Note: I have several essays in the pipeline that I am currently wrestling with, perhaps having bit off more than I can chew. In the meantime I wanted to repost this film, which I had post a while back on The Solar Satellite.
It seemed to get lost in the shuffle and really deserves a much closer look. This is a perfect film for a cold, rainy weekend, like the kind we're suffering here, and its theme of sleepless nights is apropos for daily savings time tonight. There's a strange kind of numinosity that I don't think you'd see in many films today.
As I wrote before, there are several gems that have resurfaced in the past few years on the Internet, artifacts from a time when narrative had meaning. It's amazing to see the discipline writers once had to tell a story like this in so short a time when a plot like this would be spread over a thirteen hour HBO series today.
This film is also timely given the endless 1970s tapeloop we are trapped in. One of the essays I am struggling is about the 70s occult revival and how contrary it was to the dominant zeitgeist of the time, which was just as dreary, reductionist and suicidal as is our own. But it just goes to show that untamed forces tend to get loose when society as a whole is trapped in a nihilistic downturn. This film is perfect evidence of that.Thanks to the blessings of YouTube and Netflix, I've discovered this strange Magonian subgenre of old movies, dealing with UFOs and so on in a way infinitely more interesting and sophisticated way than the brain-dead garbage Hollywood pukes out these days. Some of them even showed up as made-for-TV movies in the 70s, strangely enough.
Then there's Night Slaves, an offering that Stephen King simply pasted together with Quatermass and the Pit and made millions re-selling to the public as The Tommyknockers. Watch both movies and you'll see exactly what I mean- a more blatant example of caution-to-the-wind plagiarism has rarely seen print.
Night Slaves features the king of 70s corn James Franciscus playing a distinctly unconvincing dropout, a pre-parody Leslie Nielsen exuding simian menace, Lee Grant at the peak of her gorgeous elegance, Witch-King Andrew Prine, and an irresistible alien cupcake played with giddy aplomb by the doe-eyed Tisha Sterling. And it was all produced by Bing Crosby's outfit, of all people.
In other words, it's absolute godhead.
Unlike all the endless War of the Worlds knockoffs, these Magonian films will insinuate themselves very quietly into your unconscious and stay there. After watching, my mind is given to strange flights of fancy, pondering on how the Signal seemed to reach more minds before the airwaves were crammed to capacity with electromagnetic junk. Or wondering if the entire cell network-- phones, iPads, you name it-- is all operated at a massive financial loss in order to intercept the Signal and keep us trapped in ape-mode forever. Crazy stuff like that.