Archive for the ‘aliens’ category

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

“Lost in Space” Revamped on Netflix…

April 14, 2018

The original Lost in Space tv series ran from 1965 to 1968, and was set in the then-distant future year of 1997!  In the Netflix reboot, the year is 2048, the Robinson family is still with us, but Dr. Smith is a woman!  “Oh the pain, the pain!,” as the original Smith memorably would whine.

At least they got the robot (whose name was “Robot”) right.  He no longer looks like he was cobbled together from a vacuum cleaner and several kitchen appliances.  In fact, this robot is not even of human construction, but is alien in origin, and has a dark past.  Although the robot doesn’t sing, ” I am a cybernetic hero,” he will say, “Danger, Will Robinson!”  Gone from the series, however, is the cheesy, camp-classic fun that made the original series a hoot.  This version is serious, gritty, filled with Hollywood explosions, and almost no fun at all.  Like many reboots, it has very little reason to exist.

A movie version of Lost in Space from 1998 with Matt LeBlanc was darker and had its moments, but was commercially unsuccessful.  In this reconceptualization, the Robinson family is not on a solo mission but is one of a number of colonist families trying to populate the Alpha Centauri system.  The Jupiter II winds up sinking into a frozen lake, and most of the first episode apparently involves trying to retrieve daughter Judy from said lake before she buys the farm.  Will Robinson thankfully plays less of a central role in this series than he did in the 1960’s original, allowing some updating and expansion of the other characters.  

The ten-episode series is family-friendly and action or crisis oriented, but while drawing from the original series, fails to recreate its spirit or substitute anything in its stead, making it truly lost in space…

  

“X-Files” Season 11 Finale…

March 23, 2018


After leaving explicit instructions that I was not to be interrupted, I sat down to watch the Season 11 finale of the X-Files.  I seldom exclaim “Wow!” at anything that I see on television, but this episode was truly cathartic.  It was one wild ride that took me in unexpected directions, leaving me feeling dazzled, wrung-out, and yes, satisfied if saddened. — Thank you, series creator Chris Carter!

The episode had everything, from Fox Mulder in his Mustang to Mulder impossibly prevailing over three armed men to the freaky powers of Mulder’s “son” repeatedly deployed.  I haven’t seen this much blood on the screen since The Walking Dead, with Mulder himself dispatching several people and son William causing other despicable baddies to literally explode…unexpected gore (a “Wow!” moment), but I don’t begrudge them that, as long as I don’t have to clean it up. We got to see several deaths including those of several core characters, and one startling resurrection that testifies to the regenerative powers of alien DNA.  Death is not necessarily final in the X-Files world, where the impossible happens.  We also saw the deep love and bond between Mulder and Scully, all without a single kiss being exchanged.  More than kisses were exchanged, however, as Mulder is told he’ll really be a father by his partner…

Although Gillian Anderson has said she will not be returning to reprise her Dana Scully character, there are plenty of hooks here upon which a series reboot could be mounted. We true X-Philes will only accept a season finale, and never a series finale.  If Fox Television is sold to Disney as is apparently in the works, we might even learn of a connection between alien-infused William and Disney’s character Stitch…”The impossible is happening, Mulder…”



The X-Files, Season 11…

January 4, 2018


I’m glad that there’s a Season 11 of The X-Files, even if it’s only comprised of ten episodes.  The season premiere that aired on Fox network January 3rd was heavy on the series mythology, bringing together many of the core iconic characters of the series and its on-going themes of deep-level government conspiracies and alien involvement. The quest in search of Mulder and Scully’s son William will be a strong underlying thread this season, and we learn that his parentage “by way of science” includes DNA from the nefarious Cigarette-Smoking Man, perhaps with some otherworldly genes also thrown in. 

Poor Dana Scully spends a lot of time in the hospital this episode, getting banged up in car wrecks, troubled by disturbing visions, and almost being smothered with a pillow by a baddie; it sucks to be her.  Fox Mulder was in heroic investigative and defensive mode, really putting a Ford Mustang through its paces and dispatching Scully’s assailant at the last minute with a scalpel; the guy’s got skills!  There’s even a shouting match with shoving between Mulder and Skinner, who may be in collusion with the CSM.  In the rambling undercurrent of the series, it would appear that the Cigarette-Smoking Man is actually trying to exterminate humanity with some kind of alien pathogen, which is probably why flu shots are no more than 10% effective this season…  

There was a lot of action and plenty of tantalizing unanswered questions in the episode, and I’d ride shotgun in Fox Mulder’s Mustang anytime…

