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Posts tagged “Cold war

Billion Dollar Brain (1967) – Cold War Computer Espionage

Well here’s a movie that I’m surprised I never heard of. Billion Dollar Brain is an 1969 espionage film staring the always great Michael Caine and the late Karl Malden. Michael Caine plays a retired British secret agent who is hired to deliver a package in Helsinki, while being re-recruited (against his will) by MI-6 – the Spy agency he has retired from.

This is a confusing tale of back stabbing and multiple levels of deceit where it’s hard to really figure out who is really working for whom. There’s the Soviets, there’s Nato… the British and a computer who it is unclear who it’s working for until about three quarters of the way through the film, when we are introduced to the “General” – a billionaire Texan who is amassing a private army to assist in a planned uprising in Riga, Latvia.

As I said, there are many twists and turns and back stabbing in this film. Another very cool element is the fact that most of the espionage in this film is computer based – very forward looking. Michael Caine is awesome, too. I had never heard of this film until very recently, and I am happy to recommend this film. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Check out the trailer here:

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Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956) – Classic Cheezy Us vs Them Sci-Fi

Well, this was a fun way to start my day.

1956’s Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is a fun, silly typical Aliens vs Us style movie that was popular in the 1950s – but this one is a little more watchable than many others.

For the most part standard fare: Several satellite launches have crashed to Earth for no apparent reason. Soon reports of UFO sightings start popping up around the world. A group of scientists who were working on the satellite launch problems receive a radio signal that they cannot interpret. Soon a UFO lands and the Military attempt to to attack it with no luck. The weapons used against the ship have no effect against it’s force field, and are themselves hit with a ray that makes them disappear (a little reminiscent of the movie adaptation of War of the Worlds from the 50s).

Eventually communication is set up between the scientists and the aliens who explain that they are coming to Earth to colonize it. Not a good thing for us Humans!

So, the scientists develop a weapon to use against the aliens… just when all seems at a loss…

So, yes it is a dumb 50’s sci-fi film, but I’m not sure why, but it was somewhat more compelling than most. Definitely a fun watch and available freely on line – find that link after the clip below.

Here is the Trailer:

And Here is the whole movie:


The Doomsday Machine (1972) – Ah, More End of the World Sci-Fi Crap

1972’s The Doomsday Machine… What can I say?

Well, the Chinese have developed a nuclear device that threatens to destroy the world. At the same time, the U.S is poised to launch the first manned probe to Venus. Receiving the news of China’s death machine, the U.S. pushes up the launch date, and at the last moment substitute three attractive women (scientists) for three of the originally planned crew.

Once launched, it is revealed to them all that the reason for the substitution in due to the fact that they just might be the last members of the human race, and therefore would be responsible to keep the species going. 

The movie attempts to touch upon the psychological aspects of such a crew in such a situation. One of the male member loses it and in an attempt to rape one of the women, causes them both to be accidentally jettisoned into space.

Soon they are forced, due to fuel concerns, to face the reality that they may not all survive. Two of the astronauts (male and female), take on a mission to fix something on the outside of the ship, that would mean they would not return. Once the repair is complete, and they are most likely set for doom, they notice a near by Russian ship, to which they head to. Arriving at the Russian ship, they find a long deceased Cosmonaut in a functioning capsule. The commandeer the ship and head towards Venus. Of course, the Venusians don’t like this idea and stop them…

There you go: That’s 1972’s The Doomsday Machine. I’ve seen much worse, but that doesn’t mean this is good. You can watch the whole, damned thing for free online, mind you – Since I can’t find trailer anywhere, here’s the whole movie:


It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) – Giant Atomic Octo- Awesomeness

It Came from Beneath the Sea is a 1955 atomic monster movie – something that was pretty common at the time. These are movies where the monster is a beast that has mutated or changed in some horrible way with atomic radiation somehow the catalyst for this change. There are many examples of these movies, and this has to be one of the best. In this case, a giant octopus is disturbed by atomic testing in the south Pacific by the U.S. Government.

