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What to Watch Until the Weather Is Nice

by Philip Wright

When Winter puts us in its frigid grip, there might be times when you just can't get out. So, if you're housebound by cold, rainy, blustery weather, why not pull up a chair in front of the TV/VCR and explore some obscure screen gems? Here's a list of ten of my all-time favorites:

(1) Grand Tour, Disasters in Time - A mysterious group of time-tourists arrives at a hotel overlooking a small town that is about to be struck by a meteor. When the owner of the hotel discovers their true identities, he uses their time-travel devices to try and change the past - enlisting the help of a very unusual ally.

(2) Invasion of the Saucer Men - When a saucer filled with little green men lands outside a small town, trouble follows. Filled with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, this campy 50's sci-fi classic is always fun. Frank Gorshin plays a scheming fast-talker who becomes the first victim of the aliens.

(3) 5,000,000 Years to Earth - This "Prof. Quatermass" film deals with an uncovered Martian ship and a 5,000,000-year-old Martian conspiracy. In the British tradition, more is left up to the audience's imagination than is done with special effects.

(4) The Time of Their Lives - Critics call this Abbott and Costello's best film - and it's their only film where they are not acting as a team. Lou plays a ghost who, along with a female companion, is cursed to stay at the site of a Revolutionary War mansion until the curse is removed. Abbott is one of the intrepid band of moderns who seek to do just that.

(5) Crash Corrigan and the Undersea Kingdom - This serial may seem long, especially with all the repeating beginnings, but it's one of the better sci-fi serials of the 40's and 50's. The athletic Crash Corrigan and his friends find a kingdom in an air pocket beneath the sea, with a power-mad ruler who wants to take over the surface world. It's really campy to watch.

(6) Golem - One of the first post-WWI German films, it tells the classic story of a rabbi who resorts to Cabalistic magic to protect the Jews of Prague. The protector is a clay statue called "Golem" that comes to life. Beautifully filmed in a Romantic style, this remains one of Germany's finest silent films.

(7) The Wax Museum - The crown jewel of Vincent Price films, with the master of horror playing a deranged curator of a wax museum who kills people in order to turn them into wax statues. And, for a real treat, try to find the 3-D version of this film.

(8) Dr. Strange - An interesting film based on the popular Marvel Comics hero. What it lacks in dramatic and acting power, it makes up for in creativity and effects. This is one comic crossover that captures the essence of the original.

(9) Son of Kong - Although this sequel, like most, does not come up to the original, it is worth watching. The cleverness and skill with which the creators tried to recreate a giant ape on a mysterious island is well done and fun to watch.

(10) Aliens [the uncut version] - Most of the time, more is not better; but here is the exception to the rule. In order to cut the screen version to a reasonable length, they cut out almost half an hour of fantastic scenes, including: the first contact with the aliens on LV286 by Newt and her family; and the reason Ripley is so motherly with Newt. If you can find it, watch it!

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