Saturday, January 31, 2009

Solaris (1972)

Solaris is a 1972 Russian science fiction film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker, Andrei Rublev). It is based on the Stanislaw Lem novel with the same name. It won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It is #67 on the list of 100 most spiritually significant films.

I have not seen the George Clooney remake.

Available at googlevideo:

The subtitles don't seem right. They sometimes don't change when the speaker changes and sometimes they seem to indicate a change of speaker when there is none. Sometimes there are subtitles with questions being asked and answered when there is no speech going on at all in the film, while at other times folks are talking without subtitles appearing on the screen.

Criterion has a 2-disc release, and DVD Journal reviews the film and Criterion's edition here. Senses of Cinema calls it "a visually hypnotic, deeply affecting story of conscience, love, and reconciliation". The New York Times says,"It is science-fiction in the formal sense of the word; in substance, it is a parable about the nature of mankind." Moria has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours doesn't care for it. Roger Ebert says,
Tarkovsky consciously tried to create art that was great and deep. He held to a romantic view of the individual able to transform reality through his own spiritual and philosophical strength.
366 Weird Movies says that, though weird, this is Tarkovsky's most accessible film.

The Quiet Earth

The Quiet Earth is a 1985 post-apocalyptic movie about, wait for it... -two men and a woman are the only survivors of world-wide catastrophe, and a bi-racial love triangle ensues. (yawn)

You can watch it online in 11 parts, thanks to googlevideo. [update: This is no longer available online.]

1000 Misspent Hours gives it good marks, saying
The Quiet Earth is about people rising above their differences— and not in some cliched, touchy-feely, politically correct, it’s-a-small-world-after-all way, either.

Moria says,
The film is most effective in its conveying the barrenness of humanity’s absence.
Far less effective is when the film abandons the lyrical, visual poetry of isolation and introduces two other characters in the second half. Here it merely becomes a trite love triangle – and one that is not entirely satisfactorily dealt with.

DVDTalk also has a review. ListVerse names it one of the best of the 80's.

Deathless Day

Today is Amartithi or Deathless Day, the anniversary of the death in 1969 of Meher Baba, the self-proclaimed Avatar of this Age. I remember hearing about his death at the time. His followers observe this day by keeping a 15-minute silence beginning at 12:15 p.m. and by flying his flag:

Meher Baba said:
"The colors in the flag signify man's rise from the grossest of impressions of lust and anger – symbolized by red – to the culmination in the highest state of spirituality and oneness with God – symbolized by sky blue."

"Red should be at the bottom of the flag and sky blue at the top. Arrangement of the other five colors is your decision."

Invasion from Planet C

Invasion from Planet C is a 2007 science fiction movie about surfing. It begins with a humanoid alien shooting a surfer with a weapon that looks like it's made from PVC pipe. I skipped to look at a few moments later in the movie and saw some people surfing and one guy getting slapped. Then there was a laser battle in the woods and the girl's boyfriend turns out to be a green-blooded alien, but the tiny band-aid seems to fix the injury. How will she respond to knowing she's dating an alien? If your thing is scifi surfer movies, then this is the movie for you! Not my thing at all...

It's available at Joost:
<a href="">Invasion From Planet C</a>

Reviews are hard to come by.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lilo and Stitch

Lilo and Stitch is a 2002 animated science fiction Disney movie that takes place in Hawaii and includes hula dancing, surf boards and Elvis. The Younger Son got this for Christmas, and I picked it to watch tonight. What fun!

This is the very beginning of the movie:

Roger Ebert:
It's one of the most charming feature-length cartoons of recent years--funny, sassy, startling, original and with six songs by Elvis. It doesn't get sickeningly sweet at the end, it has as much stuff in it for grown-ups as for kids, and it has a bright offbeat look to it.

The New York Times:
The mood is cozy and familial, and the relationships have authentic tartness as well as generic warmth.
the true joy of the movie is its richly drawn characters, which help ground the wildly fantastical tale in reality and which will appeal as much to parents as to the children...

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a 1964 re-imagining of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe story. It is directed by Byron Haskin (War of the Worlds) and has Adam West (TV's Batman) in it. I'm glad they fixed that difficulty about communications so that the astronauts in Mars orbit can get answers from NASA back on Earth in a timely fashion. I like this film, though I admit I expected it to be cheesy as all get out. Much fun, without the cheese.

Available from veoh, but I've consistently had trouble with their required downloadable player. Youtube has it online in 13 segments. They ought to auto-play from part 1: says,
The film itself is not entirely as silly as its name, however--it is instead a meditative and minimalist bit of decent, humanistic science fiction.

DVDTalk calls it "a unique and serious adventure" and says, "Given the year that it was made, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is scientifically very impressive." Bright Lights Film Journal calls it an "underrated film" and says it "encourages the viewer to face issues that are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s: propaganda, war, and discrimination". The New York Times says, "It's good fun all the way." 1000 Misspent Hours has a review.

A Religious State

Gallup has ranked the states from most to least religious, and I live in the 4th most religious of the states. This is how they judged:
For the current ranking, Gallup uses the responses to a straightforward question that asks: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" The rankings are based on the percentage of each state's adult (18 and older) population that answers in the affirmative.

