Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Shape of Things to Come (1979, George McCowan)
I know I've said this before but one thing I love are cheesy Sci Fi films from the late 70's and early 80's. Star Wars, like any other genre-defining films, created a hunger for Science Fiction that was quickly fed by pretty much every movie company out there at the time. Everyone from Roger Corman (Battle Beyond the Stars, Starcrash) to Disney (The Black Hole) were trying to give movie goers what they wanted. Released in the U.S. by Film Ventures International (FVI) in the summer of 1979, The Shape of Things to Come was another stab at a box office hit for the masses. This time, a classic story by H.G. Wells was used as inspiration (and title) but updated for contemporary audiences.
Many years in the future, after the "Robot Wars", most of humanity has taken residence on the moon. Earth has been mostly abandoned and a nearby planet called Delta 3 is the sole possessor of a drug called RADIC-Q-2, which humans need to protect them against radiation poisoning. After an empty cargo ship crashes into the moon, we find out that a scientist named Omus (Jack Palance) has gone mad and taken over Delta 3. He informs the Senator of the moon (John Ireland) that he wants to become supreme ruler of humanity. Outraged that the Senator refuses to fight Omus, scientist Dr. Caball (Barry Morse), his son Jason (Nicholas Campbell) and the Senator's daughter Kim (Anne-Marie Martin) steal a spaceship to stop the evil tyrant before he destroys mankind.
When I first heard about this film, I instantly knew it was right up my alley. Not only was it a cheesy Sci-Fi film from the late 70s, but it had Jack Palance as the evil space villain. Sweet! Also, the fact Blue Underground released it on DVD is like a seal of approval for me. Out of curiosity though I started reading a few reviews and surprisingly each one slammed the film harder than a teenager's bedroom door. I started wondering what could be wrong and decided to just give it a shot. Well ruffle my hair and call me Franky... as usual, the critics were wrong. This movie was awesome! It had the perfect mix of cheesiness, action, drama and evil Jack Palance. It also had two excellent leads: Nicholas Campbell, who I enjoyed in the previous roles I've seen him in (The Dead Zone, Trapped and The Spy Who Loved Me) and Anne-Marie Martin (credited as Eddie Benton, a very interesting choice for a stage name), who was super hot and made for a perfect heroine. If I had to pick a detractor for the film, it would be a couple of slowly paced scenes in the middle, but otherwise it was a really fun B movie gem.