Valley of the Dragons (1961)

It was a decidedly strange moment.  The heroes of Valley of the Dragons look up in the sky and say that there’s a pterosaur.  But the creature we see is, in fact, very, very familiar.  Too familiar. Which is probably why no one else ever tried to pass off footage of Rodan as a pterodactyl. Even if […]

Read more "Valley of the Dragons (1961)"

High-Rise (2015)

There’s a monastery in France designed by the celebrated Modernist architect, Le Corbusier, which is a site of pilgrimage for architectural buffs.  But there aren’t many monks actually living there. You see, when the thriving community of Dominican monks first moved in, they started having a lot of problems with severe depression.  It may have […]

Read more "High-Rise (2015)"

Operation Avalanche (2016)

For some reason, 2016 brought two movies based on one of the goofiest conspiracy theories out there, that classic bit of internet paranoia, the belief that the Moon Landing was faked – and, that final, irresistible fillip that truly makes this the paranoid conspiracy theory of paranoid conspiracy theories, the suggestion that the great director […]

Read more "Operation Avalanche (2016)"

The Dark Sleep (2012)

(aka, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dark Sleep) “There’s nothing supernatural going on here.  There’s a reasonable scientific explanation for everything.  I just need to figure it out.“ If Brett Piper makes a Lovecraft movie, then the one thing we can be absolutely certain about is that it will feature lots of cool, old-school, stop-motion creatures. Which this one definitely […]

Read more "The Dark Sleep (2012)"

The Net [Project M7] (1953)

Somehow, when I first heard of this one, it sounded remarkably like the series of German SF films of the Thirties,  which started with F.P. 1.   Like them, we have the big, near term science fictional invention – in this case a prototype aircraft – a Thirties modern research facility, and at the heart of the […]

Read more "The Net [Project M7] (1953)"

Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen (1974)

(aka: The Prophecies of Nostradamus; Catastrophe 1999: The Prophecies of Nostradamus; The Last Days of Planet Earth) This is one of the best known completely unavailable films around.  It is also one of the strangest in Toho Studios’ long history. Years ago, when AMC ran it along with the first US “release” of the Heisei era Godzilla movies […]

Read more "Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen (1974)"

Phenomena (1985)

Horror films often take a “hit-and-run” approach to science. Take this stylish Giallo thriller by Italian cult favorite, Dario Argento.  We have a genius scientist, an entomologist, played with eccentric zest by Donald Pleasance – one of the indispensable actors of the 70s and 80’s horror boom – who calmly informs us that insects have an incredible […]

Read more "Phenomena (1985)"