This series of three films explores the connections, in terms of both aesthetics and labor, between the exploitation genre and the science fiction film. Both genres have historically been regarded as “low” by critics but have been celebrated by film scholars for their thematic complexity. Science fiction films tend to be the more highly regarded of the two genres, as higher budgets and the work of ‘auteur’ directors have tended to elevate the cultural standing of films like James Cameron’s Aliens, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. However, many of these acclaimed directors began their careers working in the exploitation genre. The films of such directors interpellate the spectator, provoking a bodily response to the onscreen action.
Thursday, April 9 • 7pm
© 20th Century Fox
Aliens is one of the few cases of a sequel that far surpassed the original. Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, who awakens on Earth only to discover that she has been hibernating in space so long that everyone she knows is dead. Then she is talked into traveling (along with a squad of Marines) to a planet under assault by the same aliens that nearly killed her. Once she gets there, she finds a lost little girl who triggers her maternal instincts. Directed and written by James Cameron, this is one of the most intensely exciting (not to mention intensely frightening) action films ever, with a large ensemble cast that includes Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, and Michael Biehn. Weaver defined the action woman in this film and walked away with an Oscar nomination for her trouble.
—Marshall Fine, Amazon.com
Directed by James Cameron • 1986, USA
137 minutes • Brand new 35mm print
Thursday, May 21 • 7pm
© Dimension Films
Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is a rollicking horror/sci-fi/action piece about a plague outbreak that turns citizens into cannibalistic murderers; it’s heavy on the gore and explosions but also features a terrific cast of A players (Bruce Willis, Freddy Rodriguez, Naveen Andrews, Marley Shelton) and B-movie vets (Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Tom Savini). The all-star cast fight for their lives in the ultimate showdown between an army of flesh-eating mutants and a motley group of rag-tag survivors. Featuring one of the most memorable screen heroines ever, Rose McGowan as a stripper whose torn-off leg is replaced by a high-powered machine gun, “Planet Terror is a total blast - funny, gory and over the top” (Christy Lemire, Associated Press).
Directed by Robert Rodriguez • 2007, USA
95 minutes • 35mm
Thursday, May 28 • 7pm
© Universum Film (UFA)
Metropolis belongs to legend as much as to cinema: it is a milestone of sci-fi and German expressionism. Set in 2000, the futuristic tale shows society separated into two distinct segments. People are divided into two groups: the thinkers--who make plans, yet don’t know how to operate machinery, and the workers--who forward production without having any overview vision. Completely separate, neither group is complete; however, together they make a whole. When one man, a “thinker,” dares to journey to the underground, where the workers ‘slave away,’ he’s surprised at what he sees. The film is a futuristic look at the schism created in mankind as industrialization and technological advancement serves to alienate the humans from one another.