The picture above came from the Gallup site and clearly shows that solid Southern Bible belt.

I saw it somewhere else first but can't find that now so I'm giving my hat tip to John Meunier.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars digs deeper and finds that Tennessee may be the 4th most religious state but it's 3rd in out-of-wedlock births and 4th highest in teen pregnancies. Way to go, Tennessee. Show'em how to walk that walk! Here's proof that feeling "religious" doesn't lead to living "religious".

The Lost Missile

The Lost Missile (1958) is the last film directed by William Berke. The music is by Gerald Fried, who wrote music for Star Trek. It begins with the ubiquitous voice-over narration that sets it all up. The mysterious rocket -nervous countries world-wide can't determine the origin- leaves destruction in its wake. Standard methods to bring it down fail. There's one couple who has to postpone their wedding because of the crisis and a husband who can't leave work to take his pregnant wife to the hospital to give birth. The personal relationships don't distract from the tension of the threat plot, which doesn't tend to drag. There's an interesting series of civilian reaction scenes, a man advising his wife to stay home, a woman giving directions to her son, civil defense activation, school evacuations, stress in the shelters, people waiting and wondering if they'll die... One of the couples shown is black.

This film ends abruptly.

Googlevideo has it:

This movie doesn't have a wikipedia entry, and reviews are scarce. Classic Sci-Fi Movies has a review that says it "has a passable, if not original, plot. It has some eclectic acting but minimal special effects" and "Watch LM to see what The Giant Claw could have been."

6/11/2009: has a review, saying: "it remains reasonably entertaining - a blessedly brief running time and a few unexpected moments of comedy..."

The People That Time Forgot

The People That Time Forgot, sequel to The Land That Time Forgot, is a 1977 science fiction film starring Doug McClure. It is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel with the same name. The book can be read online here, or listen to it here.

Watch it online, with commercials, compliments of [update: no longer available there or anywhere else I've looked.]

This is slow. It looks like they're trying to be dramatic, but the music hitting you over the head isn't the best way to achieve that goal. This one is forgettable. The prehistoric monsters are worse than many I've seen in movies from the 50's. The sexism is also worse than much of what I've seen in 50's movies -much worse really, when you think that this is a 1977! film. We hadn't come a long way, baby, after all.

I see that Princess Leia wasn't alone in her choice of hairstyle.

Moria has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours says it "isn’t anywhere near as good as its best moments suggest it could have been".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

X The Unknown

X The Unknown is a 1956 British science fiction film from Hammer Films with Leo McKern (The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and Rumpole) and Dean Jagger (Twelve O'Clock High, White Christmas, King Creole, Elmer Gantry). I've decided that anything Leo McKern is in is worth watching.

We get another monster that seeks out energy, but I like this movie. The action moves along briskly, and the story is interesting. The way they handle the special effects is very smart. There is a child-endangerment scene fairly early on that figures as an important part of the plot. I like the 2 short scenes in the church. In the first it's just treated as a normal location where the scientist finds the boy's companion to enlist his help in discovering what happened, and in the second it's used as a place of shelter out of the monster's path.

GoogleVideo has this gem online:

StompTokyo calls it "fake Quatermass" and says,
Once again, Hammer is dealing with a next-to-nothing budget, and for the most part, does it well - one of the advantages of having your production manager write the script. The beastie is not seen until the final third of the picture, and then the blob effects are done extremely well

ImagesJournal calls it "required viewing for all sci-fans" and says,
X The Unknown comes from Hammer's mid-'50s period, when the studio still frequently made black-and-white movies and before they had discovered the path to greatest profits was paved with sex and gore. It's an exceedingly intelligent and thoughtful film, easily superior to subsequent movies about amorphous blobs

DVDTalk has a review.

12/27/2009: SFSignal offers it as their Sunday Cinema post today.

The Atomic Submarine

The Atomic Submarine is a 1959 science fiction movie. Sid Melton is in this one. It starts with one of those lovely voice-overs telling us the story-so-far, and the voice narration shows back up every so often. It doesn't take them long to jump into the boring romance sub-plot. This time there's a military officer who says, "It won't take me long to defrost -not around you," to a platinum blond. She ends up saying, "Let's not waste one precious moment," and then a knock at the door interrupts their passionate embrace. Duty calls. There's lot of political speechifying once the men are on their mission. I want the unidentified swimming object to come up and swallow the sub whole. Given that that is not going to happen I just wish the action would move along with a bit more speed.

Watch it from googlevideo:

Moria calls it "surprisingly good". StompTokyo says it "is a sturdy, workmanlike film. It entertains, in its own fashion."

The Fifth Element

I've seen The Fifth Element (a 1997 science fiction film with flying cars) several times and always enjoy it. I'm not sure the boys have seen it more than once. It's long at over 2 hours but great fun. It stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Mila Jovovich and Ian Holm. It's directed by Luc Besson (The Transporter).


I've seen Leeloo described as a Christ figure. I've got a list of other films containing "Christ figures" here.

