Dark Star (1974)

Day: January 31st, Movie: 33

It is January 31, 2023, and that means today is the final day of the first ever Genre-ary DailyView. Thirty-two science fiction films were watched over thirty days leading to the final film, John Carpenter’s Dark Star.

Dark Star was a science fiction/comedy that was John Carpenter’s directorial debut. The movie began as a USC student film that was developed into a feature film, receiving a limited theatrical release.

The film looked in on a crew of the starship Dark Star which had been out on a twenty year mission to blow up unstable planets that might threaten future plans. Dark Star had begun to break down and malfunction, leading to more troubles.

There are some funny moments in Dark Star. The talking bombs are a real hoot. There are several intriguing situations that happen during the plot. I really enjoyed the last half of the movie more than I did the beginning.

It definitely feels like a student production with the special effects (which were okay for 1974) and the list of unknown actors. They did use technology to create the jump to hyperspace that they would use a few years later in Star Wars.

As I said, the second half of the movie was more entertaining for me, with some of the visuals making me laugh out loud. I was not involved with the characters, but I loved the bomb. A talking, spiritually debating bomb is funnier than hell.

You can see how John Carpenter developed into a director who directed and produced some of the best science fiction films of all time. You can see it begin in Dark Star.

Box Room (2014)

Day: January 30th, Movie: 32

I made a decision this evening. Because I have a bunch of write-up to do tonight (The Last of Us and a couple of Poker Face episodes) and Monday Night RAW, I decided to push the film that I had scheduled for today to tomorrow, and I went to look for a short that would work for today. I found a sci-fi short called Box Room, which was something else.

Jerry (David Joseph Magee) was a sad and lonely young boy who lived with his neglectful mother (Erika McGann) in an apartment. When he discovered a damp space on the wall, Jerry began peeling away the wallpaper. He uncovered a strange, alien-looking orifice that was inside the wall. At first, Jerry was repulsed by the creature, but, as he continued with problems with his mother, he made a choice. Jerry had sex with the creature. And then things got worse after that.

This movie was really fairly gross. Only a hormonal and, perhaps, depressed teenager would even consider sticking his penis inside that creature. It looked horrible and left all kind of yuck across anything that Jerry put inside it (such as a pencil). How could he think this was a wise idea? There was a dream sequence in the short that was horrifying.

David Joseph Magee does a really solid job in a film where he has to shoulder a huge part of the storytelling. And the orifice in the wall was clearly designed to look like a monstrous vagina, and it was frightening. The whole thing was extremely creepy and unsettling, but was pretty great. It absolutely delivered feelings during the story and created plenty of tension. The ending was just as gross as the beginning.

It was only fifteen minutes and it was worth the grossness.

Space Cowboys (2000)

Day: January 29th, Movie: 31

Well, this one is not really a science fiction film. Maybe a few of the events at the very end of the film may let this qualify, but I wanted to watch this movie so that is the reason why I had this be a second film of the day in the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView. Space Cowboys was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred several older actors in critical roles in an Armageddon-like movie.

Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner played a group of pilots who lost a mission back in the late 1950s and spent decades in regret. When a Russian satellite was falling out of orbit, NASA had to recruit Eastwood to fix the navigation system on the satellite, which was one that he had created and no one else knew about any longer.

Eastwood blackmailed Bob Gerson (James Cromwell) to allow his old crew to come back and fly the mission or he would not help. Against his better judgment, Gerson agree only if the crew could pass their physicals and the training other astronauts go through.

As I said, there is a lot of similarities to the movie Armageddon here, including being about as unlikely of a situation. The plot implausibility was a major factor for this movie. Even though you had four very charismatic characters involved in the story, what they are asking the audience to buy is a lot.

Still, if you can toss those doubts out of your mind, Space Cowboys was a fun and pleasurable ride.

Along with the four lead actors, we have several top notch stars involved including William Devane, Courtney B. Vance, Barbara Babcock, Blair Brown, Loren Dean, and Rade Serbedzija.

