Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Scary Movie October: A review of Aliens

Newt: We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.

Two years ago for my first edition of Scary Movie October, I watched Alien. My dad, who has a penchant for horror movies, absolutely loves Alien and not surprisingly, I did too. Many people told me I would love Aliens so I was excited to finally watch it this year.

Aliens Movie Poster

Aliens (1986)

Like everyone mentioned to me, Alien is definitely more horror and suspense-focused and Aliens is more action-packed. There are still some scary things that happen in Aliens, but there are a lot more explosions and loud guns and such. For that reason, I prefer Alien to Aliens, but only by a slim margin.

You do get more character development with Ripley, especially as she becomes attached to Newt, the lone stowaway they find during their rescue mission. The character development is great. Newt, on the other hand, is a tad annoying. Every time she shrieked I yelled at my television, telling her to shut up because the aliens will find her if she keeps screaming. Yeah, I get a little invested in movies. So what?

Overall, Aliens is beautifully made. The main alien in the battle you see at the end of the film looks very realistic and scary to me, which is just amazing considering when the movie was made. If this movie is ever remade with some CGI crap I will probably protest all movies for the rest of time. Aliens is just about perfect.

A few notes:

  • Paul Reiser,  I am one of only two people I know who watched and love Mad About You. I feel like I gave you a lot of leeway because of my MOA history, but oh my god you are the worst person ever in that movie.
  • Sigourney Weaver, how do I get my hair to look like that? And my butt? Please, send help.
  • Speaking of which, after seeing Gravity a few weeks ago I’m convinced that Hollywood believes everyone in space runs around in their underwear and hot bods.
  • If I were Bill Paxton in the knife versus finger scene early on, I would punch the dude. That scene gave me major anxiety.

RIYL: Alien, Die Hard, butts, Bill Paxton, small children

Late to the fake memories! A review of Total Recall

[Editor’s note: Hi there. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been gone a while. See, I moved to Texas and took a job that keeps me quite busy. Then I got married. Now that I’m a crusty old woman with more time on her hands, I’m relaunching this blog that I truly love and plan to contribute to regularly. I appreciate your patience. Thank you for reading Late to the Movies!]

Douglas Quaid: If I am not me, then who the hell am I?

This one time my husband and I went bowling with my good friend Annie and her buddy Jimmy. We showed up a little late, so Annie and Jimmy entered nicknames into the scoring system ahead of time.  Jimmy’s bowling nickname was Quaid, and this excited my husband– so much so, that he launched into a barrage of really annoying and irrelevant (to me) quotes that were clearly from some classic movie I had never seen. Everyone at Ward Parkway Lanes laughed and skipped and held hands and bonded over their love for this incredible and life-changing movie and I, once again, was left to weep and ponder my existence.

The movie? Total Recall.

I’ve never been much of an action movie fan (except for Speed, the best movie in the entire world) so I’ve missed out on most Schwarzenegger movies. Except for Junior and Twins. Somewhere I got this idea in my head that Schwarzenegger was an awesome actor. I saw Terminator a year ago and he was terrible in that, but you know. He plays a robot or whatever. Robots can’t act.

Yeah, so. Neither can Arnold. But you know what? It’s fine.

Seriously though: Arnold running around, dodging bullets,  in a turban? Incredible puppet faces? Arnold sticking a weird gun up his nose to remove the bug? Arnold throwing punches while wearing a dress? Hank from Breaking Bad as a mutant? The quote, “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands?” A genius mutant baby that lives on his brother’s stomach?  I’m pretty sure Total Recall is actually a comedy, you guys.

The plot is innovative (thanks Philip K Dick) and compelling enough keep you paying attention throughout the entire movie. The special effects, well, I’m sure they were super incredible at the time but they are completely dated and ridiculous now. There’s so much claymation in this movie [OKAY, OKAY, PUPPETS]; I cannot even begin to count the number of times someone’s eye bulged out of their heads. Did you notice that right before people die on Mars, they resemble Rodney Dangerfield? Interesting. Fortunately, I believe the goofy effects and awful acting happen to make Total Recall a very entertaining movie. I may not like action movies but I do like science fiction quite a bit, and this movie has enough of the campy special effects and silly one-liners that I could actually appreciate the people who adore this movie. I’ll definitely watch it again.

What in the honest hell.

Face palm moment: There was a scene where Richter claims he can’t hear his instructions because of Sun SpotsOh, KCTV…. I hate you.

Also, “clever girl.” JURASSIC PARK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? You stole your best line? Turrible. But also brilliant.

Favorite part: Is Sharon Stone the best bad girl ever? I adore her in Casino and she was great in this. I haven’t seen Basic Instinct but I clearly need to do so. She makes me want to be a better bad girl.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands.”

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10. Although I have never seen Blade Runner (I. KNOW), I tend to like film adaptations of Philip K Dick stories: Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and even The Adjustment Bureau…kind of. This was no exception. Total Recall is a little goofy and a little bad, but I liked it quite a bit.

