Friday, November 15, 2013

The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10: Greatest Science Fiction Films Of The 1970s

John Kenneth Muir is running one of his week long, popular Reader's Poll Lists at John Kenneth Muir's Reflections On Cult Movies And Classic TV.
Who doesn't love a good list?  I know I'm an addict.  He generously offers readers to contribute.  He posted a list from yours truly here. Be sure to check out the rest.  Here's an amped up version of that same post.

The subject is the Greatest Science Fiction Films Of The 1970s.  So I offer you Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic's BIG 10: Greatest Science Fiction Films Of The 1970s.

Let's begin by admitting straight away that the 1970s was so much more than the disco era.  It was indeed a fertile period for science fiction film and television. There was simply no shortage of wonderfully rich and imaginative material.

So, clearly no pretensions here.  I'm not venturing into high art, though I think it is, but rather insanely incredible, fun art of the classic science fiction variety and no less sincere.

10. Godzilla Vs. Hedora (or more famously Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster) (1971).
Director: Yoshimitsu Banno.
The only film to be directed by Banno on a Godzilla feature that doesn't spotlight directorial mainstays Ishiro Honda or apprentice Jun Fukuda from the Showa period of films.  Underrated and brilliant good fun with a significant ecological message.

9. Space Amoeba (also famously known as Yog, Monster From Space) (1970).
Director: Ishiro Honda.
Honda steps away from his baby, Godzilla, and comes up with a good, old-fashioned Toho, fantasy monster romp that manages to predate Sigmund And The Sea Monsters (1973-1975).  The famous Akira Kubo (Matango, Invasion Of Astro-Monster, Kill!, Gorath) and Kenji Sahara (Rodan, The Mysterians, Matango) are in the cast and it's an absolute blast.  Played often in heavy rotation on Saturday Creature Double Feature out of Boston, MA in the 1970s.  The 1960s and 1970s were a rich period for Toho and these two aforementioned pictures are proof of that.

8. Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971).
Director: Don Taylor.
A film centered on two of my favorite characters from the franchise.  The late, great Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter shine.  With Ricardo Montalban thrown in for good measure, honestly, you can't go wrong with this exceptional installment in the series.

7. Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975).
Director: Ishiro Honda.
The final installment for the Godzilla Showa period sees the return of Honda on directing chores for his final outing of the Big G.  Akihiko Hirata also appears.  Hirata and Honda collaborated on the classic Gojira (1954). So you know I'm not completely in the tank for Toho and Godzilla pictures there several conspicuously absent from my list simply because they are fun if not classic.  Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973), Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), and Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972) all miss the cut.  I've even omitted Gamera Vs. Zigra (1971) and Gamera Vs. Jiger (1970) from Daiei Studios.

6. The Omega Man (1971).
Director: Boris Sagal.
The father of Sons Of Anarchy's Katey Sagal directs one of those classic dystopian tales of apocalypse and implements the mood and decay of the 1970s era to great effect.  There's a terrific vibe of isolation throughout the picture based on Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (1954).  I still like it better than the Will Smith vehicle of the same name.

5. The Land That Time Forgot (1975).
Director: Kevin Connor.
A fantastic and fun adventure picture based on the terrific work of American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950).  The B-movie doesn't get more classic than this science fiction fantasy. Wonderful and the stuff of dreams.  At The Earth's Core (1976) and The People That Time Forgot (1977) are good, but not quite this good. I also positively adore Connor's Warlords Of Atlantis (1978) a picture cut very much from the same mold as The Land That Time Forgot. I wish I had room for the latte ron this list.

4. The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1977).
Director: Don Taylor.
Taylor makes my list twice.  This is just a terrifically entertaining picture starring Michael York (Logan's Run) and based on the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells.  It's a stunning morality tale and something remarkably different from other science fiction pictures of the period with plenty of lessons concerning the use of science to go around.  I'm also a fan of the under appreciated 1996 adaptation from the late John Frankenheimer.

3. Star Wars.
Director: George Lucas.
Much backyard play was had in those carefree days.  It's sci-fi fantasy perfection even if my son calls it "old man fighting." Nuff said!

2.  Alien (1979).
Director: Ridley Scott.
The start of a beautiful love affair with director Scott and the Alien franchise.  Like David Bowie sang, I was indeed Loving The Alien.

1. Space Battleship Yamato (1977). Director: Toshio Masuda.  Space Battleship Yamato, the series, and Tatsunoko's Gatchaman (Battle Of The Planets) were influential on my love of all things anime.  Not only was Starblazers (the American version of Space Battleship Yamato) terrific, but this film was a standout highlight in retrospect putting it all together.  Masuda and Leiji Matsumoto's Farewell To Space Battleship Yamato: In The Name Of Love (1978) is another winner along with the final third in the trilogy, Be Forever Yamato (1979).  The original picture actually outsold Star Wars in Japan.  I'm just saying.  Starblazers (1979-1984), Battle Of The Planets (1978-1985) and Force Five (1979-1989) were indeed the gateway anime drugs into that world until Ghost In The Shell (1995) came along.

