Archive for the ‘sci fi’ category

“Resident Alien” Rocks!

January 10, 2022

We’ve all seen plot elements of this show before, in such shows as Mork and Mindy, My Favorite Martian, ALF, and Coneheads, among others. The core story varies but little; an Alien comes to Earth, either crash-landing or voluntarily visiting. For one reason or another, he exists as a fish out of water among us, learning about humanity, behaving awkwardly at times, struggling to understand us, and gradually coming to like us.

Based on a Dark Horse comic and set in the town of Patience, Colorado our alien masks his natural reptilian-type appearance with some kind of molecular projection. He has assumed the appearance, identity, and possessions of the first human he encountered, an unfortunate doctor whose body now reposes in the freezer. A scientist on his own world, our alien’s original mission was to sow a destructive device intended to exterminate humanity. An atmospheric storm caused his vessel to crash-land on our planet, however, so the parameters of his mission have been altered…

Resident Alien is at core a dark comedy, with actor Alan Tudyk doing an extraordinary job of portraying the alien Dr. Harry as kind of a clueless 10-year-old boy who frequently misreads social cues, having learned our language and culture from television. His facial expressions are all slightly off, he does a simulated laugh that is quite remarkable, and he is rather pleased with himself when he successfully makes a joke. At a social gathering, his requested beverage is “milk drawn from a cow’s teat.” Dr. Harry’s medical knowledge of humanity is all taken from Google…

and being an extraterrestrial visitor impersonating a human can be complicated. The small town law enforcement team is closing in on the murder he committed, his home planet is unhappy with him, and not-quite Men in Black agents are also posing a threat to him…

Happily, Resident Alien has been renewed for a second season, and we will see how some of these plot complications play out. If you’ve arrived late to the party as I did, you can stream Season 1, and Harry will be riding tall in the saddle until late January when Season 2 arrives. It’s two paws up for Resident Alien… 🦊

American Horror Story’s “Death Valley” from “Double Feature”

October 20, 2021

The current Double Feature season of American Horror Story is exactly that, with the first Red Tide segments being about ghoulish vampires, and the second Death Valley feature centering on aliens. I’m only going to comment on Death Valley to keep things more contained, and frankly because I’m a bit tired of vampire themes, although admittedly Red Tide is innovative.

Now aliens I can really get my teeth into (with apologies to the vampires). What makes Death Valley a real hoot is the number of historical personalities portrayed, ranging from Eisenhower and Nixon (above) to JFK, Marilyn Monroe, and even an all-too brief appearance by Amelia Earhart, who without having aged in 20 years is delivered to the Eisenhower administration and pregnant with an alien child…yes, you heard that right! Well, a little later on Amelia has her alien baby and it’s a bad one, because it kills Amelia and the docs and nurses in the room until Ike and a couple of soldiers shoot it dead. This is wild stuff, and wildly entertaining!

Now you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Mamie Eisenhower possessed by an alien consciousness and levitating, with her eyes a milky white. The aliens communicate through possession of a human intermediary at times, and can cause the heads of opposing humans to explode by a wave of their hands, which is messy but compelling viewing. Wouldn’t you love to be able to do that?! Anyways, by possessing Mamie they gain emotional leverage over Ike so he agrees to allow the quiet abduction of several thousand people a year in exchange for alien technology. One of the goodies so obtained are cell phones, taken for granted now but unbelievable stuff during the Eisenhower years. Ike suffers angst over this, but hey, the aliens would simply have gone to the Russians had we not allowed them to abduct people, impregnate them, and breed hybrids so their race can survive on Earth.

Some of the alien genetic engineering projects fall short of the desired outcome, however, with disconcerting results like the humanoid above with one alien and one human eye…and the aliens can impregnate anyone and use them as a vessel, including males!