There were some predictable moments and some clichés, but the four stars are entertaining and a joy to watch.

Brazil (1985)

Day: January 29th, Movie: 30

Terry Gilliam is a filmmaker whose work is filled with some of the most imaginative storytelling that you are ever going to find. 1985’s Brazil falls right into step with that concept. Brazil was the second film in Gilliam’s “Trilogy of Imagination” with Time Bandits and the Adventures of Baron Munchausen being the other two.

According to IMDB, “Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a harried technocrat in a futuristic society that is needlessly convoluted and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams. While trying to rectify the wrongful arrest of one Harry Buttle (Brian Miller), Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton (Kim Greist). Meanwhile, the bureaucracy has fingered him responsible for a rash of terrorist bombings, and Sam and Jill’s lives are put in danger.

Gilliam’s film is a dark comedy set in a dystopian future. It takes some inspiration from George Orwell’s novel 1984. Brazil is a satire focusing on bureaucracy and technocracy. There is a real feel of English comedy to Brazil which may be something that prevents some audiences from appreciating how funny and clever it actually is.

Jonathan Pryce leads a remarkably strong cast as Sam Lowry. He played the role with a confused state that makes him a naturally excellent protagonist which played right into the final resolution of the movie.

The outstanding cast included Kathrine Helmond (Jessica from Soap and Mona from Who’s the Boss) as Sam’s mother. I was pleased to see her again, as she was one of my favorite actresses from those sitcoms. There was also Kim Greist, Robert DeNiro, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Bob Haskins, Peter Vaughn, Ian Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Sheila Reid, and Barbara Hicks, along with a ton of British actors.

The movie contained a lot of creativity and imagination, throwing together some visuals that were excellent and fairly absurd.  Brazil is a lot of fun and has become a cult classic because of its insane story and a visionary narrative.  Terry Gilliam is one of the most original filmmakers you are ever going to find.



Repo Man (1984)

Day: January 28th, Movie: 29

When looking for science fiction movies, I did not expect one of them to be Repo Man. I was having a tough time believing that a movie about men who repossess cars could be a sci-fi flick. Spoiler alert: It was.

In Repo Man, we start out with Otto (Emilio Estevez), a young punk who was fired from his job as a stock clerk at a supermarket. His girlfriend left him form his best friend sending Otto into a depression. As he was walking around LA, Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) pulled up in a car and offered Otto $25 to drive his other car out of the bad neighborhood because Bud’s wife was in labor.

That turned out to be a lie. Instead, Bud was repossessing a car and he took Otto back with him to the company for which he worked. He was offered a job as a repo man. Otto was not happy about this initially, but, when Otto learned that his parents had given their money away to a televangelist, Otto returned to accept the job at the repo company.

Meanwhile, a 1964 Chevy Malibu was being driven by J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris). He was being pursued by several different agencies and individuals because the car contained something amazing, perhaps even extraterrestrial, in the trunk. a highway patrolman had pulled Parnell over and opened the trunk, releasing a flash of light that disintegrated him, leaving only his boots.

Of course, the storylines would cross, bringing a lot of weirdness to the LA scene.

There were several other actors involved in this film that brought some good work besides Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. Other actors in the film included Tracey Walter (Bob from Batman 1989, Frog from Best of the West, Cookie from City Slickers, among others), Olivia Barash, Sy Richardson, Vonetta McGee, Richard Foronjy, Eddie Velez, Zander Schloss, Miguel Sandoval, Helen Martin and the Circle Jerks.

Repo Man was a very funny, dark comedy that did not pull any punches. Otto started out as a very unlikable character, but as the film moved forward, Estevez was able to provide more positives to Otto, even though he was never what I would call the hero of the story. There were so many weird things that went on that worked in the overall narrative.

The performances were all pretty great, with many of them going way over the top. The characters are both real and caricatures at the same time, which is an impressive balance. Everything went through the POV of Emilio Estevez and kept the insane things normal.

