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The Terminal Man (1974)
Much better than given credit for
This is a superior film with brilliant set design and costuming. From the sterility of the Hospital (known only as "Babel" from the subtly placed and nearly invisible emblems), to the mind-numbing anonymity of the staff uniforms, few films are as well dressed as this. Only the dissenting staff, Dr's Ross and Manon, show any hint of individuality in their work apparel. Ironically it is Benson the patient, supposedly insane, who displays the most humanity of all, with the possible exception of Dr. Ross. Segal was brilliant, and severely under-utilized in the film. Perhaps the filmmakers thought it necessary to de-emphasize Benson, in order to illustrate the dehumanization of the hospital and its staff. But a bit more contrast could have been provided IMO. Still, the film is excellent nonetheless.
Today's audiences however, with their short attention spans, will likely be permanently disappointed. To those who complain that this film is "slow" (and they are legion); I would say to either learn some patience, or simply avoid the film and go back to watching action/adventure.
While made in the early 1970's, it is highly relevant to today's world as well. Replace the "wires in the brain" with today's over-prescribed Ritalin, SSRI's, and other similar drugs, and you will see the point.
This is an excellent movie which deserves to be on DVD, with commentary by Crichton, Hodges and/or Segal. They are all still with us as of 4/2008 (Sadly Ms. Hackett is not). The sooner the better.
Pray for the Wildcats (1974)
Deliverance on Dirt-Bikes?
Are you a Marjoe fan? A Brady on a Silver Platter? A Cracker Eater? A Shatnerologist? Look no further! There's "Pray for the Wildcats": A cheesy TV movie where Marjoe, Robert "Brady Bunch dad, later 'Pat' the sex-change doctor on Medical Center" Reed, Andy "Cracker Boy" Griffith and William the "One True" Shatner (OTS) play four yuppies who take a motorcycle ride down Baja. Kind of like "Deliverance" on dirt-bikes.
This film is dominated by a superlatively bad performance by Mr. Griffith. No doubt trying to overcome his wholesome (good cracker! GOOD cracker!) image, he administers a real Deep Hurting in a non-stunning role-reversal of "Deliverance". He tries to score with a traveling hippie's main squeeze in a cantina, but fails miserably. After a few minor brawls and scuffles, he resorts to bribery after catching up with them outside of town ("I'm sort of a hippie myself! A hippie with MONEY!!"). Failing again, he trashes their vehicle in the middle of the desert, condemning the poor young couple to a slow death by starvation and dehydration.
From there the plot goes downhill, literally. The toupeed one (Shatner) naturally saves the day by running Mr Ritz, er Griffith, off of a cliff (from which he drops in ever-so-slow-motion to his fiery demise on the rocky beach below. Oh the pain!!) Shatner then runs his own dirt-bike into the ocean, and follows with his usual over-acted agony dance around the burning wreckage. The end.....or IS it!?!?!
It's probably out of print. Find it if you can!!!
Beware the title!
This is about the worst film ever made, with the possible exception of Megaforce.
SPOILER: There's no Metalstorm, and Jared-Syn lives!!!!
It was originally shown in 3D at theaters, the quality of which gave one headaches for hours afterward.
Two questions come to mind w/r/t to the title:
One, where in the h*ll is this so-called frickin' metalstorm?
Two, when is Jared Syn's "destruction" when he escapes at the very end of the stinking film?
Definite MST3K fodder, if MST3K had lasted long enough to work it's way down to this egregious infliction of deep hurting.
The Omega Code (1999)
Basil Exposition the Antichrist
This movie is so bad it's good. The acting and cinematography (or lack thereof) make the whole thing play like a comedy. Basil Exposition, er, Michael York certainly seems to act as if it were. From his character's perpetual smugness, to his constant exaggerated pronunciation of the word "EVIL-ution", his performance is pure comic relief. All the actors seem bent on overacting their roles to the point of hysteria, most notably Casper van Dien and Jan Tryska. Only Micheal Ironside seems to take the film even remotely seriously. He delivers his usual more-than-adequate "bad guy" performance, the only decent acting in the film.
Like the infamous "Chick Tracts", this film could be an embarrassment to Christians everywhere if taken too seriously. But don't. Just enjoy it for the comedy that it truly is. Had it been released a few years earlier, it would have made excellent MST3k fodder.
