70’s arcade games-Galaxian

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1979

In 1977 Space Invaders really made an impact in what could be done with video games and it was a huge hit. It was no surprise that other shoot the alien before they shoot you games would follow. In 1979 one of the best of that variety came out in the form of Galaxian. Like Space Invaders the aliens are above and you the defending ship are at the bottom of the screen trying to blast them so it’s referred to as a fixed shooter game. However the colors are brighter, the aliens are more lively as they can dive and the overall gameplay is faster and certainly more of a challenge. This game spawned three arcade sequels in the 80’s including 1981’s Galaga which was also a huge hit. Galaxian was in every arcade during it’s day and has certainly left an impression on gamers from that time.

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.

 

 

 

 

70’s arcade games – Lunar Lander

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1979

Shooting aliens or objects in space seemed to be all the rage in the late 70’s as games like Space Invaders, Asteroids and Galaxian were taking plenty of quarters. Atari made another game that didn’t have nearly the impact in the arcades. However Lunar Lander had a cool look and was a fair challenge back in the day. I had the pleasure of playing it a time or two in a mall arcade back in 79 or 80. I only went to that arcade a couple of times and the pinball machines still outnumbered the video games at that time. However I remember being drawn in by this big clunky case and the simple graphics. I probably would have lasted longer putting the quarter in a pinball machine, but hey this was the chance to land a space ship so how could I resist. I probably spent more time playing home computer versions of this game in the early 80’s at various computer stores than I did playing this arcade game. Still my few brushes with this game left an impression on me. I also love how the control panel looks like a 70’s sci-fi version of  spaceship controls complete with orange and brown. The 80’s may have seen the explosion of arcade games, but the 70’s had it’s share of games that lead to that explosion.

Galaxy Quest

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1999

These people were on this sci-fi show years and now their careers have dried up except for appearing at conventions. Whew, glad this is just a film and something like this never happens in real life. The dude that plays the captain is an arrogant self-promoting  type who isn’t well liked by by the rest of the cast-so this certainly based on any star of any well know sci-fi show…or is it? There is also a female officer who just repeats what the computer says, the British actor who play the alien science officer but doesn’t like it, the somewhat backwards engineering chief and the once child prodigy navigator who is now a grown man. Plus a guy who once appeared briefly before killed in an episode takes up with them. The Captain is approached by what he thinks are fans wanting to hire him for an appearance. He goes with them and only upon leaving does he find out that this is real. He tries to convince the others it’s real and meanwhile knocks down a fan along the way.  The others think he’s nuts but go thinking it’s a job. They go to the alien ship and find it’s real. Only thing is these alien think the actors are really characters they played and they want them to save them from the evil overlord Sarris. When the actors find out the threat is real they try to leave, but eventually decide to stay and help. They have to play their roles for real, but have to figure out tasks they have only done on screen. They make plenty of mistakes and almost get themselves and everyone else killed. Eventually they put aside their egos and problems. Of course they end up defeating Sarris, they get along and they get a new show! Hooray, never give up never surrender and roll the credits.

The negatives-Not much.

The positives-Great casting all the way around the board. Alan Rickman might get my vote for best performance here. The story is story strong as it’s funny, but shows the impact of TV and the characters manage to grow and come together. The effect both special and make-up were good as well. The film has some very quotable lines. There are times when I see a good price at a store and I proclaim “By Grabthar’s Hammer..what a savings”.

Definitely the best space spoof out there. It takes shots at Star trek, it’s cast, it’s fans and the conventions. I watch this film very often and if anything it’s gotten better over the years. I can’t believe it will be 15 years old next month.

