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Horror or Sci-fi?


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Many nominally sci-fi films such as "Alien", "Invasion of the Body Snachers","Predator" and "the Thing" are horror films with a Sci-fi SETTING. "2001", "The Day the Earth Stood Still", and "Close Encounters" are TRUE Sci-fi. A very few films such as "The Terminator" blend both. I like 'em ALL.

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I consider the following movies horror-science-fiction hybrids:


* Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (probably all versions and variations)

* Frankenstein (1931, but almost any movie involving Frankenstein, the doctor or the monster)

* Island of Lost Souls. Ditto Island of Dr. Moreau.

* The Invisible Man (1933)

* The Vampire (1957, starring John Beal)

* The Werewolf (1956, starring Steven Ritch)


To me, The Terminator movies are more a blend of the science-fiction and action-adventure genres, a trend that I, quite frankly, do not applaud. I'm not much of a fan of macho action-adventure flicks. I appreciate science-fiction thrillers in which characters soberly confront a challenge or threat (be it extraterrestrial or man-made) by using their intelligence (in an analytical - or scientific - manner) instead of brutishly resorting to firepower: e.g., hauling out an Uzi, blowing away the threat, and then strutting off while uttering a pithy "witticism."


As for true sci-fi movies, I agree with all your choices, slappy. I would also add the following entries:


* The Andromeda Strain

* Colossus: The Forbin Project

* Metropolis

* Quatermass and the Pit (AKA Five Million Years to Earth)

* Solaris

* X-The Man with the X-ray Eyes

* Many episodes of the original The Outer Limits



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Isquimp, I agree a lot of your choices, but I think you either haven't actually seen "The Terminator" or you are tarring it with much too large a brush. While there ARE action-adventure element in the film, it is definately NOT one of those Horrible "Die-Hard" clones. The male lead (Michael Biehn) was selected BECAUSE he wasn't an overly macho type. The Terminator has been sent from a machine-run future to exterminate the mother of the machine's greatest enemy. The hero's job is primarily to protect her, not destroy the Terminator. Brute force is useless against him because he is nearly indestructible.The main characters are on the run for almost the entire movie. (Not too macho)And while the Terminator is the ultimate killing machine, he must become EXTREMELY clever to find his prey among millions of other humans in an alien (for him) environment. At the end of the film the terminator is destroyed because he is fooled into going into an industial press. At the end the Biehn character is dead and the heroine is not jubilant at her victory. She is sad, and wistful. Not really A/A fare. The line for which the film was noted: "I'll be back.", was not uttered glibly. (The Terminator has no sense of humor) It was however,ironically funny because of the implied threat, unknown to the cop he said it to, but fully understood by the audience. I agree with you about most action/adventure pics but "Terminator" not done in that vein.

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Not only have I seen The Terminator, I own it and also Terminator 2. I also was fortunate enough to actually watch a segment of The Terminator being filmed in North Hollywood when I lived there.


If I correctly recall, writer Harlan Ellison filed a lawsuit (and won) against the filmmakers of The Terminator because he thought that they purloined their story idea from his Soldier episode on the original The Outer Limits. However, in The Terminator, the treatment of the story was quite different from Ellison's approach.


To me, the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger, an action-adventure star, had a powerful effect on the tone of Ellison's idea. I mean, The Terminator is, quite simply, an indestructible killing machine that behaves like a typical Schwarzeneggerian action-adventure "hero." It struck me as more a gun-toting Frankenstein Monster on steroids than it did an intelligent cyborg. I'm particularly thinking of the scene in T2 in which Arnold smirks when he gets his hands on a BIG piece of high-powered weaponry. Boys do love their toys.


I'm not really knocking The Terminator movies; after all, I've got 'em in my library. But I do find science-fiction movies such as The Terminator and T2, Predator (another high-velocity, action-packed, and muscle-bound example), Aliens, and Starship Troopers (with its blatantly right-wing, militaristic tone) less satisfying than more sedate fare such as Village of the Damned (in which the protagonist literally uses his wits to defeat an alien threat).