(Seriously, I know I need to see Blade Runner. I will. I promise.)

Late to the Scary Movies! A review of The Thing

Clark: I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.

The Thing happened to be the movie that received the most votes when I asked for input into my Scary Movie October list. Needless to say, I was really excited to watch it.

I ended up enjoying The Thing tremendously, which is a very good thing since I was disappointed by The Fly. That idea of being in a secluded place and completely unable to escape is terrifying to me (and one of the reasons why Alien was so scary). I love the idea of a shape-shifting monster and the additional obstacle of not being able to trust anyone (though, you know, whenever the person who is the Thing gets called out, their demeanor suddenly changes a bit before their body explodes). Although it is necessary for the story, the gore and violence, and even the disgusting dog head thing, is all secondary to the psychological terror. These are the types of horror movies that I prefer.

I happen to love that the original carrier is a dog (at least, for this camp). And what a sneaky dog it is. It seems so cute and innocent at first (well, not to me) and then suddenly eats some of the dogs and transforms into a creepy, hideous creature. Sure, Blair ends up going crazy and killing the rest of the dogs and I think everyone is well aware of how much I dislike animal deaths in movies. But this is excusable. For the sake of the movie, I say.

[Just found these storyboards of the dog scene if anyone is interested.]

Speaking of Blair going nuts, he destroys the helicopters and the radios after he finds out from his ghetto computer that, if the organism escapes, it could infect all life within 27,000 hours. If that were me, I’d certainly be a little curious to find out what happens if everything does get infected. Does The Thing die of starvation? Or does it just try and hop to another planet? That sounds difficult for one Thing to do on its own.

I really love the mystery of the ending. Is Childs the Thing? Is he going to kill MacReady? Did the Thing die in the explosion? Did one of the dogs escape (I really hope so)? Is there a sexy Norwegian who somehow survived and happens to have another helicopter and has just been hiding out this entire time swoop down to save Childs and MacReady before they freeze to death? Or… do they just freeze to death? (That’s boring.)

Oh. And remind me to never become a paramedic. I’ll never look at a defibrillator the same way again.

Finally, I have to admit that I’m a little curious to see the new The Thing since it’s apparently a prequel and not a remake. It’ll probably be incredibly crappy but I might fork over the $4.00 for a matinée and see it sometime soon. I’m now also curious to see the original The Thing (now referred to as The Thing From Another World).

Face palm moment: I can’t take Keith David seriously in anything after watching him say, “HOW DO YOU GET THE BEANS ABOVE THE FRANK?” I mean, really. I love that movie though.

Favorite part: I’ll let this picture speak for itself.

ACK.

Also, I have only ever seen Kurt Russell in The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes (don’t ask). He is one sexy, hairy man in this movie.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: I’ve always wondered why Wilford Brimley was relevant enough to do his DIABEETUS commercials. I mean, I saw The Firm this summer and although he is… hilarious in it, I figured there had to be more. I enjoyed him in The Thing, especially since (aside from MacReady) Blair is my favorite character. Anyway, it’s a little weird seeing him in this without that moustache. He looks naked without it.

Diabeetus.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 5/10. I wouldn’t say I regret not seeing it until now but I liked it a lot and it is definitely a new favorite. It’ll be added to the regular October viewing list.

Late to the Scary Movies! A review of the Fly

Seth Brundle: My teeth have begun to fall out. The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History. You wanna see what else is in it?

My friend Patrick told me about a time when he was a little kid and walked in on his parents watching the final transformation scene in The Fly and it scarred him for life. I should have taken that as a hint that I might like the movie.

I don’t know what it is about body parts falling off but that sort of thing doesn’t scare me as much as it makes me want to throw up. I remember watching the scene in Dead Alive when some lady’s ear falls off into her oatmeal and she eats it. At least, I think that’s what happened– I don’t exactly remember because I was gagging. I can watch people get shot, stabbed, beaten. I can watch people get dismembered. Shoot, I even enjoyed the scene in The Fly where Seth arm-wrestles that jerk in the bar and it results in a compound fracture. But there’s something about body parts coming off in a melty-like fashion that just makes me sick. And not in a good way.

I can handle gore when it complements the story (Audition, for example) but here it seemed to be the highlight. The gruesome scenes were such a distraction to me that they overshadowed the plot. Even the scene with Geena Davis giving birth to that maggot was disappointing. Reading reviews like ‘better than the original’ and ‘one of the greatest horror movies ever made,’ I guess I was expected to be scared or horrified and instead I just felt like puking. I really found nothing scary about The Fly, except for the fact that Jeff Goldblum transforming into a fly looks an awful a lot like Michael Jackson as a zombie. Reading about it now, maybe it would take another viewing to fully appreciate the plot but I just don’t think I’m down for another vom-fest.

