Silent Running (1972) – Episode 73 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Amazing companions on an incredible adventure… that journeys beyond imagination!” the tagline for Silent Running promises a sci-fi spectacle but the film is instead a rather intimate tale of astronaut Freeman Lowell descending into madness. Director Douglas Trumbull’s space-epic is perhaps better known for the three small drones, Huey, Duey, and Luey. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they join Bruce Dern on his adventures aboard the Valley Forge.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 73 – Silent Running (1972)

Written by the impressive team of Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, and Steven Bochco, Silent Running has a lot to say between the lines. While the film focuses upon its lead character, Freeman Lowell as played by Bruce Dern, the story dives into environmental and corporate politics, theories, and dire warnings of a not-to-distant future doomed to set Earth on a collision course with disaster. Visual effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull, steps behind the camera to guide the spectacular visuals, some of which, were borrowed from unused scenes for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). His creation of the three drones would fascinate audiences in 1972 and directly influence the famous droids seen George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977). Silent Running, despite is calculated pacing, is an influential film that bridges the gap between 2001 and Star Wars.

Sharing their thoughts about the film, the Grue-Crew relive the first time they saw the film back in the 1970s – Jeff in the theater, Doc on TV, and Bill later on video in college. Bill’s take is based more of the political nature of the film, while Doc is focused on Bruce Dern and the drones. Chad and Jeff admire the film’s visual excellent and careful storytelling. Doc shares his experience seeing the film for the first time in nearly 40 years on the big screen at the FantasticRealm Film Series at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC. Regardless of their take, the Grue-Crew agree the film is important to film history and rise of science fiction film.

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Phase IV (1974) – Episode 72 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“The Day The Earth Was Turned Into A Cemetery!” the tagline for Phase IV promises a horror film the heady, occasionally trippy, sci-fi film cannot live up to. Yet, the film succeeds in establishing dread and exposing mankind’s fragile relationship with nature and the planet. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they face an attack of killer ants who burrow into their fears.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 72 – Phase IV (1974)

In the early Seventies, every studio had their Sci-Fi epic, a version of their own 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Paramount wanted one too. What they got was Saul Bass’s horror/sci-fi oddity Phase IV. Bass, better known for creating memorable title sequences for films such as Psycho, North by Northwest, and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, brings a distinct artist’s touch to the film giving it a heady, trippy aesthetic that makes the film stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the film did not connect with 1974 audiences, but the film has gained a cult following.  The cast includes Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, and Lynne Frederick as they face an army of intelligent ants of various kinds uniting to take over humanity.

Having never seen the film, Doc Rotten was able to finally catch Phase IV at a theatrical screening at the FantasticRealm Film Series. Having listened to The Black Saint and Bill Mulligan champion the film episode after episode, this was a must, as was including it on the Decades of Horror schedule. Now he can join Bill and Jeff Mohr in discussing the film’s use of “nature” style film to chronicle the ants’ attack on the desert community, it’s distinctive set-design, and much of the movie’s haunting imagery. The slow pace of the film builds towards a chilling and provocative conclusion that only Saul Bass could provide.

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Jaws 3-D (1983) – Special Edition – Decades of Horror 1980s

“The Third Dimension is TERROR” The tagline for Jaws 3-D works hard to convince its audience that the film is full of chills and thrills. Buried in the Eighties coming-at-you 3-D effects is a butchered story about the Brody boys all grown up and facing a great white shark of their own…at a famous sea park, no less. Dennis Quaid and Bess Armstrong lead the cast while first-time (and only-time) director Joe Alves lobs fish, arms, and shark teeth into the audience’s lap. Seen in 3-D for this episode, Thomas, Doc, and Christopher are joined by Paul Cardullo to relish in the wacky 1983 cinematic fad.

Decades of Horror 1980s
Special Edition – Jaws 3-D (1983)

Jaws 3-D credits the legendary Richard Matheson as its screenwriter. The resulting film, however, does not feel like any other example of Matheson’s work. He has gone on record stating his original script was “bedeviled by script-doctors.”  Along with Quaid and Armstrong, the cast includes Leah Thompson, Simon MacCorkindale, and Louis Gosset Jr. while the film includes two sharks, the classic “Bruce” great white is nowhere to be seen. Yes, despite its flaws, the film is stupid fun in its original 3-D form and was a success in its time holding the record for highest gross for a 3-D film until Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over in 2003

Guest host Paul Cardullo joined Doc Rotten and Christopher G. Moore to catch Jaws 3-D presented in 3D at the FantasticRealm Film Series at The Carolina Theater in Durham, North Carolina while Thomas is confined to the standard “flat” edition. Thomas has yet to forgive Doc for this… In addition to Jaws 3-D, the Grue-Crew discuss the other four 3-D films featured during the series: Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985), Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983). Doc Rotten also had the opportunity to interview Jim Carl, the director of the film series about 3D films, who reveals what The Carolina has in store for horror fans and Harry Guerro, from Exhumed Films, discusses 3-D films, his collection of cinema history, and some of the most rare 3-D films in existence.

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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)