Star ’60

You know me, I love an imaginary landscape. Don’t let this guy stop you, have a look around… 

Stop or My Mom Will Shoot

Smoke

All this stuff is from an East German-Polish sci-fi movie called THE SILENT STAR. It stars the beautiful Yoko Tani and a bunch of equally beautiful special effects. It’s a shellac-bright vision of the communist future we could all be enjoying right now if only Ronald Reagan hadn’t single-handedly won the Cold War with his bare fists, damn his greasy mane! If not for his senile single-mindedness, THIS COULD BE YOU:

The Forbin Project

Thanks to filmmaker Steve Sullivan for this one!

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun

The film isn’t so very great, it shares some of the lack of characterisation and narrative drive that a lot of US sci-fi from the 50s suffers from, but these images will sear themselves onto your retinas (which, I dunno, you might or might not enjoy). They’re like the kind of thing Mario Bava was doing with PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, only here they have a bit of a budget.

The Castle

It’s rare to find a sci-fi film with imagery as lurid and beautiful as cheap paperback art. The only thing missing is a half-naked girl in copper pasties. But this film is way too serious for that.

Short People

I would sort of like to visit the Silent Star, though it does look a bit inhospitable and scary. But if I had Yoko to protect me I’d be OK.

Sphere

Quatermass and the Pit

Book your vacation now!

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7 Responses to “Star ’60”

  1. Also a bit of Vadim’s Barbarella and Curtis Harrington’s Queen of Blood.

  2. Especially the latter, which recycles all it’s FX from another Eastern block scifi extravaganza. But they’re very well blended.
    My favourite bit of that is the end, when they decide to preserve the deadly alien’s eggs for science, although the heroes aren’t sure this is a good idea. Then a scientist comes in with the eggs on a tray, looking like sheep’s testicles, and the scientist is played by demented fanboy Forrest J Ackerman. And we realise the earth is doomed.

  3. HAH! I’d forgotten about that.

    I saw Queen of Blood when it opened on 42nd street back in 1966.

  4. I D E A L !

  5. [...] Like THE SILENT STAR, IN THE DUST OF THE STARS is another swinging sci-fi epic from East Germany, this time from [...]

  6. I have vague memories of having seen “The First Spaceship On Venus,” as it was then called, in the theater as a child. This was around the same time as I was watching things like Margheriti’s “Wild, Wild Planet” and Wesley Barry’s “Creation of the Humanoids.” My residual impression of “First Spaceship”: beautiful to look at, but a mess.

    I’m a bit surprised, reading your entry, that you don’t mention the name of souce author Stanislaw Lem — i.e. the Lem who wrote “Solaris.” This was his first novel which, according to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, has yet to be translated into English.

    The mention of Jesus Franco also prompts me to ask — Is there anything directed by Franco that you’d actually recommend?

  7. Oh yeah, Lem. I did spot this, but then all the lovely colours drove it right out of my head. I have Ikarie-XB here somewhere too, to which he made an uncredited contribution. It’s much glummer and more in keeping with the Solaris vibe — though the only Lem I’ve read, Peace on Earth, has quite a lively, humorous quality in parts. A lot in common with PK Dick.

    Franco is somebody I’d hesistate to recommend, as such…because aggrieved viewers tend to come after me with meat cleavers when I do. I would say that the full “Franco Effect” only kicks in after several films, maybe as many as six. And they should ideally be films selected from his pre-1980 work, for the most part.

    Viewed through one filter, Franco shagathons like Venus in Furs, She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos are undoubtedly terrible films, but through the starburst filter of the “awakened” viewer, they come to appear as almost magical confluences of film stock, location, design, music and the beauty of Soledad Miranda, presided over by a reckless and utterly amoral mind that sees nothing inappropriate in playing up-tempo German loungecore over images of actual foetuses in jars.

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