Roger Ebert says, "I would not have missed seeing this film, and I recommend it for its richness of imagery," but adds, "There's great stuff here, and the movie should get out of its own way." He thinks it's too long. The New York Times reviewer doesn't like it. describes it as "Space opera with a cyberpunk backbeat," and says it's "more of a comedy than anything else" and that it's "easy to sit back and ride the grandiose, campy story like a runaway aircar." The BBC review says, "Ultimately you'll delight in the ride, but you won't care too much about the outcome."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Battle of the Worlds

Battle of the Worlds is a 1961 Italian science fiction film released dubbed in English in 1963. How did they get Claude Rains to star in this film? He's always a draw for me, so I know the movie will have at least one bright spot.

It's available at googlevideo, and you can watch it here:

As it turns out, Claude Rains is the only bright spot here. It's fun to see him in a space suit. "What importance does life have, young fella, if to live means not to know?"

Moria closes with praise of Claude Rains:
On the plus side Battle of the Worlds is stolen in large part by Claude Rains, the only recognizable name present, who has clearly been imported for transatlantic marquee value. Claude Rains plays to the audience with an amusingly crusty crankiness, delivering almost the entirety of his performance while seated in a hammock in a conservatory. He’s clearly having fun and, amid the bland, lifeless other actors in the cast, gives the film the only vitality it has.

The Blob (1958)

The Blob is a 1958 science fiction film starring Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump from the Andy Griffith Show). The music, by Ralph Carmichael and Burt Bacharach, is fun. A 28-year-old Steve McQueen is cast as a teenager in this one, so I'm torn. Do I run and hide because this features a "teens save the world from alien invasion" plot, or do I watch it anyway since the starring "teen" is nearly 30? What a dilemma! I think I'll watch it... carefully. Beware of the Blob!


Moria has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "one of the best of its breed". Images Journal says "Bad acting is rampant" and that "in the world of schlocky, campy sci-fi, The Blob remains one of the most endearing movies". The NYTimes describes it as "woodenly presented". Classic Sci Fi Movies has a review.

5/3/2009: The Criterion Contraption has a review.

6/18/2009: The Vault of Horror has a review and says, "The Blob is a fine piece of pop horror entertainment, and deserves to be treated as the seminal sci-fi terror film that it is."

Reading Steampunk

Lectitans has an introduction-to-steampunk reading list:

Gormenghast Novels (esp Titus Alone), Mervyn Peake
Worlds of the Imperium, Keith Laumer
Queen Victoria's Bomb, Ronald W. Clark
A Nomad of the Time Streaks, Michael Moorcock

Early Steampunk:

The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers
Homunculus, James Blaylock
Infernal Devices, K W Jeter

More Recent Steampunk:

The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (I may have read this... I can't remember)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore
Steampunk, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
Girl Genius, Studio Foglio
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

Ones I've read are in bold print. I'm not doing too great with steampunk, I see. I'll have to take this list to my local used book store and see if I can pick any of them up.

HT: SFSignal

Ice and Snow

These pictures are of our patio and in front of our place. Notes from Memphis has some photos of downtown. It looks like they got more snow there than we did a little further east.

Evil Brain from Outer Space

Evil Brain from Outer Space is a 1964 combination of several Japanese short films from the Super Giant series. There's more than one Starman movie. Attack from Space (link to video at the Internet Archive) is also from 1964. (9/27/2009: SFSignal features Attack from Space on their Sunday Cinema post.)

StompTokyo has a few good words:
To the good: the production values are reasonably high in Evil Brain - this was the period in Japanese superheroics where the director threw as many henchmen as possible at the hero, and Starman usually seems to have a staggering twenty or more men arrayed against him at any one time. The sets are good, and the Bat monster is cool.
but does not recommend it.

I watched it anyway. It starts with one of those voice-over narrations I've come to see as a hallmark of campy scifi. The alien council on The Emerald Planet is great fun -strange costumes and aliens making arm and hand gestures. And then we get introduced to Starman! All in the first 2 minutes!

"Shielded within that suitcase lies the living brain of Balazar." So we gotta find that suitcase and destroy the evil brain, or the world will end. Starman to the rescue!

"It's imperative that it be destroyed. To do so won't be easy, because it's indestructible." Who wrote this?

The narration continues off and on. This is so lame -in a fun way. There's a cool self-duplicating monster, a one-legged man, a mad scientist in a wheelchair with a big black bird sitting on his shoulder, evil minions in capes, a man with a hook for a hand, a man with a scarred face, a woman with claws, cotton candy, ballet, 2 children (a boy and a girl).... And then The Attack of the Zemarian Mutant! Guns are useless against those claws (?), but Here Comes Starman to save the day! Great stuff if you're a kid watching it on tv on a Saturday morning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

They Came from Beyond Space

They Came from Beyond Space is a 1967 British alien invasion film. I like the James Stevens music.

We're from Beyond Space, and we're here to help. What's beyond space, I wonder? Turns out they're from a star system known to the British, so they came from space, all right, apparently to talk us to death in the last 15 minutes of the movie. You can just skip ahead to there and get the summation, but it'd be a shame to miss the music.