So catch Death Valley from Double Feature on the current season of American Horror Story. It unites so much of the mythic speculation on alien contacts and designs, with historical personages thrown in as you’ve never seen them before, very reminiscent of The X-Files and just as much fun… 🦊

“Godzilla vs. Kong” Satisfies…

August 31, 2021

I have at long last been able to see the much-touted Godzilla vs. Kong movie, crown jewel in the MonsterVerse series. While the film is overly-long and leaves many unanswered questions, it’s still a good guilty pleasure for Kaiju fans.

Now it takes over forty minutes for our combatants to finally meet in a neon-lit Hong Kong, which thoughtfully has Titan Shelters (so labeled) present for the safety of its human inhabitants. The dang Titans run amok every so often, and wouldn’t it be great if Titans were the only problem faced by humanity? They would constitute an external, readily-identifiable enemy.

Now Kong in the movie receives much of the initial film time, even taking a waterfall shower to the strains of a 50’s doo-wop hit. He’s being kept in a containment environment, but knows that it’s fake. When Godzilla begins attacking shipping and otherwise behaving badly, Kong is transported via air and sea to protect the mainland, and then it’s match on. Kong and Godzilla have an ancient rivalry and generally bad blood towards one another, you see. Kong is also recruited to fight for humanity by being shown “Hollow Earth,” a vast environment within the Earth where he’s led to believe he may find others like himself. The notion of Hollow Earth should really delight and get fringe conspiracy and pseudo-science adherents buzzing.

So Kong and Godzilla fight in Hong Kong, and I won’t detail that outcome so as not to spoil the spectacle for those who have yet to see the film. I will say that Mechagodzilla enters into it prominently, however, and that he’s become sentient, gone rogue, and is infused with the mojo of King Ghidora through one of his three decapitated heads, and despises Godzilla for having killed him in a previous film. Understandably, this could ruin your entire day. It all gets rather complicated, but suffice it to say that Mechagodzilla here is an impressive creation, his red eyes glowing like a gigantic Terminator endoskeleton. When Godzilla and Mechagodzilla go at one another head to head, it’s like seeing a Jedi vs. Sith light saber battle on a epic scale, so pull up a chair for this one…

So by all means, indulge yourself in Godzilla vs. Kong, which at times is oddly satisfying and a great guy film! No one else needs to know that you saw it. Perhaps in a future film, the absence of the other Titans from this one will be explained. I could do with a good Mothra epic, after all. Until then, satisfy yourself with Mechagodzilla… 🦊

Brando’s “Dr. Moreau” 25th Year Anniversary…

August 21, 2021

Everyone should read the 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells at least once. As a furry, I’ve read it several times, and catch the film versions whenever they’re on. Burt Lancaster played the doctor in a more traditional 1977 version, whereas Marlon Brando really took the role off the rails in a 1996 version that is generally regarded to be the worst film that he ever made.

Brando‘s Dr. Moreau is by almost anyone’s definition bizarre. Playing the part in white Kabuki-style makeup and other outrageous garb, Brando’s characterization is really far out there, and hard to relate to. What makes the film memorable, however, is the cast of animal hybrids that were created in one of the last special effects extravaganzas using makeup rather than computer generated special effects. You can even catch Ron Perlman in the film playing the Sayer of the Law, a goatish-hybrid.

Now Ron Perlman is no stranger to having played furry and other offbeat characters, having appeared as Hellboy and even Vincent in the series Beauty and the Beast. Perlman wanted the experience of having appeared in a project with the legendary Marlon Brando, although this film hardly qualifies as Brando’s best work. Perlman would describe the movie as being an incredible mess…

Now Dr. Moreau was a mad scientist type who endeavored to create human-animal hybrids via vivisection. When his gruesome and painful experiments were publicly exposed, Moreau fled to his island to continue work perfecting his Beast Folk. It continues to be a classic work of science fiction to this day while reflecting the ethical, philosophical, and scientific concerns of the time of its creation. So consider visiting The Island of Doctor Moreau in literature and film, with the 1996 Brando version celebrating its 25th anniversary…and if you see Fox-Bear Woman, a female hybrid of a fox and a bear, tell her I’ve got her back… Are We Not Men?!

