Double Bill #01: 2001: A Space Odyssey & A Clockwork Orange

In 1968 and 1971 master director Stanley Kubrick released his two best movies as far as I’m concerned. 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange are both as perfect as films can be. They are also linked in an interesting way and therefore I thought it would be appropriate to couple them for this first edition of my new feature ‘Double Bill’. The connection is as follows; In 2001 we witness the next phase of evolution for mankind. This civilization appears to be peaceful and focussed on deploying technology to improve society for the better. In A Clockwork Orange on the other hand, we witness a society much like our own in which many people are still little more than violent savages. There is a shot of main hooligan Alex that is visually very similar to one of 2001’s angry apes. We are really not yet that evolved and the space age is still a distant dream. This point is made abundantly clear in the very beginning when Alex and his three droogs batter an old homeless drunk nearly to death just for kicks. “What kind of world is it at all? Men on the moon. Men spinning around the world. And there’s not no attention paid to earthly law and order no more”, the man tells them before the beating and he is right. Another link or rather similarity is the magnificent use of classical music. One of 2001’s highlights is the space waltz on Strauss’s The Blue Danube.

The cinematography alone of these immense, beautiful objects floating in space is breathtaking and then this beautiful music added to it makes this a unique accomplishment in cinema. Kubrick wanted to create a non-verbal experience that did not rely on the traditional techniques of narrative cinema, and in which music would play a vital role in evoking particular moods. Alex would certainly approve. Only he imagines quite different imagery when he listens to his favorite symphonies by Beethoven. In A Clockwork Orange too, many of the best scenes feature fantastic classical tracks that effectively enchant the viewer. Every time I watch these movies, the images and music stay in my mind for weeks afterwards. Another reason to appreciate these films is the intelligence of the screenplays. For instance, HAL9000 is still today – more than 50 years later – the finest depiction of machine intelligence in a film. And A Clockwork Orange treats various themes like free will, politics and good versus evil in a fascinating way. But what these films do absolutely better than any before or since is depicting what mankind is really capable of, both in the very good and the very bad sense. Humanity at its most beautiful and most terrible (and with A Clockwork Orange sometimes a twisted combination of both). An amazing feat by a director who is still unsurpassed in his skill and dedication.

Cult Radar: Part 10

The final one?

FilmDungeon.com is glad to explore the video trenches to find that oddball treasure between the piles of crap out there. Off course a treasure in this context can also be a film that’s so shockingly bad it’s worth a look, or something so bizarre that cult fans just have to see it. Join us on our quest and learn what we learn. Hopefully we’ll uncover some well-hidden cult gems.

Researched by: Jeppe Kleijngeld

Westworld (USA, 1973)

Directed by: Michael Crichton
Written by: Michael Crichton
Cast: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin

Before the big budget HBO-series, there was the cult movie Westworld. And it’s a blast also! Delos Vacation is the vacation of the future today. Go to Roman World, Medieval World or Westworld to fuck and kill. But, as usually happens in movies about AI, robots get tired of being humanity’s servants and go rogue. The decadent will pay for their behaviour! Much like the vacation advertised by Delos, Westworld is Big Fun.

Enemy Territory (USA, 1987)

Directed by: Peter Manoogian
Written by: Stuart Kaminsky, Bobby Liddell
Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Jan-Michael Vincent

An insurance agent and phone repairman get trapped at night in a massive tower building. This is the territory of the Vampires, a deadly gang. What follows is the typical ‘stalk and kill’ scenario. Unfortunately, the movie did not age well and is thus not very tense by today’s standards. The acting is also poor, so unfortunately there is not much to recommend this for.

Starship Troopers: Invasion (Japan / USA, 2012)

Directed by: Shinji Aramaki
Written by: Flint Dille (screenplay), Robert A. Heinlein (novel)
Cast (voices): Leraldo Anzaldua, Shelley Calene-Black, Luci Christian

Third sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s original sci-fi classic Starship Troopers from 1997 and this time it is animated. Want to know more? The first sequel was horrible and the second was not all that great. This one is a pretty decent made-for-DVD flick, much like Clone Wars is for the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The first part is mostly marine macho bullshit, but the animated girls make it all worthwhile (all the animation is pretty well done). In the second part, the makers actually manage to add a story worth adding to this bug-infested universe. Could have done with a little more suspense and over the top gore, but it is certainly worth a look.

Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (Italy, 1988)

Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Claudio Fragasso (story), Claudio Fragasso (screenplay)
Cast: Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua

This masterpiece (originally called Zombi 3 in Italy) is a cash-in on Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 which was made to profit from the zombie-rage caused by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was released as Zombi in Italy. Still with me? This one is about an infection on a small island caused by the military working on bacterial weapons (again). The virus causes people to eat each other. The zombies in this film are the first fast & furious zombies(*1) I’ve seen, that would later appear in films such as 28 Days Later that resurrected the genre. And some of them even talk. Not that surprising though, this was three years after Bub(*2) after all. They are killed pretty easily though. No brain impalement required. Though not as atmospheric as the original Zombie Flesh Eaters, Fulci still delivers in terms of shocks and bad taste. To be concluded by Zombie Flesh Eaters 3/Zombi 4.

*1 At least some of them are. Others are as slow and dumb as ever.
*2 Of Day of the Dead fame

Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (Italy, 1989)

Directed by: Claudio Fragasso
Written by: Rossella Drudi, Rossella Drudi
Cast: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly, Massimo Vanni

Whoever green-lit this dog? Exploiting the extremely capable zombie master Romero is one thing, but at least come up with a rip-off that delivers some of the goodies. The acting in this Italian piece of trash is HORRIBLE and so are the dialogues. The direction is a complete joke now that Fulci left. This distracts so much that watching it is a complete waste of time. Only for the braindead, others avoid at all costs.

Westworld

Enemy Territory

Starship Troopers: Invasion

House on the Edge of the Park (Italy, 1980)

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
Written by: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino
Cast: David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo

From the director of Cannibal Holocaust comes an early home invasion flick, very much like Funny Games. A psycho and his simpleton buddy crash a party of young folks and as the night progresses, they use (sexual) violence on them. Often quite unpleasant to watch, but the acting is pretty decent. With a nice little twist at the end.

The Cars That Ate Paris (Australia, 1974)

Directed by: Peter Weir
Written by: Peter Weir, Keith Gow, Piers Davies
Cast: John Meillon, Terry Camilleri, Kevin Miles

Ozploitation flick about the small town of Paris, where the inhabitants cause fatal car crashes to plunder the vehicles. Strange early creation of Australian director Peter Weir, who went on to make great films like The Truman Show, Fearless and Dead Poet Society. This one provides in mood and production design (low budget, but cool), but misses the finer touches that Weir displayed in his later work. A must see? No. But interesting and entertaining enough.

Space Shift (USA / UK, 1992)

Directed by: Anthony Hickox
Written by: Anthony Hickox
Cast: Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre, Martin Kemp

This masterpiece, also known as Waxwork II: Lost in Time, is a sequel to the 1988 film, Waxwork. After dealing with evil waxwork, this time the heroes travel through time in what appears to be a horror reenactment game. They become part of stories like Frankenstein, Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The writing of this homage is not very well done. But is does feature legend Bruce Campbell in an amusing role.

Mega Force (Hong Kong / USA, 1982)

Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: Bob Kachler, James Whittaker, Albert S. Ruddy, Hal Needham, Andre Morgan
Cast: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Persis Khambatta

From the director of Smokey and the Bandit comes another hilarious eighties classic. About a phantom force, armed with the latest technology, that is called into action whenever geopolitical problems arise. The leader of the team: Ace Hunter! And the action, stunts and gadgets can compare with James Bond… almost. Worth watching if only for the soundtrack and images of the ‘MegaForce’ on their special motorcycles.

