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4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

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4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

Old 06-28-11, 11:27 PM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

1. Super 8 (2011) * 112 min. Small town adolescents witness a train wreck, putting them in the middle of a government cover-up.
2. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) * 88 min. Sinbad and his crew have to return to dangerous island with a double-crossing magician in order to save a princess. Classic Ray Harryhausen effects.
3. Jack the Giant Killer (1962) * 94 min. Jack saves a princess, and is given the duty of protecting (and rescuing) her.
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) * 150 min.Dull sequel makes first movie in series look like a classic.
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) * 157 min. Mediocre 3rd film in series is vast improvement over 2nd movie, with okay 3D effects.
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 * (2011) 130 min. Exciting conclusion to series.
7. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) * 110 min. An astronaut and a monkey survive a crash landing on Mars, have to figure out how to continue surviving on limited oxygen, water and food.
8. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) * 89 min. Real estate developer tries to exploit Mothra as an amusement park attraction, but when Gojira attacks again, Japan is dependent on Mothra's good will to battle him.
9. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) * 93 min. Gojira, Mothra and Rodan join forces to battle King Ghidorah.
10. Howl's Moving Castle (2004) * 119 min. A young woman aged by a witch's spell seeks the aid of a wizard, who is resisting the call to arms in the war that is devastating the country.
11. Ponyo (2008) 103 min. Little boy and little goldfish fall in love.
12. Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) * 94 min. Aliens request use of Gojira and Rodan to defeat King Ghidorah, but prove to have sinister designs.
13. Alien (1979) 117 min. Space crew fights to survive alien parasite's attacks.
14. Cube (1997) * 90 min. People trapped in a giant cube for unknown reasons need to cooperate to escape, but find each other as deadly as the traps contained in some rooms.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) * 124 min. Determined 4F recruit is transformed by scientists into super soldier, and battles Nazis involved in a similar experiment. Excellent comic book action movie.
16. Aliens (1986) 137 min. Ripley returns with marine unit to rescue colonists from alien parasites.
17. The Fox With Nine Tails (1994) * 107 min. 1000 year-old fox girl needs to take one more man's spirit to become human, but falls in love with him instead, while bumbling messenger from Hell tries to capture her. Korean folk tale updated to the modern world.
18. Pioneers:Rip Van Winkle (1896) 4 min. Brief scenes from popular stage adaptation of Washington Irving's story. / The "Teddy" Bears (1907) * 13 min./Girl encounters dancing Teddy Bears, the Three Bears and is rescued by hunter Teddy Roosevelt./Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy (1909) * 5 min. A smoker's strange dream./Dog Factory (1904) * 4 min. Machine turns dogs into sausages, and sausages into dogs./ Poor Cinderella (1934) 11 min.Betty Boop musical./Jack and the Beanstalk (1902) * 8 min. Boy uses magic beans to steal treasures from giant and his wits and wiles to survive./Dream of a Rarebit Fiend(1906) 8 min. Man overindulges, which results in a nightmare./The Thieving Hand (1908) * 6 min. Beggar is rewarded for a good deed with a new hand, which has a mind of its own./Rabbit's Moon (1950/1971) 16 min. European and Japanese folk tales blended with mime and pop music for a magical experience./Rabbit's Moon (1950/1979) * 7 min. Second version suffers from overly quick pacing, odd speed up effects and less satisfying score. Probably would be more satisfying for those who haven't seen prior version. / Une Nuit Terrible (1896) * 1 min. Dreamer tormented by giant spider. /Escamotage d'une Dame au Theatre Robert Houdin (1896) * 1 min. A magician makes a woman disappear and reappear./Le Manoir du Diable (1896) * 3 min. A knight battles the Devil in a castle./ Le Cauchemar (1896) * 1 min. A man has a strange dream, meeting rapidly changing characters. /L'Hallucination de l'Alchimiste (1897) * 2 min. The strange dreams of an alchemist are made visible./Le Chateau Hante (1897) * 1 min. Strange happenings in a castle prove to have a supernatural cause.
19. Men In Black (1997) * 98 min. Secret government agency monitors alien population and struggles to avoid the destruction of Earth as collateral damage in alien conflict.
20. The Island at the Top of the World (1974) * 94 min. Adventurers take a dirigible to find lost world in the Arctic.

* First time viewing.

Last edited by ororama; 08-06-11 at 07:18 PM.
Old 06-29-11, 04:52 AM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

Short reviews and fun facts are placed in [spoiler] tags to quicken loading time

July 1, 2011
(1936/England, 95 min., b&w, science fiction, United Artists) Dir.: William Cameron Menzies. Producer: Alexander Korda. Written by H.G. Wells. Cast: Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Edward Chapman.

The first big-budget English-language science fiction film. I'm not sure what the next one was (DR. CYCLOPS, 1940 or DESTINATION MOON, 1950, perhaps). It projects a 30-year world war (starting in 1940) and a 66-year utopian future, culminating in man's first flight into outer space. The middle third takes place in 1970, the year I first saw this film. Its special effects depicting the building of the future society and the high technology employed bowled me over as a teenager, much more than the effects of STAR WARS did seven years later. The art deco designs seemed futuristic then, but are considered "retro" now. The war scenes prophesy the bombing of London. The "wandering sickness" afflicting the populace in the post-apocalypse era looks forward to the zombie plague in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The burned-out dome in the center of "Everytown" foreshadows the hollowed-out dome in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. If I have any quibble with the film, it's that it takes mankind so long to develop space flight and when they do, it's with a quaint Jules Verne-type 19th century notion of space travel technology (a "space gun"). Surely, the production had access to more advanced principles of rocket technology. (They could have recruited Wernher von Braun from Germany, who four short years later would be sending his own rockets to rain destruction on London.)

2. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951/U.S., 92 min., b&w, science fiction, 20th Century Fox) DVD
Dir.: Robert Wise. Cast: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray, Sam Jaffe. Music by Bernard Herrmann.
Another film to celebrate Herrmann’s centennial. This is the earliest major studio film to deal with an alien visit to Earth. This came out at a time when flying saucer sightings were quite common and press coverage of them hadn’t yet been suppressed. What’s amazing about this film is how little of the running time is devoted to conventional sci-fi trappings. There are well-executed special effects sequences at the beginning and the end but everything in between is just human drama about an alien visitor (in human form) going undercover to learn something about Earth people and their ways. It’s not an action movie, it’s science fiction in the purest sense of the word, yet it’s quite suspenseful. It takes place in Washington D.C., which a year later was the site of a flurry of UFO sightings, which got lots of press coverage. There are many location shots. And in the moment when all power around the world goes off and everything stops (a demonstration of the spaceman’s power), we see location shots of traffic at a standstill in Times Square, London, and Paris. A superb movie.

July 2, 2011
3. YUKIKAZE (aka Battle Fairy Yukikaze) Vol. 1/Eps. 1-2 (2002/Japan, 75 min., color, animated mecha sci-fi, Bandai) DVD/in Japanese with English subtitles. Dir.: Masahiko Okura.
Great mecha anime if you’re into that. The story is not that easy to follow. A noticeable trend in sci-fi anime of the last 10 years or so is to keep viewers in the dark about what’s going on. Here we see the military engage in frequent aerial combat with aircraft from alien invaders JAM. We never see what the invaders look like nor do we hear their voices. At least not in the first two eps. In many of the aerial battle sequences I had no idea which planes were Earth planes and which were JAM.(Mecha=mechanical and refers to anime involving machines used in combat, usually in the future.)

July 3, 2011
4. THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958/U.S., 88 min., color, Arabian Nights fantasy, Columbia Pictures) DVD
Dir.: Nathan Juran. Visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Cast: Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Torin Thatcher, Richard Eyer.
A classic. Harryhausen’s first color film and the first of four collaborations with composer Bernard Herrmann. Harryhausen crams a lot of great animated creatures into this, including two Cyclops, one giant dragon, a giant 2-headed Roc, and a female snake dancer. Star Kerwin Mathews would return in THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER in 1960. I first saw this when it came out—when I was five! I loved it then and have seen it many times since, including at least five times on the big screen. I even took my three nephews to it when they were young (and it was on a double bill at Film Forum with THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER). Lots of good extras on the 50th Anniversary disc, including a half-hour on Herrmann’s music and a song from 1958 called “Sinbad May Have Been Bad, But He’s Been Very Good to Me,” a comic, jazzy number. No i.d. of the female singer, though.

5. JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS (2009, 75 min., color, animated superhero/sci-fi adventure, Warner Bros.) DVD (Direct-to-video)
Directors: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery. Voice cast: William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods.
Nicely animated—I tend to favor the look and design of the DC animated specials. Plenty of well-staged action, too. But I liked JUSTICE LEAGUE THE NEW FRONTIER much better. That one was so much better-written, with great attention paid to the characters and their interactions. Here, there’s no one to identify with or care about. There’s no suspense. Everyone stands around acting and sounding like bored superheroes, rather than human beings. Why get a celebrity voice cast when the dialogue is so banal? The only character I had any interest in was the hot chick villainess, Superwoman, voiced by Gina Torres.

6. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951/U.S., 92 min., b&w, science fiction, 20th Century Fox) DVD/Audio commentary by director Robert Wise, with Nicholas Meyer.
The director of the first Star Trek movie is joined on the commentary track by the director of the second Star Trek movie (Meyer). Wise does a great job of talking about the film and remembering key production details. He comes off as someone who really cares. I appreciated his admission that he himself believes wholeheartedly in UFOs. He reveals that the military refused to cooperate so they asked the Washington DC National Guard to help out—and they did! Wise claims not to have noticed the parallels of Klaatu with Christ (e.g. the resurrection angle and Klaatu’s assumed name being Carpenter) and the doubtful Meyer calls him on it with a detail from an earlier script. They discuss the scene where Gort carries Patricia Neal with the help of a wire rig, but they make no mention of the fact that, on the DVD, we the viewers can now see the friggin’ wires. Wise also discusses working with Bernard Herrmann.

