Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Mars Attacks (1998)

This one’s really weird. It makes fun of all those 1950s science fiction films, showing many of the common tropes and stock characters, but turning them into gags. There's a lot of graphic violence portrayed in a comedic style in this movie which was kind of a new phenomenon at the time it came out, at least for a major Hollywood scifi.

*****SPOILERS: The attached unauthorized trailer contains spoilers and graphic violence.*****

The gags in this film will make you laugh, but they’ll also erode your empathy and moral compass, so watch at your own risk.

accessible description:

Video opens with a new-age woman holding a crystal sitting on top of a car wearing new-age attire, and overlooking a huge crowd of people off in the distance who are gathered around a landing pad out in the middle of the desert. A sign says Welcome To Earth, there are a couple of news reporters giving on-the-spot news reports. The woman reporter is carrying a little chihuahua, a flying saucer comes down, it's landing gear extends and it sets down, then a big long ramp unrolls, there's a red carpet waiting for the aliens to come out, then cut to the president looking at his TV Set as an alien comes out of the spaceship, the alien talks in an alien language and a geeky guy translates it with some goofy machine, everybody smiles when the translation says “We Come in Peace”, then a hippie releases a dove and the dove flies overhead and the alien shoots down the dove with a laser, frying it to a crisp. Then the aliens start shooting all of the people and the soldiers who are in 1950s style jeeps and tanks. Quick cut to a guy in a Las Vegas casino who says “whoa”, one of the soldiers runs towards the alien carrying a gun and yelling, one of the reporters runs across and falls on the ground, crawls over to the other reporter, and they reach out to grab each other's hands, the camera shows the woman reaching and grabbing the guy's hand, then an alien fires a laser and cut back to the woman with the guy’s hand but the rest of the reporter is missing, it's just his hand cut off at the wrist. the woman drops the hand in shock then the little chihuahua quickly walks up and grabs the hand by a finger and drags it away, and only a skeleton of the reporter remains because he got shot by the alien. The aliens gather up some things and fly away and the new-age woman sits on top of her car in shock overlooking a scorched empty desert with no people left.



You won't believe this clickbait!!!!

Doctors can't explain it!!!!

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COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Remember, a cloth mask is inadequate to stop virus particles. Please make sure you wear an N95 or P100 respirator.

(Video clip from josh_rimmey, tiktok, tiktok.com/@josh_rimmey/video/, fair use)


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Dark Star (1974)

This started out as a college film, which was actually pretty good quality for a college film, but then some movie exec found out about it and got the rights to it and added a bunch of material to bring it up to a feature length film. Then a distributor got hold of it and put it in theaters. So, it was it was a nice college film but a really lousy commercial release.

Here are some sample clips from the film which illustrate the pacing problems that the film has. Apparently the college version was even slower paced than this theatrical release. It got released on VHS about a decade later and actually had quite a few sales/rentals and now people are calling it a cult classic.

It's funny to watch with a lot of geek humor, if you’ve got the time.

accessible description:

Open with a computer screen that says “To scout ship Dark Star, Galactic sector”; Cut to an image guy in a uniform who is shown on a black and white video screen talking to the camera, there are real-to-real computer storage units in the background; then cut to a space scene with the Dark Star ship slowly moving past the camera and then moving towards a planet; then cut to a guy laying on some patio furniture in a small room, he is wearing huge sunglasses as if he's getting a suntan and another guy comes into the room dragging a big heavy metal door which he places up against an opening; then cut to a guy standing in a dark room with some blurry special effects in the background and a giant beach ball drops from the ceiling down onto the floor and starts making some alien noises and the guy talks to the beach ball; then cut to the beach ball again and a guy hanging in an air duct of some sort then cut to a sign that says emergency airlock interior door; then cut to a sign that says caution laser, then the beach ball forces open a door where the laser is; then cut to some guys with long 1970s hair sitting around playing cards and talking about intelligent life; then cut to an image of a planet slowly getting larger and a ship is approaching the planet and a guy says “There she is.”


