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by Gideon Marcus

Our effort at the Journey to curate every scrap of science fiction as it is released, in print and on film, leaves us little time for rest. Even in the normally sleepy month of December (unless you're battling Christmas shopping crowds, of course), this column's staff is hard at work, either consuming or writing about said consumption.

I try to write my annual Galactic Stars article as close to the end of the year as possible. Otherwise, I might miss a great story or movie that had the misfortune to come out in December.

Fortunately for that report, but unfortunately for us, neither of the films in the double feature we watched last weekend had any chance of winning a Galactic Star.

Both of them were low budget American International Pictures films. This is the studio best known for making B-movie schlock for the smaller Drive-Ins. However, they also brought us the surprisingly good Master of the World as well as the atmospheric Corman/Poe movies. So I'm not inclined to just write them off. This time, however, we should have.






(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Now here's a special treat. Not long ago, the Junior Traveler began contributing as a co-author. This time around, she has decided to take center stage. My little girl is all growed up! Excuse me. I have something in my eye...


by Lorelei Marcus

Recently, me and my family thought we should take a break from time traveling (in fiction and movies) and do some real traveling! We decided to go to Japan! I was sad because we weren't going to be able to watch any Twilight Zone or new movies. Luckily, we were treated to a new Japanese movie called Mothra. Me and my father had the luxury to see it in theaters, in Japan! It was a very similar (but intriguingly different) experience to an American movie in various ways.



Mothra, similar to many of the American movies we've watched, is a monster movie – in this case, about a giant moth that attacks Tokyo. I noticed monster movies often start out the same, something or someone dear to the monster is taken from them to a big city, and the monster comes back to rescue it, destroying said city in the process. It happened in ; this movie did not break the mold.



(see the rest at
Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

Last month, I wrote about the shocking explosion of the world’s largest atomic bomb. Now, I plan to entertain and delight you all with a review of the film The Day the Earth Caught Fire, which will be on general release in Great Britain from the 23rd of November. Its subject matter is serendipitous, if not unnaturally timely, cast in the light of recent events. This can’t hurt its chances of doing well at the box office, and if you'll pardon the levity, it’s surely guaranteed to become a blockbuster. This early review has been made possible by influence of the Traveller, who has gone to great lengths in assisting me with gaining the credentials to see a pre-release screening of the film.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus



The Bomb. Since its creation and use in 1945, it has overshadowed our world. For the first time since we descended from the trees a million years ago, humanity had the means to destroy itself in one blow. It can't help but influence our culture, our politics, our nightmares. It is no surprise that atomic holocaust has figured prominently in our visual and printed media.

Last weekend, at a pre-premiere in Los Angeles, my daughter and I watched The Flight that Disappeared, the latest film to draw inspiration from the universal fear that is nuclear annihilation.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus


"Wake me when it's over, willya?"

In this month's Fantasy and Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov describes the dread he felt when his children suggested they all go see a "science fiction" film. The kids thought the mention of that term would sway him positively, seeing how sf is Asimov's bread and butter. Asimov knew better, though. Sci-fi films generally aren't very good, replete with scientific-sounding mumbo jumbo, giant monsters, and nonsensical plots.

Of course, in service to my readers, I make sure to see them all. Every so often, a gem slips through. Witness The Time Machine and The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. They may not be scientifically rigorous, but they are worth watching.

Galactic Journey's latest cinematic outing, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, is neither scientifically rigorous nor worth watching.


(Actual voyages to the bottom of the sea not included)

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Rosemary Benton, as you know, is one of our regular columnists. Imagine my surprise when she suggested the following subject for her article this month. I'm just glad I didn't have to propose it to her...





Nude on the Moon is a surprising piece of science fiction cinema directed by Raymond Phelan and Doris Wishman under the pseudonym Anthony Brooks. Like so many adult oriented films this one was a passion project. Phelan and Wishman co-directed, produced and wrote the script and made excellent use of their surrounding area – southern Florida. Residents of Homestead, Florida will immediately recognize the set of the moon colony as the famous Coral Castle. Although the production budget is obviously small, Phelan and Wishman managed to make a rather intriguing movie.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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May 1961 has been a busy month for movies! We're up to three: Gorgo, Atlantis, and...well, see for yourself what guest writer, Ms. Rosemary Benton, has been so kind as to present:





Oh my, was this a lesson is poor filmmaking and truly a dark day for the science-fiction genre. The tale ofThe Beast of Yucca Flats is short, but very baffling.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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The cinema is one of those eternal joys. I can't see it ever dying out, even though doomsayers have been predicting just that for decades. Radio was the first real competition, especially when movies were silent. But then Talkies came out around 1930, and radio doesn't have moving pictures. Television does, and it seems a stronger contender. Still, although ticket sales have declined, the film industry has responded by showing the kind of spectacle you can't see on the small screen. Epics like The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Spartacus.