7. Mystery Science Theater 3000: “Beginning of the End” (1957/U.S. 73 min., b&w, sci-fi) DVD
Dir.: Bert I. Gordon. Cast: Peter Graves, Peggie Castle, Morris Ankrum, James Seay.
This is the one about giant grasshoppers (“vicious killers!”) attacking Chicago (or at least pictures of it), The MST3K commentary, led by Mike Nelson, is pretty funny throughout, although the movie itself is pretty funny on its own. Audio levels for the film’s soundtrack are way lower than that of the commentary. Which is a problem.I don’t recall it being that way when this ran on TV.

July 4, 2011
8. DESTINATION MOON (1950/U.S., 90 min., color, space travel sci-fi, Eagle-Lion) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Irving Pichel. Prod.: George Pal. Co-screenwriter: Robert A. Heinlein. Cast: John Archer, Warner Anderson, Tom Powers, Dick Wesson.

What better way to celebrate the 4th of July during a Sci-Fi Challenge than with this very first American sci-fi film to take a serious approach to space travel. It was also the first color sci-fi film to treat space travel. I remember seeing it as a kid on a small black-and-white TV set and being disappointed because it had no aliens and no action. But seeing it now, in color, I’m quite impressed. It was clearly an attempt to make a scientific film about the first space trip to the moon, with as much technical accuracy as possible. It must have been quite impressive on the big screen. The suspenseful final stage, where they have to find a way to get back on less fuel than they need, is a definite precursor to APOLLO 13. The film ends with these words:
“This Is
The End
Of The Beginning”
Producer George Pal would go on to make WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951), WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) and CONQUEST OF SPACE (1955).

9. UNKNOWN WORLD (1951/U.S., 74 min., b&w, inner space exploration sci-fi, Lippert Pictures) DVD
Dir.: Terry Morse. Cast: Victor Kilian, Otto Waldis, Marilyn Nash, Bruce Kellogg.
While DESTINATION MOON explored outer space, UNKNOWN WORLD goes in the other direction and explores inner space—the interior of the earth. A seven-person crew (including “ardent feminist” Joan Lindsey) travels in a small vehicle called the “cyclotram,” that tunnels through the earth and can travel underwater and on land. It takes a serious approach also, and focuses on the central issue of whether mankind can survive below ground and reproduce there in case a nuclear war drives survivors underground. The film uses a lot of imagination for a low budget, mixing scenes filmed in Carlsbad Caverns with scenes filmed in Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park in Hollywood. Just as DESTINATION MOON gives us nice, long, slow pans along the moonscape, this one finds a seascape underground with its own illumination and gives us another long, slow pan. It could have used a better cast, though.

10. THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960/U.S., 57 min., b&w, sci-fi) DVD (Part of Mill Creek’s Science Fiction Classics box set)
Dir.: Edgar G. Ulmer. Cast: Douglas Kennedy, Marguerite Chapman, James Griffith, Ivan Triesault.
One of two films low-budget auteur Ulmer made in Texas back-to-back (BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER was the other one and is highly recommended). This one’s a simple caper about a mad ex-military officer who forces a European refugee scientist to try out his invisibility technique on an escaped safecracker so that the criminal can steal some nuke material from a nearby lab. The safecracker soon gets his own ideas and goes into a bank while invisible and robs it, only to have the formula wear off on his way out. Fun, tidy little crime thriller with sci-fi elements and a solid cast of four seasoned character players from Hollywood flown out to shoot this.

11a. PATLABOR THE MOBILE POLICE Vol. 1: eps. 1-3 (1988/Japan, 90 min., color, animated mecha thriller, Anime OAV—Original Animation Video) VHS (in Japanese with English subs.)
Dir.: Mamoru Oshii. Scr.: Kazunori Ito.
#1: Second Unit, Move Out!
#2: Longshot
#3: The 450 Million-Year-Old Trap
These are the first episodes in the Patlabor franchise, which included a long-running TV series, another OAV (made-for-video) series and two highly acclaimed movies. This was director Oshii’s first big project after he left the “Urusei Yatsura” franchise. He would go on to direct the two Patlabor movies and then the two GHOST IN THE SHELL movies. The basic premise here is that SV2, a squad of police, underfunded and disrespected by the department and shunted off to a remote base, is assigned to pilot “Special Vehicles,” i.e., “Patlabors,” one-person combat units, to confront crimes involving “Labors,” mechanical vehicles operated by construction workers in the Japan of the near future (the 1990s, which was the future at the time this was made), during a construction boom brought on by the Babylon Project (the subject of the first Patlabor movie). Good stuff.

11b. PATLABOR TV SERIES Ep. 1: “Ingram Activated!” (1989/Japan, 26 min., color, animated mecha thriller, TV series) DVD.
Dir.: Naoyuki Yoshinaga.

Because Vol. 1 of the Patlabor OAV series only had three episodes, I had to watch another episode to make it a full entry for this challenge. Luckily, ep. 1 of the TV series was offered as a bonus on the DVD edition of Volume 2 of the Patlabor OAV series (which had four eps. already), so I watched that. The TV series has 47 episodes and I'm hoping to get to more of them during this challenge.

July 5, 2011
12. PATLABOR THE MOBILE POLICE Vol. 2: eps. 4-7 (1988/Japan, 120 min., color, animated mecha thriller, Anime OAV—Original Animation Video) DVD (in Japanese with English subs.)
Directors: Mamoru Oshii, Naoyuki Yoshinaga. Scr.: Kazunori Ito.
#4: The Tragedy of L
#5: SV2’s Longest Day, Pt. 1
#6: SV2’s Longest Day, Pt. 2
#7: SV Units, Go North!
The two-parter comprising eps. 5-6 served as the blueprint for Oshii’s second Patlabor movie, PATLABOR 2 (1993). It’s about a rebellion by a military faction from JSDF (Japan Self-Defense Force) which takes on the Metropolitan Police in Tokyo in a confrontation that could lead to civil war. Only SV2 is in a position to combat it. Pretty suspenseful stuff. I love mecha anime anyway, esp. when it's got strong characters and good stories, like the Patlabor series. (Mecha=mechanical and refers to anime involving machines used in combat, usually in the future, e.g. GUNDAM.)

13. 3X3 EYES (1991/Japan, 111 min., color, demon-and-sorcery anime, OAV) VHS/Streamline Pictures, English-dubbed. Dir.: Daisuke Nishio. Based on a manga by Yuzo Takada.
My English-dubbed VHS “Perfect Collection” edition offers all four episodes of the OAV (made-for-video) series. A girl named Pai, with a third eye in her forehead, is the last of a race of immortals from Tibet. She hooks up with a boy named Yakumo in modern-day Japan to try and find the sacred statue that will turn her into a human. In the course of a battle with...something, Yakumo dies yet becomes immortal (don't ask me how) and is able to get out of all sorts of serious scrapes as various demonic entities fight the two of them over the statue. Various other characters join the conflict. Lots of blood, gore, and demonic possession. Oh, and kung fu, too. (Much of this takes place in Hong Kong.) I never quite understood who the bad guys were, but it’s never boring. I have four volumes of the manga, but only one matches the anime—the fourth episode at that. The other manga volumes come later and were never animated. Oh, well…

July 7, 2011
14. TRANSFORMERS (2007/U.S., 143 min., color, giant robot/alien invasion sci-fi, Paramount Pictures) VHS (taped off HBO)
Dir.: Michael Bay. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Jon Voight, John Turturro.
In prep for seeing TF3 this weekend, I watched the original again. (No need to re-watch Part 2, sorry.) If you're gonna do a big-budget giant robot live-action Hollywood film, this is the way to do it. Now I want to see the original Transformers cartoon series again. I only have the 1986 animated feature. And I want to watch some Japanese live-action giant robot action. I've got some old series, like "Super Robot Red Baron" and "Iron King," so maybe I can start with those.

15. OSAMU TEZUKA’S BUDDHA: THE GREAT DEPARTURE (2011/Japan, 111 min., color, animated biopic/fantasy, Toei) Seen in 35mm at Japan Society screening. Dir.: Kozo Morishita. Based on a manga by Osamu Tezuka.
Beautifully produced anime feature about the early life of Siddhartha, who would go on to become Buddha. This is the first part of a planned trilogy. The fantasy element here is a young boy, Tatta, who has the power to transmit his soul into another living being (humans and animals), so he can “possess” a horse or an eagle when he needs to travel great distances quickly to deliver a message, or a tiger when he needs to overpower enemy soldiers. There are epic, bloody battle scenes as different warring states fight in India of 500 B.C. It was quite a harsh society based on strict caste boundaries. Realistic design and animation, in contrast with the more "cartoony" style found in Osamu Tezuka’s multi-volume Buddha manga, which is the basis of the film. The manga, however, remains the superior work. Tezuka had a spark and a fury that has proven hard to replicate in animation.

July 8, 2011
16. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON in 3-D IMAX (2011/U.S., 157 min., color, giant robot/alien invasion sci-fi, Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks) Seen in 35mm at AMC Lincoln Square IMAX theater in Manhattan.
Dir.: Michael Bay. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Basically a very good alien invasion movie with one set of aliens defending Earth from another set of aliens and various human characters involved on both sides! It just so happens that the aliens are all giant robots. (Well, not all are giant.) I thought the human characters were worked into the fabric of the piece very well, employing lots of humor, some of it quite absurd. (I mean, you get John Turturro, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand in a movie that’s not by the Coen Bros.—you have to do something to keep them interested.) I laughed a lot. Plus, this is the best 3-D of the modern era I’ve seen and I was quite impressed with a lot of the compositions and camera moves, esp. in the Battle of Chicago sequence. I should have seen AVATAR this way.

July 9, 2011
17. THE TRANSFORMERS (1984/U.S., color, animated giant robot TV series/Marvel-Sunbow-Claster) DVD
Season One: eps. 1-4
#1: More Than Meets the Eye, Pt. 1
#2: More Than Meets the Eye, Pt. 2
#3: More Than Meets the Eye, Pt. 3
#4: Transport to Oblivion
Nicely done, in terms of design, illustrations, backgrounds and animation. But not much of a script. It’s clearly aimed at children, with action piled on at regular intervals to keep their attention from wandering. If the Japanese had been the prime creators of this, there would have been stronger human characterizations and a good deal more attention paid to context and background. I found it hard to feel involved. It plays like a typical Saturday morning 1980s cartoon, with all the Autobots acting like a “pro-social” group, like Pound Puppies or the Getalong Gang. I found myself nodding off quite regularly during these episodes. Give me some real conflict, like in Gundam, for cryin’ out loud!