The alien guy Galaxy Quest 2 sw

Space station 76

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2014

This is version of the future from a 1970’s view. A new second in command Jessica (Liv Tyler) goes to her new assignment out on an isolated space station. She isn’t well received by Captain Glenn (Patrick Wilson). She does make friends with technician Ted (Matt Bomer) who is married to food computer preparation person Misty (Marisa Coughlin) plus they have a seven year old daughter Sunshine (Kylie Rogers). There are also supporting characters Steve (Jerry O’Connell), his wife Donna (Kali Rocha) and their baby. Wait why I am just talking about characters instead of the plot and action? Oh because there isn’t much action or plot. It’s all about the sad, horrible lives of the above people. Jessica can’t have kids and while she connects with Ted and Sunshine she is disliked by Misty and the Captain. Captain Glenn is guy but struggles with this and effected his relationship with his former second in command. Ted and Misty are no longer close and just stay together for their daughter. Misty uses valium and booze to make it through the day while Ted smokes pot and jerks off while imagining a topless star woman. Sunshine is lonely and when she starts to get along with Jessica her mom Misty starts being more and more cruel to Sunshine. Wow it’s like a crap soap opera only in space. Oh and so you know all of the lame drama – Donna is a busy body and she’s materialistic while her husband Steve fools around behind her back. So these people just go around being sad and mostly unlikable with an occasional funny part thrown in. Eventually Donna and Steve are being transferred to a place they want to go to. This steams Ted and Misty who would rather they get go. The captain contemplates suicide and struggles with his sexuality but mostly he just smokes and is mean to everyone else. A robot psychiatrist spouts off cliches based on a single word uttered by the patient. Somewhere in between the build up of these shallow characterizations an asteroid goes off course and heads towards the station. There is a Christmas party that leads to everyone yelling at each other. The the stray asteroid scrapes the station but destroys the vehicle that Steve and Donna were going to use to depart. So this causes everyone to be grateful to be alive and they act a little nicer. Roll the credits.

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The positives-The sets, costumes and the station and ships all look pretty good. They are a cross of being inspired by 2001 (look for an all too brief cameo by Keir Dullea as Jessica’s dad), Space:1999, Silent Running,Buck Rogers and other shows and films of the time. The soundtrack is quite good as well. Some other little touches of the 70’s are tossed in like Donna using a view master to look at the latest fashion designs, Jessica does target practice on a 70’s Asteroids inspired video game and Ted and Steve are deeply entertained playing air hockey in the lounge.

The negatives-This film had a mostly good cast but wastes them as unlikable characters. The director says he intended this as a black comedy. Yet it comes across as depressing without any speck of humor unless you just like seeing others suffer and if you do then shame on you. While I like the 70’s inspired sets and costumes it doesn’t add much to the film since they decided to be a black comedy instead of a pure spoof. The film is slow and often tedious due to the depressing characters. I was only able to watch it to the end due to the sets and costumes and the faint hope that the film would get better which it didn’t.

I had high hopes for this film when I first heard about it, but other than the visuals there isn’t much to recommend about it.
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Space Mutiny

 

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No, don’t make me do this film!

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Look into the eyes of evil…at least until they cut to another scene…any second now.
1988

You may have seen this one get a royal shredding on MST3000 years ago.
You may know two people in this film. One is Reb Brown
(Yor:The hunter from the future, the made for TV Captain America films, Uncommon Valor and various other roles). Here he plays the hero of sorts. Jon Phillip Law (the bad guy here) you may know from Danger Diabolik (an absolute all time favorite of mine), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Barbarella and other films.

You will quickly spot the ships and battle sequences as they borrowed/stole/ripped/something these parts from Battlestar Gallactica. Battlestar was ten years old at the time yet those “borrowed” scenes look way better than anything else in the film. Eventually there is a half-hearted mutiny attempt by the greasy villain and a handful of likely underpaid extras show up to fight on both sides. There is a leader with a phony beard, some weird skinny dancing woman, golf carts fitted as futuristic travel and weapons plus 80% of this ship looks like a sewage plant with all the pipes everywhere. Oh and one of their main forms of entertainment involves dancing while wiggling a hula hoop over one’s body, the future looks bleak indeed. A member of the bridge crew gets killed and then appears back at her post like nothing was wrong, methinks the editor of this film wasn’t giving 100% on this film. Anyways the bad guy tries to look evil in an old cartoon sort of way, the good guy flexes his muscles and looks bored and the main female smiles a lot and doesn’t do a whole lot else. Eventually there are lasers flying about, some explosions and the film sort of ends or they just gave up, I’m not really sure which.

The film suffers all the way around to be honest. The biggest problems seem to be the poor script and the lack of budget. Yeah those two will kill your film every time if you decide to make a film with very little budget and a sloppy script. The badness of the entire film make it worth seeing at least once. Although I’d say the MST3000 version is funnier and easier to take.

