Thursday, April 24, 2008

A pair of DVD surprises

Recently in another forum, somebody commented about something being as likely to happen as worlds colliding. This, of course, immediately made me, being a movie geek, think of the movie When Worlds Collide. I was surprised to see that it is listed as available on DVD, figuring that a lesser 1950s scifi movie would be less likely to be released. Indeed, the cast is filled with names that aren't very familiar to me. I haven't seen the movie in almost 15 years, but from what I remember, it was quite silly and fit in well with the entire genre of "cheap" 1950s scifi. The plot, as you can probably guess from the title, is that Earth is in danger of colliding with a pair of planets, as discovered by the lone scientist who is a staple of such movies. Instead of figuring out a way to stop these new planets from hitting Earth, the decision is made to build a rocket to send people to populate the first of the two planets, which is only going to pass by Earth, but close enough to wreak havoc with the tides and other phenomenon. Since the science types can only send a limited number of people on the rocket, the usual fighting over who's going to be on the rocket ensues. It's all been done multiple times, and most of the times it's not done anywhere near as well as classics I've recently recommended. But with these 1950s scifi movies, a lot of the fun is just sitting back and having a good time, and suspending reality. Get a bunch of your friends together with some snacks and watch this one together.

After thinking a bit about When Worlds Collide, I was reminded of another apocolyptic movie I haven't seen in some 20 years: Panic in Year Zero!. This is little more than your basic post-nuclear war movie; the title comes from the fact that after the nuclear war, the United Nations declares that Earth is now in "year zero". I was fairly young when I saw this one show up, so at the time I didn't really recognize any of the cast. But looking at the cast as an adult, I'm surprised at the people involved. Ray Milland stars and directs; one wonders what reduced the former Oscar-winner to this. (If I had to guess, I'd say that if he wanted to direct, it would make sense that he wouldn't get the most prestigious projects to start out with.) His wife is played by Jean Hagen, although this must be a step down for her, as she's no longer making more money than Calvin Coolidge -- put together. Their son is played by Frankie Avalon, who was probably cast to try to bring in the teenage crowd. I figured this wouldn't show up on DVD, since it was originally released by the less prestigious American International Pictures. Surprisingly, however, IMDb says that it is indeed available.

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