This week's Geek in Review is a look at some of my favorite 1970s Sci-Fi movies that some may call cult classics, but I call guilty pleasures.
Though the '70s were a prolific decade for big studio Sci-Fi films -- particularly the "pre-Star Wars" half of the decade -- quantity clearly won over quality, and this is where I'll focus my attention this week. These movies don't age particularly well, which is a big part of their charm, and I share them today in the hopes that they may just become guilty pleasures of yours, too, if you can accept a future world where the sideburns are huge, the furniture is made of molded white plastic, and almost everyone wears a tunic.It was incredibly fun to put this one together, but it was the most time-consuming column so far. Watching a marathon of these movies was awesome, but it was difficult for me to shake the feeling that I was slacking off when I should have been doing something more productive.
I did five movies, and could easily have done five more if I'd had time (look for a Part II at some point in the future.) Here's one of them:
Westworld (1973)The Geekwire is marginally SFW today. I don't think it's much more revealing than what you'd see Maxim or on the cover of FHM, but it's borderline enough to warrant this disclaimer, so consider yourself warned.
Long before he was a global warming denier, and named child rapists in his novels after critics of his global warming-denial, Michael Crichton had a successful novel turned into a film (1971's The Andromeda Strain, a movie so bad it didn't make this list.) It was also successful, so he tried his hand at writing and directing a movie of his own.
The Delos amusement park is split up into three themed lands: MedievalWorld, RomanWorld, and WestWorld. Visitors kick down $1000 a day to visit the world of their choice, and enjoy the immersive experience it offers. Each world's experience is made complete by life-like androids who interact with the guests, usually by fighting or fucking them. The guests (and the audience) are reminded several times that nothing can possibly go wrong, ensuring, of course, that that is precisely what will happen.
Much of the film takes place in Westworld, where tourists Benjamin and Blane spend a couple of days drinking, fighting, and screwing, before having their suspicions raised that something's gone all wonky when Blane gets bitten by a robot rattlesnake, then confirmed when he's killed by a robot gunslinger. Benjamin then spends the rest of the movie running away from the deadly Termin-- uh, Gunslinger.
Guilty pleasure because: Yul Brynner is sofa king cool in this movie. He is the original Terminator, and in fact one could make the case that certain elements of that film were, uh . . . inspired . . . by this one. And let's be honest with each other, mmmkay? If you could take a vacation to a place where every person you tried to seduce would drive the skin boat to tuna town with you, and you could start and win fights pretty much whenever you wanted, I don't know a lot of people who would refuse the trip. In fact, isn't Second Life built entirely around this concept, including the whole "nothing really works the way it should" element?
Lesson about the future: People of the future will still spend $1000 a day for a vacation spent drinking, fighting and fucking.
Drinking game: Whenever you see the crazy shiny android eyes, take a drink, but pace yourself. Trust me. Advanced drunks can take two drinks whenever Dick Van Patten provides some comic relief.