The Questions Lady Terminator Raises

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Question #1: Does Lady Terminator have anything in common with The Terminator? What are the similarities and differences between Lady Terminator and The Terminator?

Similarities:

-A destructive force from another time comes to the present to exterminate someone in both films.

-Both include the line, “Come with me if you want to live.”

-There is a moment in each film where the virtually indestructible villain is knocked to the ground with ample gunfire and the camera shows their twitching fingers.

-Both feature an eye-removal-before-a-bathroom-sink scene.

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Differences:

-Guns are reloaded significantly less in Lady Terminator.

-In The Terminator, a cyborg from the future travels to the past to stop the birth of an eventual wartime revolutionary. In Lady Terminator, an anthropologist is possessed by a sea witch from the past, who seeks vengeance on her husband’s great granddaughter.

-No characters in The Terminator have magic eels in their vaginas; no sex scene in The Terminator culminates with castration by a vagina-dwelling magic eel.

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Question #2: What kinds of TVs explode into flames when shot?

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Sonys.

Question #3: Ricky Brothers composed the music to Lady Terminator. Is Ricky Brothers one man, whose first name is Ricky and last name is Brothers, or is the Ricky Brothers a band name, not unlike the Doobie or Allman Brothers?

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I don’t know, but Ricky Brothers—whether band or man—wrote for synthesizers, in my opinion, at least as well as Pino Donaggio did for The Barbarians.

Question #4: Exactly how many instances of violence to the male genitalia occur in Lady Terminator?

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Thirteen, although I’m only counting the wise old sensei getting excessively machine gunned to the crotch as one instance.

Question #5: Was Michael Sorich, the actor who overdubbed the voice of the character Snake, aware at the time of the children’s cartoon program Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Particularly, was he aware of Townsend Coleman’s work on the voice of Michelangelo?

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Probably.

Question #6: “What’s the point of not having money if you can’t spend it?”

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Question #7: How does a urine stream with that much propulsion form when the fly isn’t even open?

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Question #8: Lady Terminator lists Dave Mallow as the film’s dialogue coach. Was Dave Mallow fired before the completion of the movie on grounds of incompetence?

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Question #9: Is the glowing green thing the wise old sensei shoots into the eponymous villain’s eye what causes her to grow extra nipples?

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On the same token, does the growth of extra nipples alone warrant the painful removal of one’s own eye with an X-acto knife?

Question #10: Wouldn’t it be nice if more cops, before final showdowns with devastating murderesses, could join hands and say, in unison, “Let’s kick ass?”

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Yes.

Question #11: Why does Tania, the lady terminator, wait till she is incinerated by the flames of a bazooka blast to shoot deadly lasers out of her eyes?

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She had this ability the whole time, and, up until the last five minutes of the movie, relies on automatic weapons?!

Question #12: Isn’t it possible to be both a lady and an anthropologist?

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“I’m an anthropologist, not a lady!”

You know, like, when did anthropologist become its own gender?

Click this link, to attempt to answer these perplexing questions for yourself.

 

HONEYMOON (2014)

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HONEYMOON starts out and it’s almost disgusting how in love with each other Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) are. As the title would suggest, it’s their honeymoon. They’re newlyweds. They have no shortage of sex to have, of inside jokes and loving horseplay to make. They’re off to Bea’s family’s lakeside cabin to celebrate their new married lives together. At first, as they mosey around half-naked, cook pancakes, swim in the lake, etc., it seems like they’re enjoying pure connubial glory.

A David Cronenberg-esque downward spiral would have to ruin that, wouldn’t it?

Oh, yes.

There’s a white flash in the middle of the night. Some dark force seems to stalk the woods. There’s a childhood friend of Bea’s they run into who’s definitely, definitely not behaving normally. Neither is his girlfriend. Bea’s not known to sleepwalk, either. Well, she’s sleepwalking now. She’s wandering off deep into the woods, too.

When she starts forgetting who she is, when Paul catches her writing down mnemonic notes on her basic identity, it becomes clear: something is up. The slime on a variety of her possessions is strange, too.

