Space ships, nudity, Hellboy and witchcraft: movies viewed (#SFWApro)

SILENT STAR (1960) is an East German/Polish SF film (originally released in the US as First Spaceship to Venus) in which an ancient message from Venus sends an internationally-crewed spaceship (Russian, Chinese, German, American, African, Japanese) to that planet, only to discover the message was actually sent to a Venusian warship poised to attack us. This isn’t a stand-out, but it has some enjoyably weird visuals on Venus. While Bill Warren of Keep Watching the Skies is right that we wouldn’t see an American film with a heroic Russian in this period, I do wonder if it’s significant that the astronauts who die on Venus are the Chinese, the American and the black guy. “This is the result of an act of Venusian aggression.”

50,000 BC (BEFORE CLOTHES) (1963) is one time-travel film my book was missing, but having seen it I can safely (and simply) put it in the erotica appendix. Not that it’s porn but it’s a “nudie,” a genre of film that took any excuse to show women walking around topless (no full nudity, and definitely no sex), which was a lot harder for men to see back in the day. The plot concerns a sewer worker who accidentally stumbles into his neighbor’s time machine and out again into the Stone Age, where lots of big-breasted women spend the day flaunting their assets (there’s less plot than several burlesque sketches stitched together). Forgettable, but I’m glad to have caught it. “Stop—point that evidence in my direction!”

v1Having just finished the Hellboy in Hell series (review to follow soon) I rewatched HELLBOY (2004), which remains one of my favorite comics-based movies. While it doesn’t follow the letter of the series, it captures the spirit perfectly, has great visuals by Guillermo del Toro, and it’s perfectly cast: Ron Perlman as “Red,” Doug Jones as Abe Sapiens, Selma Blair as the pyrokinetic Liz, John Hurt as Professor Bruttenholm and Karel Roden as the apocalyptic Rasputin. Always a pleasure. All rights to the image reside with the current holder. “Your god chooses to remain silent—mine lives within me.”

BURN, WITCH BURN (1962)is a much lower key, more restrained production, but just as effective in its way. Peter Wyngarde plays a college professor who discovers his obviously delusional wife is convinced her witchcraft is not only the reason he’s fast-tracked to tenure, but protects him from the black magic of the other faculty wives. Wyngarde explains the only way to cure her delusions is to burn all her silly magical charms; when she’s nothing bad happens, she’ll be cured—right? Spoiler: Wrong. This is the best of three adaptations of Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife, with a fine scripwriting job by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont (what the novel explains to us via the professor’s monologue, they deftly show us in the opening scenes). “I only have so many answers, Norman—take your choice.”

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One response to “Space ships, nudity, Hellboy and witchcraft: movies viewed (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: This is why I have DVDs (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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