Repo Man was a surprise for me. I expected to not enjoy this one much, but I found it to be different than I expected.

High Life (2018)

Day: January 27th, Movie: 28

Robert Pattinson is a very good actor. He has elevated his game in the years since Twilight, even though many still look at him with that film in their minds. Pattinson has taken some challenging films over the years to escape the shadow of Edward. High Life spotlights his capable skill as an actor.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. They must now rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.”

As I mentioned in the opening, there is no denying what a strong performance Robert Pattinson gave in this movie. However, I struggled to follow the story. The story of High Life was told in a non-linear narrative structure that was, at the least, difficult to follow. The differing sections of the story felt separate from each other as well, calling the purpose of the narrative into question.

The film looked wonderful, taking the independent feel and making it appear even better.

The story included a plan which sent a group of criminals into space in a mission dealing with a black hole. There was also something dealing with artificial insemination, and there were some very weird and erotic scenes with the criminals and the lead, Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche). There were a couple of freaky moments in the film.

There were positives in the movie, but the story style felt too artsy for me and I had a tough time following it. I wanted more with the daughter and less with the criminals. High Life was intriguing, but lacked a few connections.

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Day: January 26th, Movie: 27

Before there was InnerSpace. Before there was Rick and Morty. Before there was Osmosis Jones. There was the 1966 Fantastic Voyage, one of the first and most influential films to travel inside the human body.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “The brilliant scientist Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) develops a way to shrink humans, and other objects, for brief periods of time. Benes, who is working in communist Russia, is transported by the CIA to America, but is attacked en route. In order to save the scientist, who has developed a blood clot in his brain, a team of Americans in a nuclear submarine is shrunk and injected into Benes’ body. They have a finite period of time to fix the clot and get out before the miniaturization wears off.

There is no denying that this is a cool concept. Taking a submarine and a crew of specialists into the human body by shrinking it down is an amazing idea and Fantastic Voyage pulls it off remarkably well. Sure, the special effects do not hold up when compared to the more recent films, but this was 1966. What they had accomplished for the time period is sensational.

Stephen Boyd played CIA Agent Charles Grant, Raquel Welch played technical assistant Cora Peterson, Donald Pleasence played medical chief Dr. Michaels, William Redfield played US Navy officer Captain Bill Owens and Edmond O’Brien was General Alan Carter. The cast was good and did a nice job in the story that was certainly out there. It was fun to see Raquel Welch in a role that was not taking advantage of her looks.

One of the most fun part of the film was the scenes with Arthur O’Connell as Colonel Donald Reid which had to be the inspiration of the scenes with Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! It was a tad distracting and made me want to laugh every time.

I enjoyed the creativity of the film and the story. Fantastic Voyage was a quick watch and was paced beautifully. The special effects are not great for today, but were groundbreaking at the time. There is no denying that this film led to plenty of classic moments from other films.

Coherence (2013)

Day: January 25th, Movie: 26

I had low expectations for this film as I played it on Prime. I had no specific reasons to think it was going to be bad, but I just had never heard anything about it. I’m not even sure how it wound up on the list to watch. However it happened, I am so glad that I saw this, because it is one of the best films that I have watched during this Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView.

A group of friends were getting together for a dinner party. With the inclusion of a party guest’s plus one, tensions were beginning to rise among the group. Discussion switched to Miller’s Comet which was going to pass overhead, very close to the earth, that night and how previous comets affected human behavior. When the neighborhood lost power, bizarre things began to happen and the group were tested with their friendship.

I loved the story of this movie. It was intelligent and creative. It kept you guessing as it slowly revealed certain details of what was going on. It balanced the weirdness with plenty of relationship drama and character interactions. The script was clever and well developed, keeping the audience uncertain about what was happening and how everything fit together.

