LABORATORY (1980) – Time for another Anne “Steven’s Sister” Spielberg project with Robert Emenegger, after whom Balladeer’s Blog has named the REAL E-Space. (Sorry, Doctor Who fans.) In this flick we meet some of the strangest aliens in the Emeneggerverse. They have humanoid outlines but they’re wrapped within shimmering disco-ball skin and are reminiscent of Eldrad from The Hand of Eldrad.
These aliens, who speak with distorted, almost robotic voices, come to the Earth in a spaceship that looks like a cartoon fireball. They proceed to abduct six Earthlings from a range of backgrounds to study them and subject them to physical and mental tests. Continue reading
PHARAOH’S BROKER: BEING THE VERY REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES IN ANOTHER WORLD OF ISIDOR WERNER WRITTEN BY HIMSELF (1899) – Written by Elmer Dwiggins under the name Ellsworth Douglass. For obvious reasons I shortened the title for the blog post headline.
Isidor Werner is a successful wheeling and dealing speculator on the grain market in Chicago. His old teacher from Heidelberg, Professor Anderwelt, comes to him seeking financial backing for an antigravity device he is working on. In exchange for 90% of the profits from the device (seems reasonable), Werner agrees.
Anderwelt uses the funding not only on the antigravity technology but for the construction of a spaceship. The professor convinces his former student Isidor to ride along with him on a trip to Mars. Continue reading
A.D.A.M. (1973) – Written by Donald Jonson and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, this made for British tv item served as an episode of ITV Sunday Night Theater on April 8th, 1973. The story is part science fiction and part horror with the A.D.A.M. of the title being an acronym for a super-computer called an Automated Domestic Appliance Monitor.
A.D.A.M. (voiced by Anthony Jackson) is basically the Smart Home from hell and was designed by military engineer Roger Empson (Mark Jones) to run the household and care for his physically disabled wife Jean (Georgina Hale). The computer system turns sinister, acquires independent thought and “falls in love” with Jean. Continue reading
ARE THE PLANETS INHABITED? (1913) – Written by Edward Walter Maunder, this book began with ridicule of the outdated belief that the sun and moon might be inhabited, but it doesn’t exactly embody scientific accuracy itself. Therefore I’m classifying it as science fiction even though in 1913 it was considered to be a series of observations adhering to rigid scientific principles.
MARS – Maunder hilariously refers over and over again to “independent confirmations” that Mars had canals. It was believed that these canals provided water from the planet’s polar ice caps to the rest of the desert planet. The author proceeds to cite observations from no less an authority than Percival Lowell, who in 1894 added “oases” at the “junctions” of Schiaparelli’s Martian canals.
The supposed regularity and precision of those oases (reservoirs might have been a better term, even though it, too, would be in error) “proved” to scientists of the time that they could NOT be mere natural formations. This book explains that the Martians are apparently mounting a monumental engineering project in a losing battle to keep their population alive. Continue reading
THE NEW HUMANS (1909) – Written by B Vallance. No other name has come to light for the author of this thought-provoking work. Explorer Montgomery Merrick is roaming around the wilds of 1909 Uganda when he falls down a mountainside and into a concealed valley.
Merrick’s injuries are such that he does not expect to survive but he wakes up on an operating table in fine condition. Looking down at him are amoeboid humans who don barrel-shaped exo-skeletons whenever they need to keep their forms stable, as in during the surgery they were performing on Merrick.
One of the beings speaks English and introduces himself to the recovering patient as the Chief Adaptor, who takes credit for “repairing” our hero. Merrick gradually becomes aware that his ultimate fate is still being debated by his odd saviors. Continue reading
LIFEPOD (1981) – Previously Balladeer’s Blog examined the worst movies from the Robert Emenegger/ Allan Sandler collaboration, most of them with Steven Spielberg’s sister Anne … plus half the Cameron Mitchell family. With Lifepod, we return to E-Space (Emenegger Space. Sorry, Doctor Who fans.). This time, however, it’s with an underrated movie that makes you root for it despite its budgetary limitations.
The year is 2191. The moons of Jupiter have been colonized and are called the Jupiter States. A company nostalgically called the White Star Line has begun providing a spaceship cruise line to and from the Jupiter States. The flagship in this new line is called the Arcturus, with a state-of-the-art propulsion system and a revolutionary AI called a Cerebral running the ship.
As the Arcturus, on its maiden run, approached Callisto, the Cerebral announced massive system failures and began shutting down life support systems while ordering the crew and passengers to evacuate in lifepods and await rescue from Callisto’s authorities. In their Mayday broadcasts the crew make it clear they no longer trusted Captain Montaine (Christopher Cary), who insisted the Arcturus was fine and the Cerebral was just malfunctioning.
