Tag Archives: Science fiction

ADAM WARLOCK, THANOS, GAMORA AND DRAX

Magus 1Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the turning point story for Adam Warlock, a Marvel Comics character … and therefore probably destined to become a pop culture demi-god like almost every other Marvel figure thrown at the screen. (He was already an Easter Egg in their Cinematic Universe)

Marvel Comics characters, their film rights spread across multiple studios, have been at the center of seemingly countless movies in recent decades as well as plenty of television shows, both broadcast and cable. Flops like Howard the Duck and Ben Affleck’s Daredevil are cultural touchstones for cinematic failure. Marvel’s vampire slayer Blade, introduced in the 1970s, succeeded in three motion pictures AND a television series long before the Black Panther was adapted for the screen.

The X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and others have appeared in multiple films. Even less popular Marvel figures like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have been money-makers. Hell, even Groot, originally introduced as a rampaging monster in NINETEEN SIXTY has become nearly iconic despite having the most limited vocabulary this side of “Hulk will smash!”

(Yes, Groot – like Fin Fang Foom, Patsy Walker and the zombie Simon Garth – came even before the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man!).  

All of which is my roundabout way of getting back to ADAM WARLOCK, another lesser-known Marvel character who will probably become a household name before you know it. Adam had the very FIRST encounter with GAMORA. He fought THANOS in multiple storylines dating back to the 1970s, sometimes alongside DRAX and THE AVENGERS. Continue reading

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ALIEN OUTLAW (1985): MOVIE REVIEW

Alien Outlaw bigALIEN OUTLAW (1985) – Starring Kari Anderson. Written and directed by Smoot … PHIL Smoot (Da dut da DAAA/ Da da-da). Phil was one Smoot operator and showed the imagination that low-budget filmmakers so often demonstrate but whose lack of financial resources prevents them from fully bringing that imagination to life.

Smoot got his start with the Dixie DeMille himself, Earl Owensby, often called “Roger Corman south of the Mason-Dixon Line.” And that wasn’t said as an insult. Like Corman, Owensby specialized in unpretentious B-movies that always made a profit due to budget-consciousness.

Before setting out on independent projects of his own, Phil Smoot worked in various capacities on Owensby’s North Carolina flicks like Challenge, The Brass Ring, Tales of the Third Dimension and many others.

Alien OutlawWith Alien Outlaw, Smoot showed the Owensby influence: North Carolina locations, meandering scenes that begged to be edited down and lots of annoying Southern-Fried humor that wouldn’t have made the cut on Hee Haw. On the plus side he also demonstrated a flair for fun B-movie premises that mixed genres.

Smoot’s other best-know work as writer-director was The Dark Power, a Toltec zombie horror film with Western elements (a work previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog). Like The Dark Power, Alien Outlaw starred old, old, OLD Western actor Lash Larue, who was the middle man in the Whip-Wielding Action Star Trimurti, coming after Don Q: Son of Zorro and before Indiana Jones.

Alien Outlaw JesseAlien Outlaw mixed Western elements with science fiction in a way that made you root for the film, despite the way Phil Smoot defeated himself at every turn. The potential was here to craft a fun, slick, modest money-maker which played like a Western version of a Tom Baker-era episode of Doctor Who. And with a butt-kicking female lead.     

THE PREMISE: An alien spaceship lands in 1985 North Carolina and conceals itself by submerging in a body of water. That body of water is a stream the water level of which couldn’t even conceal a small car let alone a large space-craft.

THE POTENTIAL FIX: A lake or a make-believe cloaking device would have worked better.

THE STORY: A few aliens, wearing back-packs and masks to breathe our air, attack random people, take their guns and begin terrorizing the countryside. We are never told if their ship landed on Earth deliberately or made the best out of a crash landing. Nor are we told why aliens capable of interstellar flight have to confiscate primitive firearms. Continue reading

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MAN FROM ATLANTIS (1977) ON BLU-RAY

Man from AtlantisYes, in a not-so-subtle attempt to exploit Aquaman‘s suprising success it’s a Warner Archives Blu-ray of the telefilm Man From Atlantis. Patrick Duffy stars as Marcarus, the (seemingly) last survivor of Atlantis with Victor “King Tut” Buono as his evil archenemy Mr. Schubert.

