Sci fi camp and goth action: a spontaneous movie marathon

Turn on the projector, fold out the futon and build a nest of pillows, make yourself comfortable. It’s going to be a long night.

BARBARELLA.

First up, the cult-classic 1968 sci fi flick, AKA of those “great old movies” from my dad’s day, I’m embarrassed to say I watched this with my family as a preteen. I must have blocked out the uncomfortable experience because in rewatching it I really didn’t remember much at all, and what I saw I kept asking “Why would my dad EVER think this was a good movie to watch as a family?” Ha, previous viewing experience aside, this was a poorly plotted, poorly acted and yet thoroughly amusing sexploitation film extolling the Free Love philosophies of the day. Barbarella is on a mission to find Dr. Durand Durand in order to save Earth. I won’t bother with the tediousness of those details since really the substance of the film is in her wardrobe changes and the escapades with various characters she meets along the way. Movie highlights for me included: the shag-carpet interior of Miss Barbarella’s space craft (a newly identified must-have for my future space-traveling self); the jaunty Burt Bacharach-style trumpet soundtrack employed to express when sexual situations are afoot; Pygar the blind angel nodding to his overhead nest where he lives and you can hear the tweeting of little birds as if he’s got some mini-Pygars up there waiting to be fed (alas, not so).

FANTASTIC VOYAGE.

Next, we go back just 2 years to a little bit “harder” sci fi. Poor Raquel Welch seemed rather prudish and just a little bit in the way of the men folk in this movie from 1966. This is a nice US vs the Russians spy/assassin intrigue meets medical/sci fi drama in which a small submarine is miniaturized to the size of one micrometer and injected into a defected scientist who has suffered a blood clot in the brain. Of course shenanigans ensue. The men are brusque and stoic, lots of cigar smoking in the control room. Each scene cut back to them seems to have one of the men drawing some metaphor from the consumables, ie the ant in the sugar (He can’t bring himself to kill it. “That’s right, even the smallest of Life’s creatures …”) — and my comment, Why the Hell is there an ant in the sugar in this hi-tech facility?? — and later when the sugar canister is empty, further opportunity for insightful metaphor. One begins to get the impression that while the scientists are in the mini-sub doing business, these guys are only there for the refreshments. And for some inexplicable reason there are a dozen different medical personnel in gowns and masks all waiting in the room with the comatose patient. Why so many? Inevitably things go awry with the submarine and alternate routes to the brain need to be explored, there’s “surprise” betrayal and then a great save just in time with the ship being abandoned and the good guys swimming to a tear duct to escape at the last moment through a single tear before they automatically resize themselves. This does lead one to question what became of the submarine and the bad man who perished within since even if they had been dismantled by white blood cells, the debris should enlarge and kill the patient anyway. Just sayin’.

IMMORTAL.

We skip ahead to this 2004 French sci fi film which combines a great deal of computer generated surroundings and characters in addition to some real. At first it made me think too much of gaming graphics, but once I got used to them I enjoyed the imagery and the stylings. I gather the film is based on a comic book La Foire aux Immortels, though I’m not familiar with it. The movie plot was entertaining but at times overly complex and confusing. The Egyptian gods were interesting, though Horus quickly became annoying. I loved Jill’s blue hair and makeup, so looking at her got me through some lulls in the story. Overall I enjoyed the movie as a nice background element, but not so much as something to really pay attention to.

UNDERWORLD.

Finally, I decided it was time to pay homage to one of those goth culture must-see’s that I seem to have missed out on. I’ll admit I’ve got a certain fondness for vampires and werewolves, and I too have succumbed to the recent growing popularity of the True Blood HBO series, which is a topic for another time. Point being that it’s not a far stretch for a little vampire/werewolf drama to catch my fancy, and it certainly seemed that the writers invested some energy into creating a sort of mythos, which is intriguing when done even remotely well. Visually, everything was very sleek and stark and sexy, as a good tech vampire movie should be. I really loved the costumes even if I didn’t always care for the people in them. For example, the “vampire regent” Kraven irked me for some reason. His anger was consistently over the top and resulted in a lot of weird scowling faces that grew tedious as his demeanor failed to evolve. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed Selene’s polished composure even if she seemed a little hollow and underdeveloped, she just came off as a badass more so than the others. In other words, I had fun.

And here we are, fold up the futon and put away the blueberries. Friday night marathon is adjourned.

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