Archive for the ‘anthropomorphic’ 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…

 

 

The C, the C, the Open C on “The Terror”

May 14, 2018

 

Watching a late episode of The Terror series is somewhat like regarding a mummy; there are things here that are distinctly unpleasant to see, but not only can’t you not look away, but you keep on going back for more!  As someone who is also reading Dan Simmons’ novel as they watch the series, you might even say that I’m double-dipping, a true misery porn junkie.  This is depressing and disturbing stuff, but I can’t stop returning to it because it’s so well done!

As people with an understanding of what actually happened to the historical Franklin Expedition, we know what the characters do not know as the story unfolds, namely that they are all doomed and that this doesn’t end well for them, regardless of what they do.  When faced with extreme and desperate conditions, we are shown the polarities of how people can respond to dire circumstances in the now separate camps of Captain Crozier versus the mutinous and psychopathic rebel leader, Hickey.  Crozier has become elevated as the series has progressed, whereas Hickey has gravitated towards the bestial.  Whereas Crozier has remained a civilized man and become almost a spiritual leader, for Hickey cannibalism is now literally on the table.

We say goodbye to Commander Fitzjames in this episode, his condition deteriorating rapidly and an assisted suicide conducted by Crozier.  Captive in Hickey’s camp and witness to a murder, surgeon Goodsir (pictured) is forced to butcher the body for consumption lest Hickey kill another for failure to comply.  And Ice Master Blankey, already minus a lower leg from a previous confrontation with Tuunbaq, goes out solo in a suicidal mission against the creature to buy his compatriots some time.  Ingeniously, the guy wraps himself in forks so as to make the monster’s job less easy, and perhaps enact revenge from within should he be ingested…the guy’s going down, but you gotta love his spirit!

Betrayed by a double agent in his own camp, Crozier is captured by Hickey’s men, with the final outcome to this and other hanging issues to find resolution in episode 10, the last of the season.

 

“Terror Camp Clear” Episode of “The Terror”

May 8, 2018

With all hell breaking loose both within and without on episode 8 of The Terror, Captain Fitzjames unleashed a rocket on the rampaging Tuunbaq running amok in their camp, hitting the over-sized, long-necked polar bear-like creature a good shot but basically just changing its course.  This was a very cool use of retro technology, and Fitzjames looked good while deploying it, showing courage under extreme duress.  Mid-19th century weaponry just wasn’t up to the job, sadly…

The climatic battle scene followed an episode fueled by paranoia and rebellion in which seaman Hickey almost staged a successful mutiny after blaming his slaughter of two crew mates on an Inuit family who were then killed in reprisal by the Erebus/Terror crews.  Hickey then whipped the camp into a frenzy by rumors that an Inuit counter-attack was imminent, using it as justification to seize arms and distribute them among his followers.  When Hickey’s ruse was discovered and countered, we were fixing to see a hanging when a cocaine-addled crewman Collins posed a distraction, staggering in and closely followed by the Tuunbaq monster, who was either irate that natives had been killed or was uncontrolled by the departure of the shaman-like Lady Silence.

Anyways, Hickey escaped in the confusion of the Tuunbaq’s killing spree together with sympathizers and captives, and in alienating the Inuit population the expedition’s members have lost their best remaining chance of survival. With their bodies becoming covered with loathsome sores from scurvy and lead poisoning, things will continue to go downhill from here in the two episodes remaining of The Terror

“A Mercy” Episode on, “The Terror”

April 23, 2018

When the going gets tough, it’s time to throw a party as a counter to the growing anger, despair, and psychosis growing among the crews of Erebus and Terror, as we are shown in Episode 6 of the series. The party is a wild one, thrown in an enormous tent rigged by the seamen, complete with drinking, hot tub bathing, and men wearing dresses, ahem!  There are seamen wearing animal head masks…yes, 19th century furries!   Rum is even being fed to the brain-dead crewman Private Heather, his skull torn open in an earlier Tuunbaq attack.

Unfortunately, one of their own, Dr. Stanley, has quietly gone mad, and he seals off the tent before dousing it and himself with oil, and igniting both.  Stanley’s arms-spread self-immolation is evocative of a scene from The Thing from Another World, and is perhaps the most horrible thing in the episode, rivaled only by Lady Silence‘s staggering bloody entrance, her tongue self-removed in an attempt to forge a shamanistic bond with the Tuunbaq.  We do see the creature briefly, his face a disquieting mix of ursine and human features.

With their food supply starting to run low and the canned food producing recognized symptoms of lead poisoning, expedition leadership now plans to abandon both their mission and their vessels in a risky trek on foot hundreds of miles south to civilization. The ill-fated party was an effort to boost morale prior to food rationing, climatic suffering, and the further predations of their Tuunbaq adversary, although clearly it had the reverse effect, adding also to the mounting body count.  