Watch it at the Internet Archive or compliments of googlevideo:

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "undeniably a slight movie". DVDTalk opens their review with this plea: "And they should stay from beyond space (wherever that is) so as not to annoy us with their whining requests and horrible noises." MillionMonkeyTheater says,
A clear rip-off of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this film's flavor is fairly common of cheaply made sci-fi in the 1960s. It's not the best movie by any account, more of a made-for-television quality show with some low-rent actors and as little costly special effects as possible. I kind of liked it, and the music was fab!

Project Moon Base

Project Moon Base (or Project Moonbase) is a 1953 science fiction film. Hayden Rorke (better known from I Dream of Jeannie) plays a General. I guess this is how women are bound to get depicted when Heinlein is writing the material. Just when I think a more sexist movie can't exist I see one. The General tells the Colonel, "Any more guff out of you and I'll turn you over my knee and spank you." Later in the movie, the Colonel (Colonel "Bright Eyes") says, "I'm sorry to have gone "female" on you, Major." Then the Major suggests she powder her nose. At least in this one all the astronauts -men and the token woman- wear non-traditional but identical short shorts and tight t-shirts, and the U.S. president is portrayed in this future 1970 as a woman.

You can watch it online, compliments of Googlevideo:

Moria has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours says it "is notable mainly for being among the most conspicuously failed hard sci-fi films of its era" and closes by saying that "All things considered, Project Moon Base is another film which is probably not worth bothering with unless you’re an obsessively hardcore fan of 50’s science fiction." The review spends some time focusing on the blatant sexism of this film.

4/10/2011: SF Signal features this film in the Sunday Cinema post today.

Visit to a Small Planet

I had never heard of this movie until I ran across it at youtube. I find more fun movies that way! Visit to a Small Planet is a 1960 Academy Award nominated Jerry Lewis comedy. It is based on a play with the same name by Gore Vidal.

Youtube has it in 10 sections. Part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10

The New York Times review calls it "about as subtle as a meat cleaver", but then did you want subtlety here? Moria says it's the "first occasion upon which the theme of the alien visitor was played for comedy on film" and says it's "a likeable piece of slapstick foolery". Sometimes I feel lucky to get enjoyable slapstick foolery.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bubble Wrap Apprecation Day

Reverend Mommy notes that today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

Click here if you don't happen to have bubble wrap close to hand and you want to play. pop pop pop Bubble Wrap has its very own Facebook page.

The picture is from Wikipedia.

In the Year 2889

In the Year 2889 is a 1967 made-for-tv movie that's an almost word-for-word remake of the 1955 Roger Corman film The Day the World Ended. Larry Buchanan is the director. I like to think fashions, styles and technology will have changed a bit more by the time the year 2889 comes. The animals and vegetation seem to recover quickly from nuclear holocaust. This one is downright unwatchable. Absolutely dreadful.

Watch it via youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 2 1/2 stars. Foster on Film has a fun, snark-filled review.

Flight to Mars

Flight to Mars is a 1951 science fiction film starring Cameron Mitchell, a long-time favorite from my youth. This one is slow, with the primary emphasis on interpersonal conflicts. The Martians look just like us. The leaders are all middle-aged (and older) white guys, while the women serve as pages and busy themselves discussing food preparation with the token woman on the Earth expedition. And some people look back with longing on the 1950's. Go figure.

I'm finding it painfully boring and am tempted to skip my way through this one.

Moria says that "The first third or so of Flight to Mars is a routine sense of wonder travelogue" and that "Once it arrives on Mars the film slows down to drama of the most routine banality". DVDTalk says, "Of all the early space movies, none is so disappointing as Flight to Mars."

3/23/2009: WTF-Film does not recommend it:
With a little more time and effort, FLIGHT could have been a minor classic instead of the tiresome bore that it is.

The Phantom Planet

The Phantom Planet is a 1961 science fiction film about tiny people battling aliens in outer space. Prepare yourself for the voice-over narration. Is "man" driftwood?

via youtube:

Moria calls it "cheap," "rather dreary and slow moving" and "a frustratingly slight film that fails to go anywhere". Million Monkey Theater compares watching it unfavorably with the suffering endured due to kidney stones. And I've had kidney stones. The plot description is so thorough, though, that reading it can spare you the pain of watching the movie.

1/3/2009: SFSignal features it for their Sunday Cinema viewing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson (in his last film). It also has Joseph Cotten and Whit Bissell. I still clearly remember scenes from the first time I saw this movie.

Googlevideo has it online: has a review that says,
Ironically, the film's most powerful moments do not belong to Heston, who makes a dubious, ambiguous hero. It is Robinson who lays claim to the most moving passages of the film.

StompTokyo says it "is still a powerful film" and that it
walks a fine line between melodramatic Seventies science fiction and a thoughtful examination of problems that began to surface in a decade of oil shortages, endangered species, and Sha Na Na.

Moria's review describes it as "one of the most successful films of its time". 1000 Misspent Hours says that "Together with Silent Running, Soylent Green would make an excellent introduction to early-1970’s polemical sci-fi."

