Author Topic: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?  (Read 16837 times)

Offline Blackstar

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The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« on: 11/22/2010 02:25 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1728/1

Italian doomsday: killer asteroids in 1958
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, November 22, 2010

But it turns out that the killer asteroid movie concept goes back farther than the 1970s—much farther. In 1958, Guido Giambartolomei produced The Day the Sky Exploded. You can be forgiven for not recognizing Giambartolomei’s name. He was an Italian producer, and this is an Italian movie, and possibly the great granddaddy of all killer asteroid flicks. It is also a rather lousy film, at times barely watchable, but fortunately only 80 minutes long. It was dubbed into English, sometimes effectively—they used Australian and Indian actors to reflect their native accents—and sometimes not, such as referring to retro-rockets as “retard rockets.”
« Last Edit: 11/22/2010 03:20 PM by Blackstar »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: The grandaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #1 on: 11/22/2010 03:04 PM »
Sounds like a great B-Film, where can I get subtitled copy?
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The grandaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #2 on: 11/22/2010 03:16 PM »
Sounds like a great B-Film, where can I get subtitled copy?

It's an okay film, of historical interest only.  It is dubbed into English and I don't know if there is an Italian version with subtitles.  You can easily find it used via Amazon.

Offline Launchpad911

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #3 on: 11/23/2010 09:30 AM »
If you subscribe to Netflix, they have The Day The Sky Exploded


"(1958) NR
While on a mission to the moon, pilot John McLaren (Paul Hubschmid) abandons his atomic rocket ship, which later explodes into the sun. Now, powerful natural disasters are affecting the planet, and scientists realize a huge mass of meteors is headed for earth. With only a few days left before impact, the world's top scientists scramble to find an effective solution to save the human race from extinction.

Genre:Classic Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Deadly Disasters, Italy"

From Netflix

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #4 on: 11/23/2010 12:50 PM »
If you subscribe to Netflix, they have The Day The Sky Exploded

Added to the QUE
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #5 on: 11/23/2010 06:16 PM »
If you're going to watch this, then you should also watch When Worlds Collide, which is much better and in color.

The Day the Sky Exploded is not an awful film.  I've seen stuff that is a lot worse.  I was at least able to watch this one all the way through its 80 minutes.  And Bava was a really good cinematographer (trained as a painter), so some of the shots are artistic.  And Bava was able to take a piece of lava, some sparklers, and a spotlight, and do some special effects.  But it's low budget, and it really is only interesting from an artistic standpoint.

Of course, everybody has a different opinion and after you've watched it, come back here and post what you think of it.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2010 07:49 PM by Blackstar »

Offline MarsInMyLifetime

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #6 on: 11/23/2010 07:47 PM »
If you're going to watch this, then you should also watch When Worlds Collide, which is much better and in color.

Ditto to this recommendation. This movie had large casts performing well in credible scenarios, good--if typical 50s--dialog, excellent sets and tremendous modelling on the Sanger-inspired getaway rocket, right down to the gravity-assisted takeoff. If the only flaw was the flat-drawn final sets, I'd chalk it up to dwindling budget and enjoy it for everything else. I replay this one quite a bit.
Don

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #7 on: 11/23/2010 07:52 PM »
When I was writing the article, I was surprised to discover that the original story for When Worlds Collide dates from the early 1930s.

There is apparently a remake in the works for 2012.  Now I'm not a fan of remaking classics, but When Worlds Collide is not quite a classic in my view.  It's not a perfect piece of work, and I can see a remake actually improving on it.  You could actually try and make it a little more plausible (although in reality, it's simply impossible to jump from Earth to a passing planet like that, and certainly not possible to do it with large numbers of people).

They shouldn't be trying to remake Forbidden Planet, however...

Offline Thorny

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #8 on: 11/23/2010 08:12 PM »
There is apparently a remake in the works for 2012.  Now I'm not a fan of remaking classics, but When Worlds Collide is not quite a classic in my view.  It's not a perfect piece of work, and I can see a remake actually improving on it.  You could actually try and make it a little more plausible (although in reality, it's simply impossible to jump from Earth to a passing planet like that, and certainly not possible to do it with large numbers of people).

They shouldn't be trying to remake Forbidden Planet, however...

They thoroughly ruined "Day the Earth Stood Still", so I have little hope for "When Worlds Collide". I read "Fantastic Voyage" is also getting the remake treatment soon.

But most disturbing is Robert Zemeckis' plan to remake "The Wizard of Oz", using the 1939 script. He should have his DGA membership revoked for that.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #9 on: 11/23/2010 08:48 PM »
They thoroughly ruined "Day the Earth Stood Still", so I have little hope for "When Worlds Collide".

Oh, it was terrible, wasn't it?

What got me was that the actors essentially sleep walked through that film--they seemed totally unenthusiastic.  Of course, the script provided no reason for them to show any effort.

