Wednesday, May 23, 2007

British Sci-Fi

It's Star Wars Week, and we're all talking about Star Wars on our blogs. I can't say that it's my favorite. I don't hate it or anything like that, but it will never be my favorite. Anyway, other people have had plenty to say about Star Wars this week, so I thought I'd talk about something a little different. Seeing that I don't have much to add to the Star Wars discussion, let's talk about other British sci-fi movies and TV.

Last week I saw 28 Weeks Later. This is the sequel to 28 Days Later. For the most part, this is a zombie movie with a scientific explanation. Sort of like Warning Sign. But Warning Sign is not a British film, so I'll talk about it some other time. Anyway, the zombie-like people are infected with a disease called Rage, and it is highly contagious. In the first movie, nearly everyone in Britain either caught the disease and died of starvation a month later, or they were were eaten by someone else that had the disease. The second movie takes place about six months later, when someone has decided that everything is safe and they should start moving people back into London, or at least someplace near London. Anyway, I liked the new movie, but not as much as the first one. The second one has more gore, and they skipped a lot of the cliche end-of-the-world stuff of the original. I happen to like cliche end-of-the-world stuff. And I have one silly observation about the abandoned pizza place. Why is it that six months later there is a dead guy that has decomposed almost to a skeleton, but on the tables and in boxes there are things that are still easily identified as pizza? I mean, even if the stray dogs and such didn't find the pizza, shouldn't it have decomposed into something that doesn't look like pizza anymore?

So I'm sitting in the theater watching 28 Weeks later, and I'm noticing similarities between the one of the main characters and the Homewrecking-slut. So that added to my enjoyment of the movie a bit, knowing that at least in the fictional world of this movie, she is either dead or one of these blood-splattered lunatics. But, this is a not a post about the Homewrecking-slut, so I won't tell you anymore about that. Let's move on.

There's other end of the world British sci-fi stuff. There's Children of Men, with a whole world of infertile people and a very depressing future version of England being the best of what's left. The place is so depressing, that suicide kits are handed out free of charge. Nice.

And there was a TV series called Survivors. I didn't see much of it, but a plague wipes out most of the human race after a scientist goes to an international airport. 98 people out of 100 die in England, and the survivors try to get get by. I watched the beginning of the series, when they did everything wrong. Maybe it got better.

There was a TV series called The Last Train. A woman on a train thinks that a big meteor is coming, so when they are safely inside a tunnel she freezes everyone on the train. They wake up fifty years later and try to find other people.

One of my favorite end of civilization stories is Day of the Triffids. Most people go blind and then these big plants eat everyone. It's more about the ugly things that the people do to each other, but if you sit still too long, a plant will eat you.

And speaking of John Wyndam stories, movies were also made from another book, The Midwich Cuckoos. The Village of the Damned was based on that, and there was a sequel called Children of the Damned, and then there was a remake and there's probably other stuff out there that I don't know about. Super advanced children were born to mothers who really can't even explain how they got pregnant in the first place. It seems to have been done by aliens, but we're not sure because we never see these aliens. The super advanced children are scary and if someone doesn't kill them all they'll probably take over the world.

I watched a bit of Blake's 7. Blake kept getting arrested for speaking out against the government. In the future there's only one government. I'm not sure if there was ever anything specifically wrong with this government, or just the fact that there was only one and they didn't like it. Anyway, Blake was one his way to jail on the moon or something, and he and a bunch of other prisoners stole a spaceship and escaped.

The British had a couple of sci-fi comedies. The first was The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I believe actually started out on radio. There was later a TV series and about five books, and a few years ago it was made into a movie. It's about the misadventures of an alien who was literally hitchhiking across the galaxy when he got stuck on Earth for several years and a friend from Earth who escapes with him right before the Earth was destroyed to make room for an interstellar by-pass.

Red Dwarf is another British comedy that involves a hologram, a robot, a computer, a guy who's been in suspended animation for 3 million years, and a black guy that evolved from the other guy's cat.

There was a TV show called Space 1999. It wasn't my favorite. It was set on our moon, but the moon was sent flying out of its orbit after a nuclear explosion. They rarely had any plot elements that did anything with the fact that they were actually on the moon instead of a starship or a space-station. And they had a lot of rubber monsters.

