Tuesday, July 11, 2006

UFO Apocalypse!!!!

ufo

This photo is of a super-mysterious object my wife noticed in the sky this evening right around dusk. Sure, it looks a bit like a pair of escaped helium balloons high up in the sky. Or at least it does if you have 20/15 vision, which she does, and I most definitely don't. And sure, when I examined these celestial visitors with a spotting scope (to compensate for my inferior, misshapen corneas and all) they looked even more like helium balloons tethered together, twirling off to an unknown fate. Most likely -- if they really were balloons -- they'd keep rising until they finally burst and then probably fall into the ocean where baby seals would eat them and choke or whatever. But perhaps they aren't balloons. The government often explains away "UFO sightings" by insisting they're really weather balloons, perhaps aided by swamp gas, and maybe the planet Venus as well. Either a.) there's a vast government conspiracy afoot, or b.) UFOs and balloons just look very, very similar, and the government confuses the two just as often as the rest of us do. UFOs can't be ruled out in either case. What's more, I saw no immediately obvious source for any balloons in my couple of minutes worth of idly looking out the window. So either I didn't see the source, or they're really UFOs. I like to think I'm fairly observant, so the UFO hypothesis is clearly the more probable of the two. And this isn't just a run-of-the-mill UFO sighting, either. They're up to something. They don't usually fly in formation like this, and they normally avoid major metropolitan areas like the plague. But no, here they are, brazenly flaunting their alienness right over our fair city. It's clear that the UFO apocalypse is at hand, probably.

There were warning signs, if only we'd been looking hard enough. But no, sadly, at that point we were still operating from our fat-n-happy, pre-7/11 mindset. One key warning we should've clued in on: Here's a recent item (also found by my wife) from the police blotter in a late June issue of the Heppner Gazette-Times, the very same paper that published that tasty yum-o-riffic "mock chow mein" recipe a while back. This is verbatim right from the paper, I swear I'm not making this up. ("MCSO" stands for the Morrow County Sheriff's Office.)

MCSO received a request for information from a caller in Heppner regarding whether a space ship has landed in the Morrow County Area. The caller believes her friend is teasing her but she is unsure. Dispatch confirmed with Boardman PD that Unidentified Flying Objects have landed in the area.

That last sentence is the real kicker. The cool heads at MCSO must see this stuff all the time. They certainly didn't seem to think it was a big deal. Not a word about dispatching a patrol car to check up on these UFOs. Nothing about alerting NASA, or the National Guard, or CNN, or anything. And the local paper didn't splash the news all over the front page, either. Just an item in the police blotter, nothing more. Lesser mortals might have freaked out over the prospect of making first contact with an alien civilization, perhaps even hostile aliens. But not our friends out in Eastern Oregon. Those people are tough as nails.

But wait, there's more! It just so happens that I've watched a number of wretched sci-fi movies recently, and several involved UFOs. Coincidence? What are the odds that a normal, well-adjusted, average citizen would just so happen to have seen several obscure UFO movies right around the time the UFOs actually show up? (For the present time, we will not be discussing whether I qualify as normal or well-adjusted, because I'd rather not go there.)

Terror in the Midnight Sun

If you ever wanted to know what it's like when aliens attack Lappland (in far northern Sweden), now's your chance. This is actually an ok movie for what it is. You can tell it's a Swedish (in part) movie because the heroine is far more spunky and independent than you'd see in a US film from 1958. Oh, and there's even a racy-for-its-day shower sequence. Ok, you can also tell it's Swedish because of the long musical number in Swedish, which our hero helpfully translates in what's supposed to be a romantic scene. Basically there's report of a big meteor crashing in Lappland, but it turns out it's the aliens, come to Earth perhaps in search of iron ore. The main aliens are your standard bald guys in cloaks and high collars, looking much like the grim reaper in The Seventh Seal (another Swedish film). They don't stray far from their little spherical vessel, but they brought along a large hairy creature with an underbite and big soulful eyes, which roams the countryside leaving utter destruction in its wake. Well, not all that much destruction, really. The final tally: It does in exactly one guy, a very minor character at that, plus a few reindeer. It destroys two small airplanes and a few cabins, and knocks over some teepees. (Ok, small scale models of planes, cabins, and teepees.) It also carries the screaming heroine around for a bit, as monsters tend to do. The monster isn't given a name or title in the movie, so I'm going to name it Woogums, because I thought it was kind of cute in a muppet-creature sort of way. Everything's going great for the aliens until Woogums wanders into a Lapp village and spreads the aforementioned mayhem. The Lapps are pissed off by this, and they grab their skis and flaming torches and hunt the poor creature down. Clearly its alien masters didn't teach Woogums basic monster tricks like hostage-taking, because he gently sets the heroine down on the snow, giving the angry Lapps a clear shot. So they set poor Woogums on fire, and he falls off a convenient cliff. The aliens realize they've been beaten by the restless natives, so they put their UFO in reverse -- literally, because the takeoff sequence is just the landing sequence run backwards -- and our heroes have a nice chuckle, the end. I thought the skiing bits were filmed well, and the sequence where the alien baddies try to menace our heroine is completely weird and surreal. Like I said, this movie isn't bad, if you're into this sort of thing.
Invasion of the Animal People


