On Soviet Science Fiction Films
Over at SF Signal, Grady Hendrix talks about the history of Soviet science fiction films:
The titles are what grab you: I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen; Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel; Who Wants to Kill Jessie?; To The Stars By Hard Ways;Ferat Vampire; Test Pilot Pirxa; Ikarie XB-1. A heady combination of ESL literalism, proletarian bluntness and purple exploitation prose, who could come up with titles like these except a bunch of communists, caught between socialist worker’s heaven and the crass capitalist hell? And that’s exactly who made these movies – filmmakers from Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Estonia and the USSR back in the bad old days of the Cold War.
We’ve all already seen flotsam and jetsam from these flicks. Roger Corman was drawn to them by their polished special effects and sophisticated set design, and he hacked them into pieces, dubbed them into English and hung clunky AIP titles around their necks like leper’s bells: Voyage to the End of the Universe, Battle Beyond the Sun,Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Queen of Blood. Titles that reek of colonization, conflict, feudalism and naked chicks in fur bikinis. The poetic romance of revolution, crushed beneath the bootheel of marketing. Fortunately, there are DVD boxed sets and retrospectives surfacing all the time, including a massive megalith of one right now in Toronto, but if you’re expecting these films to be square stories of space comrades mouthing absurd Marxist slogans you’re in for a surprise. These films traffic in more uncertainty, fear of dehumanization and vampire cars than anything the United States has ever produced. – continue reading.
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