Dr. Who also had a lot of rubber monsters. A lot of different actors played Dr. Who during the TV series. So many different actors played The Doctor that he changes bodies or "regenerates" as part of the story. I've never seen the first Doctor, because the video tapes were used over again and no one officially made copies of things back then. I don't care for the second doctor. Pertwee isn't bad at all, but I think most fans prefer Tom Baker, and he is the reason I am making all these ridiculously long scarves. I think the show had three actors after him. There was a movie version of Dr. Who, and The Doctor was played by Peter Cushing. Couldn't quite see him being the major villain in Star Wars after that. Fox tried to get a Dr. Who series going in the US, but they only made the one movie. About three years ago, after the show had been off the air for about twenty years, Dr. Who is back on British television. The invisible man from Heroes played The Doctor for one season, and was then replaced by Masterpiece Theater's Casanova. There's a Dr. Who spin-off called Torchwood, and I believe another one is planned around the character of Sarah Jane Smith and the robot dog K-9.

A company called Hammer Films made a lot of sci-fi and horror stuff. They made the Quatermass movies. There was also a Quatermass TV show. Different actors keep playing Professor Quatermass. The only story I've seen of it that I really like is Quatermass and the Pit, which was released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth. I've probably already discussed that elsewhere in this blog.

And Hammer Films made a lot of Frankenstein movies that most of us have never heard of. Peter Cushing sometimes played Dr. Frankenstein. David Prowse played one of the monsters, as did Christopher Lee.

I'm sure I missed just tons and tons of stuff, but I think that's all I want to get into at the moment.


David in DC said...

As a kid I loved Space: 1999. Martin Landau can make even schlock pretty good.

It was when he and Barbara Bain were still married and they had a certain chemistry.

The third star was the same guy who chased David Jannsen in the original "Fuigitive" TV show. I can't remember his name.

I remember it getting kinda dopey in the last year, with a new character who could turn into a hawk or some such thing.

And yeah, it had a lot of rubber monsters and other special effects that weren't particularly special.

laughingattheslut said...

While I did not care that much for Space 1999, it would be cool to be Maya.

I wouldn't mind looking like Catherine Schell, and being able to turn into animals and such for an hour would really be something.

Babybull40 said...

I use to watch a few shows as a kid but I was told which ones I was allowed to watch.. due to their sensitive nature I suppose.. So One show I watched was called Logan's Run.. good sci-fi show and I think at one point they would make a new series but flopped..

laughingattheslut said...

Logan's Run was a TV series, but only for one season. I liked it a lot.

Before that was the Logan's Run movie, some of which was filmed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

If there is a British version of the movie or television series, I am not aware of them.

The book was published ten years before the movie came out. In the book, everyone commits suicide on their twenty-first birthday.

There always seems to be talk of a new movie, one that would be more like the book, but nothing seems to be getting done. For a while the rumor was that the kid from Titanic would be Logan, but he's too old now.

dmarks said...

I could too easily leave comments well in excess of the post.

I'll just mention that I was also a big Logan's Run fan "back in the day" having seen the movie, read all 3 novels, and even read the short-lived comic book series.

When we were kids we had a Space: 1999 "Eagle". I think those are priceless now. My dad tossed it in the trash at one point.

laughingattheslut said...

My brother had an Eagle too. But we didn't even get to see the show at the time. It just wasn't on where we lived at the time it was made and we didn't see it for years later. I think that one of the grandparents gave it to him. I'm sure it met with an unpleasant end. Eagles are supposed to fly.

dmarks said...

I don't know if you know what "kitbashing" is, but it is how they made the old Star Destroyers and the original Battlestars. Covering the ship models with pieces of model tanks and all that.

The "Eagle" was extremely enhanced with kit bashing, a Lite-Brite as the engine on the end, and other changes. It was supposed to be used in a movie, but it ended up looking like a funny vacuum cleaner and it sat in the top of the garage for many years.

Philip. said...

I remember queing to see Star Wars when I was about 9. Cool film :-)

Cool blog!

I found you randomly, but will be back for more.

Why not come and say hello on mine :-)