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Film Room: Cinema Obscura

This year's Minicon will feature a full track of films that range from Hollywood blockbusters to old classics to terribly obscure things that you've never heard of.



Friday 9 pm - 11 pm: Angel On My Shoulder

Back for a well-deserved second year, this tale of a gangster's deal with the Devil to get a new lease on life - which might be worth more to him than he realizes - is a rare gem from the era of black-and-white film, with truly memorable characters and a moral that is inspirational without being heavy-handed.

Friday 11 pm - 1 am: Donny Darko

A twisted tale for twisted minds, this cult favorite has arrived at Minicon, and nothing will ever be the same. Well, not the Easter Bunny, at any rate. Was originally scheduled for the first hour of Sunday, but we decided you might need an extra day to recover before you go looking for eggs.


Saturday 1 am - 3 am: Gamera the Invincible

The world cowers in fear of a giant indestructible turtle which walks on its hind legs. That alone is worth the price of admission, at least. The fact that said turtle can also fly by firing rockets from its shell's leg-holes so that it spins like a UFO is pure bonus. Warning: contains Japanese rock n' roll!

Saturday 3 am - 5 am: Black Dragons

A less-famous role for the masterful Bela Lugosi, this film's nemesis might be even creepier than Dracula, if only in not being familiar to the point of cliche. Warning: contains not even remotely Japanese daggers!

Saturday 5 am - 7 am: Hercules & The Captive Women

Quite different from the Kevin Sorbo interpretation, the Hercules of early Hollywood sports a fine beard and is vocal in matters of government - not to mention he has a son who gets almost as much face time in the film as his titular father! Driven by a mysterious yet oddly specific prophecy, Hercules voyages into the West to save Greece from...something, it's really not clear what the threat is, but he takes it seriously nonetheless. What he finds is Captive Women (quantity: 1), a ruthless yet seductive empress, and a uniquely creepy revelation. Though this film's status as one of the earlier color movies is painfully obvious in places, it's still one of the better examples of the period.

Saturday 7 am - 9 am: The Incredible Petrified World

John Carradine stars in this, um, noteworthy example of filmmaking. A malfunction in a deep-sea diving bell condemns four explorers to an unfortunate end, which they escape by swimming into a mysterious cave (which is somehow filled with air despite being miles under the ocean). Tensions rise between the expedition's two women, the inevitable love affair develops, and in the climax we get to see the world's least threatening psychotic murderer run afoul of the world's most conveniently timed volcanic eruption. Yes, an underground volcano, in an underwater cave. Don't ask questions; it's Hollywood! Warning: Contains Colossal Cave! (But sadly not the one with twisty little passages and XYZZY written on the walls.)

Saturday 9 am - 11 am: Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet

The shameless American ripoff of a Russian film named "Planeta Bur", this tale of the first manned expedition to Venus either loses something in the translation or was just plain strange in the first place, but it's worth seeing anyway for its status as one of the last "classic" space operas from the time everyone thought Venus was a tropical wilderness populated by lizardmen. A true pulp-action film brought to life in Technicolor, and home to an interesting cousin of Robby the Robot who's simply dying to meet you.

Saturday 11 am - 1 pm: Track of the Moon Beast

This trippy '70s monster flick can be summarized in a single sentence - but then you wouldn't believe us. Come find out for yourself, and share our pain.

Saturday 1 pm - 3 pm: A Boy And His Dog

We were going to let this title rest on its laurels from last year, but by popular request it's back! An overwhelming 100% majority of respondents are clamoring for another chance to see World War IV and the ensuing aftermath of telepathic dogs who help their boys find females to while away the apocalypse. Warning: contains greasepaint!

Saturday 3 pm - 5 pm: King Solomon's Mines

Returning from last year by virtue of being actually good, despite the absence of special effects, red-carpet celebrities, or for that matter color, this loose adaptation of a literary classic by H. Rider Haggard shows a remarkable approximation of respect in its portrayal of native African cultures, as well as offering a good-sized helping of plain old adventure. Warning: contains singing!

Saturday 5 pm - 7 pm: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Alter Egos Double Feature)

Our token offering from the silent-film era, this is the first cinematic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of suspense, which hasn't been terribly suspenseful since the story became so popular that basically everyone knows what the "secret" of Mr. Hyde is. Warning: contains hats!

Saturday 7 pm - 9 pm: The Princess Bride

If you can see only five SF movies in your lifetime, this classic is unquestionably on the list; few indeed are the franchises not containing "Star" or "Python" in the name which are more commonly referenced in fandom. Anything I could say about the plot would only be either a spoiler or something you already know, so I'll just say that if you like understanding your friends's fannish jokes and you've never seen "The Princess Bride", this is your chance to leave your ignorance behind.