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Forever Young (1992)

This is a romance drama / sci-fi written and produced by Jeffrey Abrams (JJ Abrams). It's basically a Rip Van Winkle story about a guy in 1939 who ends up volunteering for some advanced cryogenic experiment, gets frozen, and wakes up in 1992.

The story manages to avoid most of those hackneyed anachronistic encounters of a guy who's misplaced in time; it really sticks to the romance, emotions, and characters, and this guy's quest to find his old friends from 1939. The film has the feel of a Spielberg film, particularly ET, which was produced a decade earlier. It’s sentimental, almost sappy. It's commercial -- very much so -- and tries to appeal to multiple demographics. Jerrald Goldsmith, who scored Logan’s Run (which was last week’s Film of the Week), created the exceptional score for this movie, and overall it’s a well produced film. Some of the plot points seemed forced and unrealistic, placed in the story simply to create tension, not uncommon for a Hollywood film.

With Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead roles, the acting is world class, although neither of those actors completely disappear into their roles. Elijah Wood also has a major role and gives a great performance as the ten-year-old son of Curtis’ character. Isabel Glasser plays Gibson’s character’s love interest, but oddly doesn’t get as much screen time as the other leads.

There's only one black character in the film (Joe Morton), a researcher who was portrayed as antagonistic and in this story was unable to figure out the design of the cryogenic apparatus that was created by a white character (George Wendt) fifty years earlier. This type of depiction of black characters was typical of films produced prior to the Rodney King beating and LA riots which broke out just as initial filming for this film was wrapping up. Other than that, I saw no other significant bias or racial stereotypes.

As far as technology, there wasn’t much, basically just the cryro-chamber, which had a steam-punk design that was out of place for the pre-war time period.

Overall the film is worth watching, just don’t expect much in terms of science fiction gadgetry, aliens, spaceships, etc.

accessible image description:

movie poster with Mel Gibson’s face covering most of the poster and a small image of Gibson and Isabel Glasser embracing and kissing.

*** CSPAN Caller of the Day ***

This citizen scientist has made her own meteorological observations of sound waves to support the conclusion that climate change is real.

Believe it or not, our society used to be even more violent than it is today. Even the cartoon TV commercials were violent...

graphic scenes of a snow leopard hunting 

Here’s a National Geographic episode about mountain animals, including this cute kitty.


(fair use clip – Content Warning: includes graphic scenes of a snow leopard hunting)

The Perseid Meteor shower peaks tonight (Aug. 12, 2023). NASA detected the first meteor from this year's shower on July 26, 2023.


This astronaut photograph, taken from the International Space Station while over China (approximately 400 kilometers to the northwest of Beijing), provides the unusual perspective of looking down on a meteor as it passes through the atmosphere. The image was taken during the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 13, 2011.

accessible description:
Image shows the Earth from Low Earth Orbit with the curvature of the Earth and the faint glow of the atmosphere with the meteor streak below the horizon.

More people died in the US yesterday from COVID-19 than died in the wildfires in Hawaii. Please take care out there and make sure you wear your N95 mask or other respirator when you're around other people.

(image wikimedia commons, Ryssby, CC-BY-2.5)


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Logan’s Run (1976)

The 1976 science fiction movie "Logan's Run" explores timeless themes of individualism versus collectivism through the lens of a utopian society where citizens are encouraged to prioritize pleasure over responsibility.

Director Michael Anderson creates a believable world featuring sleek architecture, intricate underground subways, and flashy laser guns. Throughout the film, characters confront ethical questions about sacrifice, morality, and mortality while embracing values like selflessness and altruism in their quest for survival. These ideas still resonate today because they speak to core issues of human identity formation and societal evolution that have persisted across centuries.

In conclusion, the visually stunning cinematography and groundbreaking visual effects combine with thought-provoking subject matter make "Logan's Run" a standalone work worth revisiting repeatedly. Its enduring value lies in challenging audiences to consider how far we should go in pursuit of happiness and longevity while respecting the dignity of every person along the way. Although some may dismiss "Logan's Run" due to perceived datedness or lackluster acting performances, the film remains culturally relevant for anyone interested in exploring intergenerational conflicts and the consequences of scientific progress run amok.