In truth I didn't really have a specific order.  These were films I simply loved and actually just ran out of room.  What a decade!  But I wish I had room for others including Logan's Run (1976), Jack Smight's Damnation Alley (1977), Jun Fukuda and Toho's fun The War In Space (1977), The Last Dinosaur (1977), Kinji Fukasaku's Message In Space (1978), The Spy Who Loved Me (sort of sci-fi) (1977), Moonraker (1979), Mad Max (1979), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and The Black Hole (1979) - all pictures I just love.  Heck I even loved those Witch Mountain films. What an era!

My pictures may not be classic in the purest artistic sense, but for me these were ten of the most powerful and influential films in my young life. Going against the grain here these were films I had such admiration for as a kid. They may not be perfect but they were classics to me and I gleefully stand by them.

The 1970s was a remarkably creative period in pop culture.


le0pard13 said...

Well done and well said, G.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Cheers my friend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list.

Have you seen Colossus?

And also Andromeda's Strain or The Stepford Wives? All great Sci-Fi movies.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I have not seen Colossus I'm afraid.

John Kenneth Muir said...


I am always thrilled to read your thoughts on these lists.

You have a great eye for visuals, and a keen insight regarding theme/narrative. I love your list of the top ten sf films of the 1970s, heavy on kaiju! Awesome!

Thank you for participating, and thank you for the lovely images (and GIFs!) of your selections.

This post was a pleasure to read.

Happy Saturday!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Happy day to you too John.

Thanks for opening up your ideas to fellow readers and writers.

Thanks and I certainly like to frame the post visually the best that I can and sometimes it works I suppose and sometimes not, but I do deliberate on that as much as the writing which is why it takes me longer than it should to post.

And I want to add that your idea for this poll was such a pleasure to do. It forced me to go back and really delve into a period of my young life that I treasure. You forget how much you loved those days.

Cheers and thanks again!

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Cool list, I've only seen two of these! I've never seen the Smog Monster, I need to get cracking on that one! Also, I haven't seen Godzilla vs. Megalon...I will get down to it one of these days.

The Omega Man, I don't love it, but I don't hate it. It's just that I saw it right after having read Mathesons book and it was dissapointing, in the same way that Will Smith's film was. Both films just weren't the book. Vincet Price's Last Man on Earth is still the closest any one has gotten to adapting Matheson's I am Legend.

I've only seen three movies on your list dude! Alien, The Omega Man and Star Wars! I like your choices and plan on get up to date on some of these. I'm really curious for that version of Island of Dr. Moreau.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hi Francisco,
I know how much we both love the kaiju pictures. I think you will thoroughly enjoy both Yog and the Megalon picture. They are just crazy fun.

The Omega Man is fairly sedate and dark and coming off the book generally never works well. I hear that for just about everything I watch which is why I never read. : )

I think Moreau is a great picture. That's a much more thoughtful science fiction drama. Thunbs up!

Cheers my friend.

Sean Gill said...

Great list, SFF! Nice to see ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES getting some love, and now I obviously must now see Don Taylor's DR. MOREAU- somehow it's slipped through the cracks of my 70s sci-fi viewing.

El Vox said...

Totally agree on Alien, Star Wars, and I was a Apes fan too though I think Beneath Planet of the Apes was one of my favorites along with the first film.

I think on my list I would have to include Soylent Green & Logan's Run, (movies I've seen multiple times), probably Slaughterhouse Five too (have you seen that?), Maybe the trippy animated Fantastic Planet.

I've not seen that version of Dr. Moreau, but saw the earlier 1932 version titled Island of Lost Souls with Charles Laughton. It's a worthwhile movie.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thank you Sean.
Dr. Moreau is a winner. Love that film.

The nice thing about Dr. Moreau for me is it is a little more timeless in that it doesn't have the sometimes lacking effects of Logan's Run to distract.

Still Logan's Run is a powerful story. Love it.

El Vox, I've heard that Island Of Lost Souls is terrific. I'll have to check on that some day. Fantastic Planet has always intrigued me too. It's another one I'd like to see.

Thank you

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Gotta agree with El Vox on Logan's Run SFF! That's an awesome 70's sci-fi, warts and all!

And Fantastic Planet...wowzers...amazing amazing, mind blowing stuff! Put it at the top of the priority, it might be too weird for the kiddies, but it's animation with heavy themes...highly recommend it.