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Walking on the Moon
by James Shafie

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Sushi. That's what my ex-wife called me - cold fish

"Sushi. That's what my ex-wife called me - cold fish"
In the film world, certain genres seem to best buddies. Action and Adventure are pretty much roommates, Drama and Thriller seem to always run into each other and Romance and Comedy like to crush my dreams together. Horror's partner in crime is my other favorite genre, Sci-Fi.

Science Fiction has been around a very long time. One of the films that helped create this genre of film was Fritz Lang's 1927 opus METROPOLIS. This film is still considered one of the all time great works of Sci-Fi, and film in general. It also introduced one of the essential components in the genre, robots.

Wikipedia defines the genre: "Science fiction film is a film genre which emphasizes actual, extrapolative, or speculative science and the empirical method, interacting in a social context with the lesser emphasized, but still present, transcendentalism of magic and religion, in an attempt to reconcile man with the unknown (Sobchack 63)."

That really doesn't help much, does it? I think of Sci-Fi film, the same way I do about the genre in literature. There
My favorite Gilliam film.

My favorite Gilliam film.
is usually a broad conflict, be it man vs. machine, man vs. nature, man vs. god, man vs. society etc. This conflict can be on the grand scale like in SOYLENT GREEN or on a personal level like in BLADE RUNNER. A film in this genre is usually set either in an unfamiliar place, or in a time that is not the present. Alien worlds and the future on earth are two commonplace settings. Usually there is one main character the audience can relate with, such as Sigourney Weaver's "Ripley" from the ALIEN series or Kurt Russell's "MacReady" from THE THING.

The genre, much like horror, is apt to be taken in a campy direction, though not as often as the horror genre. Many critics dismiss Sci-Fi as immature and not "truly" film. But when one watches Kubrick's 2001 or Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL, it seems ridiculous to even think like that. Well, to me at least.

The genre is often intermixed with horror, creating films that terrify us with icky things. But these are icky things from THE MOON and/or the FUTURE. EVENT HORIZON and DARK CITY are two such films
Bow down to the pure awesome!

Bow down to the pure awesome!
that successfully fused the two genres. This hybrid genre is sometimes bland since many filmmakers will just make a horror film within a science fiction setting. JASON X is a prime example of this. However that movie is pretty funny, inadvertently though.

Science fiction a lot of the time asks the "big" questions. This genre seems to be the philosopher of the group, asking "Is there a god?" or "What makes a person human?" or "How can I get this face-hugging, acid-spewing alien thing off me, and does it dream?" When put into a different world, it can become easier to evaluate your situation at home in the present. Sadly, the nun-sploitation genre does not have the same ability to create pondering of ones circumstances

To finish this up, I'm going to give a list of Sci-Fi films that I believe you, the reader, should view. It's not going to be in any order either: THE FIFTH ELEMENT, STAR WARS, EPISODES 4, 5 and 6, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, BLADE RUNNER, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, ZEBRAMAN, THE THING, BRAZIL and ALIEN. Now run along and start watching!

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The Lair of the Mad
Every other Tuesday

'The Lair' discusses the many aspects and qualities of the horror genre. From actors, to make-up, to music, James Shafie explores everything the "cult" genre spews up.

Other Columns
Other columns by James Shafie:

Speaking Out

Yearn For Change

Queen of Night

Too Close Enough To Touch

The Time of the Beasts

All Columns

James Shafie
James Shafie is an avid watcher of movies of all sorts, but the horror genre is closest to his heart. He loves to read and is addicted to music, mostly metal and itís thousands of sub-genres. He was once fired by Blockbuster, which we see as a strong character trait.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to James Shafie by clicking here.

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