It was great to see Nicholas Brendan (who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Brendan played Mike, an actor whose house was the location of the dinner party. All of these characters had personalities and were more than just taking up space. Time was given to the development of the characters which make us feel more for them than just a group of random people dealing with strange occurrences.

The main character involved was Em (Emily Baldoni), who was dating Kevin (Maury Sterling). Em was bright and inquisitive as things started to happen. She was one of the major people involved in determining what was happening and speculating on what they should do. She does a fantastic job of showing her confusion and uncertainty of the choices that they make. She also takes the biggest swing in the third act, which was truly unexpected.

The fact that this movie was made with such a low budget and limited effects and was still remarkably effective and filled with anxiety showed how successful director James Ward Byrkit was in, this, his directorial debut.

Coherence grabbed my attention immediately and never gave it up. The film ran for a wonderfully paced 88 minutes and every minute of it felt important and vital to either the development of the story or of the characters. The success of the film is that there was a balance between the character study and the sci-fi elements. I found this movie totally engaging and entertaining.

Enemy Mine (1985)

Day: January 24th, Movies: 25

Enemy Mine was a film that I was aware of, but that I never watched. There may have been a few scenes that I had seen before, but I remember never being that interested in it. This allowed me to watch it for the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView.

According to IMDB, “At the height of the devastating intergalactic war between humans and the bipedal reptilian humanoids known as Dracs, the earthling single-seat fighter pilot, Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid), and the saurian pilot, Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett Jr), engage in a furious dogfight. As both sworn enemies crash-land on the desolate, inhospitable planet, Fyrine IV, they will have to put aside their hatred for each other, share knowledge and experience to fight the forces of nature and, above all, work in unison to survive. Can their forced coexistence and uneasy camaraderie pave the way for a genuine inter-species friendship?”

The film feels as if it is split into two distinct sections. The first part is the relationship between Quaid and Gossett Jr. and the second part is with Quaid and Bumper Robison who played Zammis. The first part was decent as the chemistry between the two lead actors was strong. The second half became a bit messy as the story devolved into a series of plot contrivances.

I did like Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr and their characters. Both of them did a great job during the time when the two stranded pilots were slowly learning about each other and learning to trust each other.

Some of the passage of time felt inconsistent. I wasn’t sure how long they were together or how much time they actually spent with each other. Though it may not be the most important aspect of the story, it did had me thinking about it as I watched, which is not ideal.

The culture of the Dracs was fascinating and seemed to be laid out effectively. The strength of the race was important to make sure there was a contradiction to the human race. There was a lot of creativity in the development of the Dracs and that carried the film for the first section.

The second part felt rushed and was disappointing. I would have liked this story to move in a different direction than what they had chosen.

Overall, I found Enemy Mine to be a passable film that I enjoyed parts of. There was nothing that completely turned me off.

Silent Running (1972)

Day: January 23rd, Movie: 24

Today’s Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView is a film from 1972 featuring Bruce Dern in a futuristic tale.

There is definitely an environmental flare to the story of a future where plant life had got extinct on the earth and a company attempted to preserve as many species as possible on a space greenhouse attached to a cargo spaceship.

Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) was one of the four crewmen aboard the Valley Forge ship who was the main botanist and ecologist, was involved with the greenhouses. However, the people in charge decided that they could not afford to keep the greenhouses and they wanted the cargo ships running product instead. So they sent an order for the crew to destroy the greenhouse.

Lowell did not want this to happen so he wound up turning on the others, leading to their deaths and he kept a couple of the greenhouses active and he communicates with the mission control that he was lost in space.

Lowell then went ahead trying to keep the greenhouse alive as he reprogramed some droids to help him.

To be honest, I found this fairly dull for most of the film. I did like the wrap up of the film, but it felt very slow and I did not have much of a connection with Lowell. He was a murderer and I had issue with what he did.

Bruce Dern did a nice job. I do think he is a great actor and he had to do most of the work on his own. Lowell seemed as if he was slowly going crazy from the isolation. I mean, he named the three robots and started to treat them like children. He brought this crazed character to reality.

