#WaybackWednesday: The “Invasion Will Be Televised” Edition

1953’s War of the Worlds is, without a doubt, one of the seminal science fiction films of the 1950s. It has been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress, won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, spawned countless imitators, and gave MST3K’s Dr. Clayton Forrester his name(clearly, the ultimate ho-nor ;)). Even after 63 years in Earth time, the film is still one of the greatest achievements in Sci-Fi cinema. There have been many adaptations of the H.G. Wells story, but the 1953 one towers above them all. Heck, I still get chills every time I watch this scene:

At the end of the 1953 film, the seemingly indestructible aliens perish. The narrator informs the audience on what has happened:

“The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God, in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth.”

But what if that wasn’t the end? What if the aliens weren’t killed, but had slipped into a state of suspended animation? We didn’t really defeat them the first time, so what could possibly do to stop them? Unfortunately for Mankind, these grim speculative questions became a horrifying reality…

In 1988, the invasion continued with a TV series of the same name. The series was indeed a direct follow-up to the 1953 film, utilizing the same war machine designs and other familiar elements. However, these Martians are far more brutal than the originals ever were. These extraterrestrial devils gouge out eyes, pierce checks, and graphically burst out of human disguises. For a show from the ’80s, this was pretty gnarly stuff.

The producer of the original film, George Pal, actually started developing a War of the Worlds TV series back in the ’70s, but passed away before it came to be. Personally, I think the first season of this show is an excellent continuation, even if it’s a tad more gruesome than its predecessor. (That’s a plus in my book, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup o’tea. ;)) The second season changed the formula for the worse, but I still recommend the first to my fellow Earthlings.

Watch the pilot below and witness the War of the Worlds:

Vinyl Review: Contra III: The Alien Wars

(Submited by Mr. Andrews Peters…Thank you, ho-rror ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

The first Contra game released on the NES in 1987 was a huge hit and defined what we now know as side-scrolling shooting. Other games came along and tried to copy what it did, but they never got right what Contra did. It seems they could never get the simple controls, great imagery giving nod to action films of the Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks, as well as HR Giger’s art and kick ass soundtrack that made the game so amazing. Sequels came and occasionally they would try something different, but always remained true to outstanding gameplay and soundtracks.

Mondo, who has been releasing some great video game soundtracks, like the Castlevania series and previous Contra titles, has just released Contra III: The Alien Wars to vinyl, moving up to the 16-bit era now and it is just as glorious as I remember it. And for some reason, 16-bit music sounds so fitting on vinyl to me. It must be that it brings me back to playing through this game during a summer when I was a young kid in Kansas. I remember it being around midnight and the aliens always creeped me out, but the music kept me going. It’s somewhat unlike the original game’s score, being a little more atmospheric, but at the same time it remains true to the fast drums, stinging synth military/action sound we’ve grown to love.

You can always count on Mondo to deliver some seriously talented art. Paul Mann depicts the classic red and blue clad Contra heroes, one looking concerned, the other with his war face is full on mad dog mode, in front of an explosion with a skull with beady eyes looming over it all. The bright and neon colors not only represent the ‘90s, but also how colorful the game is. When you open it to reveal the inside artwork, the war rages on with a full out action collage featuring aliens, robots, flying demons, helicopters, a city on fire… holy hell, this thing has a lot going on and with this single image, represents everything you love about this game.

The orchestrated score by Konami Kukeiha Club sounds magnificent on this 180 Gram Red & Blue Half & Half Camouflage, which I think is a nice tough as it represents the classic colors of Player 1 and Player 2. There is a blood splattered variant on white, so keep your eye out for that one. The tracks loop seamlessly, so it doesn’t feel like a short amount of notes being repeated tirelessly. If anything, the music is chaotic and full of energy that it’s sure to make your blood rush. The composers were taking full advantage of the Super Nintendo’s 16-bit capabilities and making it a much more dynamic score while remaining true to what the original started.