An overlooked Gem
This was definitely a show ahead of its time, which was never given a fair chance. Only one season was produced, and was poorly distributed in the US, where it had the most potential.
Aliens are coming to Earth and abducting humans (sound familiar?), ostensibly to provide transplant material for their dying, nearly sterile, humanoid race. A multi-national super-secret organization called SHADO (Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) is formed to combat this threat, with American USAF col. Ed Straker in charge. No one outside the organization is aware of it's existence, not even the immediate families of the operatives. Any civilians having alien contact are immediately given amnesia drugs by SHADO to force them to forget.
This was a real show with real characters. Portrayal of the effects of job secrecy and other stresses on the agents were realistic and very moving. The episodes portraying the effects of running SHADO on Straker's marriage (Confetti Check A-OK) and on the life of his son (A Question of Priorities) were two of the best written episodes of any TV series.
As always, there was the Super Cool hardware of Gerry Anderson everywhere. Interceptors launched from the moon engaged in dogfight style battles with the UFO's (6+ years before "Star wars"). "Skydiver" submarines launched fighter jets from underwater for atmospheric combat. Tanklike "Mobiles" closed in on UFO's on the ground
The sexy "Century 21" fashions of Sylvia Anderson were everywhere. From the Nehru Jackets with "priestly" collars for the men, to the purple wigs and silver bodysuits for the women who ran moonbase, no one so completely and fully depicted the future as she did then.
Combine this with the incomparable music of Barry Gray (including a theme that put Hawaii Five-o and Danger Man to shame) and you've got one unforgettable show. It's a shame that it only lasted one season. The Anderson's should have held out for a second season of UFO, instead of wasting all of their valuable resources on that mediocre Space:1999.
Crack in the World (1965)
Science is a bit dated, but a fun movie nonetheless.
Interesting story about a dying scientist who plans to tap the geothermal energy beneath the Earth's crust, with dire consequences. Andrews, Scott and Moore, as well as Alexander Knox, all give excellent performances. Special effects are superb and very believable. I remember seeing this on TV when I was a kid, and it scared me to DEATH. Seeing it again as an adult, it is not quite as scary, but is still fast-paced and entertaining. Sadly, it is not available on video to my knowledge. Perhaps someone at Paramount will read this and take the hint.
While the science is now dated, thanks to the discovery of plate tectonics (the Earth's crust is divided into may separate "plates", and therefore already has many "cracks"), the story is still entertaining. The interaction between Dr Sorenson (Andrews), an aging scientist trying for one last victory; his young wife Maggie (Scott), a scientist in her own right; and Dr Rampion (Moore), the project's geologist and an old flame of Maggie's to boot; works very well, even if it is a bit formulaic.
All in all it is a fun movie, and definitely worth the time to see it if you can. Paramount would do well to re-release it on video and especially widescreen DVD. How about it, guys?
My favorite of the "Supermarionation" shows
Stingray ran in syndication about the time that I was in the first grade and I never missed an episode. Troy and Phones were my heroes, and I would identify with Marina as she accompanied them on their adventures. Looking back a little over thirty years later I am pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up today. I was very lucky to be able to acquire several of the (out of print) Channel 5 Video releases. I showed them to a younger friend of mine and she was literally blown away by how lifelike the marionettes were.
The voice acting, while always good in Supermarionation, was best in Stingray IMO, from Ray Barrett's gruff Commander Shore to Robert Easton's perfect South Carolina accent for Phones. Lois Maxwell (James Bond's Miss Moneypenney) was absolutely wonderful as Lt. Atlanta Shore. Don Mason as the authoritative voice Captain Troy Tempest rounded out the crew.
As with all of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's productions, super-cool hardware was everywhere. Troy, Phones, and Marina would enter Stingray via "injector tubes", special seats that would drop through the floor and lower them into Stingray via the roof hatch. In an emergency, the entire city would descend below ground into a vast fortified bunker. The villian, Titan, had a fleet of "terrorfish" submarines, and one would often see Stingray "dolphin hopping" with the terrorfish in pursuit (but not for long, as Stingray always got the last laugh). All of this, of course, was underscored by the incomparable music of Barry Gray.
There's plenty more that I could say about this show, but there's just not enough space here for it all. If you get a chance to see it, be sure that you do. You're in for a treat!