Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Sep 27, 2011.
Sounds like prime MST3K fodder.
But there's good retro and bad retro, and this was the latter. Plenty of shows and movies at the time had miniature ships flying on wires, but at least they made an effort to make them look like they were really moving under power. Here, the aircars and astronauts and even asteroids were blatantly swinging back and forth in an arc from a fixed point overhead -- they didn't even try to hide it. It wasn't just retro, it was lazy.
Not to mention the space station that was rotating swiftly in one long shot and then totally stationary in the immediately following closeup -- and whose internal gravity vector was perpendicular to what the rotation would've induced.
Portions of The Green Slime were actually used in the unaired pilot/demo film for MST3K:
The pilot's on YouTube -- it's actually pretty lame.
From what I've seen of Italian B-movies from the 60's-80's is that they rarely make complete sense or are trying for scientific verisimilitude. They are lurid, colorful if not garish, stylish, atmospheric, etc. Logic is not high on the list, certainly not if it gets in the way of the story they want to tell.
^But scientific verisimilitude is not the point. I should've left out the point about the gravity vector, because that's distracting from what I'm really talking about, which is the sloppiness of the effects work. There are plenty of B movies out there which are just as fanciful and ludicrous in their science, but where the filmmakers at least make a token effort to make it seem that the ships hanging on wires are actually flying in a straight line, rather than looking like a toy a 5-year-old is dangling from a string. As I said, The Green Slime was from the same creators and theoretically set in the same universe, but its miniature effects were done by Japanese FX artists who'd trained under Eiji Tsuburaya (of Godzilla and Ultraman fame), and so while they were still clearly miniatures and the FX weren't as sophisticated as what you'd get in an American film of the time, at least they were competently done and looked good. The miniature work in the Italian-made films in the series was just careless and risible. (Their idea of showing a space station disappearing was to dim the lights illuminating it so it became a dark silhouette against the star backdrop but was still partly visible. I didn't realize it was meant to be a disappearance until the characters said so.)
I mean, you have to admit, having a space station rotating in one shot and stationary in the immediately following shot isn't just a scientific error, it's a failure of basic filmmaking continuity.
I haven't seen those Planets movies in a long time but they did have horrible effects from what I remember. I didn't realize Green Slime was in that universe, and I'm not sure I've actually seen it, I'll have to watch for that one if it comes back in rotation.
What I found amusing is that in all three movies (and presumably all four), they only ever had two cars -- a white futuristic concept car and a red futuristic concept car. They couldn't even afford to repaint them or put decals on them or something to create the illusion that there were more than two of them.
Yeah, the miniature work was bad. It wasn't just that it was obviously miniature-- a lot of shows and movies had miniature work that was obvious, e.g. Logan's Run-- but it lacked artistry. Artistry is more important to me than realism, and this stuff was just uninspired.
^Yeah, that's why the miniature effects in Japanese tokusatsu films and shows are cool. They're obviously miniatures and guys in rubber monster suits, but there's artistry to it.
Looks like the next batch comes on Saturday:
0900a 7 Faces of Dr. Lao
1200p Green Hornet serial
0115p The Blob
0245p It Came from Beneath the Sea
They've been doing serials in that noon slot for a while now, a Dick Tracy one just finished... it'll be neat to see the Hornet.
Yeah, I thought the Hornet would be of particular interest.
According to TCM's schedule, they're showing the Green Hornet episodes in the order 1, 3, 2. What is it with them showing series out of sequence lately?
Also, Dr. Strangelove is on at 4:15, right after It Came From Beneath the Sea.
They had Perils of Pauline on a few weeks ago, which was great. I didn't care about Dick Tracy, but I'll watch Green Hornet. Hopefully the out-of-sequence order is just a website error-- they've gotten all the serials right so far, as much as I've seen them. I also want to see 7 Faces of Dr Lao; I don't think I've ever seen that all the way through.
Dr. Lao is one of George Pal's best films. And I listen to the soundtrack album all the time.
I also need to see Dr. Lao, been meaning to for a while.
If anyone is into exotic locales and derring-do, tonight TCM has
Midnight - Stanley and Livingstone [1939 - Spencer Tracy, Cedric Hardwicke]
200am - Scott of the Antarctic [1948 - John Mills]
400am - King Solomon's Mines [1950 - Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr ]
My onscreen channel listing has them in order.
^^ Cool. I knew Ben Mankiewicz wouldn't let that happen.
Somehow I didn't realize it was George Pal. Now I really have to see it.
It also features Barbara Eden who almost falls for the wiles of Tony Randall appearing as a satyr. That's another cool aspect of the film. It's a makeup masterpiece with Tony Randall appearing as seven very different characters, the titular Dr. Lao (pronounced "LO"), the satyr mentioned above, the Gorgon Medusa and 4 others. It also features classic stop motion animation of the Loch Ness monster.
It's a whimsical, gentle fantasy, something we rarely see in today's films.
As I recall, it won an Oscar for its makeup effects.
But it requires one to be forgiving of the ethnic stereotypes of the period, and the practice of casting white actors in Asian roles. Although from my vague memory of the film, I think it did a lot better with the ethnic issues than a lot of movies of the period, since Lao put on the standard Oriental stereotype as an act for the tourists, rather than actually being that way. So it was somewhat deconstructing that stereotype, despite the casting.
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