s those films were out of fashion and the company wasn’t doing so well. The film often gets passed off as a Star Wars ripoff, but actually Star Wars didn’t come out in Japan until around the time this film was released. It has much more in common with 60’s Japanese space movies. I think it’s decent enough, but not I watch all that often.

Ten things I learned from the Sentinel

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1977

1-A New York apartment that seems like a steal probably has a real problem.

2-If your boyfriend acts odd then he’s probably up to something evil.

3-Old men like to sit around and eat cake with naked woman.

4-Dead people like to come back for parties just to creep out the living.

5-Dead people can still gush blood if you cut them deep enough.

6-The pets of dead people can be just as creepy as the dead people.

7-Going back to the apartment where you saw your dead dad is not a good idea.

8-Most dead people turn into real freaks when they try to back to the land of the living.

9-You have to be blind to protect the land of the living  from hellish undead types.

10-Number nine is a full time job, I don’t even think you get potty breaks.

 

Look at the supporting cast on this one.

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Don’t get too excited though. I saw this on TV when I was like 9 or 1o and thought it was great. For years a few scenes stuck in my mind and I thought this was a good movie. I finally saw it again when I was around 30 and it was like a different movie. There are some great people in the cast, it has one great scare, the locations are fantastic and the music is good. Beyond that it’s a mostly dull affair that hopes to pull in fans of the Exorcist and the Omen. Really not too much happens and the whole reveal is rather lukewarm. I bought it cheap on DVD years ago and watch it every so often hoping I’ll get it, but I don’t think there is anything there to get. Diehard fans of 70’s horror may want to see it once, but don’t expect much.

 

Space Academy-Planet of fire

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1977

Tee Gar invents something Cryotron which doesn’t involve sobbing during the 1982 Disney sci-fi film but instead it is a device that emits a freeze ray. Against orders (and common sense) he, Loki and Peepo takes it to a dreary planet called Delius to test it out. Meanwhile back at the academy the things that Tee Gar froze have exploded which you know they weren’t supposed to so the machine has a problem, but Tee Gar does know that yet. Back out to Delius a giant type named Dramon (Don Pedro Colley, Beneath the planet of the apes, Sugar Hill and Sheriff Little from the Dukes of Hazzard) gets the Cryotron and freezes Peepo the robot. He feels bad for it eventually, but the people from the Space Academy use a laser type thingie to thaw Peepo out. Dramon asks for forgiveness and gets it-oh how nice. So everything is back to normal and roll those Saturday morning credits.

The negatives-You do have to remember that this was a kid’s show so the action and intrigue is on that level. If you watched the show much using unstable elements and taking off to do something he was told not to seems out of character for Tee Gar, but not Loki.

The positives-I liked this show as a kid and although it doesn’t have the same punch now I still enjoy it. Seeing Jonathan Harris playing the grandfatherly instructor Gampu is a huge change from his more known role as Dr. Smith on Lost in space yet I still liked him here as well.

I bought the complete set of this show some years back and watch the whole series at least once a year.

 

 

 

 

Logans Run-The Crypt

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1977

Logan, Jessica and Rem drive their rover into an old town until they notice a light on a building. They enter and trigger an old recording that details how a war had driven people into the building. Then a plague hit. They chose six people to be frozen until a cure could be found. The ones selected were picked based on their skills to be revived and start a new world. They were place down below in  a chamber. Meanwhile a cure was found and two containers were brought with enough to save the six people. However a mechanical problem with the elevator kept those above from getting to the six below. Thus this message was left for someone down the line to view and perhaps attempt to get below, revive the six and give them the antidote. Rem is able to fix the elevator so it works and they can get below and take the antidote. Down in a  hallway a tremor hits, the antidote falls from Logan’s hands and one of the containers is smashed is smashed- oopsy. They grab the remaining one and move on. Another tremor hits and revives the system holding the six. Logan and the others explain how much time has elapsed (lots) and how there is only enough antidote for three of them (bummer). It’s decided that Logan and Rem will hide the antidote and decide on which three will be cured. There is only two days before the virus revives and kills the six people. Meanwhile one of the six dies by accident, but later Rem reveals evidence that is was murder. Meanwhile our heroes decide that the way to pick who deserves it is to get to know them and decide that way. So Logan and Jessica do that. Rem begins checking tapes to learn more about them. Instead he finds a tape from someone involved with the project who says he has learned that one of the six is an imposter, but does not say who. Rem reveals this finding to everyone and poof the lights go out and pow the robotics scientist of the group has been killed by a gun left next to her. Logan gets the antidote and they all gather in a room. Rem plays Sherlock Holmes and addresses each of the suspects. It can’t be the doctor because she is obviously who she says because she has demonstrated medical knowledge. The ESP guy can’t be a fake because he levitated a vial out of Logan’s hand. The builder is sour but he says he built that building and could show them where every piece is. So that leaves the young computer person who turns out to have been a lower technician than the expert she set herself up as. She wanted to live and falsified her record to get a spot then killed two people in hopes to be cured. She grabs the container and threatens to smash it if she is not saved. Logan gets it from her, the other three use the cure and re-freeze the fake. Back to the ice, lady. Our heroes ride off and roll the credits.

