Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Ramble: Ricky Horror Science Fiction Picture Show

Hey there, good people. (And I’m serious when I say that all of you are good people.) At some point in one’s childhood, one either stops being nerdy (and goes boogie boarding) or one just gets nerdier (and rents Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn for the fifth time and watches it alone (again)). As you can see, I chose the latter and I’ll never recover. What I find interesting is that I could have become a total comic book nerd or a sci-fi nerd or a horror movie nerd or an RPG nerd. I had enough nerd points gathered for any of those nerdy categories. For some reason (which I have explored thoroughly), horror won out. Science fiction was the easiest genre for me to give up on but there are so many fun things that made my friggin’ head explode with their bizarre ideas, insane plotlines, and/or total cheese.

All of the movies I’m going to blab about have a common thread, each have mated with multiple genres in order to reach multiple markets. The most common genre blended with science fiction in the following is action. Horror likes to sneak in there once in a while but mostly, action seems to be the easiest of sci-fi’s bedfellows. Like most children of the 80s, I think my sci-fi-ness really got started with something as obvious as Alien and then several years later with Aliens. But there were other things that influenced me as well. I'm starting to realize that my voyage through science fiction was a doomed from the start. Anyway, here we go.

I remember a strange show that came on after "Monty Python’s Flying Circus". It was called "Doctor Who" and the theme song scared the hell out of me. All I remember about the show was a cheesy looking robot walking on (what I thought was) the surface of Mars and a guy with crazy hair who dressed like a British schoolboy. There was "Buck Rogers" but all I remember from that is BEE TEE BEE TEE BEE TEE BEE TEE BEE TEE BEE TEE BEE TEE. And what kid didn’t watch the original "Battlestar Galactica" and revel in the tedium? Down, Muffit, down! Bad dog!

As for science fiction movies, I guess I’ll start with The Black Hole. I remember seeing this movie at a very young age and being amazed, terrified, and immensely bored all at the same time. My mom bought me the toys for V.I.N. CENT and Maximilian. They mixed very well my Star Wars toys. A few years later, I would attempt the same cohabitoytion between my G.I. Joes, He-Man toys, and a Tupperware container full of Legos that failed. Big time, yo.

Another science fiction film I remember seeing at a very young age (that wasn’t Star Wars or Flash Gordon (oh, that theme song)) was a freaky little number called Android. I couldn’t sleep one night so I snuck out of bed and put on HBO just in time to catch the opening credits. What awaited me is a nihilistic and perverted little film starring Don Keith Opper as Max 404, an android who just wants to love (or kill if he doesn’t get to love, whatever) and Klaus Kinski as Dr. Daniel, Max’s creator and a total dick. Some space pirates show up, take control of the space lab, and things end pretty badly for everyone involved. There are sexual situations, awkward android moments, and a genuinely depressing atmosphere hangs over the entire movie. SPOILER: Max gets his own love droid. Isn’t that cute? No, it’s creepy and fucked up! Of course, vastly important things like Blade Runner and Planet of the Apes (when some network started playing all 5 movies on TV incessantly) came along shortly after this and made me even more afraid of the future. Android made me afraid of people. And androids. And Klaus Kinski, who is neither.

On a downloading spree I went on recently (I swear it was for charity), I found Eliminators. When I saw that amazing poster art staring back at me on my computer screen, I jumped for joy (while remaining completely still in my seat). This silly ass movie has cyborgs, a ninja, and a time machine. What more could a kid want from filmic entertainments? I loved this movie when I first witnessed it 24 years ago. But the funny thing about Eliminators is that I rented the tape again a few weeks later and couldn’t sit through it. Not even an almost boob shot from Denise Crosby could hold my interest the second time around. Now that I have a copy of it again, I’ll be able to judge it properly. And why the hell isn’t this on DVD anyway?

A year or so after the amazing Robocop entered my life, I got to see Cyborg. My parents and I were staying at a fancy hotel for another Tupperware convention and I was allowed to stay up late and watch Cyborg on the pay-per-view thingie. While my parents slept, I sat at the edge of our beds in complete darkness and had my mind torn in half by the awesomeness of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Now keep in mind that I was only 12 when this happened and please take pity on how lame I was (am). While I can’t confirm this (as I haven’t watched this film in a very long time) but I swear there was some brief nudity in Cyborg. I remember some boobs flashing and I was like ‘OH SHIT, I HOPE MOM AND DAD DIDN’T SEE THAT LADY'S BOBBINS- oh wait, they’re asleep.’ Anyway, I friggin’ loved this movie and I am kind of scared to watch it again for fear of it turning out to be a complete piece of shit.

Uh oh, I’m getting a little loopy now. Two movies that will be forever entangled in my mind are Trancers and Nemesis (from the same guy who directed Cyborg). Even though they were released 7 years apart, I saw them both around the same time and it just gets confusing. Both films have phenomenal cover art and they both have Tim Thomerson! These are great films but I can barely remember them. I know they are both better than Slipstream with Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton. That movie is about wind but it also features an android. There’s always Hardware, a movie that is so friggin’ disturbing that they needed the music of Ministry mixed with video footage of Gwar (as if neither of those bands are scary enough on their own). I seem to remember a long sex scene and a perverted fat guy peeping tom watching through the wall. Then a robot designed to kill humans reassembles itself and starts fucking shit up. Unfortunately, I remember Enemy Mine all too well. Not that it isn't a great film or anything but could it be any more preachy? Sheesh!

There were some also horrible disappointments that helped steer me away from the genre for years. Did you ever see I Come in Peace? It answered the age old question: “How could anything with Dolph Lundgren be bad?” For some reason, I need to mention Robot Jox. Oh wait, I remember. It sucks! Poor Stuart Gordon went from Re-Animator and From Beyond to friggin’ Robot Jox? This is one unbelievably dull and annoying movie. I had just gotten over mourning the death of my happy thoughts thanks to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. That baffling and stupid (now cultish) movie answers the age old question: “How could anything with Peter Weller be bad?”

Okay, this definitely is part 1 or something. I didn't even mention The Ice Pirates or Megaforce. Plus, there are a bevy of post apocalyptic films I want to ramble on about but that's something that could turn into a moviethon. I am full of promises and lies. Thank you.


  1. what about the fabulous baker boys?

  2. @chelsea - Hey, you said I couldn't mention that one!

  3. One hell of a ramble, this one!
    Touches upon some very special movies, both great and awful and doesn't dwell on anything long enough for the thing to stop being a delight and turn into a real ramble.

  4. Dude! ROBOT JOX is the time! I haven't seen it in years, but I remember it being pretty damn good next to those two follow ups ROBOT WARS and CRASH & BURN from those Full Moon bastards.

    I remember seeing a trailer for ELIMINATORS in the theater, although I don't think it ever played here.

    MEGAFARCE is prime shit as in 'piece of'. I reviewed the wide DVD recently and boy is that movie worse (but in a totally good way) than I remembered it.

    I never got to see ANDROID, but did catch THE BLACK HOLE in theaters and didn't think much of it as a kid, either.

    Awesome post, Richard!

  5. @Alex B. - Whoa! Thanks a lot. I thought this one was especially bad. Some of these movies are just like stains on the back of my mind. Sometimes they are smelly.

    @venom5 - Thanks, duder. I had no idea that the wild "success" of Robot Jox was enough to spawn more films. Wow. I'm checking out your Megaforce review right now...

  6. Mine was no back-handed compliment.
    I got a major kick out of this stuff.
    Android is one movie that I, being a Kinski enthusiast will have to check out.
    Looking forward to the post-apocalyptic ramble, if you get round to that!