Those definitely provide impetus to hit the movie houses, but I'd go even if the blockbuster never had been invented. For me, it's a chance to get away from the world. My daughter and I (and sometimes my wife) go into that darkened room, redolent with the smell of butter and popcorn. We've got our pop and our candy. The floor is just a touch disconcertingly sticky. You don't have to dress up to go to the movies these days, particularly in California. The lights go out, the curtains open, and for two hours (or more, if it's a double-feature or you get a couple of shorts) all of your worries disappear. It's a portal beyond reality.

Particularly if, like us, you're into the fantasy and s-f flicks. Let's face it -- if I want to see everyday drama, I woun't bother plunking down a quarter for the privilege. No, I go to the movies to see something other worldly. Much of it is subpar, but plenty is good. Moreover, the best of the genre have comedy and action to rival conventional movies in addition to possessing that element of the Beyond I crave. Not that I don't watch mainstream films: I saw Spartacus and Ocean's 11 last year. It's just that I also saw every monster, alien, and space movie that came out in 1960, and I plan to keep up the practice through this decade and beyond.

And tell you all about it...

With that, let me report on last Saturday's outing. The Young Traveler and I went to the local drive-in for the latest from George Pal, the wizard who brought us last year's amazing The Time Machine. On tap was Atlantis: The Lost Continent, a sumptuous swords and sandals epic a la The Seven Voyages of Sinbad.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Just a generation ago, King Kong introduced us to the spectacle of an oversized monster wrecking a modern metropolis. The Japanese have taken this torch and run with it, giving us first Godzilla, and its rather inferior sequel, Godzilla Raids Again. Not to be outdone, the British have unleashed a giant lizard on their own capital.



As my regular readers know (and I'm pleased to see that this number has grown since I began this endeavor just two-and-a-half years ago), my daughter and I are avid movie-goers. I daresay we've watched every science fiction and fantasy flick that has mounted reel in our town since 1959. That means we see a lot of dreck, but even the worst films often have something to recommend them, even if it is only their own awfulness. And, there are the occasional indisputably great shows.

Gorgo is not among them, but then it never claims to be. It delivers exactly what it promises: the gleeful destruction of London.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Every once in a while, my faith is restored in Hollywood, and I remember why I sit through the schlock to get to the gold.

My daughter and I sat through 90 minutes of the execrable, so bad it's bad Konga because we had been lured in by the exciting posters for Master of the World. It promised to be a sumptuous Jules Verne classic a la Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it starred the inimitable Vincent Price to boot.

It was worth the wait--the movie is an absolute delight.

(find out why at Galactic Journey!)
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Don't let anyone tell you the Double Feature is dead. My daughter and I enjoyed (if that's the right word) three hours of cinematic entertainment the other weekend, namely the paired destined-to-be-classics: Konga and Master of the World. Now, the latter is a Vincent Price vehicle, so we expected that one to be decent, but what could we make of Konga, billed as the best giant ape movie since King Kong? And in color, no less!

For those who say that my reviewes are too often negative, I will begin with the positive notes. The cinematography, the scoring, even the acting (for the most part), is "A" level. Also, there is an excellent scene in the middle depicting the family life of one of the minor characters. It is funny and earnest.

And...

and...

well...

Well, I'll let the movie speak for itself. I've secured a set of cineclips, and I took note of the film's immortal dialogue. You can tell me if it was worth my time:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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If the United States is doing well in the Space Race, it is in no small thanks to a group of German expatriates who made their living causing terror and mayhem in the early half of the 1940s. I, of course, refer to Wehrner von Braun and his team of rocket scientists, half of whom were rounded up by the Allies after the War, the other half of whom apparently gave similar service to the Soviets.

I don't know if the Russian group is still affiliated with the Communist rocket program--I don't think so. Last I heard, they had all been repatriated. But bon Braun's group is still going strong. Until last year, they worked under the auspices of the Army, but now they are employed in a civilian capacity by NASA. Their giant Saturn project is the backbone of our nascent lunar program.

Of course, the fact that an ex-Nazi is playing such a pivotal role in our space program may not sit well with some. Perhaps to address this concern, the rather hagiographic movie, I Aim at the Stars has been released.

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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We are pleased to present noted scholar Rosemary Benton's thoughts on Roger Corman's House of Usher, the cinemafication of Poe's classic about a cursed family doomed to madness through the ages. Special kudos must be awarded since Ms. Benton lives in rural New England, where the movie houses are not all air conditioned...

It's been a particularly hot summer this year, but a deep love of movies compelled me to visit my local theater nonetheless. This time it was to enjoy a film that has been making quite a stir since it's release in June: House of Usher.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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The motion picture industry has been in decline for fifteen years, leaving movie houses owners pondering this humdinger:

"How do we get more folks through our doors?"

One way has been to aim for the pocketbook. Offer two movies for the price of one, the so-called "double feature." Only, it hasn't worked out so well, and the practice seems to be dying out.

The issue seems to be one of quality. What good does it do to get a second movie for free if it's not worth the time spent to endure it? Especially now that the allure of the theater is diminished by the spread of home air conditioning and television? This is why Hollywood is now turning to true spectacles to pack the seats: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments. the upcoming Spartacus. These are epics for which the small screen just won't cut it. They may be what saves the industry.

