Subspace Blog

August’s Guest Curator: James Brown

by Chance Shirley • August 5, 2022

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Many thanks to James Brown (legendary Alabamian, not to be confused with the legendary soul singer) for being our guest curator for August! James is a good friend and the director of Lunch, one of my all-time favorite short films (you can watch it on Vimeo!). But I’m extra excited to have James as guest curator this month because August in our neck of the woods (Birmingham, Alabama) brings with it the Sidewalk Film Festival. Sidewalk is an amazing fest, and it’s celebrating its 24th anniversary this year. James is one of the many amazing volunteers who make the Sidewalk fest happen. And James has been involved in the fest since year one, so he’s at least in the running for all-time Sidewalk fest VIV (very important volunteer).

If you’re in the neighborhood, check out the fest from August 22 - 28. And if you can’t make it out to the fest, check out James’ movie picks at a free streaming site near you. And be sure to give James a follow on Twitter where he is @liquifried.

James’ Picks and Comments

When Chance asked me to come up with a list of sci-fi recommendations for August, my mind immediately leapt to tying a pick to one of our most obvious connections — August’s (and the 24th!) Sidewalk Film Festival.

  1. Interplanetary — A Crewless production that, due to my unique position with the Sidewalk festival, happens to also be one of the last films I’ve seen in its entirety during fest weekend. Office comedy in space with monsters and blood. Great Alabama cast.
  2. Inception — Highbrow, mind-bending Nolan that even after numerous viewings I’m still not sure how it all works.
  3. Species — A “B” movie gem with a stellar cast, including a tiny Michelle Williams!
  4. The Girl With All the Gifts — Another female-led film that’s about as gritty as they get on this list. Ties nicely with...
  5. Train to Busan — A fantastic Korean zombie film that I’m gonna say qualifies as sci-fi. I hope. Speaking of trains...
  6. Snowpiercer — They made a series out of the concept, but the films is pretty fantastic. And the series doesn’t have Tilda Swinton.
  7. The “Prince of Space” episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 — Everyone has their favorites from this great series, but to me, this is a comedy masterpiece. And I’m laughing as I think about it.
  8. Swamp Thing — Ten-year-old me didn’t know who Wes Craven was, but I dug the hell out of this movie.
  9. Battle Beyond the Stars was a crazy, Star Wars (or was it Empire?) piggyback that I saw a bunch of times in the theater. The ships look like animals or bugs, some wild actors are involved, and the effects look like they’re straight out of a Roger Corman film. Because they are.
  10. Left Behind — Starring Kirk Cameron, about people who get left behind in the rapture. Watch this movie or the Devil will get you. Just kidding — it’s terrible.
  11. Holy Motors — I’m pretty sure I liked this surreal movie a lot. Your mileage may vary.
  12. Firefly — You got covid, or just need an excuse to binge watch an unfortunately short little series? If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already seen it, but go ahead and watch it again. Then the movie Serenity. Then send me an email so you can borrow the comics and novelizations that expand the exploits of Mal and his merry band of gun-slinging space misfits. I love this crew so much.

Guest Curators

July’s Guest Curator: Nat Cassidy

by Chance Shirley • July 9, 2022

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Many thanks to Nat Cassidy for being our guest curator for July! Like last month’s guest curator Tarik Davis, Nat is something of a Renaissance man — he's a an actor, playwright, and musician. He is also a big-time novelist, and his new book Mary: An Awakening of Terror is coming out this month from publisher Tor Nightfire.

You can follow Nat on Twitter for the latest news about Mary and whatever other cool stuff he gets up to.

Aside from picking out several cool movies for us, Nat was kind enough to write a little bit about each of his picks. So check out his picks and comments below, and check out Mary: An Awakening of Terror when it hits bookstores on July 19.

