Monday, September 19, 2011

Phil attends the MIDNITES FOR MANIACS: COLONIZING 'R' US triple feature at the Castro Theatre-Sept. 17, 2011

Once again I traveled up to the City by the Bay (San Francisco to you folks who don't live there) and attended the awesome Midnites for Manic series, hosted by the great Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. Tonight's theme was "Colonizing 'R' Us" and featured three films that showcased this perfectly. So ladies and gentlemen, let the show begin!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1986)
The first film of the night was ALIENS (1986), directed by James Cameron and starring Sigorney Weaver as Ripley. The planet from the first ALIEN film has been colonized, but communication has been lost. As a result, a group of military soldiers, along with Ripley, must travel there to find out what happened to the people there. The only lead they have is a lone survivor named Newt (Carrie Henn). Also joining on the mission is Bill Paxton (Pvt. Hudson), Jenette Goldstein (Pvt. Vaaquez), Paul Reiser (Carter Burke), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), and Michael Biehn (Cpl. Dwayne Hicks).

The film is just about as close to perfection as a film can get. Cameron's directing is flawless, and he would go on to direct other hit films such as TERMINATOR 2 (1991), TRUE LIES (1994), and the two highest grossing films of all time: TITANIC (1997) and AVATAR (2009). The film was released on July 18, 1986.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1997)
The second film for the night was the modern classic STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997). The film stars Casper Van Dien (Johnny Rico), Denise Richards (Carmen Ibanez), Dina Meyer (Dizzy Flores), Neil Patrick Harris (Carl Jenkins), Jake Busey (Ace Levy), and Michael Ironside (Jean Rasczak). The film's about the human race trying to survive from eradication from an invasion of giant, mutant insects. With the plot sounds like a AIP B-Movie flick, there's more going on here than meets the eye. Director Paul Verhoeven has helmed other classics such as ROBOCOP (1987), TOTAL RECALL (1990), and BASIC INSTINCT (1992), but with this film, Verhoeven satires on war, patriotism, propaganda, and perverted idealism of the Utopian American dream.

Ficks commented that the film is on par with Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film classic DR. STRANGELOVE, which also commented on the same topics. To be honest, Ficks has a valid point here. If you disagree, watch these films back to back and be surprised by the similarities. The film was released by Tri-Star/Touchstone Pictures on November 7, 1997.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1974)
The third and final film of the night was a film that I have never seen, but knew about it. DARK STAR (1974) was John Carpenter's student film that, believe it or not, was actually released to theaters! How amazing is that! How many student films do you know that was theatrically released? Not too many. The film's about the four-man crew of the Dark Star (Brian Narelle, Dan O'Bannon, Cal Kuniholm, and Dre Pahich) whose mission is to destroy unstable planets in galaxies that are planned to be colonized.

This low-budget film got Carpenter's career going. Soon after he was directing films such as ASSAULT OF PRECINCT 13 (1976) and the most influential horror film of all time HALLOWEEN (1978). While the film only lasted for 83 minutes, Ficks screened several trailers of Carpenter's other films afterwards: THE FOG, STARMAN, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, THE THING, CHRISTINE, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, VAMPIRES, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, ESCAPE FROM L.A., and GHOSTS OF MARS.

Another fantastic Midnites for Maniacs show! If you have never been to one of these events, you are missing out my friends. The next showing is on October 7th, so mark it on you caleder! To view upcoming shows, visit the website

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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