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MORE COOL SCI-FI MOVIES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED . . .


In response to some visitors who recently again asked for some cool recommendations, I scratched my head once more and came up with a "Part Two" of the Cool Sci-Fi Movies You Might Have Missed article.

Here are some more science fiction movies that visitors may not have checked out yet.

Some of them are straight-to-video efforts, others are long-forgotten and neglected "classics", some are unexpected gems, some are plain trashy but fun nonetheless.

Altered States
(Real-time acid flashbacks!)

William Hurt's acting debut! British enfant terrible Ken (Women In Love, Mahler) Russell's big budget Hollywood pic may not have set the box office alight back in the early-1980s, but its halucogenic special effects no doubt caused many an ex-hippie an acid flashback. Whoa!

Army of Darkness
(Bruce Campbell with a shotgun - and a chainsaw!)

Third film in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series is way over the top and manic thanks to an exuberant performance by cult favorite Bruce Campbell. Did we mention that it is also very, very funny?

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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
(Pencil doodle has more charisma than Val Kilmer!)

Better than anything Joel Schumacher has ever foisted upon unsuspecting Bat-fans, this full-length animated movie version of the cartoon series has more genuine thrills and characterization than Batman & Robin and Batman Forever combined.

Body Snatchers
(So . . . the military has been taken over by an alien intelligence? What else is new?!)

Third remake of the now very familiar Invasion of the Body Snatchers storyline, this one is set in an Army base camp and has some pretty effective moments. Directed by Abel (Bad Lieutenant) Ferarra and starring that sexy, stylish girl from Scent of a Woman.

The Brother from Another Planet
(Shock! Horror! Sci-fi movie with REAL characters!)

Charming, low-key, offbeat, charming and well, charming movie. Featuring some great character vignettes, this movie by indie legend John Sayles will leave you with a silly grin.

Circuitry Man
(Made for a "mere" one million dollars; Phantom Menace budget: US$115 million)

Straight-to-video fare, sure. Made at a bargain basement budget, true. But if you really feel like some video fodder this one is better than most.

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City of the Lost Children
(Surreal - as only the French can do it)

Surreal French movie in the Brazil mould. Someone once remarked of this film that "everybody talks about it but no-one has actually seen it." Well, reverse the situation today and find a copy somewhere . . .

Dark City
(Architectural fetishism)

Everyone has seen The Matrix, yeah - but have you seen the film from which it, er, borrows the most? More stylish and low-key, Dark City is directed by Alex Proyas who probably has an architectural fetish as evidenced by this and his The Crow . . .

The Dead Zone
(Better than Cujo . . .)

Not quite sci-fi, but this is probably one of the best Stephen King adaptations to have hit the big screen, maybe because of its novelistic slant. Who knows? Sure, half-way through it meanders a bit, but having seen it again on the telly recently I can attest that it still holds up - thanks to an excellent Christopher (Communion, Pulp Fiction) Walken in a rare sympathetic role . . .

Delicatessen
(A movie to sink your teeth into)

Black-humored surreal French stuff. Yeah, as you might have gathered by now it's made by the same folks who did City of the Lost Children and, well, it's even better!

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Escape from the Planet of the Apes
(Best of the Apes sequels)

You've overcome your preconceptions of Planet of the Apes being a Buck Rogers-type of late-1960s cheese - and were amazed by it! But which of the sequels to check out? After all, you've heard that they just get worse . . . Well, Escape is pretty good and a must-see even if it means you have to view the below par Beneath the Planet of the Apes to follow the storyline (no, the rest of the Apes movies aren't really recommended to non-devotees…)

Escape from L.A.
(Snake Plisken is back!)

More of a remake of, than a sequel to, director John Carpenter's 1981 cult Escape from New York hit. With its tongue firmly in its cheek, of course . . . Great fun!

Gattaca
(Old-fashioned almost in that it has a story and a message . . .)

Cautionary tale about the misuse of genetic science may be as sterile as the future world it depicts, but it's still solid science fiction - something lacking in many recent movies bearing the same label . . .

Heavy Metal
(Your granny probably won't like it . . .)

Animated movie inspired by the French Metal Hurlant comic series consists of four fantasy/sci-fi story segments all propelled by late-1970s heavy rock riffs. Cool fun - even though some bits are of varying quality . . .

The Mind of Mr. Soames
(Understated as only the Brits can be)

Understated British drama about a man in a coma since birth and being revived at the age of 30. Don't expect the usually American sentiment and soppiness with which Hollywood would probably have soaked this project in . . .