18. SERENITY (2005/U.S., 119 min., color, space sci-fi/Universal Pictures) VHS (taped off HBO)
Dir.: Joss Whedon. Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau.
This is the movie spinoff of the TV series, “Firefly.” My daughter lent me a box set of “Firefly,” which I probably should have watched first, but this was on the same tape as TRANSFORMERS (2007), which I watched three nights ago, and it was already in the VCR, so I started watching it this morning when I woke up early. Not bad, but not exceptional or distinguished in any way. It plays like a TV movie, with a TV cast. Or a two-part TV episode edited together. There’s nobody terribly charismatic in it. Or particularly recognizable. I recognized Gina Torres from her voice—she’d voiced Superwoman in “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” which I watched a week ago. Adam Baldwin and Chiwetel Ejiofor were the only cast members I’d seen before. The plot is okay, although it’s all stuff I’d seen in anime before. I suspect Mr. Whedon had watched both “Crusher Joe” and “Cowboy Bebop” at some point while thinking about this show.

July 10, 2011
19. SUPER ROBOT RED BARON (1973/Japan, color, live-action tokusatsu giant robot TV series) DVD (in Japanese with English subtitles)
Eps. 1-4
#1: Conspiracy of the Robot Empire
#2: Violent Clash! The Baron Break
#3: Trump Card: Android X
#4: Certain Death! The Phoenix Maneuver

Live-action giant robot action as only Japanese TV producers in the 1970s could make it. If you did a live-action version of the anime shows, “Mazinger Z” or “Gatchaman,” this is what it would look like. A five-person team of special agents (SSI) works with a giant red robot, Red Baron, which only one of them can pilot, to combat the Iron Alliance, a robot empire that wants to enslave all humans. Lots of action, including plenty of karate fights on the ground and giant robot showdowns ten stories up. Why did America never make shows like this?

20. MINIMONI JA MOVIE: OKASHI NA DAIBOUKEN! (Minimoni the Movie: The Great Sweets Adventure!) (2002/Japan, 54 min., color, partly animated musical fantasy) R2 DVD (in Japanese, no subtitles)
Dir.: Shinji Higuchi. Cast: Minimoni (Mari Yaguchi, Ai Kago, Nozomi Tsuji, Mika Todd), Ai Takahashi, Yuko Nakazawa.

A film about a journey to a land of creatures made out of chocolate and gingerbread and ruled by a fairy queen who hates cake qualifies as a fantasy in my book, even if it does feature some of my favorite J-pop stars. The lead players, members of a group called Minimoni, are seen in live-action (against CGI backgrounds) in the opening and closing sequences, but become animated at a certain point. They sing two of their singles when in live-action mode. Ai Kago later co-starred in KUNG FU CHEFS and Yuko Nakazawa (voice of the Fairy Queen) later co-starred in the giant robot movie, TETSUJIN 28. The director, Shinji Higuchi, worked on many great anime titles (e.g. Evangelion) and directed the special effects for the 1995-99 Gamera trilogy. One of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen for this challenge.

21. GORATH (1962/Japan, 77 min., color, astronomical disaster sci-fi/Toho Pictures) VHS, English dubbed.
Dir.: Ishiro Honda. Cast: Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Yumi Shirakawa, Takashi Shimura.
Big-budget Toho spectacular with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya (of Godzilla fame) showing a fast-moving planetary entity traveling through the solar system towards Earth, spelling certain doom for all of us unless we can find a way to change Earth’s orbit. This is set in 1979 when we’ll have space stations all over the place and spaceships capable of carrying men to the far end of the solar system. Who knew? Tokyo gets flooded at one point. A sequence in the South Pole featuring a giant walrus monster was (wisely) cut from the English dub.

22. THE LAST WAR (Sekai Daisenso) (1961/Japan, 79 min., color, nuclear war-themed speculative fiction/Toho Pictures) VHS, English dubbed.
Dir.: Shue Matsubayashi. Cast: Akira Takarada, Frankie Sakai, Yuriko Hoshi.
Very odd film, made more baffling by the removal of 31 minutes when it was dubbed in English and syndicated in the U.S. There are big gaps in the story of how tensions between two unnamed foreign powers (obviously the U.S. and the Soviet Union) eventually lead to nuclear war. The nuke blasts come very late in the film and it's never clear why Japan is targeted. (Maybe that was in the missing half-hour.) Much of the time is taken up with a young Japanese couple planning their wedding and wishing for peace and holding hands and smiling. A bunch of children at a daycare center sing “It’s a Small World,” a Disney song that was added to the English dub track since the song wasn’t written until well after the original movie came out. JFK’s 1961 speech to the UN about the threat of nuclear war being a “sword of Damocles” hanging over all of us is played at the end. Was it on the original Japanese soundtrack? While the film condemns the unnamed powers for their inability to make peace, no mention is made of Japan's own past aggressions (only 20 years before this film).

July 14, 2011
23. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE (1997/U.S., 99 min., color, superhero sci-fi adventure, Saban/Toei/20th Century Fox) DVD
Directors: David Winning, Shuki Levy. Cast: Jason David Frank, Johnny Yong Bosch, Hilary Shepard Turner, Amy Jo Johnson.
The second of two theatrical Power Rangers movies. I saw it in a theater when it came out. It's not as good as MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE (1995), but it's also much lower-budgeted and smaller in scale. It was designed as the lead-in for the then-new "Power Rangers Turbo" season of the PR franchise, introducing new costumes and zords and a new Ranger in young Justin (Blake Foster), who's a child but morphs into full-grown size as the Blue Ranger. Two members of the original MMPR cast, Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberley and Austin St.John as Jason, show up to lend support. Jason David Frank (as Tommy) is the only one from the original cast to still be a Ranger in PR Turbo. The villain in this movie, Divatox, a wise-cracking, ball-busting female in mild dominatrix attire, is pretty tiresome and not terribly formidable (and not what you'd call hot either). The series worked best when they had good villains. Any three eps. of the TV show had way more action than this movie. The Rangers don't even put on their new costumes here until the 72-min. mark. Still it was nice to see Kimberley and Jason participate

July 16, 2011
24. POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY (2008/U.S., color, superhero fantasy adventure TV series) Eps. 1-4 / VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#1: Welcome to the Jungle
#2: Welcome to the Jungle, Pt. 2
#3: Sigh of Danger
#4: A Taste of Poison
Above-average entry in the Power Rangers franchise. This one is based on the 2007 Japanese sentai series, “Gekiranger” and has a larger-than-usual emphasis on martial arts, complete with extensive training. Ep. 4 introduces five villains who are clearly meant to reference the Five Venoms of Shaw Bros. fame. Both the Japanese original and its Disney Channel counterpart filmed outdoor scenes on location in New Zealand. I’m digging this.

July 17, 2011
25. WICKED CITY (1993/Hong Kong, 87 min., color, inter-dimensional sci-fi) VHS (in Cantonese with English subs.)
Dir.: Peter Mak. Cast: Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Jacky Cheung, Tatsuya Nakadai.
I wanted to get in at least one Hong Kong sci-fi film and this was it (the alternative was the inimitable INFRA-MAN). This was based on an infamous Japanese animated film from 1987, also named WICKED CITY. There are some similarities between the two and some big differences, which means both versions have their distinct pleasures. The plot is about “monsters” from another dimension who infiltrate the human world and have key conflicts among themselves about whether to pursue peace with humans or simply take them over. The great Japanese actor, Tatsuya Nakadai (SWORD OF DOOM, YOJIMBO), plays a “monster” who, in the form of a human industrialist, controls a sizeable share of the human economy, but wants to have good relations with humans. His violent, wayward son, Gwei (Roy Cheung), simply wants to take over the human world. This is an allegory about the then-impending handover of Hong Kong to Mainland China. Quite over-the-top, but filled with marvelous effects from the pre-digital era, including a father-and-son showdown atop jumbo jets sailing over the Hong Kong skyline.

26. GANTZ (2004/Japan, color, animated life-after-death/alien warfare sci-fi TV series) DVD (in Japanese with English subs.), eps. 1-4
#1: It’s the Beginning of a Brand New Day
#2: They Aren’t Human
#3: Kei, You’re Awesome!
#4: Okay, Hear Are Your Skores
As trippy as they come from Japanese anime. A handful of people who have just died show up in an apartment in Tokyo confronted by a black sphere that gives them instructions and power suits. High school student Kei is the only one who puts on his power suit and it leads to a host of gory, mind-boggling adventures, not to mention his continued survival. Their target is ugly-looking aliens who keep going on about “green onions.” Kei has to figure out what he’s supposed to learn from each encounter. The sphere’s instructions are often misspelled, hence the misspellings in the title of episode 4. I want to see the whole series.

27. ARRIETY THE BORROWER (2010/Japan, 94 min., color, animated children’s fantasy, Studio Ghibli) DVD (in Japanese with English subs.)
Dir.: Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki. Based on “The Borrowers,” by Mary Norton.
Low-key adaptation of the classic children’s book, about a family of tiny people who live in an old house, who get the things they need by “borrowing” from the occupants of the house. Very pretty pictures, but distinctly lacking in heart and excitement. The main characters, Arrietty, the teen girl “borrower,” and Sho, the boy who lives in the house, are pretty bland and lacking in any sense of wonder. Not much really happens. A big disappointment from Studio Ghibli. It comes out dubbed in English next year.

July 18, 2011
28. ALPHAVILLE (1965/France, 99 min., b&w, futuristic French New Wave noir) DVD (Criterion)
Dir.: Jean-Luc Godard. Cast: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon, Akim Tamiroff.
Sci-fi done entirely in the streets and modern office buildings and hotels of Paris, ca. 1965. Hero Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) drives a Ford Galaxie from his “galaxy,” known as “the Outlands,” over a highway to a neighboring “galaxy,” Alphaville, a soulless metropolis ruled by a computer known as Alpha 60. Caution is there to find and bring back Dr. Leonard Von Braun (Howard Vernon), who may have something to do with Alpha 60, but instead he meets and falls in love with Von Braun’s daughter (Anna Karina) and tries to teach her about love. Meant to be more of a philosophical treatise than a sci-fi thriller, but it’s pretty intriguing throughout if you can stay awake. Lemmy Caution, an American FBI agent based in France, was the hero of a whole series of French thrillers made in the 1950s and early ‘60s and was usually played by Constantine, an American singer who wound up as a movie star in France. I was inspired to watch this again by a pair of articles about Constantine in the latest issue of Video Watchdog.