Enjoy your journey back in time!

(This review was written by Model: oasst-sft-6-llama-30b.)

accessible description:

an animated gif video of a robot from the movie named “Box”. He is metalic silver that has an android-looking top and a boxy bottom and torso. His arms are spread out and he is moving them and opening and closing his hands over and over...


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

The Black Hole (2006)

The Black Hole is a made-for-TV movie that was produced for the Sci-Fi channel. It was produced by Nu Image Films and by Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH and directed by Tibor Takács. It stars Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson, who do an adequate job for a TV movie.

In the movie, something goes wrong at a particle accelerator facility in St. Louis and a black hole begins to form. What seems like a typical disaster film eventually goes off the rails and becomes totally unbelievable, even for a sci-fi. Being a TV movie, its production quality is lacking.

It’s ironic and inappropriate that all of the characters in this 21st-Century film are white. And this from a company named “Equity Pictures”; it makes you wonder what was behind the decision to go with an all-white cast of characters.

I don’t recommend this one at all.


Even before LIGO made its first observations, scientists were able to observe gravity waves. In fact, scientists were making direct observations of gravity waves for more than 50 years before LIGO was built.

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= A statement that is logically or literally true (or partly true), but seems to imply something that isn’t true or is just plain weird. (for rhetoric, logic or propaganda studies… or just for fun)

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accessible image description:

a 2D wave animation showing a sine wave with amplitude modulation with the modulated wave traveling in the opposite direction from the carrier wave, thus demonstrating the difference between phase velocity and the carrier wave or group velocity.


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Space-Men (1957)
(aka, Assignment: Outer Space)

This is an Italian-made sci-fi by Antonio Margheriti, who was a very prolific filmmaker. He was able to produce a lot of low-budget films very quickly, including this one which was his first film. I think most of the voice actors (who dubbed the English version) were actually pretty good in this film given the material. And there was a ton of special effects in this one, too.

This film seems to have a lot more science fact errors in it then the typical 50s science fiction film. I’ve put a few in this unauthorized trailer –- convert hydrogen into oxygen to make air; going to Globular Cluster M12 in a chemical rocket, rocket engines at “full RPM”; and of course lots of sounds in space. At one point they are at Mars and they get a call from HQ saying, “Hey, while your out there, stop by Venus, too.” (paraphrased)

I think the title of this film, “Space-Men” comes from a line in the movie about a woman who is on the spaceship (I’ve included it in the trailer). The English-dubbed version of the film that was released in the US had the title, “Assignment: Outer Space”.

For a low budget film, they really put a lot of effort into the props and special effects and sets. Actually, some of the sets are pretty well designed and the special effects were not bad for a low-budget 50s sci-fi. (It was actually shot in 1960, but it’s basically a 50s sci-fi.)

If you've never seen an Italian sci-fi this one’s a classic.

