All posts by qwipster

Real Genius (1985) | Martha Coolidge



Real Genius centers on several students at Pac Tech, an institution esteemed for its technological breakthroughs. They’re currently working on a project to build a high-powered laser. The project is led by an egotistical professor and TV science show host named Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), who has been employed by a clandestine group within the Pentagon for Operation Crossbow, whereby the military will use the laser to vaporize targets from space with sniper-like precision.

Enter 15-year-old genius Mitch Taylor (Gabe Jarrett), recruited by Hathaway to start college early at Pacific Tech. He rooms with the school’s prior hot prodigy, a rebellious and smart-alecky senior named Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), who has decided there’s more value in being a slacker than to continue showing everyone he’s the smartest person on campus. Knight’s shenanigans have Hathaway, who must produce the results in an accelerated four months instead of the originally intended eighteen, threatening to kick him out of school if he doesn’t assist in completing the laser in the allotted time. Martha Coolidge directs.


Weird Science (1985) | John Hughes



Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are a pair of best friend suburban Chicago high school geeks tired of being everyone else’s doormat and wanting to have girlfriends of their own.  When the traditional methods prove to be of no avail, the duo decides to use Wyatt’s computer skills to work by creating a virtual girlfriend for them to ask questions to.  However, their digital concoction actually comes to life in the form of a smart, gorgeous, and magically gifted woman they name “Lisa” (Kelly LeBrock), who makes it her mission to transform these dweebs to be the kind of men that other boys want to be and other girls want to be with. Written and directed by John Hughes


Electric Dreams (1984) | Steve Barron



A San Francisco-based architect named Miles Harding buys a new computer to help him stay organized and on schedule, as well as to assist in the design of a brick that will hold a building together through an earthquake. Realizing that it has the potential to streamline everything in his life, Miles uses it to control everything in his apartment, providing a security system, making his coffee, and turning on and off his lights. Miles wants to give it more power, tapping it into a major information source to download as much as it can take. Unfortunately, when the computer overheats, Miles pours champagne into the computer’s circuits, causing it to malfunction in a strange way. It begins to think on its own, without directive – a self-aware being that shows an interest in music, humanity, and what it is like to feel love.

Miles’s new upstairs neighbor is a beautiful concert cellist named Madeline Robistat. One day while practicing a concert piece on the cello, Madeline hears music from downstairs accompanying her.  Madeline assumes this musician must be Miles, making her want to get to know him better. Miles also develops a crush on Madeline, but he’s so romantically inexperienced, he turns to his sentient computer to help out. However, the computer learns about love and then also begins to fall for her. This kicks off a battle of wills, as the device meant to organize Miles’s life is set to destroy it for getting in the way of its desire to achieve love.

Starring Lenny von Dohlen and Virginia Madsen. Directed by Steve Barron.


Demon Seed (1977) | Donald Cammell



Demon Seed‘s story is set 20 years in the future, Proteus IV is a new, highly advanced computer that scientists at the ICON Institute (International Control Corporation) spent eight years constructing as a massively powerful synthetic version of the organic human brain, hoping to use it for the financial success of the conglomerate funding the project. Proteus is capable of absorbing all human knowledge, though without an understanding of our psychological, sociological, moral, or ethical motivations. Its creator, Dr. Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver), is beyond pleased when Proteus finds a cure for leukemia within hours of his “birth.”. He’s later alarmed when Proteus begins to question human motivations toward exploiting natural resources and wants to further study humankind independently through gaining access to additional terminal outlets.

Harris refuses and tries to shut down all avenues for his powerful computer system to grow, except one  – the one controlling his fully automated home. Proteus finds a way to take over the test model Environmod, Harris’s voice-activated household computer system which handles home security (including a closed-circuit TV system), housekeeping, food supply and preparation, lights, heat, chores, and a robotic wheelchair unit with a mechanical arm. Alex’s recently separated psychologist wife Susan (Julie Christie) is in the house during the takeover and grows unnerved at the personality changes in the AI system. Proteus then imprisons Susan within the home and begins attempting to gain more knowledge of humanity by having a child with her to continue its work beyond the day the scientists inevitably unplug it.

Directed by Donald Cammell.


Saturn 3 (1980) | Stanley Donen



In the future, Earth is a polluted wasteland. People have resorted to drugs and promiscuity while relying on off-world food production systems for salvation. Research chemists Major Adam (Kirk Douglas), his young assistant/lover Alex (Farrah Fawcett), and their dog Sally are the sole residents of the subterranean Experimental Food Research Station on Saturn’s third moon, Titan. Unable to maintain quota for the last three years, Earth decides to dispatch another scientist to help them meet Earth’s food needs.