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey
(Not to be confused with kiddies' movie of similar title)

Stick with this powerful and clever story about time travelling medieval peasants - the end will leave you reeling.

The Omega Man
(NRA chairman saves the world from sun glass-wearing albinos dressed in monks' robes)

'Seventies cheese, sure, about the last man on Earth after devastating biological warfare, who can only be - the NRA chairman, Charlton Heston! Still, there's good stuff to be found in here. And what would you do if you were the only person left on Earth?

The Puppet Masters
(Rent if you're too lazy to read the book)

Based on the classic Robert Heinlein story about alien invaders taking over humans (which served as inspiration later on for the famous 1940s Invasion of the Body Snatchers novel by Jack Finney, which has been filmed three times!). Updated for the 1990s of course - by the Blade scribe. Not fantastic - but think of it as a low-rent alternative for the more recent The Faculty movie.

Rollerball
(Bread and circuses keeps masses docile - um, bit like today . . .)

Is it just me - or is there anyone else out there who believes that the 'Seventies were actually more of a Golden Age for celluloid science fiction than the much over-rated 1950s? Or maybe it's just because the early to mid-1970s pre-blockbuster movies now seem a whole more interesting, experimental and off-key than most the dreck served up by Hollywood today? Anyway, watch this 1975 movie to see where Stephen King, er, Richard Bachman got most of his ideas for The Running Man, later made into a movie starring Arnie . . .

Sleeper
(Not to be confused with similarly titled recent star-studded flick with dubious moral message)

More 1970s output! This pre-Annie Hall (and Mia Farrow) Woody Allen movie is pure slapstick fun that rates with the best of the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Hilariously funny and Woody Allen detractors might be pleased to know that Sleeper doesn't feature his usual set in New York, intellectual angst and neurosis material . . .

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Solaris
(Arty)

Dubbed the "slowest movie . . . ever!" by some, this 165 minutes long 1972 movie by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky will reward those not belonging to the attention deficit syndrome category. Or put it another way: if you loved 2001 then the chances are very good that you will also like this . . .

Soylent Green
(Tuesday is Soylent Green day...)

More 'Seventies stuff - also starring Charlton Heston. This cautionary tale about an overpopulated and resource scarce future may be a melodramatic and sensationalist rewrite of the excellent Make Room! Make Room! novel by Harry Harrison, but it'll leave with some things to ponder as you hit the "Eject" button on your VCR . . .

Space Balls
(Mel Brooks!)

With the release of The Phantom Menace, now might be the time to rent this Naked Gun-style spoof of the Star Wars movies by Mel Brooks. Although one's attention begins to flag towards the end, there are lots of funny stuff in here.

Trapped In Space
(It's a made for TV movie - so don't expect too much . . .)

TV movie based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke about astronauts on a mission running out of oxygen. Not brilliant by a long shot, it's not that bad for a movie bearing that dreaded "made-for-television" label.

2010
(Not "half-past-Eight" as some critics maintain)

2001: A Space Odyssey purists may complain and sneer disdainfully, but this 1984 sequel based on the Arthur Clarke novel isn't as bad as it's often made out to be by Kubrick devotees. Taken purely on its own terms it's a rather well-made space adventure . . .

Until the End of the World
(Tends to drag towards the half-way mark - but the music's pretty cool . . .)

Okay, so this German sci-fi movie starring William Hurt runs for about 40 minutes too long (it clocks in at a whopping 158 minutes!) but the first half is quite engaging and interesting - all driven by an excellent rock soundtrack by the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, R.E.M. and U2.

V
(Earth invaded by tacky, cardboard cut-out aliens)

This made for TV series replete with cardboard sets and characters is actually more fun and thrilling than the 1996 Independence Day blockbuster.

War of the Worlds
(Mars attacks!)

The granddaddy alien invasion tale of them all. If you haven't seen this 1953 movie based on the H.G. Wells novel yet, then do so today!

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Westworld
(Jurassic Park . . . but with robot cowboys)

More retro 1970s sci-fi. This time about things going awry at a Disneyworld-like amusement park. Sounds familiar? That's because it was also written by Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame . . .

Wild Palms
(Spot the literary references time)

Cyberpunk TV series produced by Oliver Stone. Look closely and you'll see William Gibson in a brief walk-on cameo role. Despite its pretensions, Wild Palms still makes for entertaining viewing.


 



 

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