July 19, 2011
29. THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953/U.S., 80 min., b&w, giant dinosaur-awakened-by nuclear blast sci-fi, Warner Bros.) DVD
Dir.: Eugene Lourie. Based on a story by Ray Bradbury. Special effects by Ray Harryhausen. Cast: Paul Christian, Paula Raymond, Kenneth Tobey, Cecil Kellaway.

The success of the re-release of KING KONG in 1952 paved the way for this production, which also used stop-motion animation to create its title monster. The combined impact of the re-release of KING KONG and this film in Japan led to GOJIRA (aka GODZILLA) and the rest is history. You can easily see a lot of the roots of GODZILLA here, although this film doesn’t pontificate much on the dangers of nuclear bombs. 45 years later, the American production of GODZILLA actually drew more on this film than it did on the Japanese film. I loved this film as an eight-year-old and I love it still. What struck me this time is all the great location footage of lower Manhattan when the dinosaur rampages and all the extras culled from real New Yorkers rather than Central Casting. Future spaghetti western star Lee Van Cleef has a memorable bit as the sharpshooter recruited to deliver the coup de grace, foreshadowing his role in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.

July 20, 2011
30. THEM! (1954/U.S., 92 min., b&w, giant ants-created-by-nuke tests-sci-fi, Warner Bros.) DVD
Dir.: Gordon Douglas. Cast: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, James Arness.

The first giant insect film and still the best. Just an out-and-out masterpiece of story construction, direction, acting, etc. I like the fact that the giant ants are created and manipulated in real time on-camera and not created outside of the shot in any way. It makes it more believable that way. The whole thing is handled in dead-serious fashion and generates a lot of suspense. Several cast members went on to become TV stars, including James Arness (“Gunsmoke”), Fess Parker (“Davy Crockett”). William Schallert (“The Patty Duke Show”) and Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”). Parker famously got the Crockett role because Walt Disney was told to check out Arness’ performance in this film but Disney came away much more impressed with Parker's small but memorable role. This is on a double-feature DVD with THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS.

July 22, 2011
31. JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963/U.S., 103 min., color, Greek mythological fantasy, Columbia Pictures) DVD
Dir.: Don Chaffey. Visual Effects: Ray Harryhausen. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Cast: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Laurence Naismith, Gary Raymond.
This was pretty magnificent to a ten-year-old on the big screen at the Loew’s Paradise back in 1963, esp. with that wonderful Bernard Herrmann theme pounding at you. I’ve seen it many times since, the last being when I took my daughter to see it at a revival theater when she was a child. It doesn’t hold up as well as Harryhausen’s other films, though. The music is great, the effects are marvelous and the production design is beautiful, but the characters just aren’t that interesting. Their reason for going to grab the Golden Fleece from Colchis is pretty flimsy and it’s no wonder King Aeetes gets hopping mad when they show up. He puts up fierce resistance and he’s absolutely right to do so. Both lead actors are dubbed by other voices and there’s not much chemistry between them. Medea doesn’t even enter the film until the 70-minute mark and is only around basically for the last 30 minutes.

32. POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY (2008/U.S., color, superhero fantasy adventure TV series) Eps. 5-7, 9 / VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#5: Can’t Win Them All
#6: Dance the Night Away
#7: Pizza Slice of Life
#9: Good Karma, Bad Karma
Good scripting, interesting characters and multilayered villains make this entry in the Power Rangers franchise one of the best. The fact that there are only three Rangers rather than the usual five makes it easier to work on their characterizations and interactions. Ep. #7 involves their attempt to successfully manage the pizzeria where they’re employed while the boss is away. It’s about questions of leadership and working together and it’s written in a way that makes perfect sense and doesn’t talk down to the audience. Ep. #9 focuses on the lead villain and flashbacks to his childhood. Ep. #6 actually has some dance numbers, including one by the bad guys.

33. ULTRAMAN (1966/Japan, color, live-action superhero sci-fi TV series, Tsuburaya Productions) VHS English-dubbed
#1 (no title)
#2: Shoot the Invader
#3: Go Science Patrol!
#4: Five Seconds until Apocalypse

The Godfather of tokusatsu, i.e., live-action Japanese superhero shows. I watched my English-dubbed VHS copy with the first four episodes even though I have the whole series in Japanese with subs. on DVD because I wanted to experience it as kids in the U.S. did back in 1966. It was the first color series produced by Tsuburaya Productions (the guys who did the effects for the Godzilla movies) and each episode has a wild giant monster in it. A little silly at times, but the monster fights and special effects scenes deliver the goods.

34. THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (aka THE CREEPING UNKNOWN, 1956/England, 82 min., b&w, alien-organism-on-the-loose sci-fi) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Val Guest. Cast: Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Margia Dean, Richard Wordsworth.
Nice build-up but no payoff in story of a returned astronaut infected with some kind of alien organism that absorbs other life forms. The astronaut is under not-so-intensive care when his wife breaks him out of the hospital and he goes on the loose in London, with his infected arm supposedly getting bigger and bigger until it absorbs the astronaut, too, and holes up in Westminster Abbey. The problem is—we don’t SEE enough of the damned thing to experience any thrills or terror. We needed to see a massive blob-like form moving up building walls and enveloping cars and people and oozing out of the arched windows of the Cathedral. Instead, we see what looks like a few pounds of industrial waste perched on a painters’ scaffold through the lens of a TV camera near the very end. Disappointing. Oh, and “Quatermass” is pronounced like “Crater-mass.”

July 23, 2011
35a. POWER RANGERS IN SPACE (1998/U.S., color, superhero sci-fi adventure TV series) VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#4: Shell Shocked
#11: The Delta Discovery
#18: True Blue to the Rescue
”Shell Shocked” features the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who are taken over by the hot villainess, Astronema, and turned against the Power Rangers. Later, they get untaken over and help the PRs. “True Blue” features the boy from “Power Rangers Turbo” and he morphs into the Blue Ranger again to help out. “PR in Space” is one of my favorite series in the Power Rangers franchise, because it has the three hottest babes out of the entire franchise: Patricia Ja Lee (Pink Ranger), Tracy Lynn Cruz (Yellow Ranger), and Melody Perkins (Astronema).

35b. POWER RANGERS SAMURAI (2011/U.S., color, superhero sci-fi adventure TV series) Seen on Nickelodeon
#5: A Fish Out of Water”
The first episode I’ve watched so far from the latest Power Rangers series. This one’s shot in New Zealand. The action involved the Blue Ranger trying to “catch” a swordfish zord in the ocean so he can go help the other four beleaguered Rangers. The jury’s out on this one. Based on the Japanese sentai series, “Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.”

36a. THE TROOP (2011/Canada, color, monster hunting teen action comedy) Seen on Nickelodeon
“Oh Brother”
This came on right after “Power Rangers Samurai,” so I watched it as well. It’s about high school kids tracking down “monsters” who come from an alternate universe and are disguised as humans. One of them is half-human and she’s the hot girlfriend of the hero. Her murderous brother looks like one of the Columbine kids. It’s “Twilight” meets “Wicked City” (the anime version). Jarring mix of typical Nickelodeon teen comedy with gruesome implied violence. (The monster brother “eats” the school security guard.) Made in Canada.

36b. POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY (1999/U.S., color, superhero sci-fi adventure TV series) VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#30: To the Tenth Power
#31: The Power of Pink
#32: Protect the Quasar Saber
The Power Rangers in Space cast members join their counterparts in PRLG to fight Trakeena and her “psycho” alternate rangers. PRIS had the most attractive cast members in the franchise, while PRLG had the least attractive, so it certainly helps. In the third episode cited, the hot villain from PRIS (played by Melody Perkins) becomes the Pink Ranger. She wears a very provocative tight leather outfit when not in her pink uniform. I’m tellin’ you—this series isn’t only for kids!

37. TWENTIETH CENTURY BOYS (2008/Japan, 143 min., color, Speculative fiction with giant robot and biowarfare, Toho Pictures) DVD (in Japanese with English subs.)
Dir.: Yukihiko Tsutsumi. Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako
Tokiwa, Teruyuki Kagawa.
Live-action film based on a popular manga about a group of boys who’d concocted an apocalyptic scenario in 1969 and find they have to live it out in 2000. There are scenes set in 2015, where the sequel will take place. There’s a virus that causes mass death in several of the world’s cities. There’s a seductive cult led by “Friend” (Tomodachi) that is behind it all. Lots of nice touches and cultural references, particularly if you’re into rock music. The second film I’ve seen for this challenge in which the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon Landing plays an important role. (The other was TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.) A lot of build-up to an extremely disappointing apocalyptic ending in which the heroes completely botch the job, leaving the mess to the next generation 15 years down the road to clean up.

July 24, 2011
38. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951/U.S., 87 min., b&w, alien invasion sci-fi, RKO) Seen on TCM.
Dir.: Christian Nyby. Prod. (and uncredited co-director): Howard Hawks. Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Margaret Sheridan.
I saw this on TV as a kid and loved it. I’ve seen it a few times over the years, but not in a long time. I liked John Carpenter’s remake very much. And now, after seeing the original again, I’m inclined to re-watch the remake and see if I favor it more. While the original is a good film in many ways, I was dismayed by all the comical banter in it, particularly in scenes where characters would have been scared out of their wits. And by the constant flirtation between the Captain and the scientist’s secretary. It just seemed out of place for much of the film. I needed more of a sense of urgency, a sense that they were in terrible danger. We get this more in the 1982 remake. Still, I enjoyed the back-and-forth between the scientists and the military, the debate over key issues of safety-vs.-scientific exploration, and the straightforward professionalism of the military men.