Things escalate and escalate to some revolting body horror and Bea finding an eventual “new home” in the heart of the woods.

Like Ti West at his best in THE INNKEEPERS, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, and THE SACRAMENT, HONEYMOON is an exercise in the building of tension. Nothing bad happens for so long . . . then . . . blecch. A sense of danger is created out of the initial glaring lack of danger.

So, yes. You have the slow burn approach, which is becoming en vogue again (IT FOLLOWS). This approach works very well for HONEYMOON. Maybe the revelation of the danger at hand isn’t as shocking in this one as it is in the aforementioned West titles, but things still get damn creepy. Your jaw hangs open through the final act. Mine did, anyway. It’s a hell of a climax.

Did I mention it does wonders with its minimal budget? This couldn’t have appropriated funds in accordance with ambitions better.

But what’s great, chiefly, about HONEYMOON is how convincing Bea and Paul’s relationship is. They’re both quite eccentric and fun, and it’s tragic how, as Bea is slipping, part of her still—instinctually—wants to keep things normal, and so does Paul, as he tries to wrap his mind around what’s happening to his wife. They’re so trenchantly committed to each other throughout the film, which makes this a horror love tragedy: a unique take on the genre. The Autumnal vibe the cinematography gives off is excellent, too, as is the claustrophobic musical score and the grotesque—but sparing—makeup fx. (I mentioned David Cronenberg earlier, didn’t I?)

Overall, HONEYMOON is worth seeing for its fantastic sense of realism, its brilliant intimate performances, and the tragedy it injects into the genre. The directorial debut of Leigh Janiak, I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. This movie, for the most part, scared me shitless.

ELECTRICK CHILDREN (2012)

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It’s been way too long since I’ve sat, in a state of daze, with the credits rolling, saying, “Wow, what a fucking good movie.” Rebecca Thomas’s debut feature film, Electrick Children, though, left me with that feeling of bliss. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience this movie imparts. It’s a potent mixture: part coming-of-age drama, part road trip movie, part magical realism (assuming you don’t buy the immaculate conception story) . . . a beautiful journey of self-discovery altogether. Gush gush gush gush.

Rachel lives with her family on a Mormon colony in Utah. She’s just “celebrated” her fifteenth birthday, and, soon after, discovers a blue cassette tape. She sneaks off in the night to listen to it and hears a cover of Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone.” Rachel finds herself utterly enraptured by the song. She loves it. She, in fact, believes she’s been touched by the glory of God hearing it.

The next thing she knows, she’s pregnant. And Rachel thinks the song caused her pregnancy. An immaculate conception. A miracle.

Her family isn’t as optimistic. So they blame her brother, Mr. Will (Liam Aiken), for impregnating her. Her “father” (Billy Zane) arranges a marriage, but before it can happen she flees to Las Vegas in search of the man singing “Hanging on the Telephone.”

In Vegas she falls in with a group of hard-living, punk-rocking skateboarders and develops a romance with one of them: Clyde (Rory Culkin). Mr. Will, ostracized from the Mormon colony, comes looking for her, but ends up falling in with the same crowd.

Rachel finds the man on the tape, but he is not what she was expecting at all. He represents something ultimately as important, though, as Rachel learns lots about herself finding him: she learns there is much more to her own identity than she realized.

The question, who is the father of her child, by the way, is never answered, leaving the end of the movie open to interpretation.

What a fascinating spectacle. Watching the most sheltered of sheltered breaking out of their bubble, running with a crowd that drinks, does drugs, swears, listens to loud, abrasive music. The whole situation is funny, terrifying, and sad all at the same time– with an uncanny amount of suspense to be felt watching it all go down.

Julia Garner offers a more-than-credible innocence, sense of determination, and overall believability. Seemingly, the movie wouldn’t have worked without her. Rory Culkin, for that matter, is the perfect counterpart. He’s scary, at times, in his reckless oblivion, but ultimately decent.

