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June 1, 2022

Static Age #21: Out of this World (1962)


Out of this World (1962) R2 DVD box art

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Out of this World (1962), the British sci-fi anthology series broadcasted on ITV. Hosted by Boris Karloff, it ran for 14 episodes (including the pilot), but as was the case with may shows from the era, the tapes were erased and all episodes are considered lost, aside from the sole surviving ‘Little Lost Robot’. That episode, based on Isaac Asimov’s story is about a loyal robot that takes a command literally (“get lost” it is told) and becomes confused. Directed by Douglas James, this is as naïve as television sci-fi was in the 1960s, but it made me wonder what the rest of the episodes would look like. Other episodes were based on the works of Philip K. Dick and Clifford D. Simak, so we can only wish that one day they will get unearthed (although I’m not holding my breath). This was a spin-off from the legendary Armchair Theatre (1956 – 1974) series, which we will tackle at some point in the future via this column.


And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…


Lethal Weapon - Season 2

Further adventures of buddy cops Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Roger Murtlaugh (Damon Wayans) are available on the 2nd season of Lethal Weapon (2016 – 2019), which is once again fun and exciting (most of the stunts and explosions are of cinematic quality), but also very problematic for this day and age when it so blatantly glorifies the cop and the heterosexual family (and its dubious values).


American Gods - Season 2

The 2nd season of American Gods (2017 – 2021), based on Neil Gaiman’s same-titled hit novel (and executive produced by the author) takes us again deep into rural America where we will witness the doings of several fallen and decadent gods. It’s obvious though that America’s greatest god is money. Benefiting from a great cast that includes Crispin Glover (although everybody speaks as if they’re in Twin Peaks, and that without David Lynch behind the camera) and Emily Browning (a very strong actress and an absolute doll), this is masterfully directed and comes with operatic violence that will haunt you for a long time. Plus, the gods are having explicit sex with each other and humans alike, but would you expect any less from divine lust?


American Crime Story - Season 2

The 2nd season of American Crime Story (2016 – present) is about the murder of fashion design extraordinaire Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) by his boyfriend and all-around compulsive liar turned serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). Based on the book ‘Vulgar Favors’ by Maureen Orth and adapted for the television screen by Tom Rob Smith, this perfectly captures the world of the 1990s Los Angeles luxurious gay scene and beyond.


Following a couple of mediocre if fun seasons, the 3rd season of Slasher (2016 – present) is gruesome and intelligent. Offering plenty of gore (as well as a bit of nudity) while focusing on the harsh reality of modern life with our meaningless addiction to social media (mostly the morbid side of the phenomenon) and equally meaningless desire for acceptance by a society that is corrupted in several ways. The series stalker The Druid is back to take out racists, wife abusers, and other scum (as well as some innocents along the way). Mean-spirited in its violence, but kind in its representation of queer culture, this show has matured really well.


Also, please allow me to speak a word or two about some recent documentaries…


Tales of the Uncanny (2020)

Produced by Severin Films, director David Gregory’s (who also produced, with Kier-La Janisse) Tales of the Uncanny (2020) documentary takes you on a chronological journey of anthology horror films, from their literary origins to the present day indie outings and everything in between, by combining talking heads clips from experts and filmmakers as well as film clips.


Produced by Severin Films, writer/director Kier-La Janisse’s (who also produced, with Winnie Cheung) documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021) packs more information on its subject that a coffee-table book ever could, and with an epic running time of more than 3 hours, it covers everything you ever wanted to know about the old religion and its many depictions on celluloid and beyond. Aiming for an academic and historical approach, this is rarely fun, and it should be viewed as a serious scholarly document that needs to be studied carefully. It comes highly recommended.


Troma's VHS Massacre Too (2020)

Thomas Edward Seymour’s VHS Massacre Too (2020) released by Troma, is a sequel to the award-winning documentary, this time offering a little more nostalgia for videocassettes, but mostly switching its focus towards the reality of the current state of independent film by offering some historical background and several interesting ideas (by people such as Lloyd Kaufman and Debbie Rochon) on how the scene could manage to survive. At a neat 77 minutes long, it is a sweet treat and it comes recommended.


And finally, this time around I enriched my bookshelf with literary classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales (1886, 1884, 1885, 1882, 1888, 1883, 1894, 2006, 2008, Oxford University Press), Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, 1992, 2001, Wordsworth Editions), M.R. James’ Collected Ghost Stories (1904, 1911, 1919, 1992, 1997, Wordsworth Editions) Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera (1909, Wordsworth Editions), George Orwell’s Coming Up for Air (1939, 2021, Αίολος), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955, 1959, 2000, 2006, Penguin Books), Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967, 2010, 2012, Anubis), William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971, 2011, Anubis), J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1973, 2019, Κέδρος), Stephen King’s Different Seasons (1982, 2012, Hodder), Cujo (1981, 2011, 2021, Hodder), Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Volume 1 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2018, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 2 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2018, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 3 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2019, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 4 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2020, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 5 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2021, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 6 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2022, Οξύ), Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988, 1998, Vintage Books), Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 (2013, 2014, Bell Best Seller, Χάρλεκιν Ελλάς Εκδοτική ΑΒΕΕ), and Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels (2015, Bell Best Seller, Χάρλεκιν Ελλάς Εκδοτική ΑΒΕΕ).

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