The negatives-Not so much.

The positives-It’s a bit of a downer but it shows more background on what happened in the past. The main characters are thrown into a tough situation that none of them are comfortable with, but it makes for an interesting episode. Logan is pulled on by different people. Jessica finds that people from another time were looking for a better world long ago just like she and Logan are now doing. Rem faces some bigotry from the people the past who do not see him as an equal because there were no sophisticated androids in there days. Yet our heroes hang in there and try to help these people despite murder and some nasty attitudes.

Along with the Judas Goat and Man out of time I consider Crypt to be one of three best episodes of this oh too short lived series.

Logans Run-Judas Goat

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1977

A runner gets killed back at the city of domes-oh, man. Then the sandman that killed him has surgery to look like the slain runner (he also looks like 70’s Peter Parker/Spiderman because he’s Nicholas Hammond). Then with a new face he is given a new mission which is to pretend to be the runner and go out into the wild, find Logan and Jessica, then bring them back for punishment. He must be the greatest tracker ever as he finds our heroes like right away. He is pretending to be Hal and as that runner he once knew Jessica. Logan and the others take him into their big metal rover and off they go. The fake Hal proposes that Jessica and Logan return to the city to tell that their is life beyond the city and that this would help lead a major revolt. Jessica thinks it’s a good idea, but Logan has doubts. Then kapow the rover is stopped by animation and people all wearing skirts even the dudes. They take our main characters to the headquarters to see their leader. The leader turns out to be Matthew (Lance LeGault who you may recognize from A-team, Magnum P.I., Werewolf, Coma or one of his other many roles) the first runner-oh wow can I have your autograph? Anyways Jessica knew him and respects him. However he has become a bit of a paranoid wacko and uses these former farmers as skirted security guards to protect him. Hal keeps pushing at Jessica and Logan and even Matthew to get them back to the city. Logan is becoming suspicious of Hal and his intentions. Rem meanwhile can make computer adjustments at the building to help Matthew and his followers. He decides to stay and do this while Logan, Jessica and Hal will go back to the city. However paranoid Matthew is setting them up and tries to kill them after they leave his area. Rem stops Matthew but has to kill him to do so. Rem fixes the computer. The followers now act lost without Matthew, but our heroes advise them to live and grow things and take their own direction. Their leader Garth (Spencer Milligan not far from removed from playing the dad on The Land of the lost at this point) agrees and seems hopeful. Now Logan, Jessica, Rem and shifty Hal head back to the city. Hal acts too eager and Logan knows something is up. Hal caves and tries to attack Logan, but has his weapon knocked away and flees with Logan in pursuit. They are within sight of the city and a patrol of two sandmen sees them and comes over. Remember Hal who is really a sandman is dressed as a runner and Logan who is a runner is dressed as a sandman. So who do the scouting sandmen shoot? Yes, take that evil Hal. Logan hides head knowing the sandmen may recognize him and he knocks out the scouts when they get close enough. Then he runs back to his friends and they high tail it away from the city. Roll the credits.

The negatives-The only one I can think of is that Hal was far too obvious is his effort to persuade Logan. It only seemed to work because Jessica had faith in the Hal she knew and thought this was still him.

The positives- I like this episode a lot. I think they took two main ideas – Hal’s plot and Matthew’s crazy transformation and blended them together fairly well in an episode that really tested our heroes. The fake Hal represented the ruling powers desire to crush out their opposition and Matthew showed how a once noble cause could go wrong if it became about protecting yourself instead of helping others. Rem’s guilt at going against his programming and taking a life was well played as well. The supporting cast was solid. The animated beams were lame, but the city shot was decent and they used an exterior of a real building with some futuristic qualities to serve as the headquarters.