Aside from the first game, Contra III: The Alien Wars is my favorite soundtrack in the series and I’m so happy that Mondo has done it such great justice. Whether you’re a fan of the game or a fan of action/sci-fi soundtracks, I would highly recommend grabbing this one. It’s only $25 and can be picked up from Mondo’s store.

#TBT: The “Invader Zim Rises Again” Edition

Ho-wdy, fellow Earth Ho-mies! Cult favorite Invader Zim is coming back in a big, bad way!

No, it’s totally true! Invader Zim will invade again in a new 90-minute TV movie from creator Jhonen Vazquez!

From the Press Release from Nickelodeon:

“Invader Zim” Returns to Nickelodeon in All-New Original TV Movie Based On Fan-Favorite Animated Series

Creator Jhonen Vasquez Serves as Executive Producer, Original Voice Cast to Reprise Their Roles

Burbank, Calif.-April 4, 2017-Nickelodeon officially announced today the greenlight for an all-new, 90-minute Invader Zim TV movie from original creator Jhonen Vasquez, marking the network’s third animated property from its rich library of content to be reimagined for today’s audience. The 2D-animated TV movie, produced by Nickelodeon in Burbank, will show the latest and greatest ridiculous attempt at world domination by the universe’s worst alien invader ever. The movie will also feature original voices from the fan-favorite television series.

“As a network that prides itself on a 25-year history of creating groundbreaking, hilarious animation for kids, Invader Zim is one of our great loves. It’s been so exciting to see its popularity grow over the last decade through social media, consumer products and the Zim comic books,” said Chris Viscardi, SVP, Content Development and Production, Animation, Nickelodeon. “What makes this announcement extra thrilling is the adventure that Jhonen has created for Zim, and I can promise you that it is as wonderfully absurd and strangely heartfelt as any fan of the original series could hope for, and kids seeing it for the first time will love it too.”

The Invader Zim TV movie follows the perpetually desperate and delusional Zim as he creates a new and potentially Earth-destroying plan to finally get the attention he deserves from his Irken leaders, the Almighty Tallest.

Original voice cast members reprising their roles include: Richard Horvitz as Invader Zim; Rosearik Rikki Simons as GIR, Zim’s insane robot sidekick; Andy Berman as Dib Membrane, junior paranormal investigator and Zim’s alien-obsessed human nemesis; and Melissa Fahn as Gaz Membrane, Dib’s younger, video game obsessed sister. Additional casting will be announced in the coming months.

Invader Zim debuted on Nickelodeon in 2001 and chronicled the efforts of an extraterrestrial named Zim on a mission to conquer Earth and enslave the human race.”

I’M SO EXXXCITED!!! 🙂

To Ho-nor the return of this eXXXtraterrestrial black comedy, I’d like to take a look at a clas-sick episode of the series: Dark Harvest.

Dark Harvest is certainly dark. To make himself appear more human, Zim attempts to win the hearts and minds of the people… along with their kidneys, spleens, pancreata, and other precious organs! Yes. this an episode of a Nickelodeon show about harvesting the organs of children! I’m sure parents just loooovvvvvved this one! 😉

Clocking in at about 12 minutes, Dark Harvest is as gloriously twisted as any full-length “adult” horror film. Having gathered organs from nearly everyone in his “Skool,” Zim becomes so grotesquely bloated with the body parts that he can hardly contain himself… literally! The whole thing plays out like an animated nightmare concocted by David Cronenberg. If organ-snatching wasn’t horrible enough, there are creatures and organs floating in formaldehyde, a child’s skeleton, Running Man-like exploding collars, a spooky boiler room Freddy would adore, and a climax that recalls Alien. This demented bit o’ animation is the most depraved thing ever aimed at children… and I love it for that! 🙂

If you have the stomach for it, check out the biological insanity below:

Welcome back, Invader Zim! I’m gonna sing the Doom Song to celebrate! 🙂 xoxo

Life (2017)

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, Sony has just paid Alien (1979) one heck of a compliment with Life. That’s not to say that Alien didn’t borrow from a few films. As co-writer Dan O’Bannon famously put it, “I didn’t steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!”. But Alien had a distinct flavor of its own. From the one-word title to the ever-evolving creature stalking a team aboard a spacecraft to Rebecca Ferguson’s diary logs à la Ripley to the tracking device on the monster to the very tone, this picture owes everything to Alien. There is no way this film could exist without Alien. However, for a fellow like myself who enjoys a good rip-off, this is very much a positive.

