Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

I’ve got a whole slew of neat finds that have just been added to the movies and television shows section of the channel.

Headliner films include – Day of the Triffids, When Worlds Collide and Earth vs The Flying Saucers, while tv shows include Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Fireball XL5 (the show that really got me going on SF waaaaay back in the day).

Throw some logs on the fireplace, pop up some popcorn and settle in with that favorite blanket! Me – I’m working my way through Fireball XL5 and the amazing adventures of Steve Zodiac, Venus, Professor Mat Matic and Robbie the Robot!

Just click here to get started.

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Ha! In honor of the crappy re-makes that Hollywood keeps on turning out (and budgeting over and over and over again) – don’t you think the word we use to describe these things ought to be “re-tread”? (captures the cheap, shoddy, will fall apart within the first ten minutes feel), I just finished a re-make of the Classic Science Fiction Channel’s ‘moving images’ page.

The page was originally all text links. Now I’ve replaced the text links with film posters and title screen images. Too bad there isn’t an industry standard size for these advertisements. If they were all the same size, the page would look really cool. As it is, I think it still looks pretty cool.

Besides, there’s just something right about sticking a poster for Skiffy Tube’s short-lived Flash Gordon series next to one for Plan 9 From Outer Space…

You can check out the goodness here.

I’ll probably re-make the radio show page next. What I’d really like to do is find a book cover for each of the episodes that are based on a short story – but in most cases such covers aren’t available: most of these shorts appeared in pulp magazines and more often than not they weren’t the cover stories. But have no fear, I’ll figure something out.


Warning – this is going to be a multi-post day (including pictures of the snow that is keeping me inside) – so check back often!

Upcoming: the C’s from the continuing series of reviewing the reviewers (getting a lot of comments and emails on that one) – which includes my massively brilliant solution for those bloggers who are ‘nervous’ about their upcoming review – and – snow pictures!

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Got an email request to hunt this one down. (I liked it, but have been concentrating on television show episodes of late.)

I decided to just give it a shot and – what do you know – there it is on Veoh.

You can get to it easily from The Classic Science Fiction Channel.

Happy Holidays!

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In contemplating the 2008 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still, earlier remakes (War of the Worlds, The Thing, Dune, Flash Gordon) and future ones (Forbidden Planet, When Worlds Collide, others), I suddenly started asking myself – just exactly what are these things?

This led to a re-examination of both the type (and the presumed intent) of such movies, and I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you all.

To begin – do those words that are used to describe a new version of an old product all mean the same thing? To me, they don’t.

A ‘re-do’, in my mind, is reminscent of the ages-old do-over. As in “I made a mistake and invoke my god-given right to change my mind”. Inherent in the concept of do-overs is fairness, the knowledge that games and make-believe don’t follow the same laws of physics as the real world and most important of all, the recognition that one has taken the wrong path and needs to change direction.

I can think of a few films in dire need of a ‘do-over’ (an act if properly handled that would erase the memory of the original and replace it with the new): Logan’s Run springs immediately to mind.

But I also have a problem with ‘re-do’s because they also imply that there was something wrong with the first incarnation. Something so utterly wrong that everyone wishes it had never been.

Regardless of how awful some SF films are, there are very few that should be entirely eliminated from existence.

So we’ll throw that one out of the lexicon and concentrate on the other, generally more popular, phrases – re-make, re-boot and re-imagining.

To my mind, a ‘re-make’ implies that it’s going to be exactly like the original. Exactly. Maybe different actors, maybe a green screen instead of a traveling matte, maybe a computer-controllled camera instead of an elaborate set of wires and tracks – but in terms of the sequence of the scenes, the dialogue and the story – exactly the same.

I’ve yet to see a ‘re-make’.

Re-boot is a new phrase that’s been bandied about mostly in light of two The Hulk movies inside of two years. Hollywood doesn’t like to point fingers (a week from now you’ll be the pointee as opposed to the pointer), but they sure do know euphamism, and I strongly suspect that ‘re-boot’ actually means – those other guys really fucked up, now we’re going to do it right.

It’s also been applied to the Batman movies – which I think is inappropriate since there wasn’t anything really wrong with the first set of films. The comics industry used a phrase something like ‘a new take’ when introducing the Dark Knight to fans who’d been familiar with the old-style batman. The only real difference between the two (other than the artwork) was, we found out how angry Bruce Wayne/Batman really is.