The film also seemed to dismiss the environmental angle after the first act of the movie.

Overall, while I appreciate the shot this took, I was not a fan of Silent Running. It had some moments, but I found it dull and I could not support the protagonist.

Little Fish (2021)

Day: January 22nd, Movie: 23

Science fiction works very well for the smaller, independent movies and Little Fish from 2021 is a good example of a movie that has a limited release and is looking to tell a story.

In the movie Little Fish, the world is suffering from a virus that has been spreading across the land that leads to those people who are infected to lose parts of, if not all of, their memory. The film focuses in on the life of a recently married couple, Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell) and the struggles of both individuals who had started to forget the important details of their lives.

There is an experimental cure for the virus as well and both partners debate whether or not the cure is worth the risks.

Little Fish is a heart-breaking film with two strong performances from the two lead actors.

The film did not spend much time on the actual virus and how it came to be. I think it is clearly a metaphor for anything that might come between a couple. There is plenty of ties to Alzheimer’s Disease as well. The virus was a tool to explore the relationships between people and see how the outside forces bring such a strain.

Little Fish is a lovely, small movie that is beautifully shot and exquisitely acted. It was a nice gem found on Hulu.

Mimic (1997)

Day: January 21st, Movie: 22

Tonight was the first time during the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView that I have watched more than one movie in a day. During the year-long DailyView I routinely watched multiple films on certain days and even in the June Swoon, I wound up watching one more movie than days in the month.

Last week, I started to fill out the schedule for the remainder of the month and I was noticing that there were more films on my planning sheet than I needed. That was the first time that I considered taking a Saturday or Sunday (or both) and doing more than one for that day.

Since I was already on HBO Max for Journey to the Center of the Earth, I figured this would be the opportune moment to watch another film that appeared on the streaming service. This was 1997’s Mimic, a sci-fi/horror film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and involved the genetic engineered creation of an amalgam of a praying mantis and a termite into a creature known as the “Judas” breed to solve the deadly “Strickler’s disease” which was killing the children of the city.

Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) was responsible for the creation of the Judas breed, but since they were all female and should have had a lifespan of just a few months, she believed that they would just die out. But as Dr. Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park “Life will find a way.” The Judas breed began to evolve and a large colony of the insects lived in the subway station under New York City.

When Susan discovered the existence of the evolving Judas breed, she and her husband Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) began their search for the colony hoping to be able to cut the problem off before anything else happened.

Mimic is tense and suspenseful, showing how effective, once again, that Guillermo del Toro is with these types of creature features. The Judas breed bugs were remarkably gross and disgusting and there are scenes in Mimic that are difficult to stomach.

Insects, cockroaches, bugs are a naturally occurring fear among many people and make them the antagonists of this film as smart and frightening. There were some brutal moments during the movie that did not hold back.

There were some notable actors in supporting or smaller roles in Mimic that make the film better. This included Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin, Norman Reedus, Giancarlo Giannini, Doug Jones and F. Murray Abraham.

The film looked great for 1997 and the ending was dramatically done. On the whole, Mimic was an enjoyable horror/sci-fi movie that showed the skills at the time of a future Academy Award winning director. Mimic is a lot of horrifyingly gross fun.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Day: January 21st, Movie: 21

The sci-fi film tonight is the classic 1959 film Journey to the Center of the Earth. I started it off and I couldn’t believe that I saw one of the main character was being played by Pat Boone. Then he wound up in front of a piano and singing a song. Weird. It wasn’t the start that I was expecting.

Accordig to IMDB, “Edinburgh university professor Sir Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason) believes he has found an very old message from a long lost scientist who may have found the way to journey to the center of the Earth. With his assistant, student Alec McKuen (Pat Boone), he sets off for Iceland where an entrance in a volcanic range is to be found. They are soon joined by Carla Goetabaug (Arlene Dahl), whose scientist-husband was recently murdered, and Icelander Hans Belker (Peter Ronson) as they descend into the bowels of the Earth.