But most disturbing is Robert Zemeckis' plan to remake "The Wizard of Oz", using the 1939 script. He should have his DGA membership revoked for that.

But this is a film that has been remade and parodied numerous times already, so the precedent has been set.

Offline simonbp

Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #10 on: 11/23/2010 08:54 PM »
What got me was that the actors essentially sleep walked through that film--they seemed totally unenthusiastic. 

Well, Keanu Reeves is always like that...

Offline Danderman

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #11 on: 11/24/2010 05:36 AM »
(although in reality, it's simply impossible to jump from Earth to a passing planet like that, and certainly not possible to do it with large numbers of people).

"Impossible"? "Not possible"? Not even with warp drive?

I'm not familiar at all with the physics of a two planet conjunction, but even if they were passing at high rates of speed, if the target planet had a reasonable gravity field and a thick enough atmosphere, it wouldn't be impossible to launch something from one planet that would be caught in the gravity well of a passing planet, with the result of an atmospheric entry and landing of that planet.

Could this be done with large numbers of people? Not with our level of technology, but certainly with the technology of 1951's Hollywood.


Offline Archibald

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #12 on: 11/24/2010 06:37 AM »
What got me was that the actors essentially sleep walked through that film--they seemed totally unenthusiastic. 

Well, Keanu Reeves is always like that...

Running joke among french movie critics
Keanu Reeves is as expressive as *insert an object here*

Results in things like

"Keanu Reeves is as expressive as a door handle"
"Keanu Reeves is as exressive as a frying pan"
"Keanu Reeves is as expressive as a barn door"
"Keanu Reeves is as expressive as a pot of strawberry jam"
and on, and on.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2010 06:41 AM by Archibald »

Offline Launchpad911

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #13 on: 11/24/2010 06:44 AM »
I laughed because the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still was so bad. In the original, Klaatu was supposed to be the Earth's savior. In the remake, he and Gort become it's killers.
Another awful remake was "War Of The Worlds" with Tom Cruise. Leave the classics alone. There is a reason these films are classics. They are good to begin with.
I agree about Forbidden Planet. This is my favorite film from the 50's. I can't imagine how they would ruin Robby The Robot. He probably become a Transformer.   
I find it amazing what can be done these days with computer graphics but a lot of times they go overboard and make what is portrayed very  unrealistic, like the Hulk throwing a 65 ton M-1 Abrams around like it was a VW.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #14 on: 11/24/2010 01:39 PM »
You're also forgetting the tendency to use remakes to inflate a star's ego at the expense of the actual plot. They become the key and focus of the movie. Mission Impossible became a movie of One, not the Team.
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Offline Launchpad911

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #15 on: 11/25/2010 07:14 AM »
Sometimes, sequels can be just as bad as a remake of a classic. The worst example is "2010". It's mood was nothing like "2001". Badly written, and with special effects that were not as good as "2001's". Instead of the slimmer styled spacesuits from "2001", the astronauts nine years later wore spacesuits that looked like Apollo leftovers. The soundtrack was horrible.
The only thing about "2010" that rung true was the need for the Americans to hitch a ride on a Russian spacecraft.

Online ugordan

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #16 on: 11/25/2010 08:51 AM »
Sometimes, sequels can be just as bad as a remake of a classic. The worst example is "2010". It's mood was nothing like "2001".

I disagree strongly. Do you think the director actually tried to recreate the same mood in the first place? Is the different mood something wrong all by itself? Do you not think he realized it's virtually impossible to surpass or even equal 2001? He clearly set out to create a different movie with a different feeling and message to it.

The problem too many people obviously have is they inevitably compare it to 2001 and of course any movie will tend to fail miserably in that comparison. When looked at without the burden of its predecessor, 2010 is a fine SF movie IMHO. In particular, the theme of a superior intelligence set out to help intelligent life get a foothold across the universe as opposed to 90% of SF movies where it's set out to destroy life as we know it.
There are far, far worse examples of a bad sequel than comparing 2010 to 2001.
« Last Edit: 11/25/2010 08:57 AM by ugordan »

Offline Graham2001

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #17 on: 11/25/2010 09:50 AM »
The article linked to in the OP inspired me to look through my own collection of novels and found three, that deal with the asteroid impact theme from 1978-1979. The first may have been inspired by the Icarus Report (which inspired the film 'Meteor!'.) The other two seem to have been written to take advantage of the hype surrounding the film.

I've posted the summaries below to Blackstar, but thought I'd share them here as I would be curious to know just what other 'asteroid impact' fiction exists from the same late 70's time frame.

Title: The Hermes Fall
Author: John Baxter
Publisher: Granada/Panther (1978)
ISBN: 0-586-04610-0

Plot Summary.