The Brain from Planet Arous

The Brain from Planet Arous is a 1957 science fiction film about alien possession. There's actually more than one brain from Planet Arous. It stars John Agar (Zontar, the Thing from Venus; Journey to the Seventh Planet; Tarantula; Mole People).

The 50's may be the hey-day of sexism. A man actually says, "Don't worry your pretty little head about it," in this one. This may be the most sensationalistic of the films I've seen so far. The alien brain causes homicide, lots of pain, rudeness, and turns perfectly normal scientists into power-mad smarmy sex-crazed sleaze-bags. With silver eyes. And then it ends with a kiss. What a disaster!

Googlevideo has it online:

Moria says it "exerts a lurid fascination". 1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 4 stars (never a good sign).

Asashoryu Wins Sumo Tournament

Asashoryu wins New Year Grand Sumo Tournament!

The Daily Yomiuri reports:
The yokozuna made history on Sunday when he beat Hakuho in a playoff to become only the fourth man to win 23 Emperor's Cups.

The International Herald Tribune reports:
Grand champion Asashoryu of Mongolia defeated compatriot Hakuho in an extra title-deciding bout Sunday

The Japan Times reports Asashoryu's emotional response:
"I'm back, Asashoryu has come back," the teary-eyed yokozuna said after being presented with the trophy by Prime Minster Taro Aso, triggering wild cheers around the arena.

Mainichi Daily:
Asashoryu beat Hakuho in a playoff to win this year's first sumo tournament at Tokyo's Kokugikan sumo hall in Ryogoku on Sunday

HT: Kyodo News

The photo is from Wikipedia.

Quatermass and the Pit

Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is the 3rd and last in the Hammer Quatermass film series and the first not to star Brian Donlevy in the title role. Andrew Keir gets the part in this one. Keir is much less bombastic and blustery.

Watch it, compliments of googlevideo, here:

Fun! I'm liking all the Quatermass movies.

Moria says,
here Nigel Kneale has expanded his ideas out with breathtaking regard. And this is what everyone loves about Quatermass and the Pit. (and most everybody else) likes this one best of the 3:
Quatermass and the Pit is a compelling example of how an innovative story, strong acting, and powerful directing can obviate the need for spectacle. After all, science fiction was invented to challenge the mind, not the eye.

6/30/2009: WTF-Film says it is "one of the high points of science fiction predating the release of Kubrick’s genre-defining 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY."

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 62

1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

3 How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.

5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.

9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Stalker is a 1979 Soviet science fiction film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Andrei Rublev). It is loosely based on Roadside Picnic, a Russian novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. The novel can be read online in an HTML version of a PDF file.

The movie is #22 on the list of 100 Most Spirituality Significant Films. It's a haunting film -bleak, with long periods of silence and little action. Thought-provoking.

It's available online, but embedding is disabled. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Slant Magazine closes its analysis with this:
Perhaps Tarkovsky summed it up best when he wrote about Stalker, "In the end, everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love."
DVDJournal describes it as
Ostensibly a science fiction film, like Solaris it is mostly a movie of ideas, with even fewer of the trappings of the conventional sci-fi movie.
and quotes the director as saying,
"People have often asked me what the Zone is, and what it symbolizes, and have put forward wild conjectures on the subject. I'm reduced to a state of fury and despair by such questions. The Zone doesn't symbolize anything, any more than anything else does in my films; the zone is a zone, it's life, and as he makes his way across it a man may break down or he may come through. Whether he comes through or not deepens on his own self-respect, and his capacity to distinguish between what matters and what is merely passing."
The review at praises the film saying,
This film is a work of art, yet many people won't like it. It is a slow moving film, there are no action sequences or fight scenes, and the most suspenseful segment has a man slowly walking through a tunnel. It is terribly engrossing nonetheless. The movie runs two and a half hours but is never dull or boring.
DVDTimes says,
Much like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stalker very much has its own pace and rhythm, and how one responds to it depends largely on one’s engagement with the film in general. I’ve always found it so hypnotic that I barely notice the running time
Personally, I think it’s not only Tarkovsky’s masterpiece but one of an infinitesimally tiny number of films that really does make you look at the world in a different way after you’ve seen it
8/20/2009: 366 Weird Movies covers this film, saying "step into Tarkovsky’s strange world and be prepared to glimpse miracles. If you are at the proper wavelength, Tarkovsky will cast a hypnotic spell on you like no other director."

Journey to the Seventh Planet

Journey to the Seventh Planet is a 1962 science fiction film about an Earth expedition to Uranus, which they pronounce "yur AH nus". Ib Glindemann is credited for "original music". The set-up reminds me a bit of the Star Trek Shore Leave episode, though this movie ends up in a whole 'nother place. This is an interesting film, though slow-moving and with chintzy special effects.

Googlevideo has it online:

Voice-over narration before the credits:
There are no limits to the imagination, and man's ability to make reality out of his visions is his greatest strength. Through this skill, he has been able to conquer time and space. The story you are about to see takes place after man has solved the complex mysteries of space travel. The year is 2001. Life has changed now. The planet Earth is no longer racked by wars and threats of annihilation. Man has learned to live with himself. The United Nations is the sole governing body of the world, and the great hunger now is for knowledge. All the planets near the Sun including Saturn have been explored and charted by the U.N. space fleet. But as yet no sign of life in any form has been discovered. The search goes on, and systematic exploration continues. Spaceship Explorer 12 is now on a mission to survey, land and investigate the 7th planet Uranus.