Saturday 9 pm - 11 pm: A Boy And His Dog

The less diurnal members of the Harlan Ellison fan club will be delighted to hear (assuming they do not Have No Ears...oh wait, that's Mouth) that we're showing this wacky postapocalypunk adventure again later on.

Saturday 11 pm - 1 am: Lady Frankenstein

Our department head's pick for a cult classic worth seeing once a year, every year, this title is one of the few Frankenstein movies to actually portray the monster as a truly hideous murderer rather than a misunderstood and accident-prone man-child, the mad doctor as an actual genius rather than a cackling goofball, and the loyal assistant as, well, not Igor. These facts alone make it noteworthy, but the inclusion of Frankenstein's daughter, who is more brilliant than the doctor and more disturbed than his creation, earns the title is favored status here at Cinema Obscura. Warning: in case you hadn't figured it out by now, contains nudity and violence!


Sunday 1 am - 3 am: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Alter Egos Double Feature)

Second showing of this classic (read: cliche) tale's treatment in silent film.

Sunday 3 am - 5 am: Atom Age Vampire (Alter Egos Double Feature)

A high-strung singer's car runs off the road and spontaneously bursts into flames, disfiguring her "forever, as if by a cancer, it's beyond control, like leprosy!" She'd rather die than lose her beauty, but a mysterious and slightly unsettling doctor offers her a cure. Soon, though, we find out who's really scarred for life. There's no actual vampire here, but rather an intriguing twist on the more familiar horror tropes we're all sick of. Warning: contains flimsy nightgowns!

Sunday 5 am - 7 am: Queen of the Amazons

We begin in media res, following an expedition in search of the missing brother of a gun-savvy heiress. This film may be compared and contrasted against "King Solomon's Mines" for an example of how much better that one is, especially in the respect it displays for the natives.

Sunday 7 am - 9 am: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

A fine example of Holmes's deductive genius, this film is unusual in its scope as it pits the Great Detective against Nazi spies rather than mere criminals - but of course, they had to have a few of those in too, so they were brought in at the behest of the brilliant and sinister Dr. Moriarity. If you missed this last year, don't let the suspense last any longer.

Sunday 9 am - 11 am The Last Man on Earth (Apocalyptically Delicious Double Feature)

The first and most faithful film adaptation of Richard Matheson's spectacular novel "I Am Legend", this movie stars the inimitable Vincent Price (along with a larger supporting cast than you'd expect from the title) and was a seminal influence on the classic "Night of the Living Dead" four years later. It's not as popular as Charlton Heston's "The Omega Man" and certainly not as big-budget as Will Smith's recent vehicle under the "I Am Legend" name, but this film did it first and best, and is a definite treat for fans of the classics.

Sunday 11 am - 1 pm The Last Woman on Earth (Apocalyptically Delicious Double Feature)

Entirely unrelated to the two-letters-shorter-titled film, "Last Woman" tells of three survivors, predictably only one of them female, who escape the human race's annihilation by a lucky fluke - and discover that if they want to live, they'll have to learn to live with each other.

Sunday 1 pm - 3 pm: Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet

This hamtastic adventure we swiped from the Russians gets a second showing for the sake of those who haven't had their suspension of disbelief shattered often enough this weekend.

Sunday 3 pm - 5 pm: Virus (Robert Vaughn double feature)

Returning from last year, this movie shows the survivors of the world's destruction trying to prevent the world from being destroyed AGAIN. Contains icebergs, postfeminist ideology, and many fine beards.

Sunday 5 pm - 7 pm: The Lucifer Complex (Robert Vaughn double feature)

A lone survivor on an island full of computers watches a movie about the end of civilization. This hilariously bizarre film features such breathtaking moments of genius as Robert Vaughn breaking a window by throwing an IV bag at it, loons crying across the swamps of a South American island, and soldiers yelping in surprise several seconds after they're shot. But just when you think it can't get any weirder, the climactic final scene tears away your last remaining shreds of sanity. Also contains: Rock n' Roll, a slumming Playboy playmate, a dommish Nazi lesbian, hospital interns that look like Ron Jeremy, and many fine beards.

Sunday 7 pm - 9 pm: Hercules & The Captive Women

We're deliberately placing another iteration of this flick after Closing Ceremonies, in the hopes that folks who need something to do after the "official" end of the con will find this one of our better showings (that we won't get fined for showing a second time).

Sunday 9 pm - 11 pm: Night of the Living Dead

While far more low-key than its successors, this John Carpenter classic is very much the original "zombie movie", if not in chronology then in the annals of American culture. It is also remarkable among this genre for NOT killing the black guy first.