Midsummer Century (James Blish)

The average quality of this work perhaps can be excused by the fact that during the early 70s Blish was chronically ill (he died in 1975 from lung cancer). But unless you are a dedicated fan of Mr Blish, ‘Midsummer’ is best passed over by those looking for memorable works from this era. This book actually contains one novella-length story, “Midsummer Century,” and two short stories: “Skysign” and “A Style in Treason.” In “Midsummer Century,” a scientist troubleshooting a radio telescope, falls (what a surprise!) into the antenna and, due to a construction error, has his consciousness projected 23,000 years into the future. [Read more…]

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Silent Running (1972 USA)

This was one of five movies made by Universal “on the cheap”, (a millions bucks each) after the phenomenal success of the low-budget Easy Rider. Of the five, Silent Running was a modest success, though it suffered from lack of publicity, which was an erroneous decision made by Universal. Special effects wizard, Douglas Trumbull, was given the director’s reins. Silent Running is one of those lonely sci-fi films made in the spirit of 2001: A Space Odyssey where it’s all about astronauts being isolated and becoming gradually unhinged in deep space. What makes this one unique is the ecological theme, which is still timely today.
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Salems Lot (Stephen King)

This novel brought up my lapsed Catholicism. About one third of the way in I had taken to wearing a crucifix. I was so absorbed that I only put the paperback down to sprinkle drops of holy water around my bedroom. Hell, why stop there. I even asked the dog and cat to help me out with a few Hail Marys. Back to the book: this is a busy tour de force of how evil small towns can be. Of course that’s total BS but it works for a fictional setting. There is a wonderful intimacy on display with so many characters we can relate to. From the paranoid bus driver aghast at how unpatriotic kids are in 1975… to a Peeping Tom old bag, Mabel Werts, and her binoculars… to the slut-shaming of a teenage girl because she has big boobies. Magic stuff.
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Magnum Force (1973 USA)

Just in case the viewer gets carried away, or the protagonists on the screen, Harry earnestly repeats throughout Magnum Force that “a man’s got to know his limitations” and “there’s nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.” So bullets in bare breasts are acceptable, because the topless ladies in a swimming pool or nudes stoned at “$900 an ounce,” reinforce the morality: people who take off their clothes may have been asking for it. There’s also a gratuitous murder of a prostitute, climaxed with a shot of her killer’s face grinning through her spread legs. If that’s not offensive enough, in a dvd extra from the copy I have, shady-looking script writer, John Milius, suggests that Italians are not real Americans. [Read more…]

The Hour Of The Oxrun Dead (Charles L Grant)

Those staples of horror–the rundown graveyard, the sinister shape in the fog, the strange noises in the night–they’re all here in spades, but rather than feeling clichéd, the late Charles L. Grant (who wrote under 5 other names as well) has fashioned them into an engaging little novel of 1970s paranoia. And his style is very moody and languid. He makes you wait, and if you enjoy the journey, that seemed to be his goal. Grant was a leading proponent of the quiet horror movement. Other than the odd quirk that might annoy the reader, like his heroine repeatedly fainting, if you like misdirection and mystery this just might be your cup of tea.
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Night Gallery (1969–1973 USA)

night-gallery-season-2-billboard-rod-serling-600x300After “Twilight Zone” was canceled Rod Serling’s “The Night Gallery” appeared some years later. It was hosted by Rod Serling himself, a bit older than he looked when he hosted “Twilight Zone” as he walked us through an art gallery replete with strange, demonic, often very intimidating artwork. Each work of art told a story which was the focus of each half-hour episode. The series did very well and it was a more intense follow-up to “Twilight Zone”, which suffered from a rather static and preachy talkiness and far more censorship. Because it was the early 70’s, the episodes of Night Gallery were a tad more uncensored and graphic. [Read more…]

Live And Let Die (1973 United Artists)

LALDYou’ll have a rucking good time watching a clown in a tuxedo, I mean Britain’s most famous spy, in his 8th adventure. Buttocks will be kicked and maybe even some names taken in vain. Mix in some racial tension and viola! An above average Bond flick. This time it feels smaller scale and slightly less over the top although it has the action comedy tone which would define the Roger Moore era. Ludicrous yet rooted in the real world and centred on a very real issue rather than the usual world domination or diamond lasers. Director Guy Hamilton manages to get the tone just right. This was a stark change to the usual proceedings: Roger Moore’s debut is about voodoo, the supernatural and the majority of the cast are black people.  [Read more…]

Death Wish (1974 USA)

Few motion pictures have the notoriety of Death Wish: short sharp slabs of repulsive, sadistic violence that linger in the memory along with a theme–if you like the film then you must be an advocate of fascist exploitation cinema, or if you don’t like it then you are a bleeding heart liberal. Critics of the time hated the picture, calling it irresponsible for advocating vigilantism. What the critics of the time failed to see, as the film became a huge commercial success, was that they had the luxury to sit in their comfy secure high rise apartments as the people of the streets lived in fear of stepping outside their homes. At least in large cities like New York. [Read more…]

Pyramids Of Mars (1975 BBC)

It was really Tom Baker who epitomized the eccentricities, sharp-wit and extreme other-worldliness that one would expect from an extra-terrestrial master of  Time and Space who has inexplicably developed a keen interest (and insatiable curiosity) with regards to humanity. And in this story Tom Baker makes perhaps the most striking entrance in the show’s history, standing silently next to the Tardis’ control panel, head bowed, hands in pockets like a Western gunfighter before looking up to later utter the immortal lines: “The Earth isn’t my home, Sarah. I’m a Time Lord…I’m not a human being. I walk in eternity.” [Read more…]

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