Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Fistful of 80s Trash Sci-Fi!

    After watching a bunch of wonderful 80s trash this past week, and owing to a particularly strong resurgence in my thinking about science fiction in general, I thought I’d tackle a subject near and dear to me; the wonderful worlds of trash sci-fi.  This is the stuff one used to discover and cherish in the stacks of local video shops; something that younger folk will likely never experience again.  To that end, here are some of my favorites.  You’ll notice I don’t have Battle Beyond the Stars, or Enemy Mine, or The Last Star Fighter.  First, I couldn’t include everything.  And second, those all seemed a bit too mainstream…?

5. Gandahar (aka, Light Years) (1988):  I think I first picked this up because of its connection to Isaac Asimov.  But I loved it for two reasons.  One, it’s chock full of animated boobs, and adolescent Matt was quite taken with that.  And two, it’s a totally weird, alien world with lots of strange creatures and cultures.  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a wicked mindf%#k.  I’ve never seen the French version, only the English language one, with lots of famous folks lending their voice talents.  This is one I really, really want to add to my collection.

4. Beyond the Rising Moon (aka, Outerworld) (1987):  I stumbled across this in my early days of using NetFlix’s Instant service.  Right away, I was baffled by how I’d never heard of the film.  Absolutely, it’s a low budget thing, but it’s pretty darned good.  A pretty good story and some cool miniature effects.  Seek it out.

3. The Ice Pirates (1984):  Before there were The Guardians of the Galaxy, there were the Ice Pirates.  A goofy, fun, exciting and wacky film that dropped in the wake of Star Wars and has that film’s marks all over it.  But so what?  It’s a blast.

2. Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983):  A Han Solo type gets sent out so a backwater planet to rescue some damsels.  OK.  Whatever.  While not an amazing film, to be sure, I enjoy the heck out of this Peter Strauss vehicle (yeah, there was a Peter Strauss vehicle).  This feels like one of those space adventure novels you’d find in a used book store and knock out in an afternoon.  It definitely felt like there should have been more films.  I’d love to see the further adventures of Wolff.  Alas.

1. Cyborg (1989): This movie is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Cannon’s collapse.  It was also their last theatrically released movie.  Masters of the Universe II and an attempt at doing a live action Spider-Man movie had to die so that Cyborg might live.  You can point to all the various technical issues the film has, to the bad acting and the weird pacing.  You’re not wrong.  But this is one of my all time favorites.  I love it.  And not with a single ounce of irony.  This is the movie I’ll often point to when talking about the difference between movies that are ‘good’ and movies that I love.  And there is a difference.  Citizen Kane is a ‘good’ movie (well, it’s actually a great movie).  Commando is a movie I love.  Those two labels are neither mutually exclusive, nor mutually assured.

-Matthew J. Constantine

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