In 1980 the asteroid 69230 Hermes is photographed by the crew of the first shuttle flight (Orbiter 'Enterprise') and determined to be on an impact trajectory with Earth. NASA launches a mission using left over Apollo hardware in an attempt to destroy/deflect the asteroid. The mission fails due to the actions of a Born-Again Christian who believes the asteroid is a 'message' from God. The asteroid impacts the North Atlantic with devastating consequences worldwide.

Notes.

While the author does not explicitly mention the 'Icarus Report' I am pretty sure that it was one inspiration for the novel, another may have been a book he wrote on the Tunguska event 'The Fire Came By' (1976, Co-Author: Tom Atkins). The authors notes indicate he was working off various popular works. Books by Martin Caidin and Isaac Asimov are mentioned in the 'Authors Note' but no titles are given. There are no precursor impacts prior to the main event and the book seems more concerned with the post-impact events.


Title: Shiva Descending
Author(s): Gregory Benford & William Rotsler
Publisher: Sphere (1980), Authors copyright date (1979)
ISBN: 0-7221-1577-3

Plot Summary.

An asteroid impact in North Africa alerts orbital astronomers to the existance of a cloud of debris that contains a two kilometer diameter asteroid that is dubbed by it's discoverer 'Shiva' heading for an Earth impact. A multi-spacecraft mission to destroy/deflect Shiva is prepared, hampered by the appearance of various pseudo-religious cults, most notebly the Gabriellites who believe that the asteroid is a divine cleansing intended to return Earth to a pastoral pre-tech age in which Man will live in submission to God. The mission fails to destroy the asteroid but does manage to deflect Shiva into orbit around Earth.

Notes.

The book may have been written to tie-in with the success of the film 'Meteor!'. It is clearly set in the late 20th/early 21st century as it mentions extensive manned infrastructure in orbit around Earth. The novel is primarily concerned with the efforts to deflect the asteroid and the social chaos caused by the knowledge of the apocalyptic damage that would be caused if the asteroid hits the Earth.


Title: Impact!
Author(s): R.V. Fodor & G.J. Taylor
Publisher: Leisure Books (1979)
ISBN: 0-8439-0648-0195

Plot Summary.

A series of meteorites which includes the destruction of Ardmore (Kansas) and the impact of a 365.76m diameter body in the ocean 300km north of Hawaii, alerts the United States to the existence of a larger asteroid stream that will culminate in an impact on the Sino-Soviet border of an asteroid over 11km in diameter. An international mission is sent to destroy this asteroid. Spacecraft equipment failures result in the asteroid not being destroyed. The Earth is devastated by the impact and the nuclear exchange it triggers. The novel finishes with two of the major characters living a Survivalist existence, happy in the knowledge that now there are no more governments there will be no more wars.

Notes.

Clearly a 'quickie' intended to exploit 'Meteor!' there are some similarities in plot, complete with international distrust hampering the effort to deal with the approaching menace. Unlike the previous two novels no mention is made of religious crazies trying to stop the deflection mission.

Offline MP99

Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #18 on: 11/28/2010 06:13 PM »
I laughed because the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still was so bad. In the original, Klaatu was supposed to be the Earth's savior. In the remake, he and Gort become it's killers.

Warning: plot spoiler.

OK, it's a while since I've seen either version, but that's not how I remember it. The view from 20,000 ft:-

In the original, Klaatu is there to persuade the Earth to change it's behaviour to avoid destruction by robots such as Gort. You'll remember that "Klaatu barada nicto" is the phrase which stops Gort from destroying the Earth.

In the remake, Klaatu needs to be persuaded before stopping Gort in the destruction of Humanity, although in this case he'd already started.

But, yeah, the original is a classic.

cheers, Martin

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The granddaddy of all killer asteroid movies?
« Reply #19 on: 11/29/2010 01:02 AM »
In the original, Klaatu is there to persuade the Earth to change it's behaviour to avoid destruction by robots such as Gort. You'll remember that "Klaatu barada nicto" is the phrase which stops Gort from destroying the Earth.

More precisely, Klaatu is there to deliver a warning that humans need to stop being so violent, or the aliens will step in and wipe them out.

I believe that the phrase was not to prevent Gort from destroying the entire Earth, but to prevent him from retaliating for the attack on Klaatu, but I don't remember the exact dialogue from the movie.

The movie is notable because it presents a liberal point of view at the time.  Many other science fiction films at that time seemed to echo a conservative point of view about the dangers of communism--aliens essentially stood in for the Soviets.

The movie that has perplexed me is Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  It can be read as a conservative movie warning of the dangers of communism.  But it could also be read as a liberal warning about the dangers of McCarthyism, of becoming part of the group identity and losing your individualism.

As for the Keanu version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, what annoyed me so much about it was that nobody seemed to really respect the original.  They were all phoning it in, from the actors to the director to the CGI artists.  It just lacked any heart.

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