Elecktrick Children tells a great story, and it unfolds with a seamless hypnosis on eye-popping backdrops: the Utah desert, the open road, neon-lit streets, shitty apartments, dingy all-ages rock clubs. The camera flows like water and stops to dwell on some truly great images: Rachel on the streets of Vegas in heart-shaped sunglasses; Mr. Will daringly about to descend into a skate park, then having to get his arm set over a snare drum; Clyde pensively smoking on the side of the highway. The soundtrack is perfect, too, featuring music from a relatively unknown Omaha, Nebraska band called Conduits.

Electirck Children, overall, instills hope that the Indies really, really have something going this decade.

NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

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Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a complete sociopath who adheres to a thoroughgoing capitalist ethic, much like Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in AMERICAN PSYCHO.  Bloom communicates primarily by parroting the entrepreneurial self-help advice he reads on the Internet, and climbs the social ladder by cheating, lying, obstructing justice, and, overall, having a frigid heart. He’s a foil for the nasty underbelly of the so-called American dream: get ahead in life through hard work, elevate your status. NIGHTCRAWLER is here to remind us, all too often, getting to the top isn’t necessarily the most scrupulous endeavor, and—regrettably—certain sects of society have come to revere a greedy, Machiavellian ruthlessness.

NIGHTCRAWLER is the antithesis of feel-good escapism. It’s a sober, ballsy film with a bitter, bummer ending reminiscent of CHINATOWN, FIVE EASY PIECES, and so many classic, confrontational films of the 1970’s. Its socio-political indictments aside, it’s also an extremely well-crafted and engrossing thriller.

In the beginning of the film we find our antihero, Lou, hawking scrap metal to a construction company. It’s obvious he’s down and out as he drives around L.A. in his old, dingy Toyota, selling stuff he stole to pawn shops. His life changes, though, when he meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a nightcrawler, or freelance video crime journalist and all-around gritty dude. I could do this, Lou thinks, and, sure enough, it’s not long before he’s racing to crime scenes to film bloodied car jacking victims and the like.

He’s in business. He eventually makes enough to trade in his Toyota for a Mustang and hire an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), who is virtually homeless and willing to work for thirty dollars a night (Rick’s trust in Lou really comes back to bite him in the ass).

All the while Lou sells his footage to Nina (Rene Russo), the director of a news network down on its ratings. He becomes infatuated—enough to proposition her in a tacky Mexican restaurant (one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve watched in recent memory). She resists his forward, commodified attempts at seduction . . . but is that subject to change? Ultimately, she’s ruthless enough herself to admire him. She’s also willing to run his increasingly unethically obtained footage because, as Jane’s Addiction put it: “the news is just another show with sex and violence.”

Did I mention Lou’s footage is increasingly unethically obtained? Because it is. Big time.

NIGHTCRAWLER works. Unbelievably well. A lot of that has to do with its undeniably strong cast. Gyllenhaal: you thought he was screwed up in DONNIE DARKO? Just you wait . . . I don’t know what it takes to realize a venture capitalist sociopath. Now, I don’t think anyone does–not like Jake Gyllenhall, anyway. His dark, crazed power culminates as, in a fit of rage, he screams at his bathroom mirror before smashing it. That’s the face of a horrific refusal of weakness, and therin lies the essence of Gyllenhaal’s unforgettable character.

Everything about Rene Russo is so immensely believable, too. A seasoned, tough journalist, she’s beyond cynicism. It no longer occurs to her the purpose of the news is to inform citizens–to the best of its ability–of the true state of affairs in the world. Whatever gets the ratings is her mantra, and that means: “violent crime creeping into suburbia.” Aging Paxton is similarly jaded, and emerging actor Riz Ahmed is utterly plausible as a lost, desperate twenty-something. After his “job-interview” scene with Gyllenhaal in a greasy spoon diner, you’re left wanting to know more about him. Unfortunately, your curiosity is never satisfied.