July 25, 2011
39. GODZILLA'S REVENGE (aka ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, 1969/Japan, 69 min., color, kaiju movie, Toho Pictures) DVD/in Japanese with English subs.
Dir.: Ishiro Honda. Cast: Tomonori Yazaki, Hideyo Amamoto, Kenji Sahara, "Little Man" Machan.
I needed to watch a Godzilla film for this challenge, so I picked the shortest one and easily the oddest Godzilla movie ever made. It's a children's film and the Godzilla scenes are all fantasy/dream sequences in which the child hero, Ichiro, goes to Monster Island to hang out with Godzilla's son, Minilla (Minya), who's not much bigger than the boy and is played by a midget wrestler in a monster suit. Minya's need to stand up for himself on his own against the much bigger monster, Gabara, reflects Ichiro's own daily struggles with a bully and his gang. Meanwhile, in the "real" world, a two-man robbery team with a 50-million-yen take is on the run from the police and they abduct Ichiro at one point and tie him up in an abandoned warehouse. Lots of the Godzilla/monster footage is taken from other G films, including scenes of giant spiders, mantises and lobsters. The best thing about this film for me is the extensive location shooting at a sprawling industrial district on the outskirts of Tokyo. Ichiro's father is a train engineer and his mother is a maid at a hotel. So there's a working-class vibe to it. And Ichiro has to walk a long way to school every day, past vacant lots and rail yards and such, as well as the aforementioned warehouse that Ichiro spends a lot of time exploring. This is the 3rd film seen for this challenge in which the Apollo 11 Moon landing is referenced, only this film was actually made at the time.

July 26, 2011
40. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961/U.S., 101 min., color, lost island-with-giant creatures-and Captain Nemo adventure, Columbia Pictures) VHS
Dir.: Cy Endfield. Visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Cast: Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood, Gary Merrill, Michael Callan.
One of my favorite movies of all time and arguably the best movie Ray Harryhausen ever worked on. Interestingly, it’s also one of the few movies by Harryhausen that doesn’t rely on his effects for their thrills. In fact, the four “giant creature” segments in this film are among Harryhausen’s least effective sequences. None of these creatures—a crab, a chicken, three bees and an undersea cephalopod—have anything really interesting to do, other than menace the heroes by their size. (In two cases, they get cooked and eaten by the heroes, so they do provide important nourishment to the stranded escapees.) In JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, each of Harryhausen’s creatures had a specific mission, which made them a lot more interesting. Captain Nemo’s on hand here with a lot of his high-tech inventions, including a TV monitor and an early form of ray gun. It’s his experiments that created the giant creatures. So those are the sci-fi elements. Herrmann’s score is one of his best.

July 28, 2011
41. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011/U.S., color, historical superhero sci-fi adventure, Paramount Pictures) Seen at the AMC Empire on 42nd Street in Manhattan (2-D)
Dir.: Joe Johnston. Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones.
Sci-fi elements include the serum that turns puny 4F Steve Rogers into a musclebound hero and the high-tech weapons that the Red Skull employs, including ray guns and disintegration rays. I never bought Evans as Captain America. No acting talent, no charisma. The movie stands or falls based on who plays the lead. And, in my estimation, it falls. I didn’t like the British chick who plays his leading lady either. I never believed this was World War II or the 1940s. Certain things can work in a comic book, but on the big screen you’ve got to make them believable. No excitement, no suspense, nothing.

July 29, 2011
42. POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY (2008/U.S., color, superhero fantasy adventure TV series) Eps. 8, 10-12 VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#8: Way of the Master
#10: Blind Leading the Blind
#11: Pushed to the Edge
#12: One Master Too Many
This series just keeps getting better and better. There’s more drama and characterization in it than is usual for Power Rangers. In these episodes, each of the three Rangers finds a second master in addition to their everyday trainer (and boss at Jungle Karma Pizza), R.J. One of those masters just happens to be R.J.’s estranged father, which brings out a host of unresolved father-son issues. In addition, there’s plenty of action. And this time, I re-watched four eps. of the Japanese counterpart, “Gekiranger,” to see how much new action there was in PRJF and how much editing was done. I was surprised at the result. There are far more newly staged fight scenes here featuring the Rangers in costume than I had previously thought.

43. GEKIRANGER (2007/Japan, live-action sentai series) DVD / In Japanese, no subs.
Vol. 1, eps. 1-4
This is the sentai series that became the basis for “Power Rangers Jungle Fury.” I watched these eps. for an earlier challenge, but I felt the need to re-watch them here so I could compare action sequences in PRJF with their counterparts here. As noted above, PRJF has more newly staged fight scenes than I had previously thought. In fact one whole sequence in ep.3 of “Gekiranger” was redone for PRJF’s ep. 3 but was mostly re-shot. They could easily have simply taken the original footage and put it into PRJF untouched, but they decided to make it longer—and better. However, the Zord fight with the rampaging bull monster is much longer in ep. 3 of “Gekiranger” than its counterpart in ep. 3 of PRJF, so we see some good bits of action not seen in PRJF. Also, the Rangers’ trainer in “Gekiranger” is a man-sized cat!

44. GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1965/Japan, 100 min., color, giant monster sci-fi/Daiei) DVD (Shout Factory) In Japanese with English subs.
Dir.: Shigeo Tanaka. Special Effects Director: Noriaki Yuasa. Cast: Kojiro Hongo, Kyoko Enami, Koji Fujiyama.

I wanted to see at least one Gamera movie for this challenge and this is it. It’s the second Gamera movie and the first in color. It’s an odd film. The main characters disappear for long stretches. Gamera himself is seen briefly at the beginning, then again for seven minutes in the middle, and then again for seven minutes at the end, for a total of 18 minutes in a 100-minute running time. Most of the attention is devoted to Barugon, a rather awkward-looking man-in-rubber-suit-on-all-fours dinosaur with an unsightly horn sticking up from its nose. His tongue shoots out freezing clouds and the plates on his back send out a beautiful but highly destructive rainbow ray. While this is not up to the standards of a Godzilla movie, the miniature sets depicting Osaka, where the first confrontation is set, are quite impressive. However, I prefer the later Gamera movies in which Gamera befriended assorted lunatic children.

45. JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982/U.S., 108 min., color, alien infiltration sci-fi/Universal Pictures) VHS
Dir.: John Carpenter. Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Donald Moffat, Keith David.
Well, I watched Howard Hawks’ 1951 original on TCM last week, so I felt compelled to dig out my VHS copy of this and re-watch it as well. This one doesn’t quite hold up so well either. There’s great build-up and a lot of suspense and then the momentum kind of dissipates in the final stretch, where things go on a little too long. Also, I finally got bothered by some of the gore and over-the-top makeup effects. The monster appears in too much detail way too soon in the movie (30 minutes in). They should have delayed letting us SEE the monster. Or only hinted at what it looked like for a long stretch, just to keep us wondering, and THEN reveal it in all its gory glory. And I didn’t really need that explicit autopsy, which turned out not to reveal anything that we needed to see. But, like the original, despite my new misgivings, it’s a good movie, and, I think, probably Carpenter’s best.

July 30, 2011
46. POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY (2008/U.S., color, superhero fantasy adventure TV series) Eps. 13-16 VHS (taped off Toon Disney)
#13: Ghost of a Chance, Pt. 1
#14: Ghost of a Chance, Pt. 2
#15: Bad to the Bone
#16: Friends Don’t Fade Away
The Rangers find new masters for more training. While they’re away, the Rangers’ hippie-type trainer, R.J., has to fight on their behalf and a wound he incurs causes him to turn into a werewolf (the wolf is his spirit animal). In Ep. 16, a new Ranger appears. Lots of action. I swear this series has more fight footage per episode than any other Power Rangers season.

July 31, 2011
47. THE WILD, WILD PLANET (1965/Italy, 94 min., color, space sci-fi/MGM) VHS (taped off TCM) English-dubbed
Dir.: Anthony Dawson (Antonio Margheriti). Cast: Tony Russell, Lisa Gastoni, Massimo Serato, Franco Nero.
One of those ‘60s Italian space operas with “mod” costumes and sets. The production design is actually quite imaginative throughout. And so are the costumes and hairstyles on the tons of hot women working for the villain. There are prototype futuristic cars that characters drive around in. The plot has to do with an evil scientist working for a corporation in pursuit of “perfect” men and women, which means they have to experiment on hundreds of poor souls they’ve abducted, including the leading lady, Lisa Gastoni. Her boyfriend, the rather slow-witted space commander, Mike Halstead (Russell), leads the troops in a search for her. The whole thing moves at a sluggish pace. And the dubbers seem forced to talk way too slowly. There are laughable fight scenes involving lots of judo, often used by the women. Great music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, although there’s not a lot of it. As Italian sci-fi goes, I think I’ll stick with Mario Bava’s PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES.

48. FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE (1940/U.S., b&w, interplanetary warfare/space sci-fi, Universal) DVD/Chapters 1-4
Directors: Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor. Cast; Buster Crabbe, Carol Hughes, Charles Middleton, Frank Shannon.
Chapter 1: “The Purple Death”
Chapter 2: “Freezing Torture”
Chapter 3: “The Walking Bombs”
Chapter 4: “The Destroying Ray”
Why didn’t I start watching serials for this challenge sooner? This is great stuff. Low-budget, but very imaginative use of all kinds of stock footage, including shots of an actual rescue operation on a snowy mountain peak at night. I love the music, esp. the pieces from Franz Liszt’s “Les Preludes.” I love how Ming the Merciless can be such a formidable villain by just sitting on his throne giving orders and gesturing with his long fingers. Curiously, the spaceships have only one seat—for the pilot. Which means everyone else has to stand the whole time on these interplanetary trips. Kind of like the New York subway.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 07-31-11 at 08:05 AM.
Old 06-30-11, 12:21 AM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

*=first time

July 1
1. Z.P.G.(1970s, 1972) -as cheesily fun as I remembered.
2. Just Imagine (1930)* -I liked it aside from the lead's singing.