Anger expressed does not a new phrase deserve.

It’s also been applied to Battlestar Galactica – but is once again inappropriate. There we went from a television show poorly designed to try and appeal to adults and children alike – to a television show designed to show everyone that people in space still get horny.

Re-boot does mean ‘start over from scratch’ in computer parlance; take the system down to the core and make it start again. Re-load everything, wipe the arrays clean and fill them up with new data.

I’ve yet to see a real re-boot when it comes to film. Batman still wears a cowl. Galactica is still a gigantic space-going aircraft carrier that disobeys the laws of physics. The Hulk is still green.

Re-imagine comes closest to what most people would LIKE new versions of old films to be. This works much better in the literary world than it does in film. A re-imaginging of a story can contemplate putting Batman in a leisure suit, painting the Hulk pink, allowing humans to have sex with robots during prime time or a Gort that is 30 feet tall rather than merely ten feet tall.

But what’s the point? I mean, if you really want to justify a pink Hulk – wouldn’t it be far easier to create your own story from scratch that features a ‘hulk-like’ being? Doing so gives you the freedom to discard whatever you don’t like about the old Hulk and the freedom to add whatever you want to add without having to worry about a bunch of fans getting upset over the timeline or history of a fictional character. No need to create alternate realities that came into existence during the nuclear blast that created the Hulk (one green, the other pink: I forget – is that still the origin story?), or worry about keeping ten-million other re-imaginings straight while you search for something unique.

I could go for ‘enhancement’ – a word that would cover such things as the umpteenth director’s cut of Blade Runner as well as such interesting work as Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis (new music and a couple of colorized scenes – about as minimalist as you can get, while still arguably adding something new to the canon).

I find it hard to find any justification for any of these ‘re’s, with the possible exception of the do-over. And do-overs don’t happen in real life.

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I’ve been without the internet or cable all day. Most of our area is also without power, but fortunately not our house. No. Not our house.

Instead, we had about two feet of water in the basement.

The dog refused to go outside, which added to everyone’s woes.

I was supposed to edit a clip from William Gray – he reprises the role of Sam Jaffe in The Day The Earth Stood Still – the raw clip is up on YouTube (it has a long, blank intro that I need to chop out).

Those who haven’t been paying attention will want to know that William ‘Billy’ Gray played Bobby Benson in the original TDTESS.

I was supposed to go and see the re-make – but ‘no power’ means no movie.

Instead, the wife and I went calling on local friends who were out of touch, making sure they were staying warm and were still alive.

Below are a bunch of images we took of the aftermath of the ice storm.

Things should return to normal tomorrow.

frozen speed limit


ice road


trees in yard

tree over road

tree on wires

downed wires

frozen paintball field

bo with hat

Bo is not frozen – but he does seem a bit humiliated. And no, we didn’t make him wear the hat because he wouldn’t go outside. We made him wear the hat because we can.

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The article you are looking for can be found HERE on the new version of my blog.

Please update your links and readers.  Thank you.


I was hoping that William Gray’s answers to my questions would go up yesterday, the actual The Day The Earth Stood Still To Watch The Original Movie Day – but a mistaken read of his original email response led me to believe that he wasn’t interested in answering questions. My fault. I thought I had things covered in the comprehension department, but I guess not.

Anyway. Who is Wiliam Gray and why does what he have to say about The Day The Earth Stood Still have any importance?

Because William Gray is Billy Gray – the actor who starred alongside Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal in the movie, playing Bobby Benson, that’s why!

I haven’t done extensive research, but I believe that Mr. Gray is the last surviving member of the original movies’ cast.

I was therefore kind of surprised that no one had bothered to get in touch with Mr. Gray regarding the remake. I waited to see if anyone would – but such never materialized, so I decided to give it a go myself. A brief search revealed his website – www.billygray.com – and this picture right up front:


Given his caption, I figured there was a decent chance he’d be willing to answer questions – and he was.

COF: You display the above picture on your website and caption it as your favorite. What was it about that photo/scene that makes it your favorite?

Billy Gray: The acting

(I gather that Billy is referring to the sense of awe and wonder that Bobby is displaying – the same expression we all had when watching the movie for the first time.)

COF: Were you eager for the role, or was it ‘just another job’?

BG: The Latter

COF: Who among the cast and crew stood out, and why?

