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

Futterwacken Hats

Our Rocket Surgery crew returns to the current decade to discuss Tim Burton’s billion-dollar 3-D smash hit, “Alice In Wonderland.” What if everything you remember fondly from Lewis Carroll was turned into a catchphrase? Why so much eye stabbing? Who is the Jabberwocky and what has it done with the Jabberwock? What does Johnny Depp bring to his role of a mild hat enthusiast? When did Monty give up and start reading IMDB trivia? Nobody mention how big the Red Queen’s head is!

Jason Snell with Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and Shannon Sudderth


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Previous Episodes

Lord of Board and Sword

If we told you that there was a 1990s movie starring Martin Sheen’s brother featuring a post-apocalyptic world of skateboarding, sword-wielding Jedi dudes, would you believe us? Well, you shouldn’t, because we made it up on the spot. Concluding our trilogy of improvised “Rocket Surgery” episodes, this is “Last Dance of the Devil’s”, a film so bad that its title is mispunctuated.

Moisés Chiullan with Annette Wierstra, John McCoy and Cicero Holmes


Dracula’s Home Alone

We’re all out seeing “Avengers: Endgame”, so here’s something completely different to tide you over. A while ago we all were talking about how our Rocket Surgery selections are so weird and obscure that we could just make up an entire movie and nobody would be able to tell the difference. So we did that. As with episode 453, here’s a Rocket Surgery about a movie you won’t find on IMDB or YouTube, because it totally doesn’t exist. We made it up on the spot, plot point by plot point. It’s 1963’s “The Howling Horror of Dracula.”

Jason Snell with David J. Loehr, Don Melton, Jean MacDonald, Mikah Sargent and Kathy Campbell


Turn Left at the Asteroid

It’s the Rocket Surgery Film Festival! In this episode, we’re watching something that proves that computer-game film adaptations were a bad idea from the very beginning! Based on a late 1970s Atari game, it’s the ill-fated “Star Raiders.” There’s a not-dashing star pilot, a sullen space princess, an annoying robot, and is that Sheriff Lobo in a tight-fitting jumpsuit? If you’re looking for a cross between “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, are you in for some disappointment. Once again, we watched the movie so you don’t have to.

Correction: Due to a clerical error, none of these movies actually exist. This episode was entirely improvised.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Dan Moren, Steve Lutz, Monty Ashley and Philip Michaels


All Wormholes Go to Heaven

Jason chose Disney’s “The Black Hole” for this edition of Rocket Surgery, and after viewing it, he’s pretty confident in his decision. But there is dissention in the ranks! Some panelists will stick up for Disney’s strange 1979 horror-as-sci-fi film, which features ranting scientists, robot ESP, laser contests, a giant rolling gumball on fire, a down-home robot prospector, and one hell of a chandelier. Oh, and did we mention there’s a black hole?

Jason Snell with Antony Johnston, Erika Ensign, James Thomson, Philip Michaels, Kathy Campbell, Monty Ashley and Steve Lutz


Up to the Puppies

After “The Matrix” was a hit, we got the inevitable plague of Matrix-like tales of ultraviolent dark pop philosophy. Of these, 2002’s “Equilibrium”… was one. At the pleading of Dan Moren, our Rocket Surgery team disassembles this tale of totalitarianism and gun-based martial arts starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, and Sean Bean. It’s a movie that thinks it’s very, very smart when it’s actually really dumb. Be sure to take your Prozium, or the Grammaton Clerics will set you on fire!

Jason Snell with Dan Moren, Erika Ensign, Jean MacDonald, Moisés Chiullan, Monty Ashley and Steve Lutz


Joe DiMaggio of the Slide Rule

We return to bad 1950s science fiction for our latest Rocket Surgery installment, which features 1959’s “The Cosmic Man.” There’s a UFO the likes of which we’ve never seen, in the form of a ping-pong ball in a canyon. Army men and a world-famous scientist that even little kids recognize joust over whether the UFO should be used as a weapon or to benefit all of humanity. And meanwhile, there’s John Carradine checking in to a mountain lodge in an outfit that is not at all like what an alien would wear his first time on Earth.

Title Card

Baseball Card

Jason Snell with Jean MacDonald, Steve Lutz, Philip Michaels and Monty Ashley


This Movie Ends, Right?

Time for 1997’s “Batman & Robin”, featuring George Clooney as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. At least we can laugh about it now… to keep from crying.

(Part two of two.)

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


Batman! Aaaaaa!

So when Batman won our Summer Superhero Spectacular, we embarked on a quest to talk about all the Batman movies. Which leads us to the unfortunate spectacle of us watching both “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” This week, it’s the Val Kilmer Era, so let’s go back to 1995 and marvel at Jim Carrey’s understated performance as the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’s equally subtle performance as Two-Face. We are so, so sorry.

(Part one of two.)

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


A Dwarf Named Elwood

Settle back with a bagel or two and get ready for a film that fails to bring all the excitement and world-building of fantasy roleplaying to life! Our brave panelists watch 2000’s “Dungeons & Dragons”, which features dungeons, dragons, a horribly unbalanced party, an infuriating lack of connection to the game, a set of polar-opposite performances by Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, a six-foot-tall “dwarf”, political theater even more boring than The Phantom Menace, generous garnishes of racism and sexism, and a villain who wears blue lipstick. Oh, and did we mention that TV’s Doctor Who is in it as an exposition elf? Join us as we watch until the end and finally say, “Ugh, WTF?”

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Monty Ashley, David J. Loehr, Tony Sindelar and Steve Lutz


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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