July 2
The Twilight Zone (1980s)
3. 1-26 The Beacon*/1-34 The Little People of Killany Woods*/1-38 A Matter of Minutes*/1-40 To See the Invisible Man*
4. 1-42 Welcome to Winfield*/1-43 Quarantine*(1980s)/1-7 The Lonely*/1-11 And When the Sky Was Opened*(original, July 3rd)

July 3
The Twilight Zone (original)
5. 1-21 Mirror Image*/1-33 Mr. Bevis*/2-4 A Thing About Machines*/2-9 The Trouble With Templeton*
6. 2-24 The Rip Van Winkle Caper*/3-30 Hocus Pocus And Frisby*/5-4 A Kind of Stopwatch*/1-1 Where is Everybody?*(July 4th)

July 4
The Twilight Zone (original)
7. 2-7 Nick of Time*/3-3 The Shelter*/3-16 Nothing in the Dark*/3-23 The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank*

July 5
8. The Twilight Zone (original)-2-6 The Eye of the Beholder*/5-17 Number Twelve Looks Just Like You* (July 4th)/The Twilight Zone (1980s)-1-48 Dead Run*/1-49 Profile In Silver*
The Nine Lives of Chloe King 1-3 Green Star*

July 6
9. The Nine Lives of Chloe King 1-4 All Apologies*/Futurama 6-17 Law and Oracle* (July 7th)/Jem 1-5 Battle of the Bands (July 8th)

July 8
10. 1-1 The Beginning/1-2 Disaster/1-3 Kimber's Rebellion/1-4 Frame Up

July 11
11. The Twilight Zone (original)-5-3 Nightmare at 20,000 Feet*/The Twilight Zone (1980's)-1-56 Shadow Play*/Futurama 6-18 The Silence of the Clamps* (July 14th)/Futurama 6-19 Yo Leela Leela* (July 25th)

July 16
12. The Twilight Zone (1980's)-2-1 The Once and Future King*/2-2 A Saucer of Loneliness*/Charmed 2-18 Chick Flick (July 24th)

July 20
13. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

July 21
14. Kick-Ass*

July 22
15. Iron Man 2

July 24
16. My Future Boyfriend*
17. Star Trek: The Next Generation 1-1 & 1-2 Encounter at Farpoint, Parts 1 & 2*
The Twilight Zone (original)-1-4 The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine*

July 28
18. Skyline*

July 30
19. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

(This is kind of screwy looking but I didn't really watch everything in the correct number of blocks so I numbered them like this. I hope that it's okay.)

Last edited by Emma311; 08-18-11 at 03:38 AM.
Old 06-30-11, 09:48 AM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread


Last edited by KaBluie; 06-30-11 at 09:52 AM. Reason: Should have been in the Descussion Thread! Sorry.
Old 06-30-11, 02:10 PM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

*= first time viewing

July 01
01. Onigamiden (2011)* (aka Legend of the Millennium Dragon) US premier at Anime Expo
Beautifully animated tale of a boy from modern Japan who is transported to the Heian Era to help in the final battle between humans and the monstrous oni. Pretty standard plot but the story does take a few turns you might not expect. 7/10

July 02
02. UFO - "Identified" (1970)* / UFO - "Computer Affair" (1971)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
03. UFO - "Flight Path" (1971)* / UFO - "Exposed" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
04. The Disappearance of Flight 412 (1974)*
An Air Force radar plane is involved with a possible UFO sighting and its crew is 'debriefed' by special government agents. Not bad. 6/10
05. Crash and Burn (1980)*
Set in a world where the ozone layer has been destroyed, cities are under domes, and giant corporations run the world. Very good story of synthetic humans hunting members of a resistance movement. Somewhat derivative but well done. Not enough giant robot action. 7/10

July 03
06. UFO - "Survival" (1971)* / UFO - "Conflict" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
07. UFO - "The Dalotek Affair" (1971)* / UFO - "A Question of Priorities" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
08. Not of This Earth (1958)
Low budget story of an alien who comes to Earth to find out if human blood can be used to save his people. Atmospheric in places, Paul Birch is creepy as the alien. 5/10

July 04
09. Doctor Who - "The Awakening" (1984) "move version" taped off PBS / Captain Z-Ro - "Leonardo Da Vinci" (1956)* (Mill Creek - Classic Sci-Fi TV) / Captain Z-Ro - "Meteor" (1956)* (Mill Creek - Classic Sci-Fi TV)
10. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
Astronaut marooned on Mars tries to survive with just a few pieces of equipment. Visually impressive, the story has some flaws but is still entertaining. 7/10
11. The Mole People (1956) (The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection)
Dr. Frank Baxter, of Bell Science movie fame, introduces this well done tale of archeologists who discover an inhabited Sumerian city deep below the surface of the Earth. Nice build up, great creatures, John Agar and Hugh Beaumont -- very entertaining. 7/10
12. UFO - "Ordeal" (1971)* / UFO - "The Square Triangle" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)

July 05
13. War of the Satellites (1958)*
Cool story about aliens trying to stop the Earth's space program by substituting one of them for a leading scientist. The alien has unusual powers, the sets are a cut above the usual Corman stuff, and the story is pretty exciting. Robert Shayne has a nice part. 6/10

July 06
14. Being Human Series 3 - "Lia" (2011)* / Being Human Series 3 - "Adam's Family" (2011)*

July 07
15. UFO - "Court Martial" (1971)* / UFO - "Close Up" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)

July 08
16. UFO - "Confetti Check A-O.K." (1971)* / UFO - "The Responsibility Seat" (1971)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)

July 09
17. UFO - "E.S.P." (1970)* / UFO - "Kill Straker" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
18. UFO - "Sub-Smash" (1970)* / UFO - "The Sound of Silence" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
19. UFO - "The Cat with Ten Lives" (1970)* / UFO - "Destruction" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
20. Being Human Series 3 - "Type 4" (2011)* / Being Human Series 3 - "The Pack" (2011)*

July 10
21. Bride of the Monster (1956)
Bela Lugosi plays a scientist trying to create an army of super creatures using atomic energy. Has the germ of a really good mad scientist movie in it but is sabotaged by poor pacing, inadequate acting and really cheap special effects. Still Bela and Tor Johnson both have some good moments. Flawed but fun. 4/10
22. Resonnances (2006)*
An egg from space lands and something grows for over 300 years. Unappealing characters, basic plot, sometimes ineffective special effects, derivative and predictable. 4/10
23. Holy Flame of the Martial World (1983)*
A brother and sister, separated when children, seek revenge for the death of their parents. Non stop action generally moves plot along. Old fashioned special effects well done and fit tone of movie. A bit mad at times but a whole lot of fun. 8/10
24. Being Human Series 3 - "The Longest Day" (2011)* / Being Human Series 3 - "Daddy Ghoul" (2011)*

July 11
25. Dr. Cyclops (1940) (The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2)
Excellent story of a scientist living in the South American jungle who develops an atomic ray that can shrink objects. Very pulpish feel especially in the beginning. Good acting with Albert Dekkar as the doctor better than that. Special effects are nearly perfect, only occasionally falling down. 7/10
26. UFO - "The Man Who Came Back" (1971)* / UFO - "The Psychobombs" (1970)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)

July 12
27. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) (The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen: Legendary Monsters)
Sinbad searches for the legendary island of Lemuria while being pursued by the evil sorcerer Koura. Wonderful movie! Everything works -- the acting, a solid villain, beautiful and fantastic sets and backgrounds, interesting creatures, polished special effects, and a real feeling of being in another realm. 9/10

July 13
28. Being Human Series 3 - "Though the Heavens Fall" (2011)* / Being Human Series 3 - "The Wolf-Shaped Bullet" (2011)*

July 14
29. Doctor Who - "Frontios" (1984) "move version" taped off PBS

July 15
30. Cyborg 2087 (1966) VHS taped off TV
A cyborg is sent back in time to 1966 to prevent the first demonstration of radio-telepathy, which is used by dictators in 2087 to control the masses. Some adequate actors - Michael Rennie, Wendell Corey, and Warren Stevens - but the script is flat and drags in spots and the production values are low. 5/10

July 16
31. Conquest of Space (1955)
George Pal production about man's first interplanetary journey. Glorious Chesley Bonestell astronomical art and elegant mid-50's spaceship design makes this a visual treat but the story is a bit contrived in spots. 6/10
32. UFO - "Reflections in the Water" (1971)* / UFO - "Timelash" (1971)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)
33. UFO - "Mindbender" (1971)* / UFO - "The Long Sleep" (1971)* (The Complete UFO Megaset)

July 17
34. The Mistress of Atlantis (1932)* (Mill Creek: Nightmare Worlds)
Two French soldiers, sent on a reconnaissance mission among the Taureg tribes of the Sahara Desert, are captured and taken to the lost city of Atlantis, which is ruled by a mysterious woman - Antinee. Exterior scenes shot in North Africa add interest. Pulpish feel with a strange almost dreamlike story of friendship and lost love. 6/10
35. Night Caller From Outer Space (1966)
A sphere from space lands on Earth and shortly after disappears. A month later young women begin to disappear. Solid story and acting. Excellent beginning and suspense and tension are maintained to the end. 7/10
36. Master of the World (1961) VHS
A man constructs the world's first heavier than air flying machine and uses it to try to stop war by destroying the world's weapons. Adequate but not great effects and acting. Leisurely script taken from two Jules Verne novels. 6/10
37. Pinocchio (1940)
A woodworker wishes that a puppet he created could become a real boy. Its been ages since I've seen a classic Disney feature and I forgot just how AMAZING the animation is. The story and even the songs (which I often don't care for) are also quite good. 9/10

July 18
38. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1969)*
Two tribes of cave people fight dinosaurs, sacrifice blonds to appease the sun and newly arrived moon, and intermarry. The dialog is in cave-person so some of the plot nuances were lost on me. I also found it hard to tell members of the tribes apart at times. The movie works best when the stop motion dinosaurs are on the screen. 5/10

July 19
39. Wild Wild Planet (1965) (WB Archive Collection)
Commander Mike Halsted of the Space Station Gamma-One investigates the disappearances of hundreds of people. Cheesy but a lot of fun. Elegant designs but pretty poor special effects. 6/10
40. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Three astronauts take part in the first manned space flight but only one returns and he is in shock. Then he begins changing. First of the Quatermass movies. Great atmosphere of tension and urgency, helped by excellent sound track. Only the final creature is a bit of a disappointment but doesn't detract that much. 8/10

July 23
41. Sci-Fi and Fantasy Shorts from the San Diego Comic Con Independent Film Festival*
The Man Who Knew How to Fly (25 min.)
The Historian Paradox (25 min.)
New World Water (27 min.)
Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement (12 min.)
Digital Antiquities (15 min.)
Android 413 (15 min.)
Heal (25 min.)
Times are approximate but do not include Q&A with the film makers.