I’m honestly glad to see this sort of film with a budget. In most ways, it’s a mockbuster version of Alien, very much in the same way Creature (1985) and Forbidden World are. What’s peculiar about this film is that it was made in 2017. While the other films were capitalizing on something that was a few years old, Life is capitalizing on a film that came out 37 years prior. Strangely, I feel this gives the film a kind of novelty. Were I a betting man, I’d wager this film was not intended to be an homage to the Alien mockbusters of the past… But it does feel a good deal like one.

I apologize if I’ve given the impression that I do not care for this picture, because nothing could be further from the truth. Life never escapes the enormous shadow of Ridley Scott’s picture, but I don’t think it ever really tries to. Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator is referenced by name, suggesting that the filmmakers assumed that their audience has enough film savvy to pick up on the Alien connection. This film does nothing truly original, but it does it so very well. There’s some wonderful, terrible tension throughout that had me chewing my nails to the tips. Without directly spoiling anything, there is a “Marion Crane” moment that did catch me off-guard, and how grand it to be truly surprised. As for its ending, I did predict it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. In fact, it had me laughing in the right way.  It’s that kind of beautifully morbid punchline that The Cryptkeeper would surely get a kick out of.

The film is structured like a slasher film, with the hapless crew being brutally picked of one by one. As such, we are treated to some fun monster-kill sequences that play with the weightlessness of space in a groovy way that’s likely to satisfy my fellow ghouls. The monster itself is not as memorable as the Giger Alien, but it certainly get the job done. Really, you could say the same of the film. I doubt it will become one of the favorites of the genre, but it’s a gas. Between this and Kong: Skull Island, it seems like the classical monster movie is making a major comeback and that’s peachy-keen in my book. Not every film that comes out is going to be a timeless classic, so it’s good to flick that’s just great fun from its first second to its ending credits. If you can’t look past its similarities to Alien, I can’t lie to you about your chances of enjoying it, but… you have my sympathies.

 

#TBT: The “Thank You, Jack H. Harris” Edition

If there’s one film that never fails to make me smile, it’s 1958’s The Blob. It’s a perfect monster movie and a beautiful portrait of the ’50s as we want to remember them. That’s why it breaks my heart to report that producer Jack H. Harris has passed away. The Blob was his first film as a producer and it certainly was a strong way to start. Made for $130,000 and grossing more than $3 million, The Blob was an instant success.   Since then, Mr. Harris has kept The Blob alive and pulsating with a sequel (which he co-wrote), a 1988 remake, and a 1991 re-dubbed version of the original. Outside of The Blob, he produced 4D Man, Dinosaurus!, Equinox, Eyes of Laura Mars, Schlock, Master of Horror, and Dark Star. In 2014, he became the oldest person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In honor of Mr. Harris, we’d like to share with you the trailers for all of the Blob movies. Like the film itself, the trailer for the first movie is pure bliss for monster movie lovers. It also made a prominent appearance in Grease. The trailer can be seen during the drive-in sequence. While the first is my favorite, all three trailers are good fun. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with The Blob.

Rest in peace, Mr. Harris.

