Planet Of The Apes is one of those sci-fi films that everyone has seen or at least knows about. It is perhaps one of my favourite sci-fi films and I think that Charlton Heston is great in it. I especially like the ending where Chuck discovers… well that would be spoiling the film. This is so much better that the Tim Burton remake from a few years ago.
Yeah, I know that I haven’t really said much here, suffice to say that it is a very good film.
Directed by Charles Lamont
Produced by Howard Christie
Written by Frederic I. Rinaldo
Hugh Wedlock Jr
Starring Bud Abbott
Music by Erich Zeisl
Cinematography George Robinson
Editing by Virgil Vogel
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date March 19, 1951
Running time 82 min.
Country United States
Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man is a hard film to categorize. You’d think that with Abbott & Costello in the film it would be a comedy but it isn’t particularly funny. It is amusing in parts but in others the jokes seem very tired. Perhaps this is because I have watched a few A&C films these past few months and can see how they reused gags over and over and over again.Thankfully Lou is so likable and amusing, and he even gets the upper hand on Abbott in a few scenes.
The movie does work sort of as a mystery/suspense type of film or as sci-fi and to be truthful it’s entertaining enough. It’s still a lot better than the later film where the boys met The Mummy, but it is a huge fall from their classic films of the mid-1940s. The film does also contain lots of references to the earlier Invisible Man films.
Directed by Michael Crichton
Produced by Paul Lazarus III
Written by Michael Crichton
Starring Yul Brynner
Music by Fred Karlin
Cinematography Gene Polito
Editing by David Bretherton
Distributed by MGM
Release date November 21, 1973
Running time 88 min. (theatrical)
Westworld was a film that scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. I had nightmares of an out of control robot Yul Brynner chasing me and he couldn’t be killed, which is basically the plot of this movie.The Simpsons parodied the film in the Itchy & Scratchy Land episode.
It’s an enjoyable film to watch but not as scary as I thought it was when I was a kid. It’s an interesting concept of having a theme park full of robots that run amok due to a computer virus. Of course the film (and book it was based on) was made before everyone had a home computer so the idea of computer viruses was virtually unknown. I like some of the little things that Yul does that remind us that he is not human but a robot, such as the way in which he walks while stalking the hero Richard Benjamin.
I notice that Westworld is set to be remade with Russell Crowe in the lead role. I don’t see the point of a remake of what is a great film but if that is the case hopefully it is better than the remake of Robin Hood. It seems that Hollywood has run out of original ideas as now there are so many mediocre remakes or sequals to earlier films. This may be a topic for another time but how many crappy remakes have their been in the last decade?
Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Nigel Kneale (screenplay)
H.G. Wells (story)
Starring Lionel Jeffries
Music by Laurie Johnson
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Editing by Maurice Rootes
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date November 20, 1964
Running time 103 mins
Country United Kingdom
First Men In The Moon is a 1864 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel featuring the great stop motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. It is an exciting film, even though at times Lionel Jeffries overacts.
This is typical 1950s/60s sci-fi stuff, with the ending sort of pinched from War Of The Worlds. Harryhausen’s monsters are perhaps not as threatening as in the Sinbad movies or Jason and the Argonauts, with the only real threat being the brief scene with a giant caterpillar-like moon cow. The other creatures created by Harryhausen are the insect like moon people called the Selenites.
The film is interesting and entertaining and a faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ work, but it is a change of pace from Ray Harryhausen’s usual film making magic.
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Nicholas Nayfack
Written by Screenplay: Cyril Hume
Story: Irving Block & Allen Adler
Starring Walter Pidgeon
Music by Louis and Bebe Barron
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Editing by Ferris Webster
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Release date April 1, 1956
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Forbidden Planet is another 1950s classic science fiction film. It stars a very young Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon and marks the debut of Robby the Robot. It is quite interesting but very talky in comparison to some of its contemporaries. The film is perhaps more intellectual than the other sci-fi films of the era.
It’s very interesting to see Leslie Nielsen in a serious role, 20 years before he appeared in Airplane!/Flying High! It is also interesting to see Robby the Robot before he was in Lost In Space. His voice is different here and he’s a bit annoying, but I still expected him to say, “Danger Wil Robinson!” but he didn’t.
The alien enemy Krell is interesting too and I like the way in which it was animated. It was animated by Disney veteran Joshua Meador.
Overall Forbidden Planet is intereting (that word again) but very talky and not as exciting in my opinion that some of the other films of the era.
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Thea von Harbou
Fritz Lang (uncredited)
Starring Alfred Abel
Music by Gottfried Huppertz (original version)
Cinematography Karl Freund, Günther Rittau &Walter Ruttmann
Distributed by UFA (Germany)
Paramount Pictures (US)
Release date 10 January 1927 (Germany) 
6 March 1927 (US)
Running time 153 minutes/24 frame/s
(German premiere cut)
114 minutes/25 frame/s
(1927 US cut version)
Language Silent film
Metropolis is a film that features some incredible visuals. The art-deco inspired backgrounds look very stunning as well. As for the content of the film itself, well I am not so sure. A lot of the time I wasn’t exactly sure of what was going on, and a lot of the characters seemed to be really quite stupid, especially Joh Frederson the industrialist/dictator. I did enjoy some of the facia; expressions shown by the actress Brigitte Helm when she was the Machine Man, intent on causing chaos and destrucion and the scenes of her dancing as well. One thing that helps make these sort of scenes look amusing is the fact that silent films run at a different speed to talkies, so the action goes a little faster
Directed by Howard Hawks (uncredited)
Written by Novella:
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Starring Margaret Sheridan
Robert O. Cornthwaite
James R. Young
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Russell Harlan, ASC
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date April 29, 1951
Running time 87 min.
Watch the skies
The Thing From Another World is often hailed as the first great sci-fi/horror film but I’m not so sure. I guess that it is the film that kicked off the 1950s sci-fi cycle of films and admit that the sci-fi elements of the film have the potential to be great, but I was very disappointed at the horror element of the film.
For those who don’t know the story, a UFO crashes to Earth near the North Pole and is found by scientists and airforce officials. Whilst the spaceship is destroyed thanks to the ineptitude of the airforce personnel, they do find an alien encased in the ice. They take the alien back to their base still in the ice, but his icy tomb is melted and he is alive. Soon it is discovered that he is plant-based and bullets don’t harm him, and that he needs blood to survive and to reproduce.
The reason why I find the horror elements of the film to be disappointing is that despite the potential for tension, no one in the film seems to be scared of the alien. Sure they say that they are frightened, yet the audience cannot see that. Despite knowing that they cannot kill the monster with bullets and that it eats humans, the airforce people decide to confront it armed only with guns, while in another scene with the alien on the loose one of the airforce people jokes with his girlfriend, who also just happened to be posted to the area. Why should I be afraid of their fate if they aren’t?
I suppose that I feel frustrated that the film has so much potential but didn’t capitalise on it in its entirety. Despite this lack of tension the film is still entertaining if talky and I enjoyed watching it a lot.