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Zap first, ask questions later - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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December 4th, 2008


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11:39 am - Zap first, ask questions later
In spite of some pretty serious pain recently, I did have the good fortune to watch a hilariously awful science-fiction film from 1967 called THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE and the title right there should be your first clue as to the quality of the film. Oh, it's presented in all seriousness, mind you, with none of that pesky irony to deal with, and that's what makes it all the funnier.

I mean, seriously: THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE. It's a classic B-movie title if ever there was one. Now nobody in the film actually takes the opportunity to dramatically declare "These invaders, Jim... they're not from space... they're from BEYOND space!" but you can pretty much tell that's the feeling they were going for. So when it's finally revealed that the aliens involved in this film's invasion are coming from the moon, it's a bit of a letdown. The moon isn't beyond space! It's not even beyond Mars! Sheesh!

Golly, I hope I'm not spoiling this cinematic masterpiece for anyone who's just itching to see it but haven't found the DVD in the $1.00 bin just yet. Anyway.

The story of the film involves mind-controlling moon meteorites which get into the heads of a group of scientists and then most of a small town, who then build an impressive mod bunker around the crashed stones complete with a rocket ship which we eventually learn makes round trip visits to the moon once every few days. Then we have a small but dedicated group of scientists who eventually learn to thwart the mind-control rays by, and I swear I'm not making this up, wearing colanders on their heads. (Okay, they're custom-made colanders made out of silver, which is the only metal which can apparently block these mind-control rays, but HELLO, IT'S A COLANDER.) They can also spot the aliens by wearing special goggles that make the Archie McPhee X-Ray Specs look like high-end sunglasses. As you can probably guess, the end result here is absolutely ludicrous, even moreso since it's not tongue in cheek. The scientists look like they're trying out for DEVO. If this video ever got out, these costumes would be a hit at cons.

But even better was the ending to the film. Oh, my! What an ending! What a deep climax of incredible emotion and pathos, and who am I kidding? It's a stinker. I'll summarize like so. If you really don't want spoilers, turn to page 74, where we'll determine which Brady Bunch character our true love would be. For the rest of you, here goes:

SCIENTIST HERO: I've chased you and your mind-controlled minions all the way back to the moon. Now tell me why you've been turning humans into slaves.

MASTER OF THE MOON (swear to god this is his name, honest): We are an advanced race, more highly evolved than you primitive savages on Earth. However, we evolved so much we lost our corporeal bodies and now exist as pure thought. We are also far far away from our home planet. We needed actual bodies to perform physical work on a rocket ship of our very own, so that we can blast off and return home to die. We would never have slaves. These human bodies would be returned to their rightful owners once work is complete.

SCIENTIST HERO: You just want to fix your rocket and go home. If that's all you wanted, why didn't you just ask?

MASTER OF THE MOON: Why... didn't... we just ask...

(It's so crazy it JUST MIGHT WORK!)

SCIENTIST HERO: We'd be happy to help you build your rocket... but by our own free will.

(The MASTER OF THE MOON takes a few moments to mull this over, and then approaches the SCIENTIST HERO. He suddenly RELINQUISHES CONTROL of the HUMAN BODY he was in. This NEW GUY and the SCIENTIST HERO then SHAKE HANDS while the music swells to a dramatic climax. "THE END" is superimposed over the shot of the handshake. SPATCH howls so much the CAT jumps off the bed and makes a beeline for the door.)

My god! Why didn't they just ask?! No science-fiction alien ever just plain asks! Except for like John Valentine, and look where it got him. No, if heroes were to try this tactic in other stories, it'd go like this:

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you want is to gather up Plutonium to feed to your offspring, why didn't you just ask us for it?
ALIEN GUY: Silence!! (disintegrates SCIENTIST HERO's head with his ray gun)

or maybe

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you robots want is freedom and the right to exist autonomously and not as mechanical slaves, why haven't you just asked?
ROBOT GUY: Beep boop bop borp boop (explodes SCIENTIST HERO's head with his atomoblaster)

or even

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you Martians want is some of our women for your breeding purposes, why don't you just ask? I'm sure we have some with loose enough morals around here who'd join you just for kicks.
MARTIAN GUY: WAK WAK WAAK (vaporizes SCIENTIST HERO's head with eye lasers)

