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Thursday, November 10, 2011


This is one of those benchmark years in sci-fi. While not a rigid boundary, 1968 marks a sort of watershed in style. In some ways, it marks the end of the Golden Era of 50s sci-fi. Stanley Kubrik's 2001 would change and influence the nature of sci-fi for nearly a decade, until the next big benchmark: Star Wars. 1968 would also be the beginning of the long-running Planet of the Apes series. But, for all that modern-era spin, there were still plenty of low-budget films carrying the 50s torch. Here are the films in roughly chronologic order.

  Five Million Miles to Earth -- Titled "Quatermass and the Pit" in the UK version in '67. An alien craft is unearthed during construction on a subway, awakening dormant alien consciousness in many people.

  The Countdown -- A NASA mission to the moon is rushed, in order to beat the Russians. It means a one-way rocket, however. Can the Americans be first and survive?

  Planet of the Apes -- First film of many. Starring Charlton Heston, astronaut who lands on a planet ruled by sentient apes. Humans are the mute beasts.

  2001: A Space Odyssey -- Stanley Kubrik's pivotal epic, from the dawn of man, to man's "evolution" to star-child. Features the HAL-9000.

  Astro-Zombies -- A mad doctor uses synthetic body parts and computer programmed brains to create astro-men. The first of an army for conquering the world.

  Wild in the Streets -- A young "bad boy" becomes a rock idol, and translates his popularity into becoming president. Once in power, Congress is fed LSD and anti-Over-30 laws are passed.

  Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women -- Yet another reworking of footage from the Russian film Planeta Bur. Told as flashback, but focusing on the Venusian babes hinted at in the original.

  The Power -- A group of ESP researchers discover that one of them has amazing mind powers. They are being killed off, one by one, by someone else with that power.

  The Omegans -- A vengeful husband brings his cheating wife and her scheming lover to a remote jungle with a radiated river and glowing nocturnal natives, intending do them in.

  Thunderbird 6 -- Second "Supermarionation" film by Gerry Anderson. A super air-ship is hijacked by evil men. The newest, 6th, Thunderbird machine saves the day.

  Mission Mars -- A NASA mission to Mars follows a failed Russian mission. The Americans land on Mars and find deadly solar powered aliens.

  The Destructors -- A band of international criminals try to steal the special-rubies which power a super laser weapon. Can the good guys stop them and save world peace?

  The Bamboo Saucer -- A real flying saucer is discovered, hidden in a village inside Communist China. US and Soviet teams combine efforts to keep the Red Chinese from finding it.

  Barbarella -- Jane Fonda's leap into sex-kittendom. A bizarre, semi-comedic comic book tale of Barbarella's attempt to stop evil Durand-Durand from taking over the universe.

  Mission Stardust -- Based on Perry Rhodan novels. Men find a disabled alien ship (and a beautiful alien) on the moon. Perry tries to help them repair the ship. Shadowy criminals try to hijack it.

Battle Beneath the Earth -- Scientists discover that a rogue Chinese general is tunneling under the USA, planting A-bombs under major cities.

Project X -- A dead spy is kept alive and revived in hopes of learning the key to a Chinese plot to destroy the West.



pprimed682 said...

Ok, I've gone through your list and cant find the movie I'm looking for I need some help. It was about two groups of aliens fighting to control the earth they appear human until they use special glasses so see and eliminate each other. the last surviving alien burns up his weapon only to find out that the girl he has been protecting turns out to be from the other race Knowing they cannot detect women with their glasses hope some one can remember this thanx

tooty nolan said...

I once saw this film decades ago. I think it starred Lloyd Bridges.

Greg said...

Hi - just a quick note to say thanks for all your hard work. I've only recently discovered your blog, but I have had a great time rediscovering all those movies I defied my parents to sit up 'til 2am and watch, wide-eyed, on my B&W TV when I was a kiddie...

...found them a fascinating escape back then, and have just as much love for them now. My only regret is that I was not around to see films such as "War of the Worlds" or "The Incredible Shrinking Man" on the big screen. If only some cinema's in the UK, just occasionally, got hold of some prints and did some double-bills or something.

Your attention to detail has also helped me discover a fair few I really never knew about, as well as rediscovering some that I had seen and all-but wiped from memory for whatever reason. All gems, but some for very different reasons than others ;)

Great fun, great reading, please keep going! It's a real pleasure to spend time on your blog.

Greg said...

That would be "The Love War" (1970) I think?

Nightowl said...


thanks for the encouraging words. Glad my blog kindled fond memories.

You were right about pprime682's movie being "The Love War." It will be coming up for review as my study goes through the films of 1970 near the end of March (2012)

charlie013 said...

FYI, when I click on the Barbarella link I get an error. Your current account (charliexxxx@gmail.com) does not have access to view this page.
Click here to logout and change accounts.

Nightowl said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the bad link, Charlie. Got it fixed.

Randall Landers said...

I think you should add "Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell" to this list. It deals with an alien invasion of Earth as well as the title character's pursuit of the survivors of an airplane crash. Hey, Quentin Tarantino likes it.

Nightowl said...

Good idea, Randall. I'll add Goke to my list for Digression Week. -- Thanks!

n6kb@arrl.net said...

I'm trying to find a movie in which some sort of alien being resides in a broadcast transmitter. DJ at station ignores warnings not to turn up power and of course cranks it up. Disturbs alien who creates havoc. At one point in the movie an electronic engineer states "the future is in microwaves" or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...

N6KB - you are thinking of "The Galaxy Being" - the premier episode of The Outer Limits.

buzz said...

Best year EVER for sci-fi films!

Unknown said...

I am looking for a movie from my youth, circa early 1960's.
My memory of it is sketchy at best.
The only thing i clearly remember is the aliens in it traveled and used the classic flying saucers to attack earth. The mothership was a larger version, which had a domed top that rotated upwards from the body of the ship, visually much like a spinning top (also from my youth)

Nightowl said...

You need to hum me a few more bars. Saucer shapes were pretty common.
- Were there aliens? What did they look like?
- Did someone get out of the 'rotated upwards' top?
- Did the mother ship stay in space or land?
- Anything else from the plot (lobster monster, vampire woman, dog skeleton, etc.)?