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1958: The Fly

  This a movie I have always known about, but never had the desire to watch. That is until I discovered that it wasn’t just an 80’s horror flick (which I understand is a classic itself) but also a series of B movies from the 50’s and 60’s. In an episode of the X-Files, Mulder is sleeping with the original playing in the background. I am always up for classic 50’s cinema, and it must have some appeal if the producers felt the need to through a nod out to it. 

I thought there were some really good storytelling devices, and the last half of the film was very enjoyable, but I would have enjoyed it more if it were a half hour shorter. 

For those who haven’t seen it, and don’t care to, the film begins after the majority of the action has taken place. Helene Delambre has just killed her husband Andre and goes to Francois, her brother-in-law (Vincent Price) for help. This type of plot device I don’t really care for. Smallville often would start an episode part way through the action, often when Clark was about to do something completely out of character. I feel like it is a waste of my time, when the main story is told I forget about the flash forward until the moments leading up to it. I would rather they just told me the story. 

It makes sense here somewhat, as we see film through the great Vincent Price’s character, and the main plot is told to him by the wife of the man who would be the fly, but a 3rd of the film is wasted leading up to her telling of what happened. 

The next section, the beginning of her tale, is wasted on character building and the showing of the family dynamic, and leading into the real action. I normally wouldn’t mind this except that we have already wasted half an hour building to the story, just kind of seems redundant.

  But when act 3 begins, I’m all in. Andre, the dead man from the beginning, is a scientist who has invented a teleported (called here a disintegrating/reintregrating machine) but a fly gets inside during a test and their DNAs mix. Andre now has a fly face and appendage, and there is a fly with a white face and arm flying around). The handling of the fly revelation is done excellently. We see only his arm until the final scene when his face is finally revealed. The emphasis on the white faced fly is subtle at the beginning then highly important when you realize why – that the white parts are Andre. Even better is the death of the fly itself, now half human and yelling in a high pitched voice “HEEEEELLLP MEEEE!!!” 

The effects are great for the time. They really help your make the jump from “this is a 50’s drama that happens to have a scientist turn into a fly” to “Oh yep, this is Sci Fi now.”

I also appreciated the subtle humour of the film. I love the Marvel films, but they focus a little to much on humour, at least for me. In this if you miss the jokes it makes no effect on anything, it doesn’t pull you out of the film. And it was all done in subtleties is the acting, rather than scripted punchlines in the dialogue. Maybe this is a thing of the time?

  I do like that this film does not have a happy ending. Just like The Incredible Shrinking Man, in a time of romantacism and the hero always winning, it is nice to see the protagonist lose. Not because I’m sadistic, but because sometimes things go wrong, and media telling us that everything will work out in the end is unrealistic. Especially in dealing with ethically questionable science. 

Overall, I would only give this a 7 out of 10. It’s good, but I would have preferred it as an Outer Limits episode. I will watch it again though. 

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1955-58: X Minus One

Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one… Fire! From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you’ll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street & Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents… X Minus One.

Both of my recent posts – X-files and I, Robot, have their ties to a show that I love, The Outer Limits. The thought about Science Fiction evolution has encouraged me to take a couple steps further back this weekend, past The Outer Limits, to X Minus One, a staple from the golden age of radio.

X Minus One, like its not as well known predecessor Dimension X, was a Sci Fi anthology program featuring a mix of both original stories as well as adaptations of popular tales (typically from partnering magazine Galaxy Science Fiction) from the popular writers of the day, men who became legends in the genre, like Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. Adaptations and original stories were written by Ernest Kinoy or George Lefferts.

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1979: Alien

alien_poster_by_nuke_vizardRounding out the 70’s is a movie that is highly praised, highly popular, but until a couple years ago I had not seen.

When I started working at Amazing Stories, I felt I had all the knowledge I needed (or wanted) to work there. My blood ran Marvel and DC, I had a major in Star Trek with a minor in Star Wars, I could tell you who the Ninja Turtles were, and the Transformers, Ghostbusters, so on and so forth. I didn’t know Dr. Who or manga (and I was okay with it). But their were a few big properties that I had not been too familiar with, and when a customer would find out I usually got a “you work here and you don’t know THAT!” or a “and what have you been doing with your life” type comment. So one summer I picked the four franchises I felt I most needed to learn about and exposed myself to them. They were all good, all dark, and I had a great summer of movies because of them. Robocop, Predator, (both of which came out in 1987 and I’ve got a fantastic Chris Fischer commission coming for that year), Terminator and what I’ll be talking about here, Ridley Scott’s Alien.

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1954/1957/2015: What I watched before I watched Ant-Man (No Spoilers)

Ant-Man+MovieI just got back from watching Ant-Man. I don’t want to get huge into the movie, but I will say a few things at the end of this post. I’m mostly here to talk about a couple of movies I watched before it. I was reading another blog, Longbox Graveyard, who also read Tales to Astonish 27 and 35. They referenced some potential cinematic influences on those issues, so I decided to check them out. I had seen other shrinking and size movies, such as Land of Giants and The Fantastic Voyage, but never these. Continue reading

Let me take you back 51 years…

Well, it’s 2015. I’ve decided that I am going look back at the past 52 years worth of fiction writing and enjoy at least 1 work a week from each year until 2016 begins. If this works out, i’ll continue to explore things of the past, probably going further back. These works may vary, one week may be a comic or a movie, maybe an episode or season of television or maybe try to read a whole novel. Who knows. I will mostly be focusing on science fiction, but may stray off here and there. You are more than welcome to read along, comment or criticize my work as you please. I am not an experienced writer so I apologize for any errors or bad writing. All I hope is that I have a good time, you have a good time, and that this wins me a Pulitzer, I gain world wide attention and Will Smith plays me in the movie about my life.

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