Nobody ever asks. They just take. On the other hand, if ever I see a film where a giant irradiated termite walks up to the likes of John Agar and says "Terribly sorry, old chap, but my colony and I are simply famished and we sure could use a good nosh; might you know of any large collection of wooden structures which you don't need?" then by golly I'll totally keep that one close to my heart forever.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:mybadhairlife
Date:December 4th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
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You totally need to take over for MST3K - you would rock. (Even when your teeth are utter bastards and need to be coated in plastic and maybe shored up with some sort of re-bar.)
[User Picture]
From:k_sui
Date:December 4th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Any thoughts on the upcoming Keanu Reeves-as-Klaatu cinematic tour de force?
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 4th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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404 Movie Not Found





in my universe, anyway
[User Picture]
From:k_sui
Date:December 4th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
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I was tempted, but then I read somewhere that the "message" of the movie had been changed from dealing with nuclear war to dealing with global climate change.

/temptation
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 4th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
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help help my eyes just rolled so far in the back of my head that they fell out and are now somewhere under the desk; i am typing this with my head oij;ql;33231n
[User Picture]
From:k_sui
Date:December 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
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. . . and Jessica Simpson has an extended cameo, too! As "Daisy".




Okay, not really. But it's not that far-fetched.
[User Picture]
From:tonysalieri
Date:December 4th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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MASTER OF THE MOON: Why... didn't... we just ask...


Ahhhh. Yes. Why didn't we just ask. This reminds me of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse session from years and years back. The GM had his then-girlfriend, now wife join for the first time, and we were all fighting and being badasses, and then she asks, quiet plainly:

HER: Wait...have any of you actually tried TALKING to this creature, finding out what it wants?

ME: But...but....we have guns....

[User Picture]
From:off_coloratura
Date:December 4th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
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If you think of space as "an empty place with nothing in it" then the moon'd be beyond that as far as the Earth was concerned, being the first thing you come to beyond THAT PARTICULAR space.
[User Picture]
From:susskins
Date:December 4th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
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This sounds suspiciously like "J-Men Forever".
[User Picture]
From:gee_tar
Date:December 4th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
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Was the "Master of the Moon" rendered in Atari 2600-style pixel graphics?
[User Picture]
From:hemlock_martini
Date:December 4th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
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This just goes to show that even if you're intelligent enough to evolve into beings of pure energy, you can still be a thoughtless buttmonkey.
[User Picture]
From:mdm_sosostris
Date:December 4th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
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RE: beyond space

Look, not to be a stickler-in-the-mud here, but if the rest of space is, say, behind these aliens, doesn't that make them (for all intents and purposes) beyond space? The poststructuralist bit of me wants to argue that one is always a part of (and thus never beyond) space, but if we're talking strict positionality here, I think "in front of" could be the same as "beyond" in this case.

Just a thought.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 4th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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I think at this point they should've just changed the title to IT CAME FROM OVER THERE and be done with it.

Fun fact: The film itself is based on a sci-fi novel called THE GODS HATE KANSAS. I much prefer that title!
[User Picture]
From:annenayne
Date:December 4th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
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Some old friends of mine had a band called The Gods Hate Kansas. The guitarist went on to a band called Pirx the Pilot.
[User Picture]
From:dpolicar
Date:December 4th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
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Have you ever read the Lensmen books?

My apologies for spoiling the ending if you haven't -- trust me, this is not a series you read for the thrilling plot twists -- but the Big Climactic Ending is when our hero, having finally infiltrated the Top Secret No Really We Mean It Headquarters of the Criminal Bad Guys that the Allied Halfway Decent People of the Galaxy have been fighting for altogether too many books, proceeds to defeat them by having them read his mind to demonstrate that being a Good Guy like him is genuinely, objectively more satisfying than being a Bad Guy like them. Faced with this realization, their own selfish natures oblige them to change sides, and the Galaxy is rid of their scourge.

And then there's "I Am Legend", the virus-spreading undead progenitor of the modern zombie motif, where the zombies are revealed to have a perfectly valid alternate lifestyle against which our hero has been misguidedly fighting out of a parochial, Westernocentric sense that practices like ripping people's heads off and eating them are somehow worse than going to the movies together.


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