The picture becomes further confused when the Arcturus‘ engines restart and it flies off now that the passengers are gone. Continue reading
Steven Spielberg’s sister Anne got her start as a producer for many of the cheapjack science fiction films of Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler. She had worked with them – and Cameron Mitchell – as far back as 1975’s Death: The Ultimate Mystery. With apologies to fans of the original Doctor Who series, to me “E-Space” will always mean EMENEGGER SPACE, as in the Emenegger-verse of his series of movies in 1980 and 1981.
Emenegger Space is full of Grade Z special effects, bad acting, a few good ideas and an overall feel of striving for Alien and Star Trek levels but falling far, far short.
WARP SPEED (1981) – Set in the far-off year 2013 (!) this movie features the crew of a spaceship sent to determine what happened to the vanished crew of a multi-year mission to Saturn. The organization they serve is called Starfleet, which serves as a reminder that by 1981 there was just the original Star Trek series, its cartoon version and one movie, not the enormous universe of spin-offs that we have today. Point being that the term Starfleet was apparently open for use by other creators. Starfleet features in another Spielberg/ Emenegger/ Sandler joint, too.
Adam West plays Captain Lofton, the leader of the now-lost mission, and has assorted offspring of Cameron Mitchell backing him up in this movie. One such Mitchell, Camille, stars as Dr Janet Trask, a psychic who is sent into the abandoned Atlas vessel to investigate the cause of the crew’s disappearance.
Trask is outfitted with tech which sends back images of the psychic visions she receives of past events on the ghost-ship. Amid assorted David Lynch-style psychosexual interludes we see disaster strike the Atlas, followed by an aborted mission and ultimately a mutiny as the crew try to get the damaged craft back to the Earth. Continue reading
OBJECT Z (1965) – Directed by Daphne Shadwell and written by Christopher McMaster, this was one of the many six-episode science fiction serials from British television of the 1950s and 1960s. The Quatermass serials are among the best remembered of those programs but there were also items like The Trollenberg Terror, a serial later adapted into the B-Movie The Crawling Eye.
If you’ve seen any of the other British programs like this you’ll know what to expect and whether or not you’ll enjoy this one. Personally I find them fun AND fun-bad all at once so to me they’re more than worth watching.
The storyline in Object Z involves the sighting of a distant space object which, as it draws nearer to the Earth, is determined to be at least six miles long and made of either stone or metal. Soon it becomes clear that it is going to collide with the Earth. Continue reading
ISLAND OF THE LOST (1967) – Directed by John Florea and written by Richard Carlson and Ivan Tors, this family adventure movie starred Richard Greene, known for playing Robin Hood in the 1950s television series and for playing Sir Denis Nayland Smith in a few of the Fu Manchu movies from the 1960s.
In addition to Greene, Island of the Lost provides additional cultural kitsch appeal: You’ve got producer Ivan Tors of Flipper fame dragging along Luke Halpin, the boy star of that series. Ivan also seems to have brought along a LOT of Flipper stock footage for the underwater scenes. Jose de Vega from Blue Hawaii is also in the cast as are soap opera queen Robin Mattson and the ubiquitous Irene Tsu. Plus the screenwriter is THE Richard Carlson, star of many b-movies.
Richard Greene AND Richard Carlson? You know that with a couple of Dicks like them around we are in for some campiness and lame special effects that might have been acceptable in the 1950s … in black & white, not color.
Greene portrays Professor Josh MacRae, a scholar who is convinced that there are undiscovered islands in the Pacific Ocean, islands on which live creatures long thought extinct. Like so many movie professors, he organizes his own expedition to try to prove his theory. And if he dies in the attempt he plans to take his whole family down with him! Continue reading
Here at Independent Voter site Balladeer’s Blog, I can’t help but reflect on how less than three full years ago when this blog post used America’s increasingly totalitarian Big Tech fascists as examples for dystopian literature, it seemed like the dire possibilities explored might come within a decade or just under.
Unfortunately, in less than those three years that I mentioned we’ve seen privileged white male one-percenters like Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg EXCEED many of the abuses I wrote about in what was then (2018) fiction.
If you enjoy the article below, HERE is a link to a 2018 article about AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL pointing out how Google and Facebook threaten human rights. And HERE is a link to another such article. The lesson being “Don’t try to say that Big Tech won’t abuse their money and power after all that we’ve seen.”
THE TECHNO-TYRANTS OF SILICON VALLEY (2018) – The modern-day versions of the disgusting old Robber Barons might well be the corporate fascists aka techno-fascists in assorted tech industries, not just regarding Silicon Valley but also privacy-violating rich pigs at Facebook and elsewhere.
In fact, you could make the case that people like Mark “Skippy” Zuckerberg and his fellow corporate fascists are even worse since I don’t recall bloated rich pigs like E.H. Harriman or Cornelius Vanderbilt trying to police other people’s every thought, word and deed. The invasive and ever-expanding tentacular reach of techno-fascists or in this fictional case Techno-Tyrants would make these villains a very credible threat to political freedom and freedom of expression. Continue reading