Looking for more cheap sci fi films with lots of effects
March 5, 2007 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm a big fan of bad, low-budget sci fi films like Star Crash, Message from Space and Battle Beyond the Stars and I've pursued a lot of televison series (like Star Fleet) that are similar in content (lots of miniature sets, ships flying on strings, etc) and I was wondering if anyone could perhaps suggest something that I haven't been able to come across from bad movie / tv review sites. I'm looking for productions with an excess of cheap, overly ambitious effects scenes that I can edit together for use on a cable access show that I would like to produce called "The Sci Fi Drive-By" ...the more obscure, the better. Thanks!
posted by squidfartz to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, you asked for cheap and obscure (nsfw if you get fired for the n- word)
posted by aye at 2:08 PM on March 5, 2007

Lots of British TV sci-fi from the 70s should fit your requirements nicely. Budgets were always small, so effects were generally models or spraypainted household objects. Start by checking out Blake's Seven, Space 1999 and UFO then see where that leads you.
posted by Joh at 2:53 PM on March 5, 2007

SpaceHunters: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

It has the distinction of being one of the first major roles for Molly Ringwald.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:56 PM on March 5, 2007

Space Mutiny. An MST3K classic.
More crapulence here.
posted by Webbster at 2:57 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Starship was horrible and tacky as I remember...http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090068/

IE: remote control cars with antennas, as 'land rovers'.
posted by amileighs at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2007

Well, the trailer (YouTube) for the B-minus classic This Island Earth (1955) should give you plenty of ammo —

tractor beams!
girlish screams!
aliens in pampadour!
walking lobsters thermidor!
triangular tellies!
galactic casus bellis!

And if the flick's taglines ("The supreme excitement of our time," "2½ years in the making!") don't clinch the deal, consider the source of the threat to the Earth ... the planet Metaluna!
posted by rob511 at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2007

Hmmph -- make that pompadour; only gauchos wear pampadours.
posted by rob511 at 3:02 PM on March 5, 2007

I second BLAKES SEVEN, and in particular the last episode of season two. [spoilers] A huge invasion fleet has crossed from the Andromeda galaxy: I swear, swear there is a vacuum cleaner attachment in there... This Youtube clip doesn't do it justice.
posted by alasdair at 3:07 PM on March 5, 2007

All fairly recent, but joyfully cheesy:

Space Precinct (cool, I just learned this was a Gerry Anderson show!); Cleopatra 2525; LEXX
posted by adamrice at 3:08 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: The Noah's Ark Principle (lots of security-camera style shots to obscure the bad models)
Android (check out Klaus Kinski)
Star Crystal (horrible, horrible)
The Aurora Encounter (alien comes to Texas--you can see the crane holding up his flying machine)

All DVDs I've worked on. Please buy 'em if you can.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:11 PM on March 5, 2007

I would check out classic british sci-fi from the 80's like Star Cops, Sapphire & Steel and Quatermass.
posted by oh pollo! at 3:15 PM on March 5, 2007

It's not exactly what you're looking for, but I imagine you'd enjoy the teevee show Garth Marenghi's Darkplace -- you'd have to download them in America.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:27 PM on March 5, 2007

Look up any of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) films. It's what they do.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:29 PM on March 5, 2007

Another vote for Blake's Seven.
posted by pompomtom at 4:34 PM on March 5, 2007

The Cat From Outer Space (1985). *Bad*, but hilarious. In its defense, it was made by Disney for kids; it's very campy.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:35 PM on March 5, 2007

Cherry 2000?

Cat From Outer Space is from 1978, not 1985 (unless there was a remake). And it stars Sandy Duncan, which means it's awesome.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:06 PM on March 5, 2007

See if you can find any copies of Quark starring Richard Benjamin. Mmmm... 70s-a-licious.
posted by smallerdemon at 6:11 PM on March 5, 2007

How can I be the first to mention Zardoz? I think it would be right up your alley. Perhaps that movie is so well-known that it goes without saying.