Fishy Business…

September 11, 2020


Chace Crawford portrays an Aquaman-type character called The Deep on the Amazon Prime series The Boys, and the character has body image issues because he has, well, gills.  I’m not talking about discrete gill slits either of the type that we’ve seen on Kevin Costner in Waterworld on the neck, but rather large, gaping chest apertures that open and close.  More disturbingly, the character seems to enjoy having those gill slits shall we say, erotically stimulated?  Still more bizarre was a drug-induced episode where the character engaged in dialogue with his talking gill slits, and even sang a duet with them to the tune of, “You Are So Beautiful.” This was pretty trippy stuff, capable of wowing even my jaded sensitivities!

Crawford wears the sea suit well, and is one sexy if emotionally conflicted superhero.  It isn’t easy, after all, to be looked down upon as the token aquatic hero who talks to sea life.  In exploring the character of such a hero, we can only think of how far such characters have come from the web-fingered portrayal of one such being by Patrick Duffy in The Man from Atlantis.- –Who could blame such guys for occasionally being crabby?  I mean, they aren’t doing it on porpoise…

 

 

Frank’s RedHot TV commercial, “Every Food…”

September 8, 2020


Even in the bizarre and unforgettable year of 2020, this Frank’s RedHot commercial stands out.  The announcer’s voiceover kicks the ad off, proclaiming how he “puts that s#!t on everything.” What follows are some of the qualifying items, like pizza, a co-worker’s lunch, and “whatever this is.”  We are then shown a woman (above) about to put the sauce on some kind of tentacled thing, which commendably is still alive, and fighting back in a spirited fashion with cutlery!  This would appear to be one die-hard dinner, which unfortunately the woman appears ultimately able to jab her fork into.  Poor, valiant octopus-like thing!–Hath not a cephalopod eyes?!

The brief commercial continues to say that Frank’s RedHot may be put on “astronaut food,” and we are shown an astronaut floating in an encapsulated zero-g environment, his leg and body enveloped by the flexible tentacle of his multi-limbed alien captor floating right next to him, who questions whether the sauce may be put on astronauts.  “Everything!,” reassures the announcer, to which the alien succinctly replies, “Yum!”

So there you have it…serving and being served, eating and being eaten, just part of the food chain.  And don’t forget Frank’s RedHot sauce, which is the “perfect blend of flavor and heat.”  You can “put that s#!t on everything.”  Bon appetit, y’all…

 

   

 

Wilford Brimley Passes..

August 3, 2020

He was a fine character actor, and although his commercials for Quaker Oatmeal could be annoying, I liked the old coot, who kind of presented on screen as everyone’s crusty, grumpy, know-it-all grandpa.  I don’t often memorialize actors here, but Wilford Brimley appeared in some memorable science fiction movies, which is one territory we visit here, especially as they involve alien concepts and life.  Brimley appeared in both Cocoon and The Thing, the latter a wonderful if dark and gory 1982 re-make by John Carpenter of the earlier classic.  As Dr. Blair, the chief biologist in The Thing, Brimley’s character was the first to recognize the global danger posed by the shape-shifting alien, and he took a radical approach to attempting to contain the threat.  Carpenter’s The Thing remains one of my personal faves, it’s aged well, and I revisit it often.  He’s pictured above in that role, minus his trademark walrus mustache.

Brimley was an ex-marine, and most don’t know that he had a fine singing voice, and played harmonica well.  Wilford got into acting with non-speaking parts in 1960’s westerns, and might be seen there hammering horseshoes in the background.  In addition to numerous film credits and diverse roles, he also starred in a TV series, Our House.

If Brimley were here, he might talk to us for a few minutes about diabetes, which came across as diabeetus.  He’d encourage us to eat our oatmeal (because if you hate it, it’s gotta be good for you).  Suffering is good for the soul, right?  If so, mine ought to be almost golden by now.  And remember, you’ve gotta contain those insidious aliens!  Maybe feed them some damn oatmeal so they won’t want our world…and “It’s the right thing to do.”             