Churchill and the Aliens…

February 16, 2017

Now this is kinda cool, especially if you’re a bit of a history buff as many nerds like myself are.  The history and science fiction nexus gets thick at times over World War II, what with the insane speculation that Nazi Germany was scientifically advanced due to alien “assistance.”  So it really floats my boat to hear that a lost essay has been discovered by none less than Winston Churchill in which he supports the existence of alien life…

…I swear that I am not making this up!  The unpublished essay from 1939 by Churchill was discovered in of all places a Missouri museum to which the paper had been donated and then forgotten.  Now Winnie was a remarkable guy; a politician, statesman, writer, and even a friend of the sciences who while prime minister of England appointed a science adviser, and regularly met with scientists.  Radar was developed during his watch, and may have kept England afloat when the Nazis came calling.  Anyways, Churchill in this essay ponders the timeless question of alien life, and concludes that we are not alone

…remarkably, Churchill’s reasoning even from over seventy years ago mirrors scientific thought even today, proving that the cigar-smoker was both broad-minded and a man ahead of his time.  Churchill and Carl Sagan probably would have liked each other.  The best politicians are scientifically friendly; if only such could be said of Mr. Trump…

Of Blood Rain and Star Jelly…

October 6, 2016

 

wp-1475697445591.jpeg

Every day, about 100 metric tons of material rains down on Earth’ s surface.  Episode 11 of Season 1 of Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved ventured into the sticky, perhaps revolting question of what exactly was “star jelly” and “blood rain.”  Please be advised that frog spawn will probably be discussed in the post, so if this offends or disgusts you, read no further.– You have been duly warned!

Now references to star jelly and blood rain date back to medieval times, with an account presented as far back as the year 1176.  Modern references are numerous; in November of 2001, for example, a gelatinous blob was found in Manchester, England that emanated a smell of rotten eggs, and dissolved when touched.  In 1950 in southern Philadelphia, two police officers saw a “dissolving UFO” that gave off a purplish glow, and inspired the 1958 Steve McQueen movie, “The Blob.

In Oakville, Washington in 1994, a gelatinous rain fell during a meteor shower that covered tree branches and made some individuals sick.  Two bacteria were found in samples tested by the Washington Dept. of Health that were capable of causing urinary tract infections and septicemia.  Conspiracy theories then blossomed as black planes and helicopters were later seen over the area. – –  Was Oakville chosen as a military test site? – – Was Fox Mulder summoned?  Alas, the remaining samples disappeared, and department scientists reported being told not to say anything about it.  Fortunately, an area resident kept a sample in her refrigerator (“Don’t eat the jelly, Honey!“), and it was taken to an independent lab that found bacteria present and a eukaryotic cell.  This sample then also disintegrated.

Now in India in 2001, a blood red rain fell to Earth, freaking out the residents.  Originally told that the rain was colored red by dust, it was later disclosed that the rain contained biological cells that strangely matched no known DNA.  The question was raised if these unknown cells were possibly of extraterrestrial origin.

Now Scotland has had numerous reports logged of luminous jelly falling from the sky.  Clarkson University specialist Dr. Langen feels that many of these samples are of terrestrial origin, did not fall from the sky, but are in reality…frog spawn (remember, you were warned)!  Langen exposed frog spawn to freezing and heating, and found that it could dehydrate and rehydrate in a manner similar to “star jelly.” Other creatures such as tardigrades can also survive extreme conditions of heat, cold, and even the vacuum of space.

The panspermia theory holds that life originated someplace other than Earth, and was seeded here by meteorites and comets.  While some scientists and researchers believe that Earth was “pollinated” by outer space, others do not.  At any rate, should you find any star jelly lying around, don’t eat it…you don’t know where it’s been!

Crop Circles on “Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved”

July 15, 2016

 

wp-1468626335478.jpeg

The second episode of “Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved” again hit on mysteries rather than monsters with an installment on crop circles, about 100 of which are sighted each year around the world, but usually in the United Kingdom and most often in fields of wheat and barley, appearing overnight.

Now about 90% of crop circles are fake, but a small percentage are not man-made. It’s possible to tell if they are not caused by human effort by damage done to the crop, which is thought to be from some sort of energy which causes nodes on the plants to expand and ultimately explode. Several different mechanical methods can also cause such damage, however.

Some UFO sightings have been reported in the vicinity of crop circles, and video footage exists. A video analyst examined one such tape, and pronounced it original without the object having been externally added. The specialist could not, however, identify the object depicted, which appeared in the footage as a glowing orb.

Midwestern U.S. formations appear to show a connection to one another, with the circles linked geographically in a straight line pointing directly to other crop circles. It might appear that such circles are not singular, isolated events, but rather parts of a series.

So what does this all mean? An explanation was not advanced, other than to say that crop circles were a phenomena which could not be pigeonholed. Questions were raised, but few were answered…