As an aside, I used to watch MST3K religiously when it was on cable, and without a doubt I can say that Zardoz is the worst movie I have ever seen. And yes, I'm including Manos: The Hands of Fate.
posted by chinston at 6:20 PM on March 5, 2007

posted by filmgeek at 6:28 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: The Starlost (also enriched with Harlan Ellison goodness).

Seconding U.F.O. (starring Nick Drake's sister, Gabrielle, no less, and filled with purple wigs, bad SFX and general British 1970's skiffy weirdness).
posted by biscotti at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2007

By now the CGI in The Last Starfighter is charmingly bad.

Any number of Doctor Whos had well-constructed models used in cheap effects sequences.

The movie doesn't have bad effects, but any of the shots from Silent Running with a robot walking around on the hull of Valley Forge seems like it might meet your requirements.

And ZARDOZ DOESN'T SUCK. Yes, there's really terrible costume design and hippy-dippy dialogue. But underneath that you have a fundamentally sound movie about people who find that technologically induced immortality isn't what they thought it might be, and who have to hack the systems they put in place to protect themselves in order to die.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:39 PM on March 5, 2007

Best answer: Star Maidens.
posted by needled at 7:59 PM on March 5, 2007

ROU_Xenophobe writes "And ZARDOZ DOESN'T SUCK. Yes, there's really terrible costume design and hippy-dippy dialogue. But underneath that you have a fundamentally sound movie about . . . ."

Look, I'll grant you all that, but yea verily Zardoz doth nevertheless suck. It is because I found the themes, as you accurately describe them, not entirely uninteresting that I did not immediately shut off the TV after seeing Sean Connery wearing nothing but bandoliers, a red diaper, and thigh-high boots standing in front of a giant styrofoam head booming at him, "The penis is evil."

Anyway, sorry for my distraction squidfartz; you should check the movie out.
posted by chinston at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2007

Compared to, say, Doctor Who, Space Academy and its spin off, Jason of Star Command might seem pretty high budget, but I'm sure they'll look quaint next to Star Wars. Going mostly on my very unreliable memory, I'd put their special effects at or below the level of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I expected Buck to make it to DVD, but I'm surprised to find that the other two have as well.
posted by Clay201 at 2:21 AM on March 6, 2007

Laserblast: MST3K tested, Leonard Maltin approved!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:58 AM on March 6, 2007


Creation of the Humanoids, from 1962. It was pretty bizarre for its time. It was supposedly one of Warhol's favorite films, and while the effects suck, it has an interesting premise and is genuinely thought-provoking. I highly recommend it.

While it doesn't have a ton of ships-on-strings type scenes, it has crazy makeup and sets, is fairly obscure, and contains some hilarious dialogue.
posted by zebra3 at 7:24 AM on March 6, 2007

badmovies.org There's tons of clips on there to waste any Friday.
posted by pepcorn at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2007

Also, if you haven't yet, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia and The Psychotronic Video Guide, both by Michael Weldon. They're encyclopedias of schlock, low-budget horror and sci-fi, and exploitation movies.
posted by zebra3 at 8:52 AM on March 6, 2007

Seconding Dark Star.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:57 AM on March 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for all of the suggestions -even the ones that I already knew are excellent ideas.

Just a few thoughts...

-I love all Gerry Anderson stuff

-I'm going to pursue Blake's 7. I've been putting off watching the series for decades and it looks great

-Metalstorm is one of my favorite films

-I actually saw The Aurora Encounter in a theater (long story)

-I'd never heard of Creation of the Humanoids

Seriously, thank you, everyone.
posted by squidfartz at 3:13 PM on March 6, 2007

Best answer: Well, not strictly sci-fi, but you could also check out some of the completely insane early '80s children's show Button Moon^.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:38 PM on March 6, 2007

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