“Something tells us that Freejack won’t be making your list.”
And, the shame train keeps chug-chug-chugging along.
On Thursday I embarrassed myself enough that I really should be banished from the internet for quite a while. But, here it is Monday and I’m back for even more. This time I’m talking about the sci-fi films that I’m most ashamed that I haven’t seen. (I would say “sci-fi/fantasy” but fantasy is still scant enough that I think I’ve seen all the one’s worth seeing. Oh, sorry “Legend,” did I hurt your feelings?)
Now, I like to think of myself as a film buff and when it comes to sci-fi I really thought I was doing pretty well. I knew there were about 5 films that I needed to see, but I didn’t think the shame would really be too great this time around.
Boy was I wrong because now I’m more red-faced than ever. As I delved into this, I found myself wincing and groaning with each title that I came across or thought of. So, if you thought the book list was bad. Get a load of this…
THE TOP 20 (Yes, I said 20!!?!?!) SCI-FI FILMS I HAVEN’T SEEN (to my even greater shame):
In alphabetical order, they are…
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The, Dir. W.D. Richter: I am nutty for “cult” movies of all stripes. If the choice is between some polished, high-budget, big studio money grab or a late night viewing of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” then you will find me comfortably seated in my living room with Mr. Edward D. Wood Jr. and a big bowl of popcorn every single time. (Okay, not every time. I do wish I had stayed home with Tor Johnson and the gang the night I subjected myself to Michael Bay’s “The Island.” Ugh.) But, I wear my cult movie love as a badge of honor; which is why it’s appropriate that this film should find itself at the top of this list because it’s probably the one I’m most ashamed of for not having seen. Everything I know about it screams “THIS IS A MOVIE FOR ME.” Frankly, the presence Peter “Robocop” Weller should really be enough all on its own.
Akira, Dir. Katsuhiro Otomo: Anime. Manga. Many pasty white guys my age go absolutely bananas for the stuff. Frankly, I just don’t get it. I’ve watched “Ninja Scroll” and “Nausicaa of the Wind” with a shrug and a “huh?” I’ve read, well, okay, I haven’t actually read any Manga. But, I’ve flipped through some. Well, that’s not even true. I’ve passed them by at Borders while stepping over the legions of anti-social, aisle-sitting, punk kids that always crowd that section as if blocking an entire shelf from view is a perfectly acceptable practice. Seriously, what gives? I guess I should be happy the kids are reading comics and the art form won’t die the long promised death that cultural observers have been predicting since the 60’s. But, I’m not. Get out of the way you little jerks! Anyway, my point is, I don’t get the stuff. I’m glad there are people that do and don’t want it to go away. But, it just doesn’t seem to connect for me. That said, I do realize that any sci-fi fan worth his salt should at least see “Akira” before completely turning his back on the genre. The question is – if I don’t get around to ever seeing this, do I still get some credit for loving Voltron? Or, does that even count?
Alphaville, Dir. Jean-Luc Godard: Alphaville (and a couple other titles below) is where the genre-loving, pop culture consuming half of me is supposed to meet up with my pretentious film snob side and grow to love and embrace him instead of engaging in the never-ending civil war that has caused fits of uncertainty for a long time now. I mean, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve shifted “Zardoz” and “The 400 Blows” back and forth on my Netflix queue. Still, I have a nagging suspicion that “Alphaville” will probably only satisfy the film snob in me, but I’m hopeful that it will have enough for my other side too.
Barbarella, Dir. Roger Vadim: Again, I love the cult movies and a good dose of campiness. So, goofball 60’s space movies are certainly right up my alley. So, what gives, right? There is one reason and one reason only that this film has not made it from the video store to my entertainment center lo these many years and it’s pretty simple: JANE FONDA. I can’t explain my distaste for the woman. I mean, I’m a mealy-mouthed, limp-wristed liberal and love almost everything that Henry Fonda ever made. Hanoi Jane easily satisfies both of those categories. But, despite it all, the woman grates on me. To echo Kahn, “She tasks me!” But, as a sci-fi artifact of that era, Barbarella is pretty indispensible and the completist in me really needs to give it a watch.
Blade Runner, Dir. Ridley Scott: Forget what I said about Buckaroo Banzai. This is clearly the one to be most ashamed of. I know this. I can’t even look you in the face right now as I talk about it. Please stop groaning. It only makes this worse. What can I say, really? I’ve tried a handful of times and maybe because I’ve always attempted it late at night and because that opening shot going into the city is about ten very slow minutes long or something I’ve never stayed awake into the main part of the movie. Add to that that there is about sixteen different edits of it out there and that Sean Young makes me want to jump off a five story building onto a bike with no seat and maybe you can start to understand. Anyway, the FINAL CUT has been at the top of my Netflix queue since it came out and still says there is a “very long wait.” I’m gonna try this one more time for the sake of all credibility. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Capricorn One, Dir. Peter Hyams: The plot description puts this one fairly easily into my wheel house. I love a good conspiracy theory and I know for a fact the moon landing was shot on a soundstage in Burbank, so it’s just a matter of time before I get my eyeballs on this one.