Like the culture it critiques, NIGHTCRAWLER demonstrates an obsession with objects. So much cinematic significance is packed into recurring shots of the stolen watch Bloom wears, his Mustang, his chic sunglasses. Status symbols: the closest thing Bloom has to a raison d’etre.

You get so caught up in NIGHTCRAWLER’s thought provocation, in fact, that you worry it won’t have a bummer ending. The good guys, who are about as compassionless as the bad guys, can’t win, you say. A popcorn Hollywood ending would really muck up its integrity. It puts you on, for a moment, but there is no need to fear. NIGHTCRAWLER retains its integrity.

Writer/director Dan Gilroy (Rene Russo’s husband) has made his mark on confrontational cinema with NIGHTCRAWLER. He’s already a seasoned screenwriter (THE FALL, BOURNE SUPREMACY), but this is his directorial debut. He’s done something powerful. He’s penetrated a core, shown us a world all too real.

We’ll see if he can outdo himself.

I FAILED THE OCTOBER CHALLENGE AGAIN.

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The Internet Movie Database’s horror message boards, every year, invite fans of the genre to participate in the “October Challenge.” To succeed, all you have to do is watch 31 horror movies during the month of October. 16 must be first time views. The other 15 you will have seen before. I’ve been trying to beat this thing for years. No avail. I watch tons of movies, but, like always, I got behind.

Here are the 27 I managed to see:

* = first time view

1. House of Usher (1960)

This is my all-time favorite Vincent Price movie. I also think it’s Roger Corman’s finest hour. Price is amazing as the raving, “afflicted” eponymous character, who says things like: “The history of the Ushers is a history of savage degradation.” HOUSE OF USHER is melodramatic and enthralling to the last second. Its great, literate screenplay was written by pulp author and regular TWILIGHT ZONE contributor Richard Matheson, and the music was composed by lounge lizard maestro Les Baxter, who enhances the movie’s crumbling Gothic vibe perfectly.

2. Private Parts (1972)*

I finally got to see the debut film of Paul Bartel, best known for EATING RAOUL. Ayn Ruyman (GO ASK ALICE) is alluring, naive, and–in fact–downright kinky as runaway Cheryl Stratton, who goes to stay at her aunt Martha’s divey L.A. hotel filled with lunatics, murderers, and perverts. This includes her aunt (Lucille Benson, in a role even nuttier than Bette Davis’s Baby Jane). There’s suspense, sexual perversion, and weirdness galore. This is a smart, hilarious black horror comedy which undeniably lives up to its cult classic status.

3. Cat People (1982)*

Roger Ebert described this one as “mythic.” Indeed it is–I think. It’s also as lurid as can be. Note the great Giorgio Morroder soundtrack, including one of David Bowie’s finest songs from the ’80’s. “And I’ve been putting out the fire … with GASOLINE!”

4. Trick r’ Treat (2007)*

A twisted, funhouse of a movie with cool makeup fx. It’s an anthology flick, but streamlines. I woke up a little disturbed in the middle of the night, thinking my laundry hamper was Sam, the monstrous trick or treater with a sack over his head.

5. Body Parts (1991)*

Jeff Fahey and Brad Douriff in the same movie? Bitchin’. This “modern” retelling of HANDS OF ORLOC is ridiculous, but fabulous acting, suspense, an incredible car chase sequence, and over-the-top gore make it memorable.

6. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

Yeeee-haw. 5 novel things about this bit of splatter hicksploitation: 1) Herschell Gordon Lewis based the story off the musical BRIGADOON. 2) Lewis, the “Godfather of Gore,” wrote, sang, and performed all the music, including the bluegrass numbers. 3) It was filmed in St. Cloud, Florida. Most of the town’s population is in it. 4) Its star and Lewis stock player, Connie Mason, was PLAYBOY’s June 1963 playmate of the month. 5) Lewis said, of his films, this was his favorite.

7. The Thing (1982)

What a flick. In my opinion, John Carpenter’s best work.

