Watching 80s B-Movies - started me thinking

Back in the 1980s I developed a rather bad habit. Together with a school friend of mine we would regularly head to the local video store and seek out the least rented VHS tape (as long as it was science fiction, fantasy or horror) and take it home to see why no one had rented it before.

We saw some completely awful movies doing this - Mutant Kid springs to mind as particularly appalling. Had a lot of fun doing it but sat through a ton of serious rubbish - stuff that wasn't even bad enough to be funny.

The problem with it long term though is it sets you off on a dangerous path. Because of the great (new definition) 80s straight to video fare - films like Trancers, Enemy Mine and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. I will admit when I first saw the last of these I did rather like Molly Ringwald. Now before any of you think I'm a bit of a perv as she was fifteen when she made the film, I was fifteen when I saw it. We're almost exactly the same age. I had the same reaction when I saw her in the Stand TV Mini-Series.

What this early obsession with trying to find the gem of a low budget movie has left me with is a lifetime of watching bad movies on the off chance I'll recapture those moments from my youth. It has happened from time to time but generally it just means I watch rubbish films.

To alleviate this we invented a game that we played with horror movies other necessary props included alcohol, although not for me, and pizza) called B-Movie Bingo.  Somewhere - I will try to dig it out sometime - I have a list of horror movie stereotypes, lazy plot points, monsters, sayings etc. We split these into bingo cards, give one card to each person and start watching bad movies. If something happens on your list you call it out, pause the film, and justify your claim on ticking an item off your list. First to finish their card wins.

Anyway to get to the point I watched a film recently from the I haven't seen before. It's called Dollman and was made in 1991. What shocks me about not having seen it is it stars the lead guy from Trancers, Tim Tommerson, so I have no idea why I didn't watch it then.

Well, having watched it I can report it's terrible - although in a thoroughly enjoyable way. Bad effects, bad dialogue, bad idea, bad acting, dreadful music - but I loved it. I'm glad I have Dollman vs Demonic Toys on my to watch shelf.

But in addition to this something was going through my head about horror films. There are an awful lot of them that use medical science as a trigger or big bad. The one that started me thinking was the Eye (with Jessica Alba). I saw it as a trailer on a DVD I was watching (BTK if you're interested).

This film had a scientific breakthrough - eye transplants - as the pivot to the plot. now this time it wasn't specifically the medical stuff that was the evil. We're not talking about evil doctors here. But the operation causes Alba's character to see things and it all goes a little bit wrong. But often the doctors or scientists are the bad guys. Do we as a species really distrust science and scientists that much?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. (And I'm not BTW.) After all the very first science fiction novel, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein had the genius scientist creating the monster. That set the tone right from the off.

Now normally I wouldn't have any issue with science as bad guy in movies - it can be highly entertaining. Stephen King's the Stand is still one of my favourite books and the pandemic is science caused at the start.

My worry at the moment though is that it's not just Hollywood that sees science as a fall guy. Too many others do too - and when a lot of those are politicians it's worrying. We need science. There are far too many problems around at the moment that we need to resolve and because scientists are the ones highlighting some of them a lot of people are denying there's even a problem.

Are we ever going to grow up? Hopefully we will in time.

Sorry to get gloomy on you. Next time I will go back to my normal nonsense, I promise


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