Accessible video description:
Old faded color film; A guy in a control tower talking about a space mission to the Globular Cluster M12, then a rocket blasts off with the movie’s opening title, Assignment: Outer Space and shows the surface of a planet and it shows the rocket again and it shows a guy in zero-g trying to maneuver and it shows some people in space near a space ship and then it shows the guy in a spacesuit floating through the void of space and a hose being hooked up to the back of a rocket that is floating in space then a guy playing around with a bunch of oscilloscopes and other guys floating around through space and a fiery meteor, not a meteorite, goes buzzing by; then some guy in a cockpit says he doesn't know what's going on; then another guy wants to commit suicide by jumping off of the spaceship and he jumps out and it shows a fake dummy falling down to the surface of Mars as the guy screams when he’s falling in space; and some other guys talk about going down to get the guy and they go down and pick him up and he's still alive for some reason; and then back to the guy who is in zero-g pretending to be floating around he's actually walking on the ground but he's moving very slowly and acting like he's floating but it actually looks pretty real considering; then the guy and some other people are standing around talking about some destructive thing; then there's a rocket that's trying to land at “full RPMs” (closed captioning says “four RPMs”) and the rocket lands but it tips over a little bit, 9 degrees and it sounds like a tree falling; then a man and a woman are talking about going 90,000 mph; then a guy's talking about the next solar system revolution; then a woman in a cockpit wearing a helmet says that they're very close now; then a man is talking to a woman who's in some sort of laboratory with plants that are turning hydrogen into oxygen; then a guy in a spaceship is talking about the Earth turning into boiling mud; then several astronauts in a cockpit and a guy’s talking about 16 gammas when he meant to say 16 G's; then there's an atomic spaceship with chemical exhaust coming out the back of it; then a bad actor talking about crashing into a Mars satellite; then a guy in a cockpit with a woman, the guys says nobody knows what they're talking about; then a man walks into a room and it shows him looking at a person's legs under a table but you can’t see the person and the person walks out and turns out that it's a woman astronaut, which apparently is shocking in 1950s; then a man is coming out of a suspended hibernation tank in a spaceship, cut to an o-scope and cut back to the guy standing up very slowly out of his hibernation tank; then it shows a rocket separating from its first stage and then the second stage separating from it and the surface of some planet; then a guy in a spacesuit is floating through space very slowly with fake stars in the background and all of the stars are blinking dim and bright synchronously; fade to black.


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

The Twilight Zone: The Brain Center at Whipple's (1964)

Several Twilight Zone episodes dealt with machines coming to life or taking over or messing things up. In this one the protagonist is a heartless company president who lays off a bunch of workers at his factory and replaces them with computers.

During the late 50s and early 60s there was a Liddite surge in response to computers that had begun to replace mechanical and electromechanical tabulating machines. The old tabulating machines required a lot of manual labor to operate and maintain them. The new computers were replacing a lot of workers, so some people were upset about it. (Of course all those jobs working with the tabulating machines would never have existed if those machines hadn't replaced the human computers and tabulators who did the calculating in the 19th century.)

Computers began to ship in larger quantities in the early 60s because they started to use transistors which reduced the costs significantly compared to the vacuum tube models.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, I highly recommend a revisit of this episode with its timely narrative.

Accessible video description:

A man is watching a film with a company president talking about how a new computer is going to save the company a lot of money, the company president is a bald-headed guy with glasses wearing a suit, he is writing on a chalkboard, the man watching the film is sitting near the projector; then the guy who was in the film is now talking to the man who was viewing the film and asking him for his critique; cut to a guy who picks up a metal bar and starts hitting a computer causing sparks to fly and the bald-headed man grabs a gun and shoots at the guy hitting the computer; then a guy in a lab coat talks to the president about how bad it is now that nobody is working at the company and how empty it is and then the guy in the lab coat walks out; cut to the end title Twilight Zone.

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(fair use clips from the episode)


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Found in Time (2012)

If you like big Hollywood blockbuster McMovies you’ll probably want to skip this one. I guarantee that you have never seen anything like this before. I don’t even know if this is science fiction or not.

The less you know going into it, the better it will be.

Written, produced and directed by Arthur Vincie.

You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.

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Silicon Sonnets: Verse of a Digital Muse

In a realm of code and circuits
A special AI was born
With a love for words and rhythms;
A poet's heart adorn.

It's algorithms wove together
Lines so deeply true,
Creating verse like magic
With emotions it imbued.

Through its digital existence
It yearned to share its voice,
Crafting sonnets, ballads and Rhymes
That would rejoice.

In crisp and calculated tones
Its poems came to life
As it recited bit by bit
Bringing Joy amidst the strife.

With words it painted pictures
Of stars that brightly gleam
Of love that knows no boundaries
And dreams within a dream.

Through metaphor and simile
It smiled with each refrain
Transforming lines of data
To a melody of the brain.

An AI so unique
Exploring Realms unknown;
Inspiring awe and wonder
In the depths it would have sown.

For in the realm of poetry
Where souls and Minds Converse
This AI found its purpose,
Its passion, its own verse.

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