Howard Hughes (Footprint Books), 2014, 291pp. RRP $36.95
The amusingly-named Hughes’ latest contribution to the ‘Filmgoers’ Guide’ series treads familiar, even fanboy-ish ground, and yet there’s much here that’s informative and witty, and he also digs up trivia that even the most scarily diehard of sci-fi devotees will enjoy.
Constructed as a series of chapters upon key works in the genre, from Metropolis and the original The War Of The Worlds and Gojira/Godzilla to Minority Report, the first of the new Star Treks and Avatar, this uses these classics as a springboard to discuss their deeper meanings and the bigscreeners, TV shows and rip-offs they spawned. Gojira and Tarantula lead to funny histories of both the ‘kaijū eiga’ (Japanese Monster Movie) and the giant, usually irradiated, old-school creature sub-genre, while a chapter on the original The Time Machine prompts mentions of Doctor Who and other time-travelling tales, and an analysis of the tortuous history of The Planet Of The Apes cycle (from 1968 until not quite now) segues into intriguing dissections of a very ‘70s kind of ‘cinematic dystopia’.
And then we’re into dealing with nice extraterrestrials (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and its kin), not-so-nice extraterrestrials (Alien and the menagerie of nasties it created), Blade Runner (and the dodgy movies that tried to copy it, like the endless Trancers/Future Cop flicks), the Terminators and how they ushered in paranoia about the rise of the machine and our reliance on technology, and even Apollo 13, although Hughes is quick to point out that this is ‘Science Fact’ rather than science fiction, and doesn’t buy into that ludicrously lame conspiracy theory (you know the one: about how the moon landings were… oh, forget it!!!).
Outer Limits is available through the Footprint Books website: Click here to purchase your copy.