Lifetime Total


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Hooray for Sanny Claus!
This film has everything! It is so bad that it will live in your memory for ever. Just look at some of the things that make this one a masterpiece...

Cheesey special effects: when the kids are chased around the North Pole by a "polar bear", you can *see* the zipper around the neck of the bear suit.

Plastic props: one of the Martians is armed with a large, impressive gun - except it's a toy called a "Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army)" - I had one when I was a kid!

Stock footage: it is padded out with library clips of America's missile arsenal, circa 1960, as the Martian ship approaches Earth.

Silly ideas from old SF: no, you can't possibly survive on "food pills" - ever heard of dietary fibre?

But don't leave before the end: you can sing along with the ending song "Hooray for Sanny Claus" - there's even a little dot dancing along the lyrics on the screen, so you know which words to sing.

Cop Rock

Made my ears go red.
This was a show that was actually embarrassing to watch, even when alone. It would probably have worked as a stage show at a theatre; but somehow, seeing cops suddenly bursting into song and dance in my own home simply made me cringe.

It's strange that musicals like e.g. West Side Story, Grease, etc., don't have the same effect, despite the song & dance being equally out-of-place in the context of the film.

Space: Above and Beyond

Was it really SF?
This series struck me as not really being SF at all, despite its trappings (spaceships, an alien race, silicates, etc.) - it was "American Marines in Space", where the enemy, instead of being "Japs" or "gooks", were "Chigs".

It was full of contradictions, like a squadron of only 5 pilots who were nevertheless commanded by a full colonel, implying they were an important resource - yet those same pilots being risked as infantry in ground actions!

Similarly, West had to train for 5 years for the colony project, then was bumped at the last-minute to make room for an in-vitro on the ship, with the near-certainty of never seeing his girlfriend again. This implied that interstellar travel was very difficult and expensive - more so than planting colonies in the New World was in the 17th century. Yet later in the same episode, we saw the US space navy casually deploying carrier battle groups across interstellar distances, which completely contradicted this!

Finally, they again made the mistake of having fighter spacecraft (the Hammerheads) which handled exactly the way that aircraft do in atmosphere (mind you, this is a common error, seen in Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, etc. It is only the truly wonderful Babylon 5 which has got the physics right in this respect). In one episode, we even heard them being compared to the Chig fighters: "Their planes are faster, but ours have a greater rate of climb" - this is meaningless in open space, where what matters is accelerability and delta-v.

An aside: why do so many American productions find it necessary to caricature the British, viz the British infantry major alone with his tank on one planet?

All the same, I did enjoy the episodes I saw - it just failed my test of being good enough to record and keep permanently.


A really fun adventure
This film is not meant to be taken seriously, but is a thoroughly enjoyable romp, with a lot of humour. I watch my recording from time to time, and still laugh at it.

I particularly liked the way that Col. Raymond explained to Ferguson that the Germans are developing a secret weapon that could change the outcome of WWI, as though the war is still taking place, rather than being long over. This film gave the feeling that the past is still just as real as the present, and is somehow happening at the same time - spooky!

The background music was excellent: the "So you want to be a hero?!" piece as the biplanes streaked along just over the ground, woods on both sides, was marvelous.

The supporting characters of Algy, Bertie and Ginger seemed to fit so well with the old Capt. W.E. Johns stories - the actors really looked the part. Neil Dickson was excellent as the brave but human British hero who, when Von Stalheim proposes a toast "To War", replies "To Peace". The film definitely captured some of the "Boy's Own" era of British story-telling, when the heroes were bold, resourceful and always ready to have a go at the enemy, regardless of the odds or the danger - but always remained polite and courteous.

I really don't understand why this film bombed out at the box-office; after all, we have all seen far worse films which did much better. Perhaps the name "Biggles" is too British to attract an American audience, who don't have the nostalgic fondness for the character that we who read the books in our youth have?

Naked Souls

A vehicle for Pam's only real assets
I used to refer to Pam as "Dead Parrot Anderson" (a comment on her acting abilities), until I realised that this was an insult to the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, which was a FAR better actor.

I think Pam's breasts are displayed in the first 4 minutes of this film - if this film was meant to be "erotic" in some way, there could at least have been some buildup to the sex scenes.

Some more characterisation so that we could have a little interest in the people (up & coming artist, with brilliant but pre-occupied scientist boyfriend, lecherous "friend" after the girl - surely the scriptwriter could have done a little more with this situation) before Pam reveals all would have gone a long way. I have no objection to such scenes if they are really part of the plot, but here they were quite irrelevant.


Very believable portrayal of "nice" Nazi state
I come from the Channel Islands: the only part of Britain occupied by the Germans during the war, where they ran a "model occupation" designed to show the rest of the world how benevolent Nazi rule was. I find this film only too believable - touches such as the SS becoming merely a police force, whilst keeping the black uniforms, were chillingly real. Everything nasty was "brushed under the carpet" whilst presenting a civilized face to the world - exactly what would have happened.

I thought the ending was indeed unrealistic - Maguire would not have been able to reach the President's car, and a major diplomatic summit would not have been abandoned over one bundle of unsubstantiated evidence; but it was hardly a happy ending, given what happened to March and Maguire.

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