Moria says that "despite itself the film succeeds in transcending its limitations by creating an air of intriguing mystery."

The Giant Claw

The Giant Claw is a 1957 science fiction movie that could've been named Attack of the Alien Bird. It is directed by Fred Sears (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers), a Memphis resident in the early 1940's. It stars Jeff Morrow (Kronos) and Mara Corday (Tarantula). The movie is full of people who make giant leaps to conclusions beyond logic and then follow them with, "There's no other reason for it," or "There's nothing else it could be." And Martial Law! Why, of course! That's a necessary response! The movie also has an exploding car and some kids who get their just deserts.

via youtube:

I should have expected it, I guess, but I was still surprised when the mathematician (the token woman) brought everybody sandwiches and coffee before the final flight.

1000 Misspent Hours likes it:
what makes The Giant Claw truly special, beyond its ludicrously inept dialogue, its impressive misuse of stock footage and voiceover narration, and its legendarily cheap and unconvincing special effects, is that it boldly defies the aforementioned pattern. The Giant Claw is every bit as unrepentantly bizarre as any Japanese or Korean creature film, and in exactly the same characteristic way. It is, so far as I’ve seen, the only true American kaiju movie.

StompTokyo talks about the Alien bird:
What makes The Giant Claw a schlock fan favorite, however, is the monster. And oh, what a monster – part vulture, part Looney Tunes Dodo, and all puppet, the Giant Claw glares at us with its googly eyes, flares the nostrils on its mushy beak(!), and mocks us with its shock of black hair....You will recoil in horror – that is, if you can keep from doubling over with laughter. has a thorough plot description, sound and video files and this: "It is impossible not to laugh about the movie's special effects."

6/16/2009: Arbogast on Film describes it as "routinely short-listed as one of the biggest movie turkeys of all time".

3/28/2010: I watched this again this afternoon at the Brooks Museum as part of the Sivads of March film festival.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wild Wild West

A triple feature! I picked this one. The Younger Son got Wild Wild West for Christmas and had already seen it, but this was my first time. I think of Wild Wild West as a tv Western and not as a steampunk science fiction movie. Watching it made me want to see the tv show again. I prefer the original series -the characters, their portrayals and relationships, and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for perpetual bad guy Dr. Loveless.

The 1999 film stars Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh. It's the 10th most expensive movie ever made when adjusted for inflation. And the jokes are so lame.


Roger Ebert calls it "a comedy dead zone". Moria gives it one star. says it's "one of those bummer summer hybrids".

Speaking of the original... Here's a video of stills and clips from the tv series showcasing Dr. Loveless. Another is here. Michael Dunn (who has a Star Trek connection) was brilliant.


I picked up RoboCop used at Spin Street, and The Younger Son chose it for our second feature tonight. It's got gore galore, rampant drug abuse and language to offend anyone. It easily earns its R rating. If you can get past all that it's a fun movie. The problem is that it'd be appealing to a teen audience that can't see the thing. Well, they can, I guess, but sheesh, I wouldn't have wanted my kids to have seen it any younger.

The robocop character and his partner are particularly sympathetic figures. There's no gray in this movie. The good guys are good, and the bad guys are irredeemably bad. It's #14 on EW's top 25 action movie list. The Criterion edition is oop, but the one we bought has a cool cover.

It's a 1987 science fiction cop movie with Dan O'Herlihy and Ronny Cox (who has a Star Trek connection). RoboCop is played by Peter Weller, who also has a Star Trek connection).


Moria says,
What did endear RoboCop to people was the strong sarcastic bite the film came with that gave it the appearance of an ultra-violent action movie with a socially acute, even intellectual edge.
and a special note to The Younger Son -Moria calls it "cyberpunk":
RoboCop has been cited, justly so, as one of the major cinematic Cyberpunk texts.

1000 Misspent Hours gives it 4 stars and says,
although RoboCop made its greatest impact at the time through the controversy over its wildly excessive graphic violence, it becomes clear upon close examination that Verhoeven’s aim was largely to poke fun not only at the very sort of movie he was making, but indeed at the entire culture that could produce the likes of it. The delivery may be mostly deadpan, but the material itself is often so arch that the intent is difficult to miss.

Roger Ebert closes his review with this:
Most thriller and special-effects movies come right off the assembly line. You can call out every development in advance, and usually be right. "RoboCop" is a thriller with a difference.

A Night at the Opera

I took The Younger Son to the Goodwill Store in search of clothes and to Spin Street in search of yet more DVDs, and when we got home what did we find The Husband up to? Making supper and watching A Night at the Opera. According to The Husband, who is our resident Marx Brothers fan, this is the best of their films. I've always liked it. Groucho was a genius.

Here's the sanity clause scene: has an article that says, "Recent critical opinion allows A Night at the Opera to retain status as one of the best, if not absolutely the best, of the Marx Brothers films." NPR has a short article and links to video clips and related reports.