BG: Robert Wise, because he was so nice.

(Robert Wise was the director)

COF: When you read the script, did you get its ‘message’? Did you think of it as a ‘red scare’ film at the time?

BG: I didn’t get ‘the message’. I don’t think it was a ‘red scare’ film.

COF: Did you think the GORT mock up was ‘creepy’ or ‘keen’?

BG: It was just a prop to me

COF: Were you a science fiction fan at the time the movie was made?

BG: Not then and not now.

(Oh well…can’t have everything)

COF: What did you take away from the experience of making this movie that has stayed with you?

BG: The ‘diamonds’. But somehow I lost them

COF: How many times have you watched the original version of the movie?

BG: About two dozen times and it still holds up, but I don’t remember seeing it when it first came out.

COF: What are your thoughts about the remake?

BG: What balls! or it might be just mindless cashing in on the movie’s good rep. We’ll see.

COF: Do you plan on seeing the remake?

BG: Yes


Mr. Gray also urged me to encourage everyone to visit www.nti.org by saying –

People should support the Nuclear Threat Initiative: What with all the mad men in the world: 57 years later – it is still the most important movie ever made and should be required to be viewed and discussed, in school, by all, by the seventh grade!

Mr. Gray closed with this post script: All the press the title is getting will mean that the first one will be REVISITED on DVD and that is GOOD! SO IT DOSN’T MATTER IF THE NEW ONE IS JUST FOR GREED OR NOT.

I think Mr. Gray has a bit of a sense of humor (what did you take away from the film – the diamonds: lol) but I think it is also pretty obvious that despite the distance of 57 years, the experience has stayed with him.

Mr. Gray continued acting for a number of years, appearing (according to IMDB) in The Vampyre Wars as recently as 1996. He is probably best known for his portrayal of ‘Bud’ in the 50s classic television series ‘Father Knows Best’.

He is also the inventor of the ‘F1’ guitar pick and spent a number of years as a Class A motorcycle racer. Given the other links on his website and the invention of the pick, I’m going to guess that he also has a thing for surf music…

I really appreciated William giving me the time to answer a few questions regarding TDTESS. I hope to follow-up after he’s had a chance to see the remake.

And – Klaatu? Bobby lost his diamonds. Do you think you could give him a couple more?

Tomorrow, the remake hits the theaters. I’ll be going and will be doing a review. I’m going to try my best to deliver an unbiased take on it – and I hope the rest of you all chime in and let me know whether I did or not.

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This Thursday – December 11th, 2008 – AMC TV will be broadcasting THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL at 8 PM est, and on additional dates as well.

You can see their full schedule here.

I begged and pleaded with them to schedule it for the 10th, which is of course TDTESSTWTOMD, but they’d already locked in the 10th’s schedule and claimed that contractual obligations prevented them from changing it – so they did the best they could.*

The real reason they scheduled it on the 11th was so that they wouldn’t have to give me any credit for having created such a stir for the original that they were kinda forced to air it. No broadcaster wants the public to believe that their requests have any influence over them. They let that happen back in the 70s and look what happened – Star Trek re-runs! New Star Trek series and Star Trek feature films! Hollywood had to spend all kinds of money on that!

I understand. AMC was under serious pressure from the Broadcaster’s Federation or whatever its called to keep the peasants down. It was a survival kind of thing, so I’m prepared to forgive them. And I’ll take what I can get.

We all still have a chance though. We can all still demonstrate how much influence us lowly ‘watchers’ really have – by watching. Help up AMC’s ratings and market share and tune in!

AMC will be doing a ‘Cinemania’ trivia contest in conjunction with this airing – play along and see how much you really know about the film.

And then, the VERY NEXT DAY we can all go to the theater, watch the remake/redo/reboot/reimagined version and then discuss.

*That stuff about talking to AMC was all made up. I don’t need to talk to them – they already know what I want.

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I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails from folks saying ‘just got so-and-so’ to watch the original (and so far no one has hated it). Why folks email instead of commenting, I’m not sure, but it really doesn’t matter as long as people are watching the original movie before 12/12.

I also get a steady stream of google news alerts and aggregator mentions of the movie and, in particular, Gort.

One such came through the other day, originally announced by SFSignal, which brought me to the Strange Horizones ‘zine and Mike Fisher’s wonderful TDTESS based cartoon.

