Inspired by Glenn Erickson's always interesting annual Movies
Not on DVD list at the entertaining DVD
Savant, we at RevolutionSF decided to put together our own
list. We contacted writers, critics, artists, and even a game
designer for their selections.
There were a few rules:
1) DVDs must NOT be available in the U.S. (Region 1). The exceptions
would be movies that are on cheapie labels and deserve a much
2) The DVDs need to be geek-related and/or something of interest
to SF Revolutionaries. All science fiction, horror, and mysteries
with supernatural elements are copacetic. Most cult films make
the grade. TV movies are fine but NOT TV series.
This list is by no means complete, but a mere sampling of what
we thought. Let us hear your thoughts and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without further preamble, the selections.
— Rick Klaw
Last Dinosaur (1977)
The Last Dinosaur is another ABC telefilm from
the same producers as The Bermuda Depths, with which
it would make a great double bill. Richard Boone hilariously
stars as wealthy sportsman-industrialist "Masten Thrust," and
no, I am not making this up. With a similarly-conceived plot
as At The Earth's Core (1976), explorers accidentally
drill into a lost world and encounter, you guessed it, a tyrannosaur,
aka the last dinosaur! (Never mind that at one point it must
battle another giant creature, which must be the penultimate
The phallus-shaped drilling machine even has "THRUST" stenciled
along its side. Amazing. Boone is highly inebriated throughout,
as must have been his female co-stars to ever agree to the love
scenes. Made back when leading men could have ugly f***ed-up
cauliflower noses. Those were the days.
— Lee Sparks, producer-writer-actor for upcoming
Animation AOK feature Viva the Nam and screenwriter
for the award-winning short film Fun With Clones (2003)
Message From Space (Uchu kara no messeji) (1978)
Directed by Kinji (Battle Royale) Fukusaku, this fast-paced
if a bit confused Japanese Star Wars ripoff stars Sonny
Chiba and a surprisingly effective Vic Morrow, really giving
it everything he's got. Such blood and thunder in this man,
you'd think he'd have saved some of that energy for a movie
that people might want to go see. Message From Space has
basically the same story as Star Wars only this time
there are two Luke characters, no Chewies, and the Obi Wan character
starts out as Vic Morrow but later Sonny Chiba shows up and
kinda takes over the "wise old sage" responsibilities for the
rest of the movie, leaving Vic to try and be Han. There's the
obligatory anthropomorphic robot antics on board as well!
The score is worth noting, chiefly because it is so somber
and mournful (and repetitive) for such a frivolous and upbeat
movie. But the music has you thinking that inescapable tragedy
lies around every corner. Hilariously, once the Star Wars
narrative plays out, they pick up the Battlestar Galactica
story in medias res and form a ragtag space caravan in search
of Earth. I kid you not.
— Lee Sparks
Ishiro Honda, the director of the original Godzilla
(1956) turned his hand to giant metamorphosing
insects in Mothra
(1961), and in the process created
Toho's most popular and enduring monster outside of Godzilla himself.
The plot is familiar to anyone familiar with Mothra's other film
appearances: An expedition to Infant Island, the site of past
atomic testing, discovers amid the mutant vegetation natives unaffected
by radiation. More remarkable are two singing, fairy-sized women,
who are promptly abducted and spirited away to Japan. A giant
egg worshiped by the natives hatches and Mothra, in larval caterpillar
form, emerges swims to Japan to rescue the kidnapped "Peanuts."
Conventional weapons have no effect on the caterpillar, who proceeds
to spin a cocoon amidst the wreckage of Tokyo Tower and emerge
as a spectacular moth.
Notably, Mothra was the first of Tojo's kaiju films to take
a step back from the horror genre and cast the monster as the
hero, giving her something of a personality, a noble cause and,
ultimately, success in her mission. The formula worked well
enough for Mothra to appear in a record seven Godzilla films,
plus a trilogy of her own in the 1990s.
— Jayme Lynn Blaschke, author of Voices
of Vision and RevSF contributing editor
of the Creeps (1986)
Writer-director Fred Dekker's Night of the Creeps
boils down just about everything I love from 1950s monster movies,
tosses some zombies into the mix, and makes for about as much
fun as you can have in just under ninety minutes. Dekker starts
things off on a spaceship populated with good ol' fashioned rubber-suited
aliens, one of whom ejects a capsule of zombie-breeding parasites
Said capsule burns through the atmosphere and infects a 1950s
college town in a b&w segment that tips its hat to everything
from The Blob (1958) to those urban legends about axe
murderers escaped from the asylum.
Ten minutes of that and we're into the '80s, with an Animal
House of blow-dried frat boys who end up as zombies in the
making, and a run-down suicidal cop (Tom Atkins) who's trying
to settle some old scores and bury the dead before he clocks
into oblivion. Dekker's finest hour, and Atkins', too.