With only four episodes left to run, we unlike the poor devils in the Royal Navy know that this will end badly, because as Captain Crozier observed, “The place wants us dead…”


“First Shot a Winner, Lads” on “The Terror”

April 17, 2018

Well, the Royal Navy would appear to have fully engaged the Tuunbaq on Season 1, Episode 5 of The Terror, with blood drawn on both sides but the British at least putting on a good show for Queen and country.- –Well played, Lads!  We are given a bit more of a glimpse of the creature, which is set on fire, hit with a cannon shot, and survives just to run off into the snow mist!  “He’ll be back,” we can almost imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger saying…

I like to watch this show in a darkened room to heighten the atmospheric effects, with the pursuit and battle sequence of the episode taking place at night in a blinding snowstorm in the bitter cold.  The filming techniques almost make you feel like you are there as part of the beleaguered crew, about to receive a severe thrashing at the paws and claws of something incomprehensible that moves on its own terms, and may not even be destructible by mortal weapons.  A vicious and cunning predator is not the only problem the crew faces, having flesh cut off due to frostbite, an alcoholic captain, and the matter of spoiling and lead tainted food that is slowly poisoning them.  The enigmatic Inuit woman named Lady Silence breaks her reticence to convey that she doesn’t control the creature, and is really as afraid of it as the English are.  “It’s bound to no one,” she says…

Dread is a difficult emotion to convey in horror, and many horror tales fail to convey it at all.  It is a refined, rarified sense of fear.  Dread is subtle and builds slowly out of bits and pieces, taking its own good time.  The Terror is developing a sense of dread as effectively as about anything seen in recent years on television, and I look forward to the upcoming matches of the Royal Navy versus the supernatural Tuunbaq…

Rampage:  Megafauna Rampant…

April 11, 2018

I’m glad that my cousin, Ralph, finally made it to the big screen!  He always had dreams of going to Hollywood, and deserved it after all those years of parking cars, pumping gas, and hanging out at furry and video game conventions.  It was annoying to him that people would pull at his costume only to discover that it wasn’t one. – – Ahh, his mother would have been so proud of him!  On the other hand, I wasn’t granted Ralph’s athleticism, being only a bookish writer…fortune, thou art a cruel mistress!

I suppose it was inevitable that they’d make a movie loosely based on the vintage video game, Rampage, and starring Dwayne Johnson.  After all, Doom turned out so well!  In the long-ago, I can remember playing the video game, and never doing terribly well…such is the the story of my life!  Anyways, in his latest action film outing, the Rock plays primatologist Davis Okoye who is attempting to intervene on behalf of his albino silverback gorilla, George, the object of a rogue genetic experiment gone awry. – –Tell me about it!  George, Ralph, and other mutant animals grown to enormous size are, well, rampaging through North America, and causing big trouble and general mayhem.  It’s up to Dwayne Johnson and others to find an antidote…

This sci fi/fantasy offering sounds like good brainless fun, and is opening April 13th at a theater near you!  A CGI-heavy movie, it also features Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead, minus his Negan bat, Lucille.  I expect that Ralphie will give a memorable performance, and even if he doesn’t, I’m still proud of the big lug… 😉

“Punished, As A Boy” on “The Terror”

April 10, 2018

To dispense with what the episode title refers to, it appears that when you’re “punished as a boy” on a 19th century British ship, you’re flogged on your bottom rather than on your back, complete with all of your shipmates watching for both pain and humiliation.  We do get to see this, unfortunately, complete with blood spattering, agonized grunts from the punished, and the man’s behind resembling raw hamburger following his ordeal.- – Hey, horror isn’t pretty!  

This is grim stuff, but things are getting pretty grim indeed, with the Tuunbaq creature shredding members of the expedition brutally and pretty much at will, leaving some as only bloody smears on the ice, removing part of another’s skull to expose his brain (“It looks like pudding!,” remarks the ship’s surgeon), and tearing two others in half to crudely reassemble their bodies together.  The Tuunbaq has also demonstrated that it can move onto the English ships pretty much at will, and escape unscathed.  We’re kind of at the stage now that we were in The Thing where the men realize that the alien is inside the camp, and they’re relatively ineffective at countering it.  Composure and discipline are beginning to fall apart, just as some of the men’s gums are starting to turn black from lead poisoning brought by their spoiling and badly- packaged tinned food.

I’m not going to go on about the many complexities and layers of character and plot going on in the story, which can be appreciated on a variety of levels; we limit ourselves to just a few paragraphs here.  But central to the story and ever growing in importance is the enigmatic and appropriately-named Lady Silence, the Inuit woman whose father was accidently shot by the English in an earlier episode.  She was seen engaging in some kind of interaction with the Tuunbaq, perhaps a ritual.  Is she controlling the creature, or what is the nature of her relationship with it?  Hmmm…we’ll just have to wait and see!