8. The Pact (2012)*

This one is terrifying. After her mother’s death, supernatural forces and an unimaginably frightening mystery emerge for Annie (Caity Lotz) in her deceased mother’s home. This movie is brilliantly plotted and paced with a harrowing level of suspense. It’s a victim movie par excellence, an underrated sleeper; I loved it.

9. Humanoids From the Deep (1980)*

Mutant fish monsters looking to mate with human women sure know how to crash a party.

10. Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Basil Rathbone, who played Sherlock Holmes over fourteen times, plays Baron Wolf Frankenstein. He moves to the village where his father made the monster and is greeted with scorn from locals. In effort to clear his family name he tries to make the monster good. Well … it backfires. This is one of the most visually striking FRANKENSTEIN movies with its dreamlike, asymmetrical sets and eerie use of shadows. Bela Lugosi plays a particularly evil Ygor, who survived a death sentence. Mel Brooks got a lot of mileage out of this one. It’s on equal footing with FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN–and marked Karloff’s last performance as the monster.

11. House of Frankenstein (1944)*

The second Universal Studios monster mash-up movie after FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN is corny and formulaic, but still pretty cool. Boris Karloff is great–not as the monster–but as mad scientist Dr. Niemann.

12. Lair of the White Worm (1988)

This is one of Ken Russell’s best films: trippy, offbeat, funny, and blasphemous.

13. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1970)

This team of nine surgeons picked the wrong accomplished organist’s wife’s surgery to botch. Doctor Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) exacts revenge on the surgeons, each of their slayings corresponding to a certain curse from the Old Testament. This is one inventive revenge story. It has great, weird sets, vibrant colors, and, in addition to Price, innumerable British character actors.

14. I Was a Teenage Zombie (1986)*

I WAS A TEENAGE ZOMBIE has a distasteful cartoon logic similar to TOXIC AVENGER and STREET TRASH. Its soundtrack is also a repository for lots of cool ’80’s punk music.

15. The Nesting (1981)*

This is an atmospheric, but ultimately slow, rambling, and overlong haunted house flick. Not quite as boring as AMITYVILLE, but close.

16. Bride of Chucky (1998)*

Here I was, under the impression all the CHILD’S PLAY sequels sucked. BRIDE OF CHUCKY, albeit totally mindless, is a raunchy, self-aware, and hilarious movie. Jennifer Tilly is unforgettable, too.

17. The Invisible Man (1933)

Next to BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, this is my favorite Universal monster movie. Invisibility corrupts, big time. Big time.

18. The Invisible Man Returns (1940) *

Invisibility corrupts again, and we get to see one of Vincent Price’s first villainous portrayals.

19. God Told Me To (1976)*

Of all the horror auteurs, Larry Cohen has always struck me as one of the best storytellers. His riffs on Christianity make for a crazy and fascinating film. Underrated.

20. The Beyond (1981)

That tarantula scene is simply revolting. Classic Fulci through and through. Yecch.

21. The Last House on Dead End Street (1977)*

Why–WHY–did I watch this? Its notoriety, I guess. Is it, like all those heavy duty horror freaks have been saying all these years, actually the sickest, most reprehensible piece of trash ever to have existed? I am inclined to say yes. Its minimal budget and overall amateurishness only add to how harrowing this little meditation on snuff films really is. Couple that with the totally drug-addled cast and crew, and, whoa, this is some nihilistic, awful stuff.

22.  Sisters (1973)

I love all the clever use of split-screen (split-personalities on a split-screen). Brilliant. And is Margot Kidder’s French-Canadian accent really that bad? I don’t think so. SISTERS is the ultimate De Palma experience: a Hitchcockian suspense flick with murder, gaslighting, spying, and insanity. All the while, the director wears his French New Wave influences on his sleeve.

23. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974)*

You know what all these Frankenstein movies have been lacking? Cavemen and sexually perverted midgets.

24. The Blood Spattered Bride (1972)*

Like the Hammer film THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, this one is based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story, “Carmilla.” It’s a smart, politically-charged film with anti-fascist, anti-patriarchical undertones. It’s hypnotic–part art house, part psychotronic–and has a brutal ending.