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: JLA Vs Predator

(Submitted by Canada’s Superoheroic Sweetheart, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

“They’ve hunted the Dark Knight Detective. They’ve gone after the Man of Steel. Now they’re prepared to go after the most challenging prey imaginable: the entire Justice League of America. The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes go up against the galaxy’s deadliest hunters in JLA vs. Predator. When a group of Predators arrive on Earth, they make targets of each of the JLA members — relishing in the thrill of the hunt. They engage in the ultimate sport of attempting to kill the most powerful heroes ever known.” (DC Entertainment)
When I first read Batman & Superman Vs. Alien & Predator, there was a reference to this showdown with the JLA.  I knew then and there, that at some point, I had to track it down and read it.  I have, thus the review you’re reading right now. What I like about this book is that once again, it is very accessible to new readers to both the franchises.  If you don’t know the Justice League, well there’s something wrong with you, so seek help! Seriously though, if you haven’t read JLA, there’s a blurb on each member to catch you up to speed.  I love that the team is the one from Grant Morrison’s run on the book. So of course, you have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. What I love about this team, is it features The Flash and Green Lantern I grew up with. So that means Wally West is The Flash, Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern and Aquaman is the badass with a beard and his hook hand.  Basically, it’s the version I think will closely resemble Jason Momoa’s version in the film.  The book also keys in on more minor, underused characters like Marian Manhunter, Plastic Man and The Atom.You also get the need to know, about the Predator’s too. Alien race that hunts for sport, have stealth fields at their disposal , making them invisible when they want to be. As well as having a vast array of shoulder and wrist cutting weapons that make them lethal.  Oh and of course, they like to take the head and or spinal cord of their victims as a trophy.  The way the Predator’s are brought in is great.  They are actually chasing the Dominators, another group of alien villains in the DC Universe.  The Dominator’s seeking out refuge from the Justice League, highlights just how much of a threat the Predator’s are. Also, having Martian Manhunter running point on guarding the watchtower, while a little convenient, makes sense. Being an alien, with a vey alien appearance, he would show more compassion, to the Dominators plight, even despite the fact the Dominator’s tried to take over the world years before. In an attempt to protect the Dominator’s he teleported above the watchtower, Martian Manhunter is decapitated by a Predator laying in wait. While having that happen further strengthens the Predator’s as an ultimate villain, Martian Manhunter is also reinforced as an absolute badass too! I knew his only weakness was fire but as a result of his decapitation, I learned that his brain resides in his chest/stomach area, In all my years of reading, I never knew this.  Although it was weird, I found it extremely cool.
When the rest of the League discovers what happened to J’onn they instantly join the fray. J’onn tells them that  the dominator’s he rescued told him three other Dominator’s remain scattered on Earth, running from Predator’s. I loved this because it forces the Justice League to actually go worldwide.  The Team breaks apart into three teams.  Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Plastic Man head to Venice.  Green Lantern, The Flash and The Atom are stationed in the Amazon, while Batman and Superman do a two man recon in London, while Martian Manhunter heals. While they do find the displaced Dominator’s, they are also attacked by Predators.  Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. The different groups of the Justice League must face off against Meta-Predators. These are Predators who were captured by Dominators and then experimented on. They now have the ability to mimick and take on the Justice League members powers. This was a smart play by writer John Ostrander. Espescially since Batman and Superman have fought Predator’s on their own before and won.  He had to up the threat level and Predators with the superpower’s of our heroes does the trick. It forces our heroes to get creative, split up and still work together at the same time. While their are plenty of fisticuffs exchanged, our heroes gain the upper hand by deciding to fight a Predator of an opposite power set. When captured, the Meta-Predators decide to blow themselves up rather than surrender.  The book doesn’t end on a somber note though, The Justice League sets a course for the Dominators to return to their home. Before their depature there is a great exchange between Superman and the leader of the Dominator’s. The Dominator remarks that he doesn’t understand why the Justice League helped them after all the harm they’ve caused. Superman responds, saying that hopefully the Justice League’s actions will one day inspire the Dominators to do and be better. It is that hope that drives the Justice League to do what they do. This book may have been written in 2001, but this message of hope is more preavalant now then ever before.
Graham Nolan is the artist on this book. He was one of the artists on the Batman Knightfall saga.  There are similarities involved in the art but you can see a slight change in styles from his 90’s work, to his early 2000 work.    One of the things I really appreciated is that at a given time, their were three alien races on the page at one time. All three, the Predators, the Dominators, and the Martian Manhunter, looked unique and distinct.  Granted, this should be the obvious occurrence, especially since the characters already had pre-existing and differing designs.  However, as someone who is writing a comic book featuring two alien races and working with an artist to make those aliens a reality and look unique from each other, I know how difficult that is. So I  applaud this feat whenever I see it.  I love the art in the scene with Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Plastic Man are in Venice. As I’ve, mentioned, I’m of Italian heritage and having been to Italy several times, the look of Venice was incredibly accurate.  Also, the fact that Plastic Man was both Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s navigator, and actual boat for their gondola ride, was a beautiful, weird and funny image all at the same time.  There’s a shot of Aquaman fighting a Predator under water.  I’m a sucker for underwater battles, so I’m biased but look at that image and tell me it doesn’t look spectacular.  I thought it was fun seeing the Meta-Predators wearing darker coloured armor that reflected their Justice League counterpart.  It was subtle and never took me out of the story, but was a nice little touch.  My favourite imagery from the book is seeing Martian Manhunter’s head on a spike and then seeing his head regrow, forming through his stomach/chest. It was the most shocking, powerful and gruesome imagery of the whole book. Although, it would’ve looked even better as a full on splash page if you ask me.