July 25
42. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)* In theater
Weakling Steve Rogers gets buffed up by science and becomes America's strongest soldier in WW2. Well done and lots of fun, even well acted for what it is. Some of the Howling Commandos help Cap out. Might turn out to be my favorite comic book movie of the summer. 8/10

July 26
43. Big Fish (2003)*
Sweet story about a son trying to discover the facts about the life of his dying father, who was always a teller of tall tales. He finds that there was more truth in the stories than he thought and that there can be magic in life if you know how to look for it. Excellent cast, full of great characters both major and minor. Ultimately predictable but like Edward's tales the tangents make it wonderful. 8/10

July 27
44. Interplanetary (2008)*
Corporate middle management and support personnel are the only inhabitants of Mars Base Two. When things start to go wrong, corporate policies and procedures don't help at all. Darkly humorous at times but the whole incompetent management things grows thin before the movie ends. Fortunately by then there are some cool looking monsters running around. Low budget sets and somewhat amateur acting. 5/10

July 28
45. Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966)
A creature from Venus comes to Earth in a communications satellite in an attempt to enslave all of humanity. Larry Buchanan remake of It Conquered the World is even cheesier than the original with lesser performances. Zontar looks OK, kind of demonic (perhaps intentionally?) but also kind of generic and can't match the classic if somewhat silly look of It. Still this movie is better than I remembered it and I really do love the title. 4/10

July 29
46. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)* In theater
Cowboys battle aliens who attempt to invade Earth during the days of the Old West. Great performance by Daniel Craig (who makes a great cowboy) leads a strong cast. Nicely paces story is only marred by silly reason for the invasion. The aliens have a 21st century generic look to them although some of the details are pretty neat. A darned good movie. 7/10
47. The Beginning of the End (1957)
Giant locusts (grasshoppers) invade Chicago. Entomologist Peter Graves tries to stop them. Classic giant bug movie filled with familiar B-Movie faces. The effects work well especially in this wide screen version. Probably my favorite Bert I. Gordon movie. 7/10
48. Godzilla Raids Again (Japanese version) (1955)*
Another Godzilla is discovered along with a second giant creature, Anguirus. A sober, serious sequel lacking any of the lovable silliness that was to come. Not as dramatic or terrifying as the original since most of the action takes place in isolated areas, although Osaka is trashed at one point. Still, suspenseful at times and very satisfying. 6/10

July 30
49. Eolomea (1972)* (The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection)
East German film about the disappearances of several space ships around one space station. Evidence indicates that a well known scientist is somehow involved. Beautifully filmed and well acted with an intriguing story. Good effects. Quite realistic for the times. 7/10
50. The Neptune Factor (1966)* (Fox Studio Classics 4 disc set)
An earthquake causes an undersea lab to slide into a deep rift trapping three men. A deep sea vehicle searches for the lab and encounters monstrous sea creatures. The acting is fine and the story is OK but the monster effects don't work very well. Where is Mr. B.I.G. when you need him? 5/10
51. War of the Planets (1965) (WB Archives Collection)
Commander Mike Halsted and the gang from Gamma-One are back, this time saving the Earth from strange energy beings that abduct both people and space stations. Same poor effects, elegant designs, and silly science as in Wild Wild Planet but a much better story with creepy antagonists. Probably the best of the Gamma-One films. 7/10
52. It Conquered the World (1956)
A creature from Venus tries to conquer the Earth with the help of a scientist. So much better on every level than Zontar. I forgot how good this is. The cast is full of B-movie veterans and they all do a fine job. Snappy direction by Coreman. One of my favorite monsters doesn't move well at all but the design is way out and creative. 7/10

July 31
53. Dreamscape (1984)*
Researchers develop a way for psychics to enter another person's dreams and effect what happens. Some interesting ideas weighted down by a standard government conspiracy plot. Maybe it was fresh in the 80's. Good monster though. 6/10
54. War Between the Planets (1966)
Gamma-One has a new commander, Rod Jackson, who investigates the cause of an increasing number of natural disasters. Rod Jackson is no Mike Halsted and this movie is by far the least interesting of the three Gamma-One films I watched. 4/10
55. Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Project Moonbase" (1953)* (MST3K Vol. XX)

3 Wildcards allowed

Watch one film from every decade, starting with the 1900s.
--- 1900 -
--- 1910 -
--- 1920 -
-X- 1930 - The Mistress of Atlantis (1932)
-X- 1940 - Dr. Cyclops (1940)
-X- 1950 - Not of This Earth (1958)
-X- 1960 - Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
-X- 1970 - The Disappearance of Flight 412 (1974)
-X- 1980 - Holy Flame of the Martial World (1983)
-X- 1990 - Crash and Burn (1990)
-X- 2000 - Resonnances (2006)
-X- 2010 - Onigamiden (2011)

Watch films in at least two languages other than English.
-X- First language - Onigmiden, Japanese
-X- Second language - Resonnances, French

-X- Watch the MST3K/Rifftrax/Cinematic Titanic version of a sci-fi/fantasy film - Project Moonbase (MST3K version)
-X- Watch a film and its remake - It Conquered the World, Zontar The Thing From Venus
--- Watch a film based on a video game -
-X- Watch a film based on a novel - Master of the World (Verne's Master of the World and Robur the Conqueror)
-X- Watch a film directed by Ed Wood - Bride of the Monster
-X- Watch a film which won an Academy Award -- Pinocchio (Best Original Score, Best Original Song)
--- Watch a silent film -
-X- Watch a Criterion version film - Robinson Crusoe on Mars
--- Watch a film with commentary -
-X- Watch a film and at least two sequels - Wild Wild Planet, War of the Planets, War Between the Planets
-X- Watch a film that takes place underneath the Earth - The Mole People
-X- Watch a film that takes place in space - Conquest of Space
-X- Watch a film that takes place on or under the sea - The Neptune Factor
-X- Watch an animated film - Onigamiden
-X- Watch a film with special effects by Ray Harryhausen - The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
-X- Watch a film directed by Roger Corman - Not of This Earth
--- Watch a film directed by Ralph Bakshi -
--- Watch a film directed by Joe Dante -
-X- Watch a film animated by John Lounsbery - Pinocchio
-X- Watch a film directed by Charles Band - Crash and Burn
-X- Watch a film that takes place in the "future" but the year has already come and gone - Project Moonbase (1953) (MST3K version) set in 1970

Watch a film for each rating:
-X- G - The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
--- PG -
-X- PG-13 - Big Fish
-X- R - Crash and Burn
--- X/NC-17 -
--- Unrated -

Watch a film in each of the following subgenres:
-X- Alien invasion - Zontar The Thing From Venus
--- Arthurian Fantasy -
-X- Cyborg - Cyborg 2087
-X- Post-Apocalyptic - Crash and Burn
--- Dark Fantasy -
--- Sword and Sorcery -
--- Cybernetic revolt -
--- Immortality -
-X- Based on fairy tale - Pinocchio
-X- Mutants - Night Caller From Outer Space
-X- Superhero - Captain America: The First Avenger
-X- Mad Scientist - Bride of the Monster
-X- Martial Arts Fantasy - Holy Flame of the Martial World
-X- Time travel - Cyborg 2087
-X- Giant Critters - The Beginning of the End
-X- Prehistoric - When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
-X- Paranormal - Dreamscape
-X- Steampunk - Master of the World
--- Urban Fantasy -
-X- High Fantasy - The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
-X- Kaiju - Godzilla Raids Again
--- Cyberpunk -

Watch a film starring:
-X- John Agar - The Mole People
--- Kenneth Tobey -
--- Charlton Heston -
--- John Carradine -
--- Kurt Russell -
-X- Bela Lugosi - Bride of the Monster
-X- Vincent Price - Master of the World
-X- Dennis Quaid - Dreamscape
-X- Max von Sydow - Dreamscape
-X- Helena Bonham Carter - Big Fish
-X- John Saxon - Night Caller From Outer Space
--- Michael Ironside -

Last edited by omike; 08-01-11 at 01:11 PM.
Old 07-01-11, 02:03 AM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

2008: 21
2009: 4
2010: 64

*= First Time Viewings

July 1st
1. Wizards of Waverly Place S.4 "Zeke Finds Out"*/"Magic Unmasked"*/Kyle XY S.3 "It Happened One Night"
1.5. Star Trek S.1 "The Cage (Pilot)"*

July 2nd
2. Kyle XY S.3 "Psychic Friend"*
3. Kyle XY S.3 "Electric Kiss"*/"In the Company of Men"*

July 3rd
4. Super 8 (2011)*
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
5.5. True Blood S.4 "You Smell Like Dinner" (2011)

July 4th
6.5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)*
7.5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

July 5th
8.5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)*

July 6th
9.5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

July 7th
10.5. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)/Commentary the Musical (2008)*

July 8th
11. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog commetary (2008)*

July 9th
12. Beastly (2011)*

July 10th
13. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

July 11th
14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

July 14th
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows pt. 1 (2010)

July 17th
17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows pt. 2 (2011)*
18. Red Riding Hood (2011)*
19. (July 10th)True Blood "If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'" (2011)*/True Blood "I'm Alive and On Fire (2011)*

July 18th
20. I Am Number Four (2011)*

July 19th
21. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)*

July 21st
22. Bridge to Terrabitha (2007)*
23. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)*

July 22nd
24. (July 8th)Wizards of Waverly Place S.4 "Meet the Werewolves" (2011)*/Wizards of Waverly Place S.4 "Beast Tamer"*/Kyle XY S.3 "Life Support"*

July 23rd
25. The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)*

July 24th
25.5. True Blood S.4 "Me and the Devil" (2011)*

July 27th
26.5. Astro Boy (2009)*
27.5. Source Code (2011)*

Last edited by HyperWeather; 07-28-11 at 07:21 PM.
Old 07-10-11, 07:32 PM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread

Undeadcow's 2011 Summer Sci-Fi Fantasy Challenge

* = First time viewing

July 1
Event Horizon (1997, 96 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - A effective horror movie; ever time I watch it I expect it to become dull but it continues to hold up well.

