100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

100 Days of Futureshock Day 2 - "Conquest of Space!"

S'up y'all?! All my peoples in the crowd, lemme see you dance!

And enough with the Britney Spears shite.

So far the first two films have gone off well, and the experience has been rewarding so far! I am enjoying the new format and I find that it gives me a chance to be more free with the language in general. Frankly, I've been reading a lot of articles at Cracked.com recently and their use of language - both naughty and nice - inspired me to say whatever the hell I want to say. I was afraid of certain words and avenues of speech before because I don't want to offend anyone, but I also find that if what you say is used in context - and is funny enough to warrant being said - then all bets are off, sucka. And if it does offend anyone, then thank god you can go the hell away and read about flowers or Jesus or whatever the hell it is you like. In the immortal words of Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, "Hey, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, Scotty."

So now, onto today's production, 1955s "Conquest of Space." Later today we'll be checking out "The Box," directed by Richard Kelly of "Donnie Darko" fame. I hope you can play along! Thanks again for reading,and give us feedback on our new methods. And please feel free to share and re-share this link, always!

Conquest of Space (1955): Directed by Bryon Haskin. Starring Walker Brooke, Erin Fleming, Phil Foster and Mickey Shaughnessy.

The Skinny: A group of Army engineers that have been working on a top-secret project at an orbiting space station get the shock of their lives when they're told that they'll also be piloting said ship to the distant planet of Mars instead of the planned moon trip. Space madness and a series of unfortunate evens, however, may jeopardize their ability to make it back home.

The Real Deal: This is basically one of those WWII "Military Men on a Mission" movies that simply replaces any number of European Theater operations with outer space. They're even in the Army - not NASA, not the Navy, the Army! There's a lot of Average Joe chitchat where they bitch about the brass, the chow, and the grueling working conditions - most of it courtesy of comedian and character actor Phil Foster, better known as Frank De Fazio of "Laverne and Shirley." His Brooklyn accent hilariously turns "work" into "woik" and Earth into "Oith," and much of the rest of his dialogue consists of screaming and complaining out of the side of his mouth. As for the rest of the line-up, it is straight out of a million other combat scripts still lying around after the WWII trend dried up. There's the Regular Joe, the Italian, the funny Swarthy Guy (possibly Mexican, I wasn't sure), the brazen New Yorker and there's even an angry Irish Sergeant. I didn't fail to notice, however, there there wasn't a single black person among the all-male crew. Apparently, brothers are not welcome in outer space, even in a future so advanced that there is a Japanese crew member. Granted, he's from Hawaii and even gives a speech about his people's "horrible war" that he apologizes for and makes the argument that his people are small because they don't have enough to eat back on earth, but ... look, they were trying, huh? Give them poor dumb whiteys a break.

The movie, produced by sci-fi veteran George Pal ("When Worlds Collide"), is actually a reasonably accurate look at how the early days of space would soon unfold; albeit with dials and tubes and levers and gauges that are all so ridiculously analogue you wonder how we actually did manage to get to space less than a decade later. The special effects, however, were ridiculed in their day - and let's face it, they were a step above Ed Wood's paper plates as flying saucers. There also a few somewhat vaguely disguised homosexual references, particularly in the Irish guy's constant face-to-face offer for a "spot o' tea" with a lecherous grin on his shiny face. Shiny, I'm assuming, because all Irishmen are drunkards - even in outer space.

Is it Worth My Time: Frankly, yes. As my wife commented, this type of movie epitomizes one of the styles of 1950s science fiction movies - the other usually in the form of some kind of vaguely masked "Red Scare" menace. They even manage to get some of the science right, particularly in the anti-gravity scenes (some of which serve as comic relief in a movie that is already unintentionally hilarious). And whoever the hell that announcer at the beginning of the movie was ... that bastard is amazing. As he reads through the introductory paragraph, his voice rises in pitch and urgency until he's virtually screaming the title of the film in your goddamn pathetic face. He got me pumped up for what wound up to be a mediocre experience, but it's still worth a glance if you like movies from this era. Forget the laughable plot holes and the absolute cheese factor, like the scene where it actually snows on fucking Christmas. On Mars. I mean, come the hell on, dude.

Best Scene Ever: When the "telescope" goes out, requiring Frank De Fazio and Swarthy Guy to take an extravehicular walk to repair it, they find themselves in the path of a massive flaming asteroid. The ensuing escape is actually edge-of-your-seat close, even if the special effects aren't Michael Bay-worthy. Plus, when the Swarthy Dude dies in the wake of its passing, that explains how they're gonna provide extra rations for the Irish Guy, who conveniently snuck aboard after being denied service over his age. Nice fix, dudes.

Quotable Stuff: "Soldier?! A ghost you mean! A robot spinning around the earth every two hours on a tin donut!" Capt. Barney Merritt.