Logans Run the series

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I wanted to set this up before I get into reviewing two episodes from this show. The movie hit theaters in the summer of 1976 and it was a hit. It even spawned a comic from Marvel. However I think when Star Wars hit less than a year later in 1977 that kind of changed sci-fi films. Not just the spectacular effects of George Lucas’ creation, but the space opera action and the theme of hope went against the negative dystopian themes of so many sci-fi movies made between say 1968 and 1976. Anyways Star Wars did help boost sci-fi in general. So a Logans Run TV series was put together to go on in the fall of 1977. The Logan and Jessica characters would star just like in the film only played by different people. Logan was Gregory Harrison (from Trapper John M.D.), Jessica was played Heather Menzies  (The sound of music,Sssssss, Pirahna) and Donald Moffatt (The Thing, One life to live) was Rem They added an android Rem who Logan and Jessica would take with them when they left the city of domes to go in search of Sanctuary. The character of Francis the pursuing sandman was brought back as well despite the fact that the character was killed in the movie. In the debut episode they take the plot of the film and even borrow a lot of scenes from it, but put their actors and actresses in place of the originals. We see sandman Logan take up with runner Jessica and eventually leave the city to look for a better place called Sanctuary. The difference between the movie is that in the film Logan pretended to run as an assignment, but in the show he comes to believe in their being a better way than being killed when you hit thirty and that there needed to be a better place. They take the android REM on their journey and on occasion Francis and other sandmen give chase. Each episode our heroes run into a different situation or group of people while in pursuit of Sanctuary. Our heroes also have a land rover type vehicle that they ride around in. The surroundings may look familiar and is looks like they used some of the same locations used in the Planet of the apes show and Little house on the prairie. The special effects were lacking as they frequently used basic aniamtion for any kind of beam. However I think the scripts and the chemistry between the leads made up for the lack of budget. Some episodes were better than others, but largely I think they were on the right path.

D.C. Fontana (Star Trek) served as story editor for the show. The pilot episode went through numerous changes and re-shoots before getting the green light from CBS. The show initially had good ratings, but the network kept pre-empting it which likely caused it to lose some of it’s early audience. There was a time between mid November 1977 and early January 1978 where CBS showed only one episode in a six week span. Only 11 of the 14 episodes were shown on the West Coast, but all 14 are on the DVD set. I’m going to review two episodes between now and the end of the week. Enjoy!

Wu Tang Magic Kick (The Mar’s Villa)

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1977

Let’s pull out the old Kung Fu checklist sheet.

Character with fake  facial hair or eyebrows-Yep, there’s a 30 some year old guy with a fake stache and gigantic grey eyebrows made up to look like he’s 60.

Some kind of revenge in the plot-Yep, the bad guys lose to the hero so they want revenge on him. So they whoop him, steal his wife and run him off. So then he wants revenge on them once he gets back to his fighting form.

Bad dubbing-Oh, yeah. Check that off a few times.

Overdone sound effects on the kicks, hits and yells-Aieeeyah, crack, eeeeeiii, ker-smack, hiyaaaa, placcckkk-I’d say that’s a big yes.

Very obviously missed hits and kicks-Yes, I’d say the obvious misses outnumber  the passable fake kicks by 60-40 percent.

Terrible acting-Check, check, check although the main hero does okay.

A weapon that the baddies use, but they still get beat by a guy using just his body-Half a check. They use staffs and get their butts kicked most of the time but eventually enough of them wear down the hero with their sticks er staffs.

Lots of random fights breaking out pretty much anywhere-Oh, yeah at temples, at houses, at a martial arts school, on the roads so yes another check.

Rewinding the film as a special effect- Ah yes the old let’s have the fighters jump down and then later reverse the film to make it look they did an incredible jump back up. Yeah they did that twice in this film.

So this is a bit of a cut rate chop sockey film it does have positives. The hero John Liu has some incredible high kicks although mostly with his right leg. He puts on a good display with these kicks on numerous occasions. The son of the main baddie who looks like an Asian Shaun Cassidy is probably the second best martial artist in this film. He uses both legs, but seems to favor the left a little. He gives Liu the best fight of the film. There are lots of fights in this film, but they very from quite good down to very sloppy.

Overall this is a slightly better than average film for it’s genre, but I advise seeing it for John Liu’s kicks if nothing else.

 

 

Ten things I learned from Cosmos-War of the planets

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1977

1-Punching another officer is a good way to get a promotion.

2-Skin eating acid can be clear and invisible.

3-Tight red caps with silver circles on the ears don’t look good on anyone.

4-In the future sex will be done with your clothes and it will be very dull.

5-All stars look the same-tiny little all white, round spots. Yawn.

6-Walking into an unknown portal is a good idea and bring you co-workers.

7-If a lighted radiator comes out you-run because it’s out to kill you.

8-Higher up officers at space base don’t have chairs so they have to walk around a lot.

9-Getting smacked by an alien will cause  ketchup blood to come out of your head.

10-Gold aliens with pointy ears are not to be trusted.