Belinda Montgomery and Alan Fudge co-star as marine scientists who ally themselves with Duffy and name him “Mark Harris.” I’m just weird enough to love the fact that when Duffy’s son joined him in the cast of Dallas years later the son’s character was also named Mark Harris. Cute.

This is the telefilm that led to the series which featured “undersea time portals” and bad model sub work and midgets called Moxie and giants named Thark.     Continue reading

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QUATERMASS II PLUS QUATERMASS AND THE PIT COMING FROM SCREAM FACTORY

QuatermassMay 14th will see the Scream Factory releasing Blu-Ray editions of Quatermass II: Enemy from Space plus Quatermass and the Pit. NOTE: These are the THEATRICAL RELEASE versions. If you want the original 1950s British television versions of the Quatermass Serials they are available but sometimes just on Region 2 DVD.

To pre-order these Blu-Ray editions:  Continue reading

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BOSTON’S 44th ANNUAL SCI-FI MARATHON: THE MOVIE LINE-UP

boston sci fi festivalFebruary 16th to 17th is when the 2019 Boston Sci-Fi Marathon will happen.

More info is below, but first a list of this year’s eleven movies:

SOURCE CODE (2011)

SUNSHINE (2007)

DR CYCLOPS (1940)

DESTINATION MOON (1950)

INNERSPACE (1987) Continue reading

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ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: THE LUNARIAN PROFESSOR (1909)

Lunarian ProfessorTHE LUNARIAN PROFESSOR AND HIS REMARKABLE REVELATIONS CONCERNING THE EARTH, THE MOON AND MARS TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE CRUISE OF THE SALLY ANN (1909) – Written by James B Alexander back in the glory days of titles so long they might not fit in a 140 character limit.

The story is set in 1892, when James Alexander pretends that, while on a fishing trip he encountered a humanoid with a head like a globe, six limbs, large eyes and six wings. The being claims to be a “Lunarian,” a man from our moon.

He is a professor and informs Alexander that he and his fellow Lunarians travel from planet to planet by manipulating gravity. They live in vast underground caverns on the moon, caverns with a breathable atmosphere. Their mastery of gravity is the key to their advanced technology.

The professor’s people have been observing Earth for an untold amount of time. James Alexander even learns that in the distant past humans had to fight intelligently evolving reptiles for planetary supremacy. The cavemen won.

The Lunarians grow vegetation in hydroponic trays and dispose of their dead through a disintegration process that breaks the bodies down into their base elements, thus nothing gets wasted. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: EPISODE LINKS

Prisoner 1Recently Balladeer’s Blog wrapped up an in-depth examination of all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan’s pioneering 1967 series The Prisoner. Before Lost, before The X-Files, before Twin Peaks, there was this innovative British series which was equal parts science fiction and existentialism.

PROLOGUE: My look at the themes and issues addressed in the series. CLICK HERE

ARRIVAL – After abruptly resigning from British Intelligence a man is abducted to a futuristic prison city called the Village. This inescapable dystopia is an Orwellian nightmare with bits of Kafka, Ionesco, Pirandello and more than a little bit of Alphaville tossed in for good measure. CLICK HERE 

DANCE OF THE DEAD – The Prisoner becomes more acquainted with the oppressive nature of the Village, including the seemingly mad Head Games to which the Villagekeepers subject the Villagers, their human guinea pigs. CLICK HERE    

THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN – After Number Six meets a female prisoner who knows where the Village is located he puts into motion an elaborate plan for escape. The Village’s Art Festival will serve as cover. NOTE: INCLUDES MY TAKE ON THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN. CLICK HERE

CHECKMATE – A degrading game of chess using human beings as the pieces leads to the Prisoner meeting an Aristocrat fallen from power and now held captive in the Village. The pair gather co-conspirators around them in hopes of a mass escape. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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