25. Phantasm (1979)

Morningside Cemetery has been invaded by some nasty inter-diminesional intruders. Watch out for their jawa-looking slaves and their flying metal ball which extracts all blood from your body. I love absolutely everything about PHANTASM, an offbeat horror classic and (unintentional) perfect distillation of the late 1970’s. Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man: it’s like Lugosi as Dracula, Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, Englund as Krueger.

26. City of the Living Dead (1980)

I feel sorry for Daniela Doria, who apparently had to puke up real sheep entrails in that car scene. Woof.

27. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Still, to this day, I think TCM is the scariest, most intense movie I’ve ever seen. Its “edge” persists with every re-watch.

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ROSS’S TOP TWENTY HORROR MOVIES

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1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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“That’s the last goddamn hitchhiker I ever pick up.”

2. The Evil Dead (1981) 

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“The ultimate experience in grueling terror.”

3. The Thing (1982) 

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A good choice for wintertime viewing.

4. Re-Animator (1985) 

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Shown in many graduate-level Medical Ethics courses.

5. Phantasm (1979)

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“BOYYYYY”

6. Videodrome (1983) 

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“Long live the new flesh.”

7. Maniac (1980) 

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An Oedipean nightmare unfolding on the sleaziest milieu imaginable.

8. Dracula (1931) 

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9. Dawn of the Dead (1979) 

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“When there’s no more room in Hell …”

10. Motel Hell (1980)

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Spoiler Alert: He used preservatives.

11. Halloween (1979) 

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Apparently that’s a painted-over Captain Kirk mask.

12. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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The ultimate Satanic victim movie.

13. The Wizard of Gore (1970)

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Herschell Gordon Lewis’s splatter magnum opus. Bad beyond all reason.

14. Basket Case (1982) 

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I once interviewed the star of this movie.

15. Planet Terror (2007)

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“Where’s … the … shit?”

16. House of Usher (1960)

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The first–and best–of the Corman/Poe films.

17. The Howling (1983)

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“Rare.”

18. Zombie (1979)

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Not the shark!

19. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

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Tom Atkins kicks so much ass. My most controversial pick, I know.

20. The House of the Devil (2009)

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Holy crap what an intense movie.

ROSS’S TOP TWENTY SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES

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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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Visually arresting, epic, and haunting, this is Stanley Kubrick’s interstellar masterpiece.

2. Alien (1979) 

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“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

3. Blade Runner (1982) 

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This adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP is the ultimate dystopian flick.

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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The overall dark side of the 1950’s zeitgeist is thrillingly explored through seed pods from space, sucking away human lifeforces.

5. A Clockwork Orange (1971) 

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“Oh, yes, my brothers.”

6. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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Why can’t we all just get along?

7. Star Wars (1977) 

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What would American childhood be without STAR WARS?

8. Forbidden Planet (1958) 

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“Earthmen on a fabulous, peril-journey into outer space! Amazing!”

9. Planet of the Vampires (1965) 

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Who rules the DEMON PLANET?

10. Escape From New York (1981) 

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Kurt Russell can do a hell of a Clint Eastwood impression.

11. Fiend Without a Face (1958) 

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Careful with all that radiation … it may bring about nightmarish psychic phenomena.

12. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1981)

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“KAAAAAAAHHHHNNNNN!”

13. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1983) 

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“Don’t grieve, Admiral. ‘Tis logical.”

14. Outland (1981) 

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Who can resist an outer space Western?

15. It Conquered the World (1956) 

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Gleefully bad. Vintage Corman.

16. Robocop (1987)

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A wonderful comic book movie, and it’s not even based on a comic book.

17. Dredd (2012)

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Another wonderful comic book movie, and it is based on a comic book.

18. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) 

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Technicolor: SEE the difference!

19. Zardoz (1974)

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Utopia, shmutopia.

20. Species (1995) 

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Ohhh … that pool scene …