That scientist is a mentally unstable opportunist, Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel), a flunky from astronaut school who usurped the pilot position after killing the intended dispatch, Captain James. While Saturn 3 goes into a 22-day blackout period in the eclipse, Capt. Benson’s puts together the first of a new line of “demigod series” helper robots, Hector.  Hector’s memory utilizes unprogrammed human brain tissue and receives its programming via a connection to an electric probe in Benson’s head. Unfortunately, Hector also assumes the same traits of Benson, a flawed, murderous, lustful individual who secretly desires to take over the lab and use Alex for his pleasure. Hector has no such secret, proceeding to terrorize all three of the humans in his quest for dominance.

Stanley Donen directs from a Martin Amis script, based on a story by John Barry.


Outland (1981) | Peter Hyams



Sometime in the future, humans establish a mining operation on Io, a volcanic moon orbiting Jupiter, a week’s distance from the nearest space station. The mining base is currently shattering records for productivity.  Sean Connery is William T. O’Niel (Sean Connery), in his second week of a one-year stint as the federal district marshal of this isolated space community. “Work hard, play hard” is the motto of the mining operation’s general manager, Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle), who touts production numbers as proof his philosophy works. The marshal is alarmed by the increasing rash of suicides and violent outbursts among the miners. No autopsies are ordered and the bodies are loaded on departing shuttles, disposed of through a ‘burial in space’.

The marshal’s wife (Kika Markham) says she’ll leave him if he continues his new assignment, so that their young son, who has been shuttled around in space all of his life, can experience a normal life on Earth. No one else, not even his deputies, wants to rock the boat to get to the reason there are so many suicides. By monitoring Sheppard’s goons, the marshal discovers that the company is selling the workers an amphetamine-like synthetic narcotic that produces hyperactivity. This exponentially increases their productivity, each of them averaging the sum of doing fourteen hours’ worth of work during a six-hour shift. This is great for their bonuses, but the drug carries a nasty side effect for some of them, bouts of severe psychosis after nearly a year of taking the drug. When the marshal decides this can’t continue, the company will do anything to assure he’s out of the way so their gravy train keeps rolling along. Peter Hyams directs from his screenplay.


Total Recall (1990) | Paul Verhoeven



Set on Earth of the future, where we’ve already mastered the ability for space travel to through the solar system, and even set up colonies on Mars, Total Recall surrounds a lowly construction worker named Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who has recently been plagued by a recurring dream of being on Mars.  His doting wife (Sharon Stone) tells Doug it’s just a dream, but there’s something in the events of the dreams that makes him curious to find out more about the red planet.  Seeing an advertisement for a company called Rekall, an establishment that will implant the memory of vacation into the mind in vivid and perfect detail, Doug decides to choose the “secret agent” package set on Mars. 

No sooner than the implanted thoughts enter his head, Doug finds himself in what he perceives to be a real-life espionage drama involving himself and his role in a Martian underground society of spies, all seeking to end the stranglehold of a megalomaniac corporate businessman named Cohaagen (Ronny Cox).  Fighting for his life, Doug makes his way to Mars to try to uncover the secret to who he really is, but not everything is what it seems to be, both on Mars and in his mind.

Paul Verhoeven directs.


They Live (1988) | John Carpenter



This sci-fi actioner stars “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (yes, the ex-pro wrestler) as Nada, a drifter desperately in need of a decent job. He lands a temp job at a construction site, but strange doings in the church across the street cause him to investigate, and after the place is raided he discovers what looks like ordinary sunglasses have special lenses to be able to see the world for what it really is. Unfortunately, the world just so happens to be inhabited by an alien race who have taken over the Earth and forced humans into submission through subliminal messages while they are slowly turning it into a place of their own. When Piper starts fighting back, he gets himself into a whole world of trouble. With no one believing him and everyone after him, it looks like it’s up to one man to try to take down a world of powerful aliens singlehandedly. Keith David and Meg Foster co-star. John Carpenter writes and directs.


V: The Final Battle (1984) | Richard T. Heffron



In this three-part TV miniseries sequel, the Resistance is fending off the pressing Visitors, who continue to fool the people of Earth by controlling the media, while depleting the planet of precious water and rounding up humans for food. The resistance scientists hope, hoping to find a weakness in the overpowering Visitor defenses that will help them turn the tide of the war. However, the Visitors still manage to gain the upper hand, especially when they capture Resistance leader Juliet Parrish (Faye Grant), who the scheming Diana (Jane Badler) tries to break with intense conversion techniques. Meanwhile, Robin Maxwell (Blair Tefkin) is dealing with her pregnancy from the lizard-like aliens, horrified at what kind of baby she will have. Marc Singer co-stars. Richard T. Heffron directs.


