morbius glass

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The morbius glass schlock, horror, 80’s, grindhouse, sex and violence movie marathon. 1970’s doomsday future shock movies; Omega Man, Soylent Green, Roller Ball, Demon Seed

Posted by Adrian on May 27, 2008

As the 21st century rolls on, we have to look back into history at a time when there was political, social and economic upheaval. The 1970’s could be a historic reflection to what is occurring now, especially with the oil shocks of 73′ and 79′, the stagflation, the growing high unemployment and general feel that Russia and the America were going to obliterate the world in a Nuclear fireball (with a possible new cold war starting in the 21st century – same old players). There was also a uncertainly, apart from social, geopolitical and economic there was a technological uncertainty. In other words, would technology either help us or destroy us.

The themes of a worrying and terrifying future possibilities were reflected in popular culture, especially movies at the time. Science Fiction really came into its forte in 1970’s with it’s forecasts of a technological and sociological nightmare. Which as we all know (if you remember the 1980’s re-run of these movies my Gen X readers) was the social and political madness of class division, totalitarianism and human exploitation – with a nice dash of biological and nuclear horrors unleashed. To set the tone of a dismal look into the future.

Omega Man (1971), Directed by Boris Sagal.

Starring Charlton Heston, remade recently with actor Will Smith under the original book name (which is based on both movies) I am Legend. But keeping with the theme of 1970’s uncertainly and fear. Omega Man was a movie that fitted that time of the cold war, biological weapons and humanity becoming stripped down to it’s primitive survival instinct. Omega Man also dealt with the paranoia of technology, hence the main villains in the movie the mutated and zombie like ‘Family’; that are somwhat immune to the biological agent that has wiped out most of humanity.

Omega Man has a hippie feel, anti technology overtone. The two extremes, that advancement in human technology lead to to warring countries almost destroying the human race and the zombie like hippie, anti tech, psychotic cult group (the Family) – that blame man and technology and are hellbent on destroying any traces of human advancement (or what is left of it).

Caught in the middle is Charlton Heston character Col. Neville, M.D, an ex-army scientist who injected himself with a vaccine prior to the biological out break. He encounters survivors that appear immune or are at least not to far of from becoming like the mutant, crazy Family survivors. He tries to save them, so you have sacrifice, some religious overtones and the ‘brave new world’ theme ala the survivors going off into the horizon.

note: watch Robert Rodriguez Planet Terror homage to 1970’s end of the world drama’s, with the plight of the survivors at the end of the flick.

Soylent Green (1973) Directed by Richard Fleischer

Another 1970’s sci fi that attempts to look into a future possibility of an overcrowded planet and environmental devastation – it’s effects on the human race. Food has become scarce, meat and fresh vegetables are rare, instead the population is given a processed vegan soy alternative; hence the name Soylent Green. But the would be processed vegan soy treats are from from being vegan.

Charlton Heston returns as the main star, who uncovers the secret of the Soylent Green ingredients, the powerful food processing company Soylent Green and it’s conspiracy to feed humanity the corpses of humanity. It is movie that looks at environmental degradation, loss of food and food inflation (prices). Overpopulation and human exploitation, as a company makes it’s profits of feeding the dead to the living.

Rollerball (1975) Directed by Norman Jewison

The companies rule the world, free markets have collapsed, competition is non existent (within the free market) and the wealthy handful rule the world.

Interesting 1970’s flick, the rich are a drugged out crazy bunch of hedonistic idiots, the populous are entertained by a roman holiday game called Rollerball. Which is basically guys on rollerskates that speed around an indoor track and kill each other, while trying to score a point with a metallic type ball.

Rollerball has a groovy chic 70’s feel, you gotta see some of the interiors in this movie. But the premise of the movie is individuality has been wiped and replaced with an almost robotic existence to a corporate homogeneous view on humanity. Women, which is a theme in most of these 1970’s future shock flicks, are accessories – like furniture. In Rollerball, humans are now seen as mere commodities on a broad scale. Deals and privileges are exchanged for devotion to the upper echelon corporate mindset. Which is like I said, a tripped out psychedelic experience of superiority. It is a reminder, at a time probably in the 1970’s when corporate structure was taking a footing in global business. So if a corporate world becomes to uncompetitive and cartel orientated, we might end up with a future like in Rollerball.

For it’s time this was an ultraviolet movie, but now, say compared with movies in a similar genera of violence. It is quite tame and comical, especially the Japanese Rollerball team.

James Cann plays Johnathan E, who is an old warhorse of the Rollerball game. The corporate honchos want him gone, offer him a nice package. But Mr Diehard won’t go down, so the last game (the corporate moguls hope) will kill him. But we know otherwise.

The moral, you gotta have tons of death and mayhem to wake up the stupor. Classic 70’s sci fi

Demon Seed (1977). Directed by Donald Cammell

This movie would reveal the hype of extreme artificial intelligence and paranoia that the 1970’s had to offer.

An over ambitious doctor (Dr Alex Harris), and his artificial intelligence creation Proteus, which is a bio-mechanical (has it’s own synthetic DNA) self aware computer system. Enter the frustrated, possibly over bored wife Julie Christie, who unfortunately becomes a human experiment courtesy of the ever curious (and crazy) Proteus.

Most of the filming takes place in the house of Dr Alex Harris, as the good Doctor becomes more and more obsessed (putting pressure of the all ready strained marriage) with the Proteus project and it’s funding. Leaves his wife Susan (Julie Christie) at the mercy of the growingly psychotic and obsessive Proteus system- in which Dr Harris has remotely connected Proteus to his house.

The situation takes a turn for the worst, as Proteus takes over the house with poor Susan stuck inside. Demon Seed is a movie that creates fear from evolving technology and self aware technology. If technology was to become a higher order over humans, could we become less superior?

But the premise of Demon Seed is the outcome of the movie, so in a sense it is horror aspired Sci Fi. As Susan is held against her will and forcefully impregnated by Proteus. As the machine wants to become more human, or achieve a higher order of human evolution.

A slightly dated movie, but never the less still holds up as a decent science fiction horror. Interesting too, because as discussed the 1970’s was a pivotal point in a lot ways, from technology, economics and social uncertainty. Demon Seed polarizes that fear of runaway, self aware and potentially psychotic artificial intelligence.

So a movie that has a helpless women impregnated by a maniacal machine, we do get to see the baby at the end. But I won’t spoil the ending; lets just say it is a bizarre ending.

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