This was a film definitely of its time. Some of the attitudes of the men in the party directed toward Carla was a bit archaic. Yet, she was fairly competent and not necessarily always a damsel in distress. It did happen a few times, but it was 1959, after all.

The ideas of what was found at the center of the earth was bizarre, yet cool in a “I don’t know anything about science” type of way. The interactions among the characters was decent and the best part was the duck, Gertrude. The end of Gertrude was a true tragedy.

The film had plenty of moments that were clear inspiration for other film-makers. There was a scene of them being chased by a giant rolling boulder which was an inspiration for Steven Spielberg in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some of the creatures that were found at the center of the earth reminded me of special effects in the original Clash of the Titans films.

This was a lot of fun and I am glad that I was able to watch this classic film on HBO Max. It feels like I was able to check off a box on that list by watching this.

The Hidden (1987)

Day: January 20th, Movie: 20

I’ve been scheduling the films that I will watch for Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView, and I had to delay watching this movie, The Hidden, a couple of times. There was no specific reason that sticks out in my memory outside of fitting in on the schedule. Tonight we the time to finally watch the film. I had it rented on Vudu to watch the film.

Kyle MacLachlan played FBI Agent Lloyd Gallagher, who came to Los Angeles in search of a killer who had killed his partner. He teamed up with police detective Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) to try and catch the killer, but everything started to become strange as we learn about the extra-terrestrial danger threatening the people.

I’m leaving a lot out of the film synopsis on purpose because I feel like some of the best parts of the film is not really knowing what you are watching. I’ll just say that there are some weird things happening.

Kyle MacLachlan playing an oddball FBI Agent? I wonder if this was one of the reasons why David Lynch eventually cast him as Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks. Despite this character being clearly different than Agent Cooper, I can definitely see some similarities to how MacLachlan played them.

The sci-fi aspects of the film were well done and had some creepy moments. It had a campy feel to it and the story was surprisingly bright. I do have to say that I was not in love with the ending of the film. It did not take the safe way, but I’m not sure how I felt about it.

The Hidden was a decent film with an actor that I really enjoy. The story was fun though I am unsure about the wrap up.

Batteries Not Included (1987)

Day: January 19th, Movie: 19

You could tell this movie was made in the 1980s.

While it did feel a little dated, and the film was much like a ton of other family friendly, action-adventure movies from the time frame, Batteries Not Included, from Amblin Entertainment, was a fun watch and had a couple of surprisingly deeper moments.

According to IMDB, “A group of tenants in an apartment block are being forced to move out so that it can be demolished. The tenants are reluctant to move, so the developers hire a local gang to ‘persuade’ them to leave. Fortunately, visiting alien mechanical life-forms come to town. When they befriend the tenants, the aliens use their extraterrestrial abilities to defeat the developers”

The older couple who worked in the café in the building, Frank and Faye, were played by Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. This is one of the reasons why the film is able to succeed. You have to classic actors in the lead roles and you can make many stories watchable. They were even given a pretty surprisingly deep storyline to add to the trouble they faced with the developers. Frank and Faye had a child who had died and Faye was in denial, going as far as calling one of the gang members by their son’s name. It was an unexpected piece to the script that did to need to be included, but made the film for me.

The little robotic aliens were cute and helpful. I did not relate to them as much as I had done with other stranded aliens such as E.T. The lack of a speaking character did limit what could be done with the robots.

The cast included other stars such as Dennis Boutsikaris, Frank McRae, Elizabeth Peña, Doris Belack, Michael Carmine, John Pankow, Tom Aldridge, Wendy Schaal, MacIntyre Dixon, and Michael Greene.

Produced by Steven Spielberg, Batteries Not Included was much like a lot of Spielberg’s early films. It was a fine story with a few very notable moments and scenes. There was some good humor and Cronyn and Tandy were very charming and entertaining.