This Italian space opera was directed by Alfonso Brescia. He actually made four space flicks between 1977-78. All four were made to cash in on Star Wars and they are all pretty hard to take. It’s like he had some shiny suits, some plastic space crafts, a black sheet for a space background and he said “hey, let’s make a space movie”, but wouldn’t he need a script? I guess he just made that part up as they went along. This movie might be one of his worst because it has less action and more annoying music.

So let’s go to my newly invented stink-o-meter.

Did this movie stink as bad as Al Bundy’s feet?

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Or did it stink as much as Shrek spraying himself with a skunk?

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I think I’d go with the feet. It’s more of a gradual stink than and immediate blasting stench.

There you go.

 

TV terror Tuesday-The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew

 

 

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The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew meet Dracula
1977

The Hardy Boy’s dad Fenton is off in Europe on business and he disappears-poof. So they go over to see what’s up. All too conveniently Fenton Hardy was working for Nancy Drew’s dad so she pops overseas as well to find what he’s discovered involving some mysterious deaths. So this loosely formed plot has thrown together the main characters and tossed them into another setting. Long range stock footage and voice overs also convince us that oh yes they are in Europe and not you know in some back lot in Hollywood. The Hardy boys meet investigator Hans Stavlin (Lorne Greene) who had met their dad but doesn’t know where he is now. Eventually the Hardys and Nancy Drew meet and Nancy flips Frank onto the floor (one of the real highlights of this two parter) although Joe probably deserves it more because you know that he is going to “sing” at some point soon. They share what they know about mysterious deaths and the whereabouts of the Hardy’s dad. All roads seem to point to Transylvania. Where a concert is taking place at Dracula’s castle. The headliner is Allison Troy (Paul Williams) sort of a cross between Alice Cooper and Elton John. It also looks like murders coincide with places where Allison Troy has stopped on his tour. So he may doing harm with more than just his music. Somewhere around this time we go into a part two which has about as much structure as the first part which is to say not much. Some people turn up with bite marks on their necks-aieeee! There are some rubber bats posing as vampire bats doing some attacking. Nancy snoops around like she always does. Some villagers get angry and think the rock festival is evil…evil I tell you. There’s some running around and eventually Mr. Hardy pops up and the mystery gets solved. However despite the smallness of the event the rock concert and the castle overshadows the mystery that’s going on for the viewers. I mean despite the lack of rockin’ there’s still music, 70’s fashions, everyone in costume and it’s all at a castle. Everything gets wrapped up and roll the credits before Shaun Cassidy sings again…oops too late there he goes.

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The negatives-This was the beginning of season two and quite honestly the mystery part here and most of the second season isn’t nearly as strong as it was in the first season. The thin plot seems stretched even thinner over two parts.

The positives-Paul Williams seemed like and odd pick for a hipster 70’s rock star here and he has some lame lines, but overall he handles it well and proves to be one of the real draws of the second part. Even though I preferred the Hardy Boys when I was a kid I now that Pamela Sue Martin’s Nancy Drew puts them to shame as far as TV detectives go. The Hardys were often clueless while Nancy was relentless.

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Snowbeast

 

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1977

I had these memories about seeing a movie when I was younger on TV about a ferocious monster terrorizing a tourist area known for it’s skiing. I am not sure I ever saw the whole film back then, but I saw enough that it made an impression of sorts. I remember people running and quick flashes of an abominable snowman type creature. I knew it was made in the 1970’s, but thought it was older than 1977 because it seemed longer ago than that. Not long ago I was going through a huge collection of cheapo movies and happened upon one called Snowbeast. I put it in and realized it was this movie I remembered as a kid. A quick trip to IMDB told me it was a made for TV movie. As I watched it 30 some years later the plot was what I remembered – snow creature causing trouble for a Colorado ski resort. However the beast didn’t appear as much as I remembered and it was shown it wasn’t as scary as I recalled it being when I was 7. It’s rather typical 1970’s made for TV stuff  the acting is hit and miss and there’s of meaningless dialog going on because there isn’t enough budget to show the monster often. So instead we get a lot of so-so deaths and people screaming when they see something. The main character (Bo Svenson -Walking Tall and tons of other stuff) is a former skier who walks around acting sour until killings start and then he tries to find out what’s going on. Of course there is a character who doesn’t want to acknowledge that something horrible is going on because it may hurt the tourism. You know how that will turn out. There’s also lots really bright 70’s style snow attire to laugh at if it doesn’t blind you first. The creature doesn’t die in the most convincing manner. It was entertaining enough that I made it through in one sitting. It may be worth one viewing if you are a fan of the abominable snowman, but just expect to see more snow than beast in this one.

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I’m trapped in a made for TV movie and I can’t get out!

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Oh, dear I just soiled myself.

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That’s what they scared of?

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Careful, I know how to use this thing.