It's a perfect monster movie that holds up wonderfully. Just
last year I popped my aging ex-video store VHS into a deck one
night and showed it to a bunch of college students who work
for me. Not only did they eat it up, they learned how to answer
a phone Tom Atkins style, i. e. cold-blooded, half-pissed, and
ready to face anything from dead frat boys to decaying axe-murders
with a couple of words: "Thrill me."
— Norman Partridge, Stoker award-winning author of Dark
Trippy directing effort from graphic artist Saul Bass, Phase
IV concerns intelligent ants from space that torment imperiled
scientists. Gorgeous macro photography and the best acting performance
by an ant or other insect ever captured on film.
— Lee Sparks
Rebirth of Mothra III (Mosura 3: Kingu Gidora
After the tremendous box-office success of Godzilla vs. Mothra:
The Battle for Earth
(1993) Toho revived long-stalled plans
for a stand-alone Mothra
film, the first since the 1961
original. The result was Rebirth of Mothra
of Mothra II
(1997) and Rebirth of Mothra III
While the first two of the trilogy have long been available on
a convenient double-sided DVD offering from Columbia/TriStar,
that company declined to release the final installment of the
trilogy in North America (available on DVD only in Region
Considered in some quarters to be the best of the three Rebirth
films, the epic directed by Okihiro Yoneda pits Mothra once
again against uber-baddie King Gidorah, who pretty much beats
the tar out of the insect hero. Humbled yet determined, Mothra
travels back to the time of the dinosaurs (in a very Terminator-esque
plot twist) to kill a weaker ancestor of King Gidorah. Unfortunately,
Jurassic Gidorah proves to be stronger than anticipated, and
both Gidorah and Mothra die in the battle. Except Gidorah's
tail survives to regenerate into a more powerful King Gidorah
that will threaten the future. Mothra's primitive ancestors,
however, have a plan, and spin a cocoon about their descendant
who emerges 65 million years later, give or take, as the new
and improved "Armored Mothra" to destroy King Gidorah once and
for all. A flashy, fitting end to this trilogy. It's just unfortunate
that very few people have seen it outside of late night airings
on the Sci Fi Channel.
— Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Sangre (Holy Blood) (1989)
Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre
nasty, blood-sticky piece of work. This is one of those movies
that truly divide the watchers into love/hate camps, and never
the twain shall meet.
What do you want from a movie? Circus freaks? Check. An elephant
funeral? Yep. Crazed knife throwers, armless saints, rampant
symbology? You got it, kiddoes. Cover it all up with heaping
helpings of blood, blood, blood, and maybe a touch or two of
Fellini, and you've got Santa Sangre in all its
Now that's geek moviemaking at its finest.
— Mikal Trimm, short-story writer
Search for the Gods (1975)
Made at the height of the Chariots of the Gods craze,
Search for the Gods, a telefilm starring Kurt
Russell, concerned the notion that alien astronauts had visited
Earth in the distant past and "seeded" modern civilization (if
not outright genetically engineered us humans). I remember seeing
it several times as a kid and finding it compelling yet simultaneously
— Lee Sparks
of the South (1946)
There's a good reason that Walt Disney's Song of the
South isn't officially available on DVD in the United
States: Lots of people believe it's a horribly racist movie.
They might even be right. I wouldn't know, not having seen it
since its original release in 1946. I shouldn't have been allowed
to see it even then, because quite possibly the racist attitudes
it depicted sank into my unconscious, where they've resided
all these years. I don't like to think they did, but then I
wouldn't really know, would I?
One thing I do remember about the movie is a couple of the
songs. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the Oscar for best song, and
I can still sing most of it sixty years after having seen the
movie. In context it's probably another example of the movie's
racism, but I don't remember it that way at all. Mainly because
I don't remember the context. Another song is "The Laughing
Place," a great number that my mother liked to refer to for
years after we saw the movie. "Everybody's got a laughing place,"
she'd say, or sing, when she detected that I was feeling grumpy
or sad. It seldom failed to cheer me up.
It's one of the first Disney films to combine live action
with animation. For most of the movie, the two are separate.
The live-action characters have an existence apart from that
of the animated ones. In the concluding scene, though, the live
actors and the animated characters are on-screen together. I
recall that part clearly.
Little references to it appear in other films, like geek favorite
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). There's also a parody
scene with Chevy Chase in Fletch Lives (1989).
These in-jokes become more obscure every year as there are more
and more people who haven't seen the original movie.
That's not to say Song of the South isn't available
at all. Note that I said it wasn't officially available.
Type the title into your search engine and you'll probably be
greeted by at least a couple of places that will be happy to
sell you a bootleg version. Even Disney stockholders are very
uneasy about his movie, and when Disney turns down the opportunity
to make a few million bucks, you know there must be something
to the claims of racism.