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Yes, Santa this is where I want you to build my new hair salon.

The Reluctanct Astronaut

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1967

So Don Knotts plays has a tough dad who wants him to do something with his life besides operating kiddie rides his whole life. Roy’s butinski dad writes NASA and says they want Roy to go there and work as an astronaut. So reluctantly he goes there to please his pop. Oh I may have forgotten to mention that Roy has a horrible fear of heights? Oh that might kind of effect that astronaut thingie. That’s okay because when he gets to NASA the job they have for him is actually as a janitor. However family still thinks he will be an astronaut and they even come to visit him at his job. He happens to have an astronaut helmet on at the time and they still think he’s a space guy in training. Oh, what a hilarious situation. Oh then Roy gets fired and his family finds out the truth about his job – not as hilarious at least for poor Roy. Hey things perk up as the Russians want to send a dentist into space to show they can send a common Joe-ski into space. Wait, how does that help Roy? Oh not to be outdone the Americans will re-hire janitor Roy and send even a dolt like him into space. They do, silly things happen, Knotts bulges his eyes out but eventually he survives the mission. Roll the credits.

Now unlike the other films I reviewed this week I didn’t see this one as a kid. If I had I may have loved it because that’s the case with the Ghost and Mr. Chicken and How to frame a Figg. Unfortunately I didn’t see this movie until I was in my 30’s. I love Knotts from his days with Andy Griffith and like several of his movies, but this one was just alright.

 

 

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“That is funny that someone with my looks would be your romantic interest in this movie”

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“Yes, I used to be funny when I was on TV”

 

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“Don’t call me Shirley”

Have rocket, will travel

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1959

So the three stooges (Moe, Larry and Curly Joe) are maintenance guys on the land owned by the base that is doing rocket research. The rocket project is struggling as we see one launch attempt result in the rocket ending up not in space but rather near the stooges shack just a few miles from it’s launch point. The female scientist and her boyfriend are in danger of losing the project if they can’t show results oh woe is us. So the stooges step in and screw everything up. Well, sort of eventually they go Venus (which looks a lot like California) and meet a talking Unicorn, run from a giant spider, battle an intelligent yet mean robot and fight their evil doubles. Wow it was like plots for several bad 50’s sci-fi films shoved into 15 minutes or so. The stooges (the real ones not those nasty fake ones or at least I think so) make it back to earth and get a parade. Then there’s a tacked on celebration party with more stooginess going on and finally the movie ends.

The bad- If you enjoyed the Stooges shorts with Curly Howard or Shemp you may be in for a let down of sorts. This line up of the stooges were going for the younger kids so it’s far more mild than their efforts from the late 1930’s – early 1950’s. Also they were older so they do less slapstick. The plot here seems thrown out there just to catch on to the sci-fi crazy of the 50’s. There are some laughs, but it’s few and far between.

The good-Curly Joe is no Curly Howard or Shemp, but he was an improvement over Joe Besser. Also this film marked a return of sorts for the stooges. After being fired a few years earlier the stooges had gotten popular again via their old shorts being put on tv and a new generation of fans got to see them. So they were re-signed to do films, Curly Joe was hired and boom the stooges were back. This wasn’t their best of the films from this line-up as I’d go with Three Stooges go around the world in a daze for that honor. However this film does deserve credit for keeping the stooges going a while longer.

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Ten things I learned from Mars needs women

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1967

 

1-Martians apparently like to wear wet suits with hoods that have plastic lids and radio antennae on them when they are in space.

2-They are perfectly content to wear earth guy suits while on earth.

3-Martians are not very active when they try to abduct earth girls so they need lots of stock footage to make a film about them longer.

4-Being the captain of the martians must be a horrid job because the main martian looks mad and depressed during his mission.

5-Some martians abduct art students while others abduct strippers. Guess they have differences in their taste in woman.

6-Martians may come from space but they are not so fond of being in space or at least this film shows very little of them in space.

7- One martian liked Batgirl, but not enough to freeze her and take her back with him.

8-Even when martians argue it’s still dull.

9-When a martian goes to a football game it looks all fuzzy like it’s stock footage, oh wait I think it was.

10-Apparently Mars needs acting lessons too or at least these guys do.

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