Nat’s Picks and Comments

  • Audrey Rose — OK, so, first things first, I have a new horror novel coming out in two weeks titled Mary: An Awakening of Terror (July 19th, wherever books are sold, plug plug plug), and it’s in part about reincarnation. I’m fascinated by that subject and there have been shockingly few horror novels written about it. This movie, however, is based on a ’70s bestseller that very much is. It’s a fascinating story — maybe a little dry at times, and definitely not keep-you-up-at-night, capital-S Scary. But it poses some really intriguing questions and features a Magic-era Anthony Hopkins, so it’s definitely worth a watch.
  • Stir of Echoes — This is another metaphysical horror movie, this time based on a Richard (I Am Legend, Duel, Twilight Zone, What Dreams May Come, etc.) Matheson. It’s about ghosts and hypnosis and features some fantastic performances. It came out the same time as Sixth Sense and so was dismissed as “just another psychic kid” movie, but it’s soooo not that. For my money it’s one of the best horror/thrillers of its era, and having recently rewatched it, I can definitely say it holds up.
  • The Omen and The Omen II — The first three Omen movies make for a great little trilogy. The second and third chapters aren’t as good as the first, but they’re nowhere near as bad as, say...
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic — One of the most batshit sequels ever made. But come on, you get to see James Earl Jones dressed up as a locust. It’s bananas and very much not unentertaining.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) — Along with Carpenter’s The Thing and Cronenberg’s The Fly, this stands as one of the greatest remakes ever made and far outshines the original Body Snatchers (which itself is a great flick). Fun fact: Kevin McCarthy, who played the protagonist of the original film, has a brief cameo in this one, arguably picking up where his character left off in 1956. Smart, scary, full of chunky ’70s sweaters. A perfect movie.
  • Miracle Mile — Speaking of perfect movies, this is the kind of movie that, once you see it, you prosthelytize it to others. You’ve never really seen a movie quite like this one. I had to pay good money for a physical copy of it years ago because it wasn’t streaming anywhere at the time and I just had to watch it again. See it now while you can!
  • John Dies at the End — Who doesn’t enjoy a fun Don Coscarelli horror flick on a summer’s evening? Does it maybe try too hard to be a “cult movie?” Perhaps. But it’s also got a monster made out of meat, so why fight it? Snarky, surreal, and full of a special kinda spectral soy sauce.
  • Invaders from Mars remake — This is nowhere in the same league as Body Snatchers, but this Tobe Hooper flick is a ton of fun and features some great creature FX.
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Speaking of great creature FX, I’ll always have a soft spot for this movie. No, it’s not as definitive a Hitchhiker’s Guide adaptation as fans of the book or radio series might want, but it’s also nowhere near as disappointing as its reputation made it out to be.
  • Rabid — OK, we’ve had some fun, comedic, family-friendly movies on this list. How about an early Cronenberg zombie-ish gorefest starring Marilyn Chambers that’ll make your stomach do somersaults?
  • Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey — Bringing it back to the metaphysical, this is sincerely one of my favorite movies about embracing the mysteries of death and going with the flow. Also, an A+ cover of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” by non-makeup-era Kiss that, essentially, ushers in world peace. God gave rock and roll to everyone, indeed.
  • Starship Troopers — Hands down one of the best satires ever made. It’s so good, in fact, that the movie works on a superficial level, as well. You can appreciate how it skewers nationalism, fascism, military propaganda, and more... or you can just have a great time watching pretty, vapid people blowing up spacebugs.
  • Quarantine — Bringing it back to remakes, I would say this falls under the “nonessential” category. It’s a remake of the outstanding Spanish horror movie [REC], which is pound for pound one of the greatest found-footage and zombie-adjacent movies ever made. That being said, if Quarantine were a movie that existed on its own, without the far superior source material to compare it to, it would be a competent, claustrophobic thriller-chiller with some neat twists and entertaining scares.
  • Innerspace — Look, I’ll be honest, I probably can’t look at this movie critically because I was a kid in the ’80s and I loved this movie then and will love it til I die. But it’s the only Joe Dante movie to win an Oscar (for Best Visual Effects), so come on! Go inside Martin Short’s body and have some fun, why don’t you?
  • Psycho Goreman — Speaking of fun, I adore this weird-ass sci-fi horror comedy. It’s probably not to everyone’s tastes, and is unapologetically, aggressively quirky, but if you’re in the right mood for laughs, gore, fun creature FX, and sass talking children with waaaay too much attitude, you might just adore this movie, too.
  • Return of the Living Dead — I think everyone can agree on this horror-comedy classic, though. I mean, it’s so universally beloved it singlehandedly changed zombies from undiscerning flesheaters to creatures specifically focused on braaaaiiiinnnnns.
  • The Descent — You may have noticed my tastes skew more towards horror than sci-fi. I’m a horror writer, what can I say? And this is one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