Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Movies from an Alternate Universe

Internet Debris

A collection by Neal McKenna 

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Zombies of the Stratosphere

Zombies of the Stratosphere (Republic Studios, 1952) was intended as the second serial featuring "new hero" Commando Cody and the third 12-chapter serial featuring the rocket-powered flying suit introduced in King of the Rocket Men (1949). Instead, the hero is "Larry Martin", preventing Martian invaders from using a hydrogen bomb to blow Earth away from the Sun so that Mars can take its orbital place. 
The director was Fred C. Brannon, with screenplay by Ronald Davidson and special effects by the Lydecker brothers. The serial is remembered today mainly because Leonard Nimoy plays Narab, one of the three Martian invaders. In 1958 a feature film called Satan's Satellites was made by re-editing footage from this serial. 
In the story, Mars has drifted too far from the Sun and its biosphere is dying. The Martian invaders want to swap Earth's and Mars' orbits, so Mars will be closer to the Sun and Earth can have Mars's old orbit, with a hydrogen bomb being used to blow Earth out from the Sun.
As in Radar Men from the Moon (also 1952), most screen time is expended on fist fights between the heroes and a gang of crooks hired by Narab and his extraterrestrial colleague Marex to steal and stockpile supplies needed for construction of an H-bomb to throw the Earth out of orbit so Mars can take its place.

Text via Wikipedia 

Zombies of the Stratosphere

Leonard Nimoy in his first movie role
Image via The Ever Void
You won't see any zombies in this flick  aside from those sitting in the audience   but you will see plenty of everything else. ...Rocket ships, strange creatures, rocket men fighting robots, deadly machines and oh-so much more! "Zombies of the Stratosphere" is truly for lovers of old serials; those incredibly fun and silly episodic films that kept theatre-goers coming back week-after-week. 
Over the course of 12 episodes, you joined in the exploits of security agent Larry Martin, who can fly with an experimental rocket suit. He and his ever-faithful sidekick, Bob Wilson, battle to save the earth from some pretty evil Martians. 
Can Larry and Bob thwart the villainous Martians' plan to blast our planet out of its orbit and replace it with their own world? Why are some earthlings conspiring with the aliens in their dastardly plot? 
Produced on a miniscule budget, "Zombies of the Stratosphere" still offered a weekly injection of action and adventure in the Saturday matinee! By today's standards, it  is an exquisitely horrible movie but its campiness could almost make it a cult classic! 
Relying on story and low budget creativity, the serial still delivers a punch without resorting to earth-splitting explosions, computerized special effects or tough-guy one-liners.
One of the funniest things is the control panel on our hero's chest. To go up, he rotates a knob to a spot labeled "up." To go left  you guessed it, he rotates the knob to a spot labeled "left." 
At the end of each episode, our hero was left in an impossible situation, only to have a slightly different take on that scene showing how he got out of it at the start of the next Saturday's installment. Pretty lame, I know, but, we kids always knew the hero would be able to save the damsel in distress, not to mention the entire Earth from those nasty Martians. And, with the help of a certain future Vulcan, how could he lose? 
One last thing... Zombies of the Stratosphere didn't make it to my town until 1955. However, to my 8-year-old's sensibilities, this was science fiction at its finest. Most of the time, I didn't care what the main feature was. It was the serials I lived for. I saw the first eleven episodes and I was swept away. In the 12th and final reel, all would be resolved. Good would triumph over evil and the Earth would be saved.

Unfortunately for me, I apparently was a REALLY bad boy during the week before the screening of the concluding episode. My punishment was horribly severe  I was not allowed to go to "the show" that fateful Saturday. 
I cried and moaned, stamped my foot and threw a tantrum which earned me a spanking and the afternoon spent in my room thinking about what I'd done. Actually, I didn't do much thinking. I cried myself to sleep and thus, the afternoon went quickly.
The next Monday at school just rubbed salt into a gaping wound. Most of my so-called friends had seen the final screening but wouldn't tell me how it ended up. I suspected my mother had somehow got to them but I was never able to prove it. Still, on my way home from school, I stepped on every crack I could see in the sidewalks between there and home. You know  Step on a crack, break your mother's back. If that mojo had really worked, my Mommy Dearest would have been a quadriplegic.
So until the advent, of YouTube, that final episode – or the lack of it – was a thorn in my side. I had been cheated! However, at the the tender age of 64-and-a-half, I am able to say, I have seen that final segment and sadly, I am not very impressed. Now, I wonder if I would feel the same way about that Davey Corockett 'coonskin hat I never got! 

Movies from an Alternate Universe

"What if..." Movies re-imagined 

for another time and place...

    A while back, a friend of mine forwarded me a site (http://hartter.blogspot.com/2009/11/misc.html
    where artist Sean Hartter made posters of films that, title-wise, we were familiar with, but there was a slight difference. They were remade as if they belonged to a different era or a different genre, the name of the movie was there, but the actors were different, the style was different, and I loved the concept. So I went forward with this theme; what if movies we were all familiar with were made in a different slice of time? Who would be in it? Who would direct it? So here we are...

Images via Behance Network


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