This book was fun, simple and quick to read. I loved that it held the previous encounters with the Predators and Batman and Superman in continuity. Usually one shots ignore continuity and just tell a self contained story. as a result of that, I realized that I’m still missing out on the two previous encounters. Sure, I’m reading this out of order but the stories are so good, it doesn’t bother me one bit.  Plus, it just means I have hopefully, two more awesome stories I can read and review for you. While I do that, definitely pick this book up and give it a read if you haven’t already.

News Bleed: The “Stranger Friday” Edition

The Friday the 13th reboot has shut down and Mah Boo is not happy! 🙁 Hollywood Reporter

Stranger Things will happen on Halloween. 🙂 CBS News

Sarah Paulson is on the hunt for a serial killer in Lost Girls. 🙂 Entertainment Weekly

The Suspiria remake has finished filming and is heading Europeon Film MarketTilda Swinton and Jessica Harper together?! Sold! 🙂 Bloody Disgusting

Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez has formed Bad Hombre and genre fans rejoice! 🙂 Variety

The Life Super Bowl spot goes full Alien. /FILM

And on a bummer note, Mr. Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica) has passed away. xoxo  Bleeding Cool




Robot Monster (1953)

(Submitted by our Master of the Cl-ass-ics, Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, you lovable Kinky Ho-bot, you!! 😉 xo)

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“Moon monsters launch attack against Earth! How can science meet the menace of astral assassins? New Science Fiction Thrills!”

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Robot Monster is, in its own inimitable fashion, quite magnificent.  Often listed one of “the worst films of all time”, this movie was included in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way), currently holds a 31% approval rating on rottentomatoes.com, and was featured on the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Like Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and many of the other well-known “worst films of all time”, I firmly believe that Robot Monster is far too entertaining and well-intentioned to be belittled with such an outrageous claim! If the primary purpose of film is to delight and entertain the audience, then Robot Monster is far from a failure.

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There are two things that are undeniable in the case this particular film, those two traits being how incredibly low the budget was and how utterly weird the product is. Both of these qualities only help showcase the admirable pluck of  this scrappy little monster movie. Unable to afford a proper robot suit, director Phil Tucker enlisted professional gorilla suit master George Barrows, bought a diving helmet, and created one of the most oddly indelible creatures in the history of Hollyweird. Save for a few scenes at a house in Los Angeles and a building site near Dodger Stadium, the movie was mostly filmed outdoors in legendary Bronson Canyon. Shooting lasted for four days, wrapping on March 23, 1953. Phil Tucker once said, “For the budget and for the time, I felt I had achieved greatness.”