V – The Original Miniseries (1983) | Kenneth Johnson



The people of Earth are visited and befriended by a human-like race from outer space inhabiting massive spacecraft, 50 of them measuring three miles in diameter, hovering over cities throughout the world. These newcomers speak Earth’s languages fluently, though they have distinct electronic-sounding voices and are so sensitive to light that they frequently wear sunglasses. They’re called the Visitors by the people of Earth. They’ve come to our planet for resources that we can manufacture for their people to survive in exchange for their vast knowledge of technology and medicine. They become celebrities welcomed by humans worldwide.

Manufacturing ramps up while the Visitors take over media outlets, shaping public opinion for their cause against the world’s scientists and any others who might figure out how to stop their domination, registering them to track their whereabouts, and imposing their influence upon the world. Revealed within the tale is that the Visitors are a race of carnivorous reptilians donning elaborate human disguises to suck the Earth completely dry of its water and to harvest humans for food. Kenneth Johnson writes, directs, and produces. Marc Singer, Faye Grant, and Jane Badler star.


Alien Nation (1988) | Graham Baker



Set in the near future of 1991, it’s been three years since the landing of an actual flying saucer landed on Earth, containing a species of aliens (dubbed “Newcomers”) who had been genetically engineered as slave laborers.  The Newcomers are smarter and physically stronger than their human counterparts, which makes them more suitable to perform certain jobs, and the backlash against them from the human population is escalating daily.  In this environment, Detective Sergeant Matt Sykes (James Caan) has his partner killed by one of the alien “slags”, making it his mission to take down the ones responsible.  He voluntarily requests to be partnered with the first Newcomer police detective, Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) – Sykes calls him “George” instead, and while they haven’t been specifically assigned the homicide case, Sykes won’t stay off of it, employing Sam’s help as needed in order to get to the bottom of the underworld slag crime syndicate. Directed by Graham Baker from a script by Rockne S. O’Bannon and an uncredited James Cameron.


Stranded (1987) | Tex Fuller



In the story, five escaped alien refugees come to Earth like a bolt of lightning and find themselves in a remote North Carolina Victorian-style farmhouse inhabited by a newly-orphaned teenage girl Deirdre Clark (Ione Skye) and her grandmother Grace (Maureen O’Sullivan). Suspicions are high, resulting in the aliens taking casualties in a gunfight with the local yokels. They just want to be left alone and leave peacefully. But police are surrounding the house, just barely able to contain the gin-toting locals out for revenge for these aliens killing one of their own. Joe Morton and Flea also appear.


The Brother from Another Planet (1984) | John Sayles



A mute extraterrestrial resembling a black man (but with feet that have three toes) crash lands his spaceship near New York City. Not understanding where he is or what people are saying, he finds his way to Harlem’s 125th Street. Although derided as either crazy or homeless, others discover his worth when he can heal broken electronics and human injuries with a single touch. A concerned social worker helps him get a job as a repairman. Hobnobbing with patrons at a local bar, the Brother finds a dangerous world outside of junkies, thieves, and thugs. Bounty hunters from his homeworld are after him. After discovering a boy’s heroin overdose, he uncovers a Wall Street drug ring. Joe Morton stars in this John Sayles film.


Starman (1984) | John Carpenter



An alien race intercepts Voyager II, a space probe describing Earth, effectively inviting aliens to visit. These aliens take Earth up on the offer, sending a scout pod to see what we’re up to. American fighter jets greet it and the alien scout crashlands up in the American backwoods in Wisconsin. Using DNA found in the hair in recent widow Jenny Hayden’s photo album, he transforms himself into the likeness of Jenny’s dead husband, a house painter named Scott (Jeff Bridges). Now, not-Scott must get to a rendezvous point at Meteor Crater, Arizona to get back to the mothership before he dies, but SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the FBI want him to experiment on.  The alien has no choice but to kidnap Jenny (Karen Allen) to assist him.  John Carpenter directs.


E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) | Steven Spielberg



E.T.: The Extraterrestrial starts in a forest outside a California suburb. An alien spacecraft lands, and several extraterrestrials emerge, gathering flora samples.  Suspicious humans arrive, the aliens escape, leaving one behind.  He hides in a backyard shed, discovered by a 10-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas). Startled and scared, Elliott hides the alien, whom he dubs “E.T.,” in his room, and they become friends. E.T. determines to find his way back to his world by gathering the materials necessary to build a transmitter and “phone home” for his kin to come back and get him, as he appears to be growing weaker the longer he remains on Earth.  However, Earth’s scientists aren’t going to let such an extraordinary creature get away quickly. STeven Spielberg directs. Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote also appear.