Of Giant Monsters…

May 20, 2020


There’s a special place in my heart for 1950’s horror movies, especially those featuring giant monsters…and it’s hard to think of a better tag line for one than, “This was the day that engulfed the world in terror!”  More than 60 years after its 1957 debut, The Deadly Mantis continues to be entertaining as a high camp classic, more amusing now than horrifying.  The clumsy and dated not-so-special effects of the giant mantis flying are alone worth watching the film for.

In these times of invisible horrors like the coronavirus, it’s so nice to see our fears embodied as something gigantic and readily identifiable that we can shoot artillery at, and direct flame throwers towards; we know that we’re going to win against it at the end.  I doubt, however, that bleach and bright lights would be effective against this thing.  Perhaps we can get a large number of regular praying mantids together, and make one really big one like this that we could threaten murder hornets with.  A Universal Picture creation, one yearns to see the Deadly Mantis locked in mortal combat with some creature from the Toho Studios world…Mothra vs. Mantis has a nice ring to it.  Now that’s entertainment…I’d go bugs over that one!

 

https://youtu.be/G8R9OoQh4q0

 

 

The Guilty Pleasures of “BattleBots”

June 21, 2019

  

Robotic fighters have long been a recurring theme in science fiction, and an object of fascination to males like myself who refused to grow up.  From the Richard Matheson story to its adaptation in the Twilight Zone episode “Steel,” inspiration was drawn for the Hugh Jackman movie, “Real Steel.”  As an enabling step towards realization of those fantasies, we also have airing on The Discovery Channel the BattleBots series, a place where the pugilistic arts meet high technology in an arena of mechanical mayhem.

Now the tone of these different sagas varies greatly, with Steel as shown on The Twilight Zone dark and dystopian, and set in the then-distant future world of…(gasp)…1974!  Good ole Battling Maxo could no longer hold his own against the more advanced models then.  Far more family-friendly was Real Steel, a movie more centered upon the relationship of a father and son than upon the robots themselves.  The weekly BattleBots series is a strange spectacle featuring teams of bright people from around the world who at times don costumes and whoop and yell as they yet intently field weaponized remotely-controlled devices against one another in a containing area.  Their creations, often resembling lawn mowers from hell, inflict damage upon their opponents until an adversary is unable to operate, or time for a match runs out.  Although not choreographed, matches borrow from “over-the-top” traditions of professional wrestling, complete with a ring announcer, commentators, and a whipped-up audience waving signs…

…Now, it might be interesting to see some cross-over action on BattleBots, such as seeing those ‘bots versus a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, or perhaps a Dalek from Dr. Who.- – That ought to drive up the old ratings!

 

“Colonel RoboCop” Commercials…

March 4, 2019

In the increasingly bizarro-world in which we live where entertainment and merchandising blend, it is perhaps fitting that we see KFC’s iconic spokesman Colonel Sanders morph into RoboCop, who in a series of new commercials has been given the mission of protecting the franchises “secret blend” of 11 herbs and spices.  Voiced by the original movie RoboCop Peter Weller, the blend of man and machine is disturbingly perfect, complete with elements of the Colonel’s trademark hair, tie, and white suit.

In one of the commercial spots, the Colonel is plied at a dinner gathering for his secret KFC recipe.  “If I told you, then I’d have to kill you,” replies the cybernetic Colonel, interrupting the awkward silence which follows with a repeated weird mechanical laugh.  The Colonel makes a persuasive argument for consuming the product while respecting the secrecy of the recipe that we ignore at our own peril.  Consume, and do not question…or else!  

Perhaps a world of corporate wars is coming, one in which Colonel Robocop takes on Ronald “Terminator” McDonald, or the Mayhem guy is in an iron cage match with Progressive’s Flo.  These tales are waiting to be written… *shudders*


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