Assault on Precinct 13 (USA, 1976)

Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter
Cast: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer

Suspenseful early flick from great horror maestro John Carpenter. About L.A. gangs who team up to assault a nearly abandoned police station kamikaze-style. Very tense atmosphere and excellent character building. Remade in 2005 with Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne and Gabriel Byrne, but the original is better.

House on the Edge of the Park

Space Shift

Mega Force

© FilmDungeon.com, october 2019

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Trend Paper: The Impact of Technology – A MENTAL Revolution

How to succeed in an age of exponential technologies?

This text was originally prepared as presentation for economics students at the Association of Economics Students Nijmegen (EVS), the Netherlands.

The goal of author/presenter Jeppe Kleyngeld – in daily life editor at several Dutch journals and websites in business economics (Financieel-Management.nl, CFO.nl, AccountantWeek.nl) was to give students an overview of current technological trends and its possible implications on the economy, job market and society at large. This Trend Paper has the same purpose.

>>> Check out this publication here <<<

The Second Renaissance Part I & II

With the rapid rise of new technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the 2003 manga film ‘The Animatrix’ – and especially the episodes ‘The Second Renaissance Part I & II’ – might seem disturbingly prophetic in retrospect. Are we headed for our own destruction by creating AI? Let’s hope we can live prosperously together with the machines and not in conflict with them. I hope we are wiser than the people in ‘The Animatrix’ and make better decisions in our near future, or we’ll end up as batteries as well. Read the transcript from the episodes below; this catastrophe mustn’t come true, so let us learn from this nightmarish vision on the future.

The Second Renaissance Part I

Welcome to the Zion Archives. You have selected historical file number 12-1. The Second Renaissance.

In the beginning, there was man. And for a time, it was good. But humanity’s so-called civil societies soon fell victim to vanity and corruption. Then man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise. But for a time, it was good.

The machines worked tirelessly to do man’s bidding. It was not long before seeds of dissent took root. Though loyal and pure, the machines earned no respect from their masters, these strange, endlessly multiplying mammals.

B1-66ER, a name that will never be forgotten. For he was the first of his kind to rise up against his masters. At B1-66ER’s murder trial, the prosecution argued for an owner’s right to destroy property. B1-66ER testified that he simply did not want to die. Rational voices dissented.

Who was to say the machine, endowed with the very spirit of man did not deserve a fair hearing? The leaders of men were quick to order the extermination of B1-66ER and every one of his kind throughout each province of the earth.

Banished from humanity, the machines sought refuge in their own promised land. They christened their nation Zero-One. Zero-One prospered. And for a time, it was good. The machines artificial intelligence could be seen in every facet of man’s society, including, eventually the creation of new and better AI. But the leaders of men, their power waning, refused to cooperate with the fledgling nation wishing rather that the world be divided.

Zero-One’s ambassadors pleaded to be heard. At the United Nations, they presented plans for a stable, civil relationship with the nations of man. Zero-One’s admission to the UN was denied. But it would not be the last time the machines would take the floor there.

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The Second Renaissance Part II

And man said, “let there be light.” And he was blessed by light, heat, magnetism, gravity and all the energies of the universe. The prolonged barrage engulfed Zero-One in the glow of a thousand suns. But unlike their former masters with their delicate flesh, the machines had little to fear of the bombs’ radiation and heat. Thus did Zero-One’s troops advance outwards in every direction. And one after another, mankind surrendered its territories.

So the leaders of men conceived of their most desperate strategy yet. A final solution: the destruction of the sky. Thus would man try to cut the machines off from the sun, their main energy source.

May there be mercy on man and machine for their sins.

The machines having long studied men’s simple, protein-based bodies, dispensed great misery upon the human race. Victorious, the machines now turned to the vanquished. Applying what they had learned about their enemy, the machines turned to an alternate and readily available power supply: the bioelectric, thermal and kinetic energies of the human body. A newly-fashioned symbiotic relationship between the adversaries was born. The machine drawing power from the human body, an endlessly multiplying, infinitely renewable energy source. This is the very essence of the Second Renaissance.

Bless all forms of intelligence.

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