Let's face it; the Sci-Fi-Action-Adventure expands the appeal of the genre. Instead of strictly catering to the stereotypical cerebral science-fiction subculture (composed of brainy "nerds" and "geeks" who "grok" "hard science-fiction" by heavyweights such as Heinlein, Asimov, and van Vogt ), this brand of science-fiction woos a more universal audience (which probably yawns at ponderous stuff such as Things to Come or The Lathe of Heaven), toning down the science and "ramping up" (to use the appropriate vernacular) the action.


. . . and there's nothing really wrong with that approach. I certainly don't believe that "true" (or "hard") science-fiction movies will completely disappear because of popular pabulum such as The Terminator (or juvenile comic-book adventures such as the Star Wars series). As is true regarding the popularity of literary science-fiction, the audience for such fare will be a small (or at least smaller) one.


Fair enough. Something for everyone, and each to his (or her) own tastes.

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Interesting about Ellison. A friend and myself have discussed how much "Terminator" owed to "Soldier" and another Ellison episode "Demon with a Glass Hand". From the former is the setting and mood even though "Quarlo" was human. In the later, the PLOT is similar to "Terminator." Always good to see another fan of the "Contol Voice". What were your favorite episodes? Mine were the above 2 plus "The Zanti Misfits." BTW, most conservatives don't like to be labeled as "right-wing militarists." any more than you would like to be called a "bleeding heart liberal."

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"Bleeding heart liberal"?


Front and center, and damned proud to be one too! As for branding conservatives "right-wing militarists," hey, I calls 'em as I sees 'em.


Regarding the "Control Voice," Man, how about that John Ashcroft? Talk about control. Like I was saying to one of my fellow bleeding heart . . .


Oh, you were referring to The Outer Limits! My mistake . . .


The Zanti Misfits is in my Top Ten Faves of The Outer Limits episodes. There was another OL episode that featured one of the Misfits, but I cannot remember the name of it.


Other First Season Favorites


The Architects of Fear and Corpus Earthling - both featured Robert Culp who appeared in (in my opinion) the best episodes of The Outer Limits. Political Dig Alert: The Architects of Fear sounds like the Bush administration.


* It Crawled Out of the Woodwork (which featured one of the truly original monsters ever produced on television and in movies)


The Forms of Things Unknown and The Sixth Finger - two exceptional episodes that starred David McCallum


* The Mutant (pray for Reese Fowler!)


I vividly remember watching the premiere of The Outer Limits in 1963 when I was eight years old. It was, as you know, The Galaxy Being. I sat, on that hot September evening, glued to the family television, thoroughly enthralled by what I was watching . After it ended, my mother pried me from the TV screen with a spatula and sent me off to bed where I tingled with anticipation of next week's broadcast.


I read somewhere on the Web that the second season of the original The Outer Limits will be released on DVD later this year. The following episodes are among my favorites of the second season:


* Cry of Silence (with those spooky living tumbleweeds!)

* Demon with a Glass Hand

* The Duplicate Man (I think this is the one that had a giant bird-like creature that had a feminine voice)


I haven't bothered with the new TOL series. Have you, Slappy? If so, what do you think of it?

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Addicts devoted to "The Terminator" have called it everything in the book--from a parable, to an action-adventure thriller, to a good-old sci-fi yarn. I don't care what it is. It's one of my all-time faves. I watch it about once every few months. And tonight, I'll be in line at my neighborhood theater to see TM3--and our good friend Arnie is supposed to be there in person. So, until next time--I'll. Be. Buckkkk.

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Once I saw the words The Outer Limits, I just had to jump in. I was also 8 years old when this series premiered in 1963. Since, I have only found Doctor Who to be as riveting.


The episode that featured one of the Zanti Misfits was The Mutant. It had crawled onto one of the colonists who was hiding in a dark cave. What a Misfit was doing in a cave on the remote world Annex One is anyone's guess.


Along with the other fine episodes already mentioned, The Man Who Was Never Born and The Bellero Shield, both with Martin Landau, were also well done.


This show had the creepiest aliens ever made for the small screen, and to me, it remains the definitive bug-eyed monster show.