This comes on the same DVD as the previous movie. In fact, it mostly is the previous movie, except butchered up by the infamous Jerry Warren. His MO was to take B movies from overseas, hack chunks out of them seemingly at random, and then add unbelievably dire new footage of his own. This time, Warren added an extremely long and nonsensical intro by the one and only John Carradine, plus a pointless framing story that looks as if it was filmed in someone's basement, with a cast and crew of no-talent amateurs. Also, Warren moves the snowbound action to Switzerland instead of Sweden for some reason, and then has his drama-class-dropout hacks point at Greenland on the map when discussing the action. Oh, and he cut out the shower bit, I guess to make the movie less "European" or something. In fairness, I actually kind of liked his earlier movie The Incredible Petrified World, which is 100% Warren-made footage. It's not exactly a thrill ride. You might very well fall asleep. But it's got diving bells and mysterious caves. I liked the movie because I know I would've loved it if I'd seen it as a kid.

Reptilicus


This has nothing to do with UFOs at all. As I noted earlier here, Reptilicus is the Danish Godzilla. The version I saw was severely edited down for TV, but I gather I missed very little. Perhaps there's someone out there who gets a scare or two watching a marionette monster "eat" a cutout photograph of a Danish farmer (which is supposed to be the farmer). I just thought it was really funny. Since the movie comes from a country known for far more serious and artistic films, perhaps we should assume there was a deeper artistic motive at work. I mean, it isn't actually true, but I like to be generous. Rather than a failed attempt at a "realistic" farmer-chomping scene, maybe we should regard it as a successful symbolic representation of the abstract idea of a giant acid-spitting reptile eating a farmer. Also, it comments on society's ills, and contains as many levels of irony as you can handle.

Zeta One


A semi-groovy, wannabe-sexy British SF movie from 1969. This thing is a real mess. I think they must've started out trying to make a low budget British Barbarella, completely botched the attempt, tried to salvage it by wrapping a low budget Austin Powers-ish secret agent tale around it, and mostly botched that part as well. The only things the "Barbarella" side has going for it are the mod 60's clothes (orange minidresses and white go-go boots, rrrowrrr!), and some groovy sets. The go-go-boot-wearing Angvians are from space, or another dimension, or something "far out" like that, so the movie very loosely fits into tonight's UFO theme. On the "Austin Powers" side, our hero gets to drive a Jensen Interceptor, the perfect car for a hip 60's superspy no matter how big your movie's budget is. Also, there's one funny scene where he argues with a petulant voice-activated elevator. For a minute or two, it's like something Douglas Adams would've written, and then it's gone and we're back in grade-Z territory.

The Crater Lake Monster


I had high hopes for this one. I figured any monster movie set here in Oregon would be worth seeing. Well, except that it wasn't filmed here, the lake looks nothing like our Crater Lake (the real one is far more scenic), and they never mention what state this is supposed to be happening in. It sure looks a lot like California, though. Our plot: Meteor crashes into lake, heating it up, causing frozen plesiosaur egg to hatch. Stop-motion plesiosaur gets big in a hurry, and chows down on nearby cows and dimwitted tourists who keep on wandering out on to, and into, the lake, for a variety of farfetched reasons. Eventually the townsfolk have had enough, and one of our heroes does the beast in by gashing it with a snowplow. The end. The movie makes a lot more sense once you read the cast bios on IMDB. Nobody had much of an acting career outside of this movie, but several cast and crew members went on to lucrative mainstream visual effects careers, working on big-budget Hollywood movies. So maybe it's best to think of this movie as a feature-length audition tape, and a successful one at that. The stop motion work really is pretty decent for something a few guys threw together on a shoestring budget. The rest of the movie is godawful, sometimes wandering deep into so-bad-it's-good territory, including the absolute worst day-for-night work I've ever seen. If your "nighttime" footage is shown in full color, it doesn't matter how many times you have your actors insist it's the middle of the night. You won't convince anyone, least of all the audience.

The UFO connection? Well, um, UFOs are kind of like meteors if you don't know any better, except that meteors are made out of solid rock or metal and don't typically mutilate cows or kidnap people for experimentation, so far as anyone knows.

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

It's not nice to steal from your wife.

atul666 said...

Ok, sorry, I should've given credit where credit was due. I've edited the post to make it clear I was not the one who first noticed the signs of imminent alien invasion.

Kisses!