Also, I’ve had a few people tell me that I look like Geena Davis and now I’m not sure if I should start taking that as an insult.

Face palm moment: Less face palm moments, more hand-to-mouth-to-prevent-vomit-spew moments (I’m just being dramatic at this point).

Favorite part: None, really. The scenes with Tawny from the bar were entertaining, but that’s it.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Goldblum’s character had some clever quips but there weren’t many quotes that I recognized.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 2/10. Not feeling this one, guys.

Late to the Scary Movies! A review of Alien

Prologue written by Miles Farmer:

Film Class Guy #1: Aliens. Far better than the first.
Cici: Yeah, well, there’s no accounting for taste.
Randy: Thank you. Ridley Scott Rules.

Scream 2

Like most kids my age, I had seen Aliens first. We played it on the playground, pretended we were a various Colonial Marines fighting off the Xenomoprh horde. At the time, I never gave thought to the fact that there was a movie that came before it, but I figured it was more than the same, just with one little alien.

I think I was 9 when I saw Alien for the first time. It was around Halloween, and I was spending the night at my Uncle and Aunt’s house. They were the first of my family to have a bigger TV, speakers behind the couch, and the whole “movie going experience”. They wanted to watch a scary movie, and they offered it up as an option. I thought, “Aliens wasn’t that scary so this can’t be that bad.”

I didn’t sleep that night. Nor the next two nights afterward.

Love Me

Alien is not an action movie; it is a horror movie set in space. Everything is slow and quiet, which sets you up perfectly for the terror of turning a dark corner and seeing it jump out to get you. In Jaws, you had this iconic two-tone sound to warn you that something is coming; the music typically builds to the climactic moment of the big fright. Ridley went quiet. There is no sound when you first see the face-hugger jump out at Kane. You can barely hear it over Lambert’s screaming at Captain Dallas as he’s trying to scape the air shafts. There is nothing but silence when the Alien confronts Ripley in the shuttle, after you think all is well. These moments and these scenes can scar you psychologically that sometimes the biggest fear isn’t hearing something in the dark, its hearing nothing at all.

On a “WHAT?! You haven’t seen ______???” scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest level of shock, disappointment and sad): I’m going to do something out of character here, and give Laura a pass for not seeing this. Since I consider the Alien franchise consisting only of this and Aliens, I place these two in different genres connected only by Sigourney Weaver, and Stan Winston’s monster. Some people like getting a comfortable night’s rest after seeing a movie, and therefore I won’t be mad if she thinks the movie is slow, or dull, or laughs ridiculously at the John Hurt Moment.


LTTM Movie:

Slow? No. Dull? Definitely not. Laugh ridiculously at the John Hurt moment? Yes. Yes, I did.

As Miles mentioned, the best part of this movie was the sound. I took a ‘History of Film Music’ class at KU and remembered the professor mentioning Alien and how sometimes the lack of music or sound builds up the drama in a different way. Now I get what he means. I was on the edge of the couch and definitely leapt back a few times as things happened that I didn’t at all expect.

The other thing I like about Alien was the lack of gore, and yet it was so incredibly scary. Aside from the John Hurt moment, I don’t think you see fully how anyone dies. When Captain Dallas meets Alien, the camera turns to the cat and the cat watches the scene. I flipped out when I saw that– that seemed so Hitchcockian to me and everyone knows how I love that sort of thing. I can handle gore, but things are so much scarier to me when you don’t completely know what is happening.

And Dad, I am sorry for all of the times I told you that you were insane when you said that Sigourney Weaver was a fine-looking lady. You are right. I’m wrong.

All in all, this was probably not the best way to start off Scary Movie October since all of the other movies have a lot to live up to. I called my dad to let him know that I finally saw it and he says Alien is his absolute favorite horror movie of all time. It’s definitely in my top five.

Face palm moment: Miles wrote this and it’s accurate, so I had to share– Instead of being truly petrified of seeing an alien burst out of Kane’s chest, all Laura will be reminded of will be the scene in Spaceballs.

Yep. And I even sang ‘hello my Ragtime gaaaaaaaal’ as the scene ended. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Favorite part: The cat scene, I believe. I also really liked the part where they rewire Ash’s head to talk on top of the table. There are some terrible transitions between the mold and his real head, but when he says ‘You have my sympathies’ I sort of freaked out. It reminded me a lot of the scene in The Shining when Shelley Duvall is reading the millions of pages that Jack Nicholson has typed up. Creepy. Also, why is Ash actually made of spaghetti and milk? That’s weird.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: I now have some context behind the Ripley underwear scene. Yep. I get it.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10 out of 10. What was I thinking not seeing this earlier? I blame society. And dammit, I would pay one million dollars to go back in time and not watch Spaceballs first because that ruined the movie a little bit for me. Yet I still loved it. I think if I hadn’t seen that scene first, I would have had a full-blown panic attack somewhere near the end.