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*SPOILERS*

Surprisingly, Robot Monster may have the darkest, strangest story of any ’50s Sci-Fi picture. It tells the story of moon creature Ro-Man (the titular Robot Monster) and his mission to annihilate all life on Earth. Our lunar lunatic manages to kill all but eight survivors, all of whom have become immune to the effects of Ro-Man’s death ray. Ro-Man evokes the wrath of the Great Guidance (his leader) when he becomes infatuated with human survivor Alice. The Great Guidance destroys the disobedient Ro-Man and completes the genocide by releasing prehistoric dinosaurs and a massive earthquake on the feeble Earthlings. Suddenly, Johnny (the last little boy on Earth) wakes up to discover the whole affair was a nightmare… or perhaps, as the ending suggests, a frighteningly prophetic glimpse of the future.

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Stock footage from One Million B.C. (1940), Lost Continent (1951) and Flight to Mars (1951) are used to great effect, as well as a shot from Rocketship X-M (1950). In fact, the dinosaur stock footage used during the film’s climax actually give the film an appropriately nightmarish quality.  Despite the rather dark story, there’s an almost innocent, irony-free charm to the proceedings and a very earnest desire to entertain us on display. From its opening credits set against sci-fi/pulp magazines, it’s abundantly clear what kind of movie Robot Monster is trying to me. We tend to have a certain sense of superiority when we watch a film of this nature. While it is important for us to form opinions and critique films to properly understand how why the medium is so important to us and what effectively moves us, I think some films exist in their own nebulous realm that defy our standards of what is traditionally considered “good”. I’ve spoken to a great many about this film and a great many love it, despite the “ineptitude” on display. Robot Monster, I believe, is a film made with a great spirit behind it and should be enjoyed in that same spirit.

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Phil Tucker was 25 when he made this film. Shortly after its release, Mr. Tucker unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Some sources say it was because he had not been paid for Robot Monster and was unable to get a job. Others say it was because he was devastated by the negative feedback the film had received. There are claims that after 1955, Tucker was blacklisted within the film industry, though he did go on to direct a few more times. By the 1970s, Mr. Tucker had established himself as a formidable film editor, finally free of the unwarranted stigma of his early work. He went on fo Orca (1977) and King Kong (1976) and remained in post-production for the rest of his career. Zed Fest, a film festival celebrating indie cinema, distributes a “Phil Tucker Spirit Award” to honor who display, in their words, “Determination, perseverance, and innovation in independent moviemaking.’

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Robot Monster is a unique film and one that deserves to be enjoyed by lovers of monsters and weird fiction. Its imagery is quite captivating despite (or maybe because) of its financial shortcomings and remains a fascinating, one-of-a-kind movie. This is essential viewing for any B-movie aficionado and a example of how imagination and a gentle touch of strangeness can triumph over a miniscule budget. Since film is in the public domain, the entire film can be viewed below. 

We love you, Robot Monster!

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Arrival (2016)

(Submitted by Anton Phibes…Thank you, Kinky Ho-bot. PS- #AmyAdamsRules!! 😉 xoxo)

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Isolated on a relatively small ball of dirt and water,  Mankind has always longed to know if, on other worlds or in the unexplored depths of what we call “space”, there exists intelligent life to equal or even surpass us.  Inquiries of this nature have been explored so often in science fiction, it has become standard practice for the genre. However, stories of alien visitations or journeys to uncharted planets continue to fascinate us because we, despite our best efforts, are no closer to knowing the truth. Through our fancies and fantasies, we try to envision what an encounter with honest-to-goodness extraterrestrials would entail. Would they be the war-mongering nightmares H.G. Wells cooked up in War of the Worlds? Is it possible that we would disturb the creatures with our customs? Would their arrival be a grand explosion that will instantly alter our existences or would it be subtle, to the point where none of us our even aware that they are here? Would they be humanoid or something more incredible than we could ever dream of? These are questions that may never be properly answered outside the realm of fiction, but what fascinating tales they lead to.
arrivalfanartDirector Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) is one such story that imagines what an encounter with visitors from another world may play out. Much like The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), Arrival presents this scenario with a sort of optimism. The story deals with mysterious spacecraft that appear across the globe. Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and an elite team of experts are brought together to investigate and perhaps establish some connection with the unearthly guests, eventually known as “Heptapods”. Squid-like in appearance and communicating through an advanced ink-based language, the Heptapods and their intentions are nearly impossible to decode. As Louise and  mathematician  Ian (Jeremy Renner) work desperately to understand the Heptapods, world leaders begin to lose their patience with the alien presence, fearing the Heptapods are here to destroy Mankind. With tensions quickly growing, Louise and Ian must push themselves to fully understand the Heptapods before Earth attacks the potentially peaceful creatures.
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Like the best of science fiction, Arrival is rich with mood and thought-provoking concepts, as well as alien spectacle. With an eerie quality and suspense that would fit well within a more horrific sci-fi outing, the film draws you in with its clever story and otherwordly atmosphere. Though there are no huge invasion sequences or alien attacks like many other films within the genre, there are never any dull moments and the imagery is as awe-inspiring as any alien-loving sci-fi fan could hope for. Its pacifistic message of understanding is truly refreshing and gives it feel like a worthy descendent the aforementioned Day The Earth Stood Still. Though I dare not spoil the story, I will say that there is an element involving time that’s both intriguing and beautifully heartbreaking in ways that only the best genre fiction can achieve.