This is not to say that B-movies, the second bananas in a double-bill, are history. In fact, my family and I just went to the cinema to watch what can only be described as a Double B feature: a pairing of The Last Woman on Earth and Little Shop of Horrors. I suppose that makes one of them a C-movie! Both are by Roger Corman, renowned for making low-budget schlock. He has a talent for squeezing the most out of a tiny purse, and much of what he produces has surprising merit.

I talked about The Last Woman on Earth in my last piece. This time around, let's look at Little Shop of Horrors.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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from here

I understand that the movie-house biz isn't doing so well. Looking through my trade magazines, I found some pretty alarming statistics. During the War, Americans spent about a quarter of their recreation budget on movies. Now, we spend just 5% in the cinemas. Movie revenues are down a third, from $1.4 billion to $950 million. Only half as many films are coming out this year as did during the War--200 versus 400.

The causes of film's decline aren't too hard to discern. Television is free and constant. More homes have air conditioning. Going to the movies isn't such an event anymore.

Not that the film parlors haven't tried. Cinescope. Cinerama. Aroma-rama! Double features. Drive-in viewing. Nothing's working.

Well, never let it be said that the Journey shirks its civic duty. Thus it was that the Traveller and his family all went to see the Roger Corman double-feature at the local movie palace.

Yes, you heard right. They billed a Corman B-movie with...another Corman B-movie! Boy are we gluttons for punishment. Actually, the experience wasn't so bad. We'd heard that his Little Shop of Horrors was a clever little comedy, and we weren't disappointed.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves, for Shop was the second feature on the billing. Number one was:

The Last Woman on Earth



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Another weekend, another Jack Harris production. Harris has made a name for himself cranking out colorful, enjoyable B-movie fare, and his latest contribution to the cinematic universe, Dinosaurus!, is no exception.



(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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And sometimes, the cinema astounds me.

Have I got your attention? My faithful readers know that I am an avid movie-goer. At least once a month, my daughter and I will trek out to the local drive-in or parlor and take in a science fiction film. Sometimes we see good A-listers, sometimes we see bad ones. Occasionally we see good B-listers, usually we see bad ones. In general, book adaptations are loose, at best. Journey to the Center of the Earth was one of the better films of 1959, but it bore little resemblance to the source material.

George Pal's The Time Machine knocked my socks off.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Every week, Rod Serling talks about that "Twilight Zone" between fear and knowledge, science and superstition, light and dark. He might have added sublimity and schlock. Every few weeks or so, my daughter and I plunge into that twilight zone known as the cinema. Sometimes, we find quality in the lowest budget movies. Other times, we leave an A-rater in disappointment.



This time, we found ourselves truly in the middle ground. Beyond the Time Barrier hardly has the luster of a high-budget production, but neither is it the worst of the C-rate sludge.

First, a summary:

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Let's play a name association game. When I say "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle," what comes to mind? Sherlock Holmes, I'll wager. But did you know that, in addition to being a quite accomplished non-fiction writer (his The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct won him a knighthood), Conan Doyle was also a science fiction writer? Contemporary with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Conan Doyle wrote a series of adventures starring the irascible Professor Challenger.

The first one, The Lost World, involves a trip to a remote South American plateau where dinosaurs still thrive. This was the sort of conceit one could get away with in Edwardian times, back when there were still blank areas on the map where dragons might reside. Burroughs, for instance, placed an entire mini-continent in the Pacific Ocean, also populated with dinosaurs, in his Caspak series.

With giant lizards festooned with costume accoutrements now a fad (e.g. Journey to the Center of the Earth), it is no surprise that Hollywood is looking for vehicles to showcase this new advancement in special effects. Hence, The Lost World has found its way onto the silver screen.

Now, I'd been looking forward to this flick, in large part because I mistakenly thought it was going to be a movie about Burroughs' Pellucidar series (sort of an updated Journey to the Center of the Earth). I don't know where I got that impression. Nevertheless, Lost World is in color, and it's a lovely Cinemascope production, so I kept my cinema tickets and, with little difficulty, enticed my daughter to join me for a night at the movies.

Would that I could turn back time.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Necessity is the mother of invention. What is a review writer to do when all the literary science fiction material to review has dried up?

Why, it's time to head to the drive-in and sample the visual science fiction material!

Now, I'd been dreading this avenue because the Summer blockbuster line-up hasn't hit the silver screen yet, and all the schlock-houses are filled with, well, schlock. Like 12 to the Moon. Moreover, my daughter is away at camp, so I don't have my usual date for the movies.

Still, I have a duty to provide entertaining reading and listening material for my fans, now that you number over ten. It wouldn't do to take a week hiatus just because my queue is empty. So I scoured the listing in the local paper and found a cinema in Oceanside that still had The Wasp Woman (paired with another film, in which I had no interest) and resigned myself to a lonely, miserable evening with naught but Roger Corman and a bag of popcorn.

Imagine my surprise when my wife, who normally has an allergic aversion to sci-fi drek, offered to come along!

As it turns out, the movie was surpisingly decent (and very short--about an hour), and we never got to emulate our parked neighbors by engaging in a proper bout of necking. Here is what we got for our troubles:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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