Invasion of the Saucer Men

Invasion of the Saucer Men is a 1957 science fiction film starring Frank Gorshin. "A true story of a flying saucer." In this one teen couples rallied at Lovers' Point caravan to the flying saucer landing site to defeat the evil aliens using their car lights. I've decided that any science fiction movie with a teen protagonist should be avoided like the plague.

Googlevideo has it online:

1000 Misspent Hours says,
Invasion of the Saucer Men is almost painful to watch...

Moria calls it "dreary".

The Last Woman on Earth

The Last Woman on Earth is a 1960 Roger Corman science fiction film. At about the 27-minute point the woman picks up a copy of Vogue magazine and looks at the cover before dropping it. It's not that they give up trying to find other survivors, it's that they never start.

It is available online:

1000 Misspent Hours closes their review this way:
in general, The Last Woman on Earth enjoys the distinction of being among its creator’s most pointless and uninteresting movies. If you’re left with the impression that Corman probably made this turkey solely as an excuse to take a two-week vacation in Puerto Rico, you’re not alone.

Million Monkey Theater say,
It certainly does look like the whole thing could have been filmed in under a week.

What is not lacking, however, is a strangely powerful story of the end of the world as we know it as seen through the eyes of a very small group of people.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Part 2 of The Guardian's list of 124 SFF Novels You Must Read

SF Gospel has discovered where some of the missing books are. You know... those books you miss when they're not on a list of must-read science fiction and fantasy books. It seems some books are separated into sub-genres. So here are those lists (as printed in the SF Gospel post) with ones I've read in bold print:

Imagined Worlds:
1. CS Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56)
2. JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit (1937)
3. JRR Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
4. Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials (1995-2000)
5. Terry Pratchett: The Discworld series (1983- ) I've read the first 3 and look forward to more.
6. Ursula K Le Guin: The Earthsea series (1968-1990)

Best Dystopias:

1. George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)
2. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
3. Frederik Pohl & CM Kornbluth: The Space Merchants (1953) Maybe... I don't remember.
4. Angus Wilson: The Old Men at the Zoo (1961)
5. Thomas M Disch: Camp Concentration (1968)
6. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
7. Joanna Russ: The Female Man (1975)

Radical Reading:
1. Virginia Woolf: Orlando (1928)
2. Angela Carter: The Passion of New Eve (1977)
3. Ursula K Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
4. Geoff Ryman: Air (2005)

The Best of J.G. Ballard:
1. The Drowned World (1962)
2. Crash (1973)
3. Millennium People (2003)

Ballard gets his own list? Odd. I think Donaldson's first Thomas Covenant trilogy should be on the list somewhere.

It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night is directed by Frank Capra and stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Alan Hale (Sr.) has a small part. It won 1934 Oscar awards for best picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay. The Husband picked this DVD up the other night and picked it for us to watch tonight.

Googlevideo has it online:

Senses of Cinema calls it "The grandparent of the screwball comedy sub-genre, and arguably Frank Capra's best film". claims it's "One of the most successful films of its time". says it's "among the first of its kind, and it's one of the greatest" and that it "still feels unbeatably fresh and shiveringly touching".

Teenagers from Outer Space

Teenagers from Outer Space is a 1959 science fiction movie about an invading force of alien teenagers set on using Earth as a lobster farm. It's every bit as bad as it sounds. Alien Teenagers Screw the Earth! Honestly, their spaceship screws into the Earth. See for yourself. Watch it from googlevideo:

or at the Internet Archive

1000 Misspent Hours gave this little gem negative 4 stars, which, I think, is the worst rating I've seen them give. from their review:
Teenagers from Outer Space went so comprehensively wrong that it is all but guaranteed to inspire dedicated fans of the very worst in 50’s sci-fi to a nearly religious sort of awe.

I don't think I've heard a movie defended because it means well, but DVDTalk closes its review with this:
Teenagers from Outer Space works because its heart is in the right place.... The primitive theatrics are actually quite touching -- the show finds its own humble level of dramatic integrity.

Classic Sci-Fi Movies likes it:
Why is this movie fun? For a cast of amateurs, and a neophyte director with little budget, they did pretty well. The story keeps moving. While it's not highly original, it is at least uncluttered.

124 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels You Must Read

When I first saw the Guardian must-read books project I subscribed to their rss feed, but the lists are just too long for me to want to wade through...


A blogger at SFSignal notes which ones of the recommended SFF books he has read at this link. Ones I have read are in bold print below:
1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958) hmmm, I can't remember...
3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
11. Greg Bear: Darwin's Radio (1999)
12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
25. Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood's End (1953)
30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
39. Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum (1988)
40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)
88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
90. Flann O'Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889)
114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

A couple of these are in my tbr stack, and I think I'll take this list to the used book store to add some more to the pile. Fun. I'm always interested in lists of must-read books.

1/29/2009: Black Gate (HT: SFSignal), on the other hand, dismisses the list because the Italo Calvino book is included but is not science fiction or fantasy:
I guess my point is: This is a flawed list; it is less than wholly perfect.

I expect lists to be deeply flawed. That way I don't feel bad finding fault with them no matter how illustrious the compilers are.