Dark Star, Dir. John Carpenter: Carpenter, for all his later day sins (Vampire$, Ghosts of Mars, Memoirs from an Invisible Man, etc.), is still very much the “Man” in my book. I will easily slap the masterpiece label on at least five of his films (and yes, before you ask, that absolutely does include “Big Trouble In Little China”). I’ve avoided this one for a while because I’m generally disappointed by the first films of my heroes and have always assumed the worst. But, I’ve heard “Dark Star’s” praises sung in various places and am definitely encouraged by the name Dan O’Bannon on the co-scripting credit.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Dir. Fred F. Sears: I’ve probably seen most of the best footage from this film since they seem to be the go-to shots in any movie that calls for a 50’s B-movie playing in the background. But, I’d really like to see all the stuff in between those shots. Plus, I’m a huge fan of any film whose title also serves as a plot description.
Flash Gordon, Dir. Mike Hodges: Apparently, this one is a seminal film for many from my generation. It managed to slip through the cracks for me though despite the fact that its theme song has found its way onto my iPod. Seriously, I don’t know how it happened but I had it on shuffle one day and the song came on. I don’t own any albums with the song on it and I’ve not intentionally downloaded it. Weird.
Forbidden Planet, Dir. Fred M. Wilcox: I think I gave this one a chance back in college and turned it off only a few minutes in. When your only exposure to Leslie Neilsen has been the Naked Gun movies it can be a little off-putting to see him in a “straight” role. I do recognize that this is the antecedent to a lot of stuff I love and also happens to be an adaptation of sorts of my favorite work by Billy Shakespeare – “The Tempest.” So, I’ll give it another shot. But, if OJ or George Kennedy show up half way through I won’t be able to handle it.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Dir. Don Siegel: I have no good excuse. I’ve seen the 70’s remake. I’ve seen the early 90’s remake. I very nearly saw the Nicole Kidman remake. And, this original version was even recorded on my DVR for about a month until it shamefully got deleted in favor of an episode of “The O.C.” Something is wrong with me.
La Jetee, Dir. Chris Marker: I am absolutely kooky for “12 Monkeys.” I love it just short of getting the poster image tattooed on my back. Until recently, the French short film it was based off of was not readily available. Now that it is I should really give it a watch. I guess I have a little trouble renting a “short” film. Kind of want to get as much bang for my buck, ya know. But, still, as a fan of Gilliam’s adaptation, I owe old “La Jetee” a watch. (By the way, I know for a fact that EG skipped right down to the next entry after reading the words “French short film.”)
Logan’s Run, Dir. Michael Anderson: This will be a treat when ere I finally see it. It’s a rare sci-fi film that I know absolutely zero about. Seriously. The title is the only thing I know. I think it might take place in the future. But, that’s it. Don’t know even the sketchiest of plot descriptions. So, that’s kind of fun to come to something with no preconceptions.
Seconds, Dir. John Frankenheimer: I’m not certain this one qualifies as straight-up sci-fi, but a secret organization that specializes in giving rich folks someone else’s identity fits the bill enough for me. “Island of Dr. Moreau” withstanding, I love Frankenheimer. Heck, I love just saying that name. Frankenheimer. Ahh.
Silent Running, Dir. Douglas Turnbull: Similar to “Logan’s Run,” I don’t really know all that much about this one. The one thing I do know gives me great hope for it though: BRUCE DERN. Give me that cranky, world-weary face any day and I’m a happy man. As a quick aside, I really love “The ‘Burbs” and I don’t care what you say. And, Bruce Dern’s scene-stealing performance as the ex-military, conspiracy theorist neighbor is one of the primary reasons.
Solaris (1972), Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky: I know that a 3-hour Russian film most often described by critics as “meditative” firmly ensconces this one in the aforementioned “pretentious film snob” category of this list. But, putting that aside, there’s a sentient planet in this movie and as big a fan of both Mogo and Ego as I am I’d like to add a third planet to that very exclusive list. I guess I could cheat and watch the much shorter Clooney version, but where’s the fun in that? I’m just not happy with a sentient planet movie unless my buttox has completely fallen asleep by the end.
THX-1138, Dir. George Lucas: I always said I’d give this one a gander before my patience with Lucas had completely run out. Well, my patience ran out a few years ago. Should I still watch this? Honestly, could “experimental” filmmaking by the early Lucas be much worse than the mainstream filmmaking by the late Lucas?
V: The Miniseries, Dir. Kenneth Johnson: In many American homes (mine included) the eldest male holds complete control over the television remote. However, this wasn’t the case in my house as a child. My Mother had both the best seat (the La-Z-Boy) and the remote at all times that she was in the living room. Somehow, I had convinced her that we should watch the first night of this miniseries when it came on and went to bed in a trance that evening after it was over, so excited for the next installment. Well, turns out Mom wasn’t as eager to find out what happened next and that, despite my heavy tears, was the end for me and V.
Videodrome, Dir. David Cronenberg: I’m sorry Mr. Cronenberg. I don’t know how I let this one slip by me. You know I love you. Heck, I even watched Jason X because you were in it. And Nightbreed. Come to think of it, I do owe “Videodrome” a viewing. But, what do you owe me for what I lost watching “Nightbreed?” Street goes both ways pal.
X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Dir. Roger Corman: Ray Milland in a film by Roger Corman. As if not seeing the above 19 titles wasn’t shame enough. I don’t have enough shame to contain this one too. One of the true, sort of forgotten greats of film acting in a Corman film with perhaps the greatest title in cinema history. Geez. Where do I get off?
Okay, that’s all the shame this little nerd can handle. I’m going to go back into my corner for a little until the urge to bash my head in passes you by.
And, EG, you are more than welcome to make some disapproving comments below, but if you choose to do so I will also require you to write an essay for this blog in which you defend your love for the 90’s film adaptation of “Lost in Space” starring Joey from “Friends.”