Films of the Week
Pensioner Defeats Commies
After reading Chris' rave review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I spent £15 on the Special Edition. This is something I wouldn't normally do - I usually wait and buy DVDs at no more than £10. However, Chris was right, so I don't mind too much that he cost me £5 - the film was as silly and as fun as the others in the series. I still haven't found the masturbatory easter egg that he was talking about, but that's probably due to my lack of a Catholic education.
Man Kills Spider
Whilst I was in HMV getting the Indy film, I picked up a box set of classic 50's Sci-Fi. One of them was Tarantula, which I already have, but at £30 for seven films, it's still good value.
We watched The Incredible Shrinking Man. Scott Carey is on a boat with his wife, enjoying a bit of Sun, Sea and S... San Miguel, when the boat sails through a radioactive mist, which his body absorbs. It serves him right for being lazy and sending his wife below to get the beers. If he'd gone himself he'd have been okay.
Months later he is exposed to some pesticide which reacts badly with the radioactivity and makes him gradually get smaller and smaller. His wife must be less than satisfied by his ever decreasing size, but she does stay with him. Eventually he gets so small that the cat tries to eat him. This should serve as a warning to pet lovers everywhere.
He escapes into the cellar, but his wife, finding a bloody shred of clothing and a contented looking cat assumes the worst, puts the house up for sale and goes to stay with her in-laws.
Meanwhile Scott is managing to survive on stale cheese (kept in the cellar for mousetrap bait), but he has also found another deadly foe - a spider. It's a battle to the death, and human ingenuity wins out in the end.
The film was better than I thought it would be. The special effects are a little dated, but they did a pretty good job given the technology of the time. The designers must have had fun building giant sets.
USAF Cook Alien Vegetable
The Thing From Another World is a story about an alien invasion. Scientists at an American research base in Alaska see what appears to be a new type of aircraft crash landing in the ice. They are worried it might be an enemy invasion, and since it doesn't seem to be Canadian, decide that it's probably Soviet. The United States Air Force is sent to investigate.
They quickly realise that the craft is round, which means it's a UFO. I'm not sure about their logic - after all, humans have been making circular objects for thousands of years, including flying objects such as frisbees. Nevertheless, it turns out that they are correct.
They end up digging out and defrosting an alien, and discover that it is actually an intelligent humanoid vegetable which feeds on blood. The vegetable bit means that to reproduce it simply has to plant and "water" some seeds (with blood). It also means that bullets make holes but do no actual damage.
I can recommend all three of these. They're great adventures, and the car chase in "Indy" is truly breathtaking. You wouldn't find anything like those special effects in 50's Sci Fi films, but the best film makers of that era were careful and used what effects they had sparingly, which means that although there are a few moments where something is obviously fake (travelling mattes are no match for CGI), most of the time you'll be more interested in the story.