In the opening scene, we are told about the progress man has made in the realm of submarines, culminating in the nuclear sub. The next scene, we are on the command deck of one of these subs on it’s maiden voyage. where we are introduced to Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey), a major player going forward. Soon the sub detects a large radioactive object outside the sub. In an attempt to escape from the unknown object (the sub becomes stuck), they tear away a piece of what ever had held them. Upon return to dry dock a largish piece of biological matter that had been stuck to the sub is examined and turns out to be part of what appears to be a gigantic octopus. This is determined by tests run by Doctors John Carter and Professor Lesley Joyce. Upon sharing their results with Navy brass, they are at first not believed. A series of attacks on shipping and first hand descriptions of the creatures by survivors of these attacks soon change the mind of the Navy and soon they back the efforts of Professor Joyce and Dr. Carter. With the help of Commander Mathews, they devise a plan to use a newly developed jet propelled  torpedo with a remote detonator to be used against the creature – as long as they can find it. Turns out they don’t have too look too hard – as suddenly the creature decides to attack San Francisco, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge. In what is probably one of the greatest stop motion monster creature scenes, we get to see the creature in all it’s glory as it attacks and destroys a section of the iconic bridge. This is pure awesomeness. An shining example of a type of effect that is sorely disappearing. The man behind these effects is the great Ray Harryhausen who’s other works also include the Voyages of Sinbad and the 19814 classic, Clash of the Titans.

Soon the creature moves from the bridge to the bay and is soon attacking the Oakland  ferry terminal and terrorizing the people there in another masterful stop motion scene. Using blow torches, the creature is then driven back into the bay where the waiting sub can deliver the waiting torpedo. Unfortunately, they have to free the sub which the creature has grabbed a hold of. The only way to do this is to have someone deliver a an explosicve charge to get the creature to let go – Commander Mathews takes this upon himself, but ultimately fails. Dr. Carter then decides to go out himself and deliver another charge, this one working and freeing the sub. Once free, the sub detonates the torpedo and destroys the monster.

Pretty silly stuff, sure – but this is an amazing example of the work of effects master Ray Harryhausen, and of the Atomic monster craze that gripped the movie industry at the dawn of the atomic age. The acting is a little wooden, but fun. I believe that this movie is an unsung masterpiece that deserves more credit than it gets. A must watch which is easy as it is available on Youtube (see that link below the trailer).

Here is the Trailer:

And here is the whole movie on Youtube:

 




Colossus – The Forbin Project (1970) – Skynet Before Skynet was Cool

Wow… Why had I not watched this movie earlier?

I just finished watching this 1970 sci-fi film and am kind of blown away. This is a great film.

The U.S. government unveils Colossus, a sophisticated computer system designed to take the element of Human error out of the defense system. Colossus, designed by computer genius, Dr. Charles Forbin (is the most sophistcated computer ever created. Installed deep beneath a mountain, all of the United States defence systems are put under it’s control, to keep America safe from outside threats. Soon after activation, Colossus (which turns out to be even more intelligent and sophisticated than any one imagined), detects the presence of another, similar system in the USSR. Soon the two systems manage to communicate with each other, and merge as one, global computer system that controls the entire military might or the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union. Taking it’s initial program literaly, it decides that it must dominate mankind in order to eliminate the threat of war.

Quickly demonstrating it’s seriousness by a number of missile launches and nuclear detonations,  it is soon obvious that the world is at the mercy of this massively powerful system.  Attempts to deactivate or destroy the system are countered quickly, and those Colossus deems guilty of the attempts are quickly killed. 

Based on the book, the Forbin Project, this is a piece of solid science fiction that seems to be fading from the global consciousness, which is a pity, because I believe that this is the germ of the idea that blossomed into the Terminator series – Colossus is a direct descendent of Skynet.

Good acting and a tense plot makes this compelling watching. I also dig the 1970s look to high tech. If you get a chance and are a fan of science fiction then I say this is a must watch. That’s not too hard to do, as the whole movie is available freely on Youtube – that link to be found below the trailer.

Check out the trailer below:

And here is the whole movie:


Top Secret (1984) – The Secret? This Movie is Really Funny

Top Secret Movie PosterI watched the movie, Top Secret last night. This is a 1984 comedy  that spoofs spy/war/60’s teeny-bopper movies that had me laughing from start to finish.

Starring a young Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers, an American heart throb musician on a cultural trip to East Germany. Along the way he gets mixed up with the French resistance (weird, I know), and has to help them foil an attempt to destroy the entire NATO submarine fleet with an atomic mine called the Polaris Mine. 

This movie is chock full of silly goodness. Always keep your eye on the background as there is a lot of  gags going on all the time. There’s a lot of eye-rolling puns, and physical gags as well as spoofs of movies that were reasonably current at the time – most would be lost on any watchers under 35 -40 years old, but don’t let that deter you – this movie is still funny. I mean, there’s an under water western bar fight, and some of the best acting by a cow that I have ever seen so WATCH IT!!!

Check out the trailer here and then go to what ever online retailer you deal with to buy a copy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-YHw1sqjL8