When I was a kid, hurling rocks at dinosaurs and running away, there were not many otherworldly shows on TV. Battlestar Galactica ran for two years and then Buck Rogers for about the same, with some incomprehensible Land of the Lost or Dr. Who thrown in at seeming random. Saturday mornings were a rich source of imagination, with Tarzan, Space Academy, Jason of Star Command and Flash Gordon, but unfortunately, in my day, Saturday mornings were only on Saturdays.
Every so often though, I’d find Space 1999 in the TV Guide; it was pretty cool. The sets and ships were pretty different from the sleek models in every other scifi show, and the space suits and the Moon seemed so alien. Twenty-five years later, armed with a couple of science degrees, I ordered a season for nostalgia’s sake.
O. M. G.
It was awful. Aside from the terrible writing and passive characters, and the apparent scattering of Caucasian British humans throughout the cosmos, I could do nothing but choke on the science and toss this drivel into a corner (actually, I think I left the boxed set in Havana, but that’s a story for another time…).
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The nostalgia for the 1950s has been with us for over forty years now. Blame George Lucas and American Graffiti (actually set during the Kennedy administration, but responsible for engendering nostalgia for the previous decade) for making us so fondly recall the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the popularity of sock hops, drive-in movies, and the introduction of a fad for 3-D movies that is currently enjoying its third vogue, appropriately enough.
The popular mindset tends to ignore the influential role played by be-bop jazz, the beat poets, film noir’s move to television, and the introduction of Cinemascope in the same decade. Beneath the artificially clean post-war American dream, where everyone on the big screen and small screen appeared to be white, upper middle class, and enjoying cocktails and cigarettes with no ill effects, while watching Rock Hudson pursuing a virginal Doris Day, there were the McCarthy witch hunts, the Red Scare, atomic fears, juvenile delinquency, and shell-shocked WWII veterans unable to readjust to civilian life.
It was in this world that the third wave of the horror film took hold. The steadily growing move from splitting the atom to racing to the moon saw science fiction take a steady hold on the genre that took it far from the space fantasy of decades past into an allegorical means of confronting the dark fears behind the baby boomers’ dream world. One of the most potent and influential b-movies to fill drive-ins during the late 1950s was The Blob.
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