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Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker as the US Army Colonel are both excellent in their roles, but it’s Amy Adams who dominates the picture. Haunted by the loss of her daughter and driven by her thirst for knowledge, Louise Banks is both a largely admirable character and a sympathetic figure and Adams is able to convey this with a very human complexity within very alien situation. Adams’ Louise stays strong through her personal tragedy and emerges as a throughly brilliant and likable heroine. I truly believe Adams deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance.

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Arrival is a most extraordinary sci-fi picture that lovers of the genre ought to love.  In a way, it feels like a journey into a wondrous land of imagination that Rod Serling might have guided us on. With heart and mind, this picture is a science-fictional fable that reminds us of the power of the genre and fascination we all have with extraterrestrials. Though may never have the pleasure (or horror) of an actual alien visitation, Arrival is a brilliant and surprisingly human encounter with beings from beyond the stars.

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A Quick Look at Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

(Submitted by Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rrorday Ho-mie!! 😉 xoxo)

Consistently featured on lists of the worst films of all-time and featured on MST3K, Cinematic Titanic, and Rifftrax, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is, as one could imagine, completely batshit insane. Few would argue that this is indeed a strange film and it is made stranger by the fact that this film was intended for children. However, like Plan 9 from Outer Space, there is a strange, inadvertent surrealism to the picture that manages to charm with its own brand of yuletide insanity. Films like this work best when you surrender yourself to the utter weirdness on-screen. I don’t think anyone could mistake this for Citizen Kane, but as a balmy holiday fantasy, it’s pretty groovy. santamartian6The opening credits are delightful. Set to a catchy song that will burrow into your brain  like a festive earwig, the film breaks new ground with the first instance of a “custume designer” in film history.

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From there, we learn that Martians Momar and Kimar are worried that their children, Girmar and Bomar, are watching too much Earth television, most notably station KID-TV’s interview with Santa Claus at the North Pole. Consulting the Martian sage Chochem, they are told that the only way to help the children is to allow them have fun, so they decide to kidnap Santa Claus to spread Christmas joy throughout Mars. Unable to distinguish the real Santa from all the people dressed as Santa at malls and such, the Martians kidnap two Earth kids to help in their mission. The children tried to escape but are attacked by a polar bear and a robot. Santa is captured by the Martians, but he spreads his Christmas cheer, defeats one nasty Martian with the power of toys, and saves Christmas. I swear, this is exactly what happens in the movie.

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This is a beautifully mind-boggling film. For people like myself who believe monsters and aliens should play a part in every holiday. In its own odd way, this movie does always leave me with a goofy, jolly grin on my face. John Call is a wonderfully joyous Santa, even if he might seem a bit drunk. That robot is possibly the most magically cheap robot suit in cinema and I mean that in the best possible way. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a film so strange, it needs to be experienced. As a Christmas gift to all you Groovy Ghoulies and Cool Ghouls, I leave you with the complete film below, in all its Public Domain majesty. Scary Christmas!

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