Since posting the latest Bloody Pit show I've been asked by a few newcomers to the podcast about the past episodes on which Randy co-hosted. As it has been over a year since he last joined me to discuss 1970's science fiction cinema I thought it might be a good idea to provide a handy set of links for the curious. Here are the previous episodes in which he and I talk about the subject -
Randy Fox returns to the podcast and we resume our discussion of the science fiction films of the 1970's. It's been over a year since the two of us sat down for a long talk about the incredible SF movies made before STAR WARS warped the genre out of shape but it felt like it was just last week. One reason for that is our topic in this episode is an under sung classic that appeals to the more mature in the audience than to the under twenty set. As people who first encountered ROLLERBALL as kids we can attest that our younger selves enjoyed the action set-pieces but that many of the more adult concepts flew over our heads. But watching this film in middle age certainly brings home just how profound and thoughtful it is. The best science fiction often holds up a dark mirror to our lives and asks question about the human condition that resonate because of their timelessness. The bloody violence on display has much to say about who we are in the real 2018 as it does about the movie's fiction 21st century.
Our discussion of the film touches on the career of director Norman Jewison and the script's fidelity to the source material. Credit has to go to Jewison for bringing in the original short story author William Harrison to craft the screenplay. We talk about the actors' performances with attention paid to lead James Caan's ability to convey the depths of a man without the words to express himself clearly. We dig into the future society of the movie and how it's structure resembles other literary dystopian visions from Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 while marveling at the detailed game system set up to make Rollerball a sport that feels realistic. Plus, any film with Ralph Richardson complaining that the planet's computer system has misplaced the whole history of the 13th century is worth seeing!
Join us for this return to smart science fiction where ideas are presented in intelligent ways even as heads get busted and people are set on fire! Send any comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org where we'll be happy to learn your thoughts on the SF films made before Star Wars. Thank you for downloading and listening.
There are, of course, two basic types of Guillermo del Toro
films. There is the giant, crowd-pleasing action / horror film (BLADE 2,
PACIFIC RIM, HELLBOY) and then there is the thoughtful, creepy, atmospheric
horror film (CRONOS, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, PAN'S LABYRINTH). The fact that all
he really makes are horror films is one of the many things that endears him to
me. I will go to my grave wondering what he could have done if allowed to film
The Hobbit in the way that he wanted.
As it stands we only get a film from
Guillermo once every three years or so, therefore it's best to just bide your time, go to
the theater and enjoy yourself. This time out he's in the more serious
thoughtful horror film mode which means that the movie centers on a single
creature or horrific event and how it affects the people around it. I'll just
add my voice to the choir and say that THE SHAPE OF WATER is one of the best
films I saw from 2017 and one of del Toro's best films overall. I'm not ashamed
to admit that the film hit me on many emotional levels and by the end I was
weeping tears of joy. If I had one criticism of the film it's that I feel that
our main character played by Sally Hawkins goes a little too quickly from 'Oh
my God, it's a monster' to 'I'm intrigued - let's see if I can communicate with
it'. But that's a minor problem in a film with so much beauty, so much grace
and so much heart.
THE RISING OF THE MOON (1957) - 8
FROM HELL IT CAME (1957)- 6 (rewatch) (I love this bad film!)
GET OUT (2017)- 9 (rewatch)
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) - 9
THE GHOST GALLEON (1974) - 5 (rewatch)
ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN (1993) - 5 (interesting remake)
HOT CARS (1956) - 7
DALEKS INVASION EARTH 2015 A.D. (1966) - 5
BRINGING UP BABY (1944) -9 (rewatch)
MR. MOTO'S GAMBLE (1938) - 5
THE IRON SWORDSMAN (1949) - 7 (Freda knight tale)
ELEVEN MEN AND A GIRL (1930) - 5
THE GREEN SLIME (1968) - 7 (rewatch)
THE MYSTERIOUS RIDER (1948) - 8 (Freda's exciting tale of Casanova)
Because of the conversation in Bloody Pit # 63 with Steve Sullivan I was persuaded to finally see GORATH (1962). He told me that the Doctor
Who story we covered in that episode had a similar plot point to one in this
Toho film and I was intrigued. Of course, the plot point he was talking about
involves destroying or removing the core of the planet for some strange alien
purpose - pure pulp science fiction madness! That turns out to not be exactly
what happens in GORATH but it is just as insane and as scientifically
implausible / impossible.
It seems GORATH is the name given to a small star or comet detected
on the outer edge of our solar system on a collision course with Earth. Although
it is only half the physical size of our planet it is 6000 times as dense ( an
info tidbit the film beats to death!) so a way must be found to either divert
it or get Earth out of its path. The rather innovative idea (and I'm being
generous here) that the scientists come up with is to move our planet out of
its orbit so as to avoid the collision with the fast approaching comet. That's
right. Everyone intelligent person in the world decides that the right path
forward is to shove our own planet closer to the Sun. Now, one might pause at
the very idea and hold up a hand - perhaps like a petitioner student in a
classroom - and point out that they are at least two major problems with this
ONE - any force strong enough to actually divert something
the size and mass of a planet from its orbit would be enough force to probably
break it apart / destroy it.
TWO - moving the Earth closer to the Sun would completely
change not just the weather patterns but the entire climate of the planet in
such a way as to pretty much destroy all life on this muddy blue ball.
But hey - this is a Toho science-fiction film from the early
60s primarily aimed at a science fiction loving audience (i. e. kids) so it's
best to just go along for the ride, I guess. Unfortunately, going along for the
ride with this film was a little more difficult in the version I was watching. All
I could find was the slightly shorter English dub version and I have to say the
English dubbing does not help this film. Besides belaboring the density of
Gorath it's also a very dumbed down translation of things and seems to be oversimplifying
both events and relationships. All that would be terrible enough but after
watching the film I learned from several friends that there was a giant monster
trimmed from the English language version! What the Hell? A Toho SF epic from
the 1960's complete with a rampaging giant creature and it was CUT OUT? What in
the world were these idiots thinking?
Needless to say I was happy when a kind buddy linked me to
the excised footage on YouTube -
- and now I just need to sit down and watch the Japanese
version (with subtitles) and discover if the film plays better in it's original
form WITH the giant walrus. Why would anyone want to deprive me of seeing a giant
walrus destroying a polar base?