I wrote to Mike and asked permission to run the last panel: here’s the dialogue to give you some idea why I asked:



The full panel can be seen here – which is where you’ll be going any way if you want to participate in The Day The Earth Stood Still To Watch The Original Movie Day.

Mike said he had no problem with my request, but that he’d need to ask the folks at Strange Horizons mag. Strange Horizons said ‘sure’, so here we are.

But that isn’t really fair to Mike or the magazine, so: here’s where you can see the entire strip and here’s where you can take a look at more of Mikes AMAZING artwork.

I had no idea I was asking an award-winning animator, cartoonist, illustrator and artist-guy (fresh off impressing everyone at ComicCon) for a freebie. Not that I haven’t done that before, and not that I wouldn’t have gone ahead and done it anyway even if I had known. After all, how could I NOT ask when he drew such a great, if unintended, endorsement of TDTESSTWTOMD.

Hey – relax. December 10th is almost here and once it’s gone I’ll shut up about TDTESSTWTOMD – at least until I find something else to complain about and bother you all with.

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Well, seems that first reviews of the re-make of the science fiction classic The Day The Earth Stood Still are now in. Or at least one blogger claims they are:


Anotherkindofclay says that (he/she) has seen the movie ten days before its release and –

it’s terrible!

You can read AKC’s entire entry here

You know, I wanted to give the remake an honest shot. Maybe the remake would have been worth doing. Maybe I’d have been happy to sit down on a lazy afternoon to a four-hour mini-marathon of TDTESS-O followed by TDTESS-R, devoting numerous useless hours to fun and funny comparisons of the actors, the plots and the effects but –

if AKC’s claims about the film are anything like close to accurate (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) – tain’t gonna happen.

All I needed to read was the opening paragraph of the commentary: “I could list, if pressured by Gort, a hundred reasons why the 1951-version of The Day The Earth Stood Still deserves its classic status, but I’ll dedicate this post to some of the hundred reasons why the remake that has an imminent world premiere falls not only short of the original, but falls extremely painfully short, with broken limbs and a smashed skull to show for its toils.”

Wow. It can’t even stand on its own two feet, let alone get a lift from the original.

But then AKC says this: “The first problem I have with the remake is that it uses so much of its running time to get to the point. First we have a kind of prologue, which shows us a mountain climber, played by Keanu Reeves, encountering a giant orb-like object in the Himalayas (?) The entire sequence is accompanied by the fakest looking snow I can recall having seen since the more claustrophobic second rate studio pictures of the forties. As it turns out, this sequence has no real bearing on the rest of the film, apart from trying to over-explain some points mentioned later anyway.”

We see the Klaatu character as an Earthman before anything actually happens!?!

This is so wrong on so many levels I can’t even begin to think of where to start! Ok, here goes: if you buy the movie-as-Christ-parable (which I don’t – in fact I believe quite the opposite – the seeming relationship to such is done in by Michael Rennie’s dismissal of it when he finds the ‘Carpenter’ nametag inside the jacket he appropriated: the filmmakers were saying – yes, we know some people will go down this wrong path, so here’s a BIG sign that says ‘red herring!’) showing Reeves/Klaatu as a normal human being and not a ‘being descended from the heavens’ you’ve just eviscerated one of your theme’s major points.

If you forget the biblical parabalizing and just go for the story – showing Klaatu as a mountain climber lends a lie to any future claims of alien connection – and alien powers – including the centrally crucial power of being able to give meaning to his words. Instead of watching in fear and wonder as the specter of Clarkeian technologies unfolds in front of us – a power that if it exists exceeds anything in mankind’s experience, something that we have every right to fear – we’re left to wonder if Reeves isn’t just some kind of clever conman – or a consumate poker player running the bluff of his life.

To put it more simply – I would be far more afraid and respectful of an alien who claims to have the power to destroy my planet than I would be of any human being making the same claim – whether they work at Dietrich or not.

I need not go any further – the filmmakers have supposedly destroyed a key element of the film right at the beginning.

The only other thing I’ll mention is AKC’s mention of the SFX: apparently Gort dissolves into thousands of tiny little (robotic?) insects. THIS is the ‘new’ Gort that will make our mouths fall open in wonder?

I’m still gonna go and watch it – just like I’m still going to be watching the original on December 10th – which is, of course, The Day The Earth Stood Still To Watch The Original Movie Day!

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