July 4
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring [Extended Edition] (2001, 208 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - Fun action fantasy kick; watching this reminds me how much of a rip-off Willow is. The credits for all of these are really 20 minutes long.

July 5
3. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [Extended Edition] (2002, 223 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - I think the extended edition bit with the trees hurts the film and it take too long to get good (Helm's Deep good).

July 7
4. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King [Extended Edition] (2003, 251 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - Keeps kicking until the end.

July 9
5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, 115 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - Highly recommended; this one has more depth and continues to hold up well. Working on mustering up the interest to listen to commentary track.
6. The Faculty (1998, 104 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - this use to be a favorite but has become dated and doesn't hold up as well. It rips off other better films less successfully. Is that suppose to be cocaine?

July 10
7. They Live (1988, 93 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - Despite the transparent attempts to make comments about social stratification is a fun action sci-fi movie that holds up well. Love the ending.
8. Village of the Damned (1995, 99 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - I really enjoyed this when I first saw it but watching it today it's not as good as it use to be. Carpenter is over-rated.
9. The Blob (1988, 95 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - Although I need to revisit it I didn't care for the original Blob but this remake it a lot more fun. It takes some time to get going but nice 80s special effects (before CGI) and the last half pays off.

July 11
10. The Terminator (1984, 107 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - A classic

July 13
11. Terminator 2: Judgement Day [Special Edition] (1991, 152 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - at times I though T2 was too juvenile but seeing it this time it really stands out as a worthy addition.
xx. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989, 97 minutes) Theater (Outdoor "Rolling Roadshow" screening)

July 15
12. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [Special Edition] (2003, 109 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - not perfect but really under-rated.

July 16
13. The Fifth Element (1997, 126 minutes) DVD (Personal collection) - I saw this for the first time last month never understanding it's cult standing but the visuals are really striking and toonish.
14. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, 132 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 17
14. Star Trek II: The Wraith of Khan (1982, 113 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 18
15. Star Trek III: Search for Spock (1984, 105 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 19
16. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, 119 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 21
17. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, 119 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 23
18. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, 119 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
19. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989, 107 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
xx. Insidious (2010, 103 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 24
20. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, 113 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
21. Star Trek: Generations (1994, 118 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
22. Star Trek: First Contact (1996, 111 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 26
23. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998, 103 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 27
24. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002, 116 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
25. Sucker Punch* (2011, 110 minutes) DVD (Rental - Redbox)
26. Class of Nuke 'Em High (1985, 86 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 28
xx. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990, 93 minutes) Theater (Outdoor screening)
27. The Deadly Spawn* (1983, 78 minutes) DVD (Rental - Redbox)

July 29
28. Contamination (1980, 95 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 30
29. Dollman (1991, 82 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

July 31
30. The Fly (1986, 96 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)
31. The Fly II (1989, 105 minutes) DVD (Personal collection)

Watch one film from every decade, starting with the 1900s.
--- 1900 -
--- 1910 -
--- 1920 -
--- 1930 -
--- 1940 -
--- 1950 -
--- 1960 -
-X- 1970 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Star Trek
-X- 1980 - They Live, Terminator
-X- 1990 - Village of the Damned, Terminator 2
-X- 2000 - Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Terminator 3
--- 2010 -

Watch films in at least two languages other than English.
--- First language -
--- Second language -

--- Watch the MST3K/Rifftrax/Cinematic Titanic version of a sci-fi/fantasy film -
--- Watch a film and its remake -
--- Watch a film based on a video game -
-X- Watch a film based on a novel - Lord of the Rings Trilogy
--- Watch a film directed by Ed Wood -
-X- Watch a film which won an Academy Award - Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring [Best Cinematography, etc]
--- Watch a silent film -
--- Watch a Criterion version film -
--- Watch a film with commentary -
-X- Watch a film and at least two sequels - Lord of the Rings Trilogy
--- Watch a film that takes place underneath the Earth -
-X- Watch a film that takes place in space - Event Horizon, Star Trek
--- Watch a film that takes place on or under the sea -
--- Watch an animated film -
--- Watch a film with special effects by Ray Harryhausen -
--- Watch a film directed by Roger Corman -
--- Watch a film directed by Ralph Bakshi -
--- Watch a film directed by Joe Dante -
--- Watch a film animated by John Lounsbery -
--- Watch a film directed by Charles Band -
--- Watch a film that takes place in the "future" but the year has already come and gone -

Watch a film for each rating:
--- G -
--- PG -
-X- PG-13 - Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
-X- R - They Live, The Terminator
--- X/NC-17 -
--- Unrated -

Watch a film in each of the following subgenres:
-X- Alien invasion - They Live
--- Arthurian Fantasy -
--- Cyborg -
-X- Post-Apocalyptic - The Terminator
--- Dark Fantasy -
--- Sword and Sorcery -
-X- Cybernetic revolt - The Terminator
--- Immortality -
--- Based on fairy tale -
-X- Mutants - Class of Nuke 'Em High
--- Superhero -
--- Mad Scientist -
--- Martial Arts Fantasy -
-X- Time travel - The Terminator
--- Giant Critters -
--- Prehistoric -
--- Paranormal -
--- Steampunk -
-X- Urban Fantasy - Sucker Punch
-X- High Fantasy - Lord of the Rings trilogy
--- Kaiju -
--- Cyberpunk -

Watch a film starring:
--- John Agar -
--- Kenneth Tobey -
--- Charlton Heston -
--- John Carradine -
--- Kurt Russell -
--- Bela Lugosi -
--- Vincent Price -
--- Dennis Quaid -
--- Max von Sydow -
--- Helena Bonham Carter -
--- John Saxon -
--- Michael Ironside -

Last edited by Undeadcow; 07-31-11 at 07:14 PM.
Old 07-27-11, 07:08 PM
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Re: 4th Annual Summer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge - List Thread



GREEN * = First Time Viewings
Starred rating is based upon how much I enjoyed the title, not necessarily film "quality." (Scale of 1-5)

JULY 26TH -- TIME: 3H 23M
128. War of the Worlds (2005) / trailer wiki imdb / 117min / DVD / ****
"This Summer, the last war on Earth won't be started by humans."
129a. * Alphas: Season 1: Anger Management (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 43min / SYFY HD / ***
"Impossible is what they do best."
129b. * The Nine Lives of Chloe King: Season 1: Dogs of War (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 43min / ABC Family HD / ***
"Chloe King's new life started on the day she died."

JULY 27TH -- TIME: 4H 50M
130. * The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) / trailer wiki imdb / 105min / Netflix DVD / **
"Sinbad battles the creatures of legend in the miracle of Dynarama!"
131. * Season of the Witch (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 95min / Netflix DVD / **
"Not all souls can be saved."
132. * Tin Man: Part 1 (2007) / trailer wiki imdb / 90min / DVD / ***
"Follow a new yellow brick road."

JULY 28TH -- TIME: 6H 32M
133. * Torchwood: Miracle Day: The New World / Rendition (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 106min / STARZ HD / ****
"One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies."
134. * The Cell (2000) / trailer wiki imdb / 107min / Netflix DVD / ***
"His Mind Is Her Prison."
135. * The Cell 2 (2009) / trailer wiki imdb / 93min / Netflix BD / **
"In the mind of a mad man..."
136. * Tin Man: Part 2 (2007) / trailer wiki imdb / 86min / DVD / ***
"Follow a new yellow brick road."

JULY 29TH -- TIME: 4H 35M
137. * Tin Man: Part 3 (2007) / trailer wiki imdb / 88min / DVD / ***
"Follow a new yellow brick road."
138. LEXX 3.0: Eating Pattern (1997) / wiki imdb / 94min / DVD / ***
"Sci-Fi with an attitude!"
139. LEXX 4.0: Giga Shadow (1997) / wiki imdb / 93min / DVD / ***
"Sci-Fi with an attitude!"

JULY 30TH -- TIME: 13H 31M
140a. * Haven: Season 2: Love Machine (2011) / wiki imdb / 43min / SYFY HD / ***
"It takes a village to hide a secret."
140b. * Marvel Anime: Iron Man: Season 1: Iron Man Arrives in Japan (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 22min / G4 HD / ***
140c. * Marvel Anime: Wolverine: Season 1: Mariko (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 22min / G4 HD / ***
141. * The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 113min / BD / ****
"Return to magic. Return to hope. Return to Narnia."
142. * Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 97min / BD / ***
"She's back...And she's bringing a few of her friends."
143. * Battle: Los Angeles (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 116min / BD / ***
"It's not war. It's survival."
144. * Tron: Legacy (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 125min / BD / ***
"The Game Has Changed"
145. * Prehistoric Women (1950) / wiki imdb / 73min / DVD / *
"Savage! Primitive! Deadly!"
146. * Warning from Space (1956) / wiki imdb / 88min / DVD / **
147. * Torchwood: Miracle Day: Dead of Night / Escape to L.A. (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 112min / STARZ HD / ****
"One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies."

JULY 31ST -- TIME: 10H 00M
148. * Southland Tales (2006) / trailer wiki imdb / 144min / DVD / **
"This is the way the world ends."
149. * Blood and Chocolate (2007) / trailer wiki imdb / 98min / Netflix BD / ***
"Everyone has two lives. The one we show the world. And the one that was never meant to be seen."
150. * Sucker Punch (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 110min / Netflix BD / ***
"You Will Be Unprepared"
151a. * Outcasts: Season 1: Episode 7 (2010) / trailer wiki imdb / 50min / BBCA / ***
"Another chance - but will the human race make the same mistakes again?"
151b. * True Blood: Season 4: I Wish I Was the Moon (2011) / trailer wiki imdb / 59min / HBO HD / *****
"You Know You're Hooked"
152. * The Atomic Brain (aka Monstrosity) (1964) / trailer wiki imdb / 65min / DVD / *
"WANTED: Youth and Beauty. Will Pay Millions. Only Beautiful and Shapely Girls Need Apply. No References Required. Appointments After Dark Only."
153. * Dead Space: Downfall (2008) / trailer wiki imdb / 74min / Netflix Instant / ***
"Meet Your Maker"

Last edited by tarfrimmer; 08-01-11 at 01:03 PM.

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