We place less-loved science fiction films from the past under our microscope and try to understand what went wrong.

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Might As Well Keep Going

Our survey of terrible movies from various decades returns with a stop in the 60s, to visit 1965’s low-budget spectacle, “The Wizard of Mars,” featuring John Carradine in the title role as one of the horrors of the red planet. How many parallels are there between this film and “The Wizard of Oz”, really? Why are caves on Mars so peaceful? How much oxygen does it take to stay alive on Mars? Join us as we laugh to keep from crying—we’ve come all this way, there’s no reason to turn back now!

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr


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Previous Episodes

The Power! The Power! The Power!

Our rocket surgeons take on 1981’s “Frankenstein Island,” Jason’s go-to bad movie from his high school days. What do balloons have to do with Frankenstein? What’s that brain doing in that tupperware container? Why are there zombies dressed like longshoremen? What is John Carradine doing? How did Jocko lose the eye? There are so many questions, but so few answers.

Jason Snell with Tony Sindelar, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley, Brian Hamilton, Glenn Fleishman and David J. Loehr


A Cyborg Dolphin

Our Rocket Surgery series returns to the heady days of the ’90s, home of questionable cyberpunk movies, to watch Keanu Reeves in “Johnny Mnemonic.” How can a movie written by the godfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson, be such a disaster? We’ll fax you the answer.

Jason Snell with Monty Ashley, Joe Rosensteel and David J. Loehr


Mascot Hands

Our Rocket Surgery panel attempts to apply logic to “Cool Cat Saves the Kids,” an inexplicable educational film featuring a couple of people in animal suits, some music videos, parade footage, and many questionable lessons for children. But there are cameos by Erik Estrada and Vivica A. Fox! Anyway, our logic slides right off.

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Philip Michaels, Monty Ashley and Brian Hamilton


Science Is Never Frightening!

Our survey of questionable science fiction films moves to the 1950s for “GOG,” a story featuring a secret nuclear base, a couple of “robuts,” a shifty Swiss scientist, a neglected Coke machine, a whole lot of science lectures, and then many dead scientists.

Jason Snell with Glenn Fleishman, Steve Lutz, Brian Hamilton and David J. Loehr


Love Blooms Naturally on a Vespa

On Halloween, our Rocket Surgery series takes us to the swinging ’60s and the height of NASA space exploration at Kennedy Space Center! In this corner, a robot astronaut named Frank! In that corner, a horde of invading aliens and their terrifying monster! In between, a bunch of stock footage, a very ’60s soundtrack, a bunch more stock footage, scientists riding scooters, the least sexy beach bikini scene ever, some military stock footage, and a party where everyone is wiggling their butts until the guy on the diving board is lasered to death. And did we mention the stock footage?

Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster

Jason Snell with Glenn Fleishman, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr


Chekhov’s Bob-omb

Our survey of terrible films continues with 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.”, which features surprisingly little of the characters, setting, or joy that one might attribute to the beloved video-game franchise. Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and the directors of the original “Max Headroom” film collaborate on this dreadful tale about evolved dinosaurs, dystopian parallel-universe New Yorks, and a couple of plumbers named Mario, one of whom is also named Luigi.

Jason Snell with Joe Rosensteel, Philip Michaels, Tony Sindelar, Monty Ashley, Steve Lutz and David J. Loehr


Stay Inside My Aura

Draw a beard on your face with a Sharpie, prepare to learn math via touch, and we’ll take you to the second level! Our trek into films of questionable quality continues with John Boorman’s 1974 sci-fi epic “Zardoz,” starring Sean Connery in a red diaper and a floating stone head. Even the writer/director/producer can’t explain what happened, and neither can we—except maybe for Glenn.

Jason Snell with Helene Wecker, Joe Rosensteel, Erika Ensign, Steve Lutz, David J. Loehr and Glenn Fleishman


Pooping Alien

Our Rocket Surgery visit to bad sci-fi movies returns with a look at 1984’s “The Ice Pirates.” Foam robots! Swords and lasers! A mysterious water world! A strange balance of racism and social commentary! Bad effects! Baby animals! Robert Urich! A space herpe! Questional castration methods! Poop jokes! Oakland Raiders! John Carradine! Please, someone make it stop.

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Andy Ihnatko, David J. Loehr, John Siracusa, Joe Rosensteel and Monty Ashley


The Only Way Out Is In

Introducing a new recurring segment on The Incomparable that we call Rocket Surgery, in which we watch an unappreciated science fiction movie from the past and then talk about it.

For our first installment, we watched the 2003 film “The Core,” starring Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, and Bruce Greenwood. Yes, this is a movie about people riding a spaceship (of a sort) down into the core of the Earth in order to blow it up with nuclear bombs because reasons.

Our discussion topics include the science of birds, peaches as metaphors for the Earth, friendly whales, the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the powers of computer hackers.

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, John Siracusa and Tony Sindelar


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