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Well Isq I guess the reason you liked the Frankenstein movies so much is because of Dr Frank's asistant Algore....I mean Igor. I saw 1 episode of the new OL and it was good but I was rather disappointed by the second go-round and seeing the 3rd version hasn't been a priority. Let's face it.....the old Joesph Stefano OL hit a nerve in it's time and the thrill will never be quite the same. He could really dish out "the awe and mystery that reaches from the inner mind to The Outer Limits" Or was the the "shock and awe"? BTW, I also liked the episode with Martin Sheen where the Earth ship was taken POW and it turned out to just be a pyschological test done by friendly alien allies.

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This should be discussed in the Science-Fiction forum, but since we're on the subject . . .


Well, I saw Terminator 3 and was thoroughly unimpressed. Fifteen minutes into the story I was bored. However, I was momentarily revived during the quite impressive, but utterly gratuitous car chase scene.


If this is science-fiction, then woe betide the state of the genre. Not that Terminator 3 is a bad movie. But it sure ain't no T2!


The ending of Terminator 3 sets up yet another sequel. But unlike Arnold's relentless, rejuvenating cyborg, I won't be back.

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  • 9 months later...
  • 10 months later...

Another show, which I picked up on laserdisc recently, was the great BORIS KARLOFF tv series THRILLER. Great gothic horror/mystery. Examples: TERROR IN TEAKWOOD,

THE INCREDIBLE DR MARKESAN still give shivers.

as Boris would say..."It's time for a reeeaaalll Thriller!".

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  • 7 months later...
  • 6 months later...

I like the big budget, well known sci fi flicks, but my favorites are the odd little ones that are mostly forgotten, like ANDROID (with Klaus Kinski), OUTLAND (with Sean Connery), SILENT RUNNING (Bruce Dern and those little robots, lol), TIME AFTER TIME (with Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells, pursuing David Warner's Jack the Ripper into 1980s America), even the underground punk-rock cult entry LIQUID SKY. I'll take a little imagination over a lot of special effects any day. SOLARIS was disappointing but worthwhile, especially for anyone's who's read the novel.


Of the well-known ones, my favorite is a toss-up between 2001's grandiosity or the flawed but beloved BLADE RUNNER.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Or are people actually scarier that Acid-Bleeding, Brain-Eating Aliens and 360-Degree head rotations and green projectile vomit?


I hate the term sci fi, the books I read can all be considered as speculative fiction, as in, this COULD happen. 2001: A space odyssey could be the best example of this, a lot of gadgets are shown in that flick, and a lot of those gadgets have actually come into being, if not everyday use. But no wheel-shaped-space stations yet, although we have one that looks like an erector set. Also, Kubrick's designs did not hold up to reality either, and so our Lunar Landing Module looked like a Xmas tree ornament.


Good Horror uses less MacGuffins and more human Psychoses. The moovie Alien was about the best GOTHIC Horror tale ever made, the haunted house was The Nostromo and the alien actually came out of a man, and had the characteristics of a man, and ate the brains of men.


But more frightening films are those that really have no aliens or ghosts. Anyone ever see a film from 1989 to 1991, don't remember the year it was made, called "Single White Female?"


Well, it was the most frightening film I have ever seen, I was rattled for weeks. It was in some ways much scarier than Alien, because, this is something that could happen.


The premise of the film was an ordinary ad put in a paper, and answered by a normal looking nice girl- Who ended up going on a killing spree using many household objects to kill people in horrible ways. Ironically, the person is killed herself BY a household object at the end of the film.


I have not seen that film since 1993 or so, and I don't wanna make any spoilers, but is is truly frightening.


Another frightening film was the 1915 DW Griffith film "Birth of a Nation" - Because many people of the time thought it was historic.


So, Horror based on what humans do, is much more effective than Horror based on ghosts, Green Vomit, Acid Blood, and guys who kill you in your dreams that have knives for fingers.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I much prefer classic horror movies to Sci Fi. I am a big fan of Universal monster movies......

I will also occationally enjoy a fan gore picture like 2001 Maniacs.

Love The Texas Chainsaw massacure and House of 1000 corpses type stuff.


I want either creepy people-slashers or monsters. Don't care for things that come out of space.

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