Ammonite is Nicola Griffith's debut novel. It won both the Lambda and the Tiptree awards. I liked this and will look for more by her. A book without men. And I didn't miss them one bit.

from the back of the book:
Change or die: the only options available on the Durallium Company-owned planet GP. The planet's deadly virus had killed most of the original colonists - and changed the rest irrevocably. Centuries after the colony had lost touch with the rest of humanity, the Company returned to exploit GP, and its forces found themselves fighting for their lives. Afraid of spreading the virus, the Company had left its remaining employees in place, afraid and isolated from the natives.

Then anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrived on GP, sent to test a new vaccine against the virus. As she risked death to uncover the natives' biological secret, she found that she, too, was changing, and realized that not only had she found a home on GP - she herself carried the seeds of its destruction...

Crack in the World

Crack in the World is a 1965 science fiction movie starring an international cast and crew, including Dana Andrews (Curse of the Demon, A Walk in the Sun, Best Years of Our Lives and Laura -one of my favorite movies) and Janette Scott (Day of the Triffids).

If only plate tectonics hadn't spoiled the plot for present-day audiences. It's fun anyway, though -tense, dramatic, without the last-minute everything's-back-to-normal moment most science fiction films seem to end with, because I can't help but think a second moon won't be good for the tides and the earth's rotation. The love story is tender and not sappy, but the woman does get to cry and scream for help. I liked the music in this one. I thought it added to the film.

The New York Times review says,
Up until the last scene—a curious Hans Christian Andersen touch—"Crack in the World" is an inexpensive model of its kind: trim, engrossing, beautifully written and chillier by the minute.

The DVDTalk reviewer says
Crack in the World turned out to be as good as I remembered, an intelligent eco-disaster film with a strong anti-nuke message and a decent soap opera-y subplot.
and then explains how the movie is really all about sex.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Thing

The Thing is John Carpenter's 1982 adaptation of the science fiction short story Who Goes There?. There was a looser adaptation in 1951 called The Thing from Another World. The John Carpenter version stars Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley. There's much too much, what should I call it... gore? here to suit me.

There is a 7-minute filmed introduction to the movie here:

Roger Ebert doesn't like it:
THE THING is a great barf-bag movie, all right, but is it any good? I found it disappointing, for two reasons: the superficial characterizations and the implausible behavior of the scientists on that icy outpost.

Moria says,
The Thing is an odd case of a film defying what is generally considered poor filmmaking sense – all special effects, minimalist characterization – and still emerging as a great film despite.

The New York Times calls it
a foolish, depressing, overproduced movie that mixes horror with science fiction to make something that is fun as neither one thing or the other.

1000 Misspent Hours praises it, saying
it pleases me to see that finally, after most of twenty years, this movie has started getting some of the respect it deserves. Having been staunchly in The Thing’s corner for about fifteen of those twenty years, I’d like to take a moment now to say, “I told you so.”

DVDTalk says, "As a series of exciting scares, Carpenter's show has few equals."

The Day the Sky Exploded

The Day the Sky Exploded is an Italian science fiction film originally released in 1958 and released in the U.S.A. in 1961.

The entire film can be viewed here, compliments of the Internet Archive:

It's interesting that the pilot of the space ship is by far the tallest man in the room. I'm impressed at the attempt at a realistic view of a first manned rocket trip into space. They take it slow. I also like the view that multinational cooperation will be the standard. And the smug Russians. I'm getting a kick out of them.

I hate that the pilot and his wife are named John and Mary. There's actually a "John!" "Mary!" scene across a view of crowd panic. Mary is an over-wrought sap. And in another romantic encounter a woman says, "Destiny sure plays odd tricks," right before The Kiss. Oh, please, spare me! Even as the gotcha moment it turns out to be, this is incredibly lame. The women are hyper-emotional, falling apart at the least provocation. I'd like to see this movie without the "romance novel" plot lines.

Weird Wild Realm closes its review with this:
The Day the Sky Exploded is plodding but drums up a bit of suspense & believability, just so long as you don't ask how 3,000 a-bombs happened to be on warhead rockets capable of reaching outer space on a moment's notice.

Million Monkey Theater has a fun review which ends this way:
I still think the Earth is doomed. And all those nuclear explosions in the upper atmosphere has got to coat the planet with enough radiation to kill off millions. But it's just a movie. To close, John and Mary walk outside to see the rising sun across the beautiful land. They still don't kiss, I think John is secretly gay. We see Katy and Laduq hugging, maybe they will kiss later, I need to see a kiss!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth is a 1964 Vincent Price film. It's the first of 3 adaptations of Matheson's book I Am Legend (the 2nd being Omega Man and the 3rd I Am Legend). says,
Vincent Price is the linchpin of the entire affair. Through his skill and will, the production is graced with believability and pathos.
1000 Misspent Hours praises Vincent Price's performance while panning everything else. Moria has a review that points out that this is the only film version that maintains the novel's ending. Stomp Tokyo says the film "supplies some powerful imagery".

5/30/2009: Vault of Horror has a review which praises the film and says, "if you want to see the original undead apocalypse movie, this is where you need to go."