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July 10: On This Day In Science Fiction History

It may seem a bit tame or even passe by today's standards, but when ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK premiered on this day in 1981 it made a believer out of many sci-fi fans.  John Carpenter's somewhat disturbing look at the future of mankind -- specifically at the future of federal incarceration -- won over audiences with its grim realism and desolate settings.  If you haven't yet seen it, what are you waiting for?!?!

Actor Ron Glass was part of the very talented ensemble at the heart of Joss Whedon's kinda/sorta Western kinda/sorta Sci-Fi program Firefly that went on to become the blockbuster motion picture (not!) Serenity.  (Sorry, folks, wasn't a fan of the program, but I do agree it had an immensely talented cast.)  Glass was born on this day in 1945.

Actor John Simm had a brilliant breakthrough performance in the BBC's Life On Mars (which I highly recommend to those who haven't seen) ... and, of course, he was 'The Master,' a grand foil to face no less than David Tennant's incarnation of the legendary Doctor Who.  Simm was born on this day in 1970, and he continues to impress with every project that he undertakes ... as 'The Master' would.

On this day back in 1970, one of the more underrated but occasionally maligned entries in Sci-Fi (I hate it when that happens) Colossus: The Forbin Project opened theatrically ... in West Germany of all places.  (Maybe East Germany cinemas were already booked?)  In any event, here's the film's plot summary as provided by our friends at IMDB.com:

"Forbin is the designer of an incredibly sophisticated computer that will run all of America's nuclear defenses. Shortly after being turned on, it detects the existence of Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, previously unknown to US Planners. Both computers insist that they be linked, and after taking safeguards to preserve confidential material, each side agrees to allow it. As soon as the link is established the two become a new Super computer and threaten the world with the immediate launch of nuclear weapons if they are detached. Colossus begins to give its plans for the management of the world under its guidance. Forbin and the other scientists form a technological resistance to Colossus which must operate underground."

On this day back in 1985, the Mad Max franchise grew by one more flick when MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME screened theatrically.  It wasn't a total failure -- some critics today look back on it much more fondly than I do.  I just thought its central storyline was way too similar to what had come before (in THE ROAD WARRIOR, no less) with much stronger direction.  Oh well ... it'll have to do until the impending Max reboot screens.

On this day back in 1992, the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER franchise became the phenomenon it is as earnestly as it could, bringing together Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundren for the first time.  I didn't think the film was a complete disaster, though I'll admit I wasn't all that enamored of it.  Here's the plot summary, compliments of IMDB.com:

"Luc and Scott were killed in Vietnam, but the army has a secret project for reanimating dead people as near-perfect soldiers."

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Tags: Colossus: The Forbin Project, Doctor Who, Escape from New York, Firefly, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Serenity, Universal Soldier

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Comment by Juneith on July 11, 2014 at 7:42pm

Loved Escape from NY!!  Had been a Kurt Russell fan from his Disney days... but even more so after seeing this movie!

Enjoy!

Comment by Trekscribbler (aka Ed) on July 11, 2014 at 4:33am

@Richard Magnusson: I've never seen it, either, though I've had people really malign it.  But it does sound interesting so I'll probably order me a DVD of it, too, at some point to check it out.

Comment by Richard Magnusson on July 11, 2014 at 2:02am

Escape from New York is my joint fave movie of all time (Along with Blade Runner.)  And after reading this I really must see Colossus: The Forbin Project!  Looks like my kind of movie! :)

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