— Bill Crider,
award-winning author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
TV movie actually did star Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie
Fisher and other major cast members, and the commercials implied
space battles and adventure. There were no Star Wars
cartoon series or tie-in novels at this point, and most of us
didn't even have VCRs, so to adolescent Star Wars fans
this sounded like the best thing ever, and it was feverishly
The reality was harsh. The storyline with the movie cast was
sidelined in favor of musical numbers by Bea Arthur and Diahann
Carroll, the comedy stylings of Art Carney, and a truly horrible
cartoon. Even as a twelve-year-old you knew it was wrong, wrong,
wrong, but it's your fannish past, man, and you've got to own
it, if only as a reminder of how good we have it now.
— Martha Wells,
author of Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement and the
recently-revised The Element of Fire
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
In 1983, producer Steven Spielberg hired three young directors
to join him in putting together an homage to The Twilight Zone
TV series of the '50s and '60s. John Landis directed the prologue
and first segment, loosely based on the episodes "A Quality of
Mercy" and "Death's-Head Revisited." Spielberg directed the second
segment, a remake of the episode "Kick the Can". Joe Dante updated
the episode "It's a Good Life" for the third segment, and the
final segment, a remake of the classic "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet",
went to George Miller
. The film is chiefly remembered today
for the tragic helicopter accident which resulted in the deaths
of actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi
— Peggy Hailey, RevolutionSF books editor
United Productions of America (UPA) Cartoons
If I ran the circus, the Looney Tunes and Disney collections
on my shelf would be joined by equally well-packaged and annotated
sets from UPA, or United Productions of America.
UPA was the most influential animation house of the '50s,
replacing the Disney "illusion of life" exemplified by "The
Old Mill" (1937) and Bambi (1942), with a modernist style
in which design drove the animation more than character and
plot. UPA cartoons sport bold colors, non-representative backgrounds,
stylized characters. Compared to the Oscar-winning "Gerald
McBoing-Boing" (1950), "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1953), or
the early Mr. Magoo shorts, other cartoons of the period
look old and static. The other studios responded. When you see
Maurice Noble's backgrounds in "What's Opera, Doc" (1957)
or Disney's "Pigs is Pigs" (1953) and "Toot, Whistle,
Plunk, and Boom" (1953), you're looking at reactions to
the UPA challenge.
In another sort of influence, Hanna-Barbera realized that if
you emphasized design, you could use limited animation for television.
Which led us inexorably to Jabberjaw.
So if we have cable networks devoted to cartoons influenced
by UPA, is it too much to ask to be able to get nice pristine
copies of the originators? Until that day, I'll have to hold
onto my old VHS tapes.
— Paul O. Miles, short story writer and creator
Wizard of Speed and Time (1989)
An autobiographical fantasy by "Director-Producer-Actor-Animator-Editor-Effector-Etcetera"
Mike Jittlov, The Wizard of Speed and Time is
a jaw-dropping stop-motion special effects extravaganza still
unmatched to this day. Jittlov stars as himself, a Hollywood
special-effects guru trying to make an independent feature (the
one you're watching, naturally) despite maddening interference
from clueless and malign producers. Jittlov promoted Wizard
and his highly original short work on the SF convention circuit,
and established both himself and the movie as cult favorites.
But the film's producer, who also acted in the film, playing
the role of "Evil Producer", in fact turned out, self-referentially,
to be a real-life jerk. The film played in theaters for one
week, bombed, and to all appearances ended Jittlov's career.
Today, fervent film geeks pass bootleg Wizard DVD images
around the BitTorrent networks. It's the ideal format for watching
frame-by-frame, to see the subliminal messages and in-jokes
about the film industry that the Wizard depicted, alas!, all
Varney, writer and game designer
Zatoichi's Pilgrimage (Zatôichi umi o wataru)
aka Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman's Pilgrimage (1966)
The 14th film in the long-running Japanese saga of the blind
swordsman-masseur played by Shintaro Katsu, Zatoichi's
Pilgrimage is the only one that hasn't been released
on DVD. As a result, there is a hole in my DVD shelf as big
as the Kamakura Buddha. The Zatoichi films are terrific samurai
movies, loaded with violence and an occasional dose of sex.
Eighteen have been released by Home Vision, seven by AnimEigo,
and the final one by Tokyo Shock. In the name of all true Zatoichi
fanboys, I beg Miramax, which has been sitting on Zatoichi's
Pilgrimage for some time, to bring Zatoichi's DVD pilgrimage
to a happy end by finally filling that gaping hole on my chambara
— Chet Williamson, author of Noichi
The Blind, Kaikon,
Don't miss letters A through K in our first batch of geek
movies not on DVD. It has dinosaurs,
aliens, and truckers!