August 07, 2012

August Laser Rangers 2012 Meeting

Doomsday, Knocking at Our Door

Date: August 11, 2012
Time: Around 4:45pm (fanish time)
Place: David Sooby’s home theater with 51-inch Samsung HDTV, a 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital sound system, a full set of audiophile-grade speakers, and brand new seating for about 15 people without crowding.
Captain Laser: Bill O.Food Theme: Concession Stand/Drive-in
Dress theme: 1950's Garb

See more information at the Laser Rangers website!!  

A short feature will precede our first feature: 

The Magnetic Monster 

(1953, 76 minutes), starring Richard Carlson and King Donovan
IMDB Synopsis: Working for O.S.I., the Office of Scientific Investigation, A-Man agent Jeffrey Stewart and his partner Dan Forbes are sent to a local hardware store where they find a strong magnetic field has magnetized every metal item in the store. Investigating further, they eventually trace the source of the magnetism to an airborn [sic] flight carrying scientist Howard Denker, now dying of radiation poisoning, who has carted on board with him a new radioactive element which he has bombarded with alpha particles for 200 hours.
See the thrilling trailer on YouTube now! 


Following our potluck dinner (bring what you'd like to share) we'll be showing another short or two then our second, main feature.

The Satan Bug

(1965, 114 minutes) starring George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis, and Ed Asner
IMDB Synopsis: A germ warfare lab has had an accident. The first theory is that one of the nasty germs has gotten free and killed several scientists. The big fear is that a more virulent strain, named The Satan Bug because all life can be killed off by it should it escape, may have been stolen.
What in amazement the trailer on YouTube now!

Reviews by Ken Keller of Kansas City.
The Magnetic Monster
First off, forget the title. If you go into director Curt Siodmak’s "The Magnetic Monster" looking for a monster movie, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. What we have instead is one of the most ernestly serious science fiction films of the 1950’s, and one of the very few that attempted to examine the newborn horrors of the Nuclear Age in a sober, non-sensational, but low budget manner. (Typical of producer Ivan Tors, who would use the same approach for his "Science Fiction Theater" syndicated TV series.)

The film opens with narrated exposition that science fiction film makers of the 1950’s loved so much: "One of the side-effects of this decade’s rapid expansion in the importance of cutting-edge science in all fields of human endeavor has been the emerging need for a federal investigative agency to deal with the unexpected consequences of these new sciences. Thus, the Office of Scientific Investigation was created to serve as a sort of scientific counterpart to the FBI." 

Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (Richard Carlson) is one of the OSI’s most talented investigative scientists. As the film opens, he and his partner, Dr. Dan Forbes (King Donovan), are sent out to look into a very strange occurrence: Every metallic object in a Los Angeles hardware store has been endowed with a very powerful magnetic charge. Stewart and Forbes determine that the source of the intense magnetic field is in one of the apartments above the store, and they go upstairs to investigate. When they do, they discover that a very odd magnetism emanates from the body of a dead man, killed apparently by some sort of unusual, unknown radiation. Stewart orders the store closed and the building evacuated, and then returns to OSI headquarters with the magnetized and radioactive body. From then on, their investigation grows only stranger, pushing the known boundaries of 1950's science, as they pursue something quite unexpected and extremely dangerous to all of humanity.

The Satan Bug
An Americanized adaptation of an early Alistair Maclean thriller, this 1965 film made quite an impression at the time. It was one of the first films to deal with the horrific threat of biological warfare, and it offered the underrated George Maharis as a U.S. agent who uses his mind as much (or more) as his muscles. Supported by a fine cast of solid actors, Maharis works his way through a tangled web of misdirection to discover who has stolen the ghastly Satan Bug -- and more to the point, why. The story is a little sluggish at times, but that still doesn't detract from the creepier portion of the story, which allows the viewer to contemplate the apocalyptic results of unleashing such a horrible weapon on the world of the 1960s, unprepared in every way for such a biological catastrophe.

It's a treat to see actors like Ed Asner & Frank Sutton before their huge TV sitcom successes -- Sutton is especially good as a leering thug. And of course there's the luminous presence of Anne Francis, whose rapport with Maharis was previously demonstrated in one of the classic episodes of the very popular TV series "Route 66" -- the actors genuinely liked each other, and it shows again in this film. It's just a shame her role is underwritten, and she never really gets a chance to show off what she could do with her character. But her mere prescience in the film makes it all the more worth watching.
This film has something of the quality of a made-for-TV 1960s movie--but a very good one! Modern audiences may find its pacing occasionally slow, as it's more of a police procedural than an all-out action film. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mentally adjust for the difference in the evolution of film making styles during the last 40+ years, and you will find yourself engrossed before you know it.

"The Satan Bug" is an entertaining film that leaves the viewer with something troubling to think about afterwards: There's no reason to believe that work on biological weapons hasn't advanced even further, in secret, in the decades since this film first appeared--and that's a chilling thought, indeed!

The DVD-R transfer isn't very good--more like an average VHS-to-DVD transfer. A real DVD, remastered & complete with extras, would be great to have...but for the time being, this is what's available. The film itself is certainly worth seeing as the first example of the modern techno-thriller genre.

Thank you Ken for your write ups! 
The home of the Laser Rangers is located about two miles north of the Kansas Speedway, NW of the intersection of I-70 and I-435 on the Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area. For the exact address and directions, e-mail David Sooby at the email address given here.

IMAGE CREDITS: The information and movie poster images for all of these shows come from the invaluable IMDB or the movie's  respected distrubutors. The movie screen frame image used for the Laser Rangers contact information is courtesy of Psychology Today Online. Many thanks to these websites!

1 comment:

  1. I've got a Satan Bug DVD(Pal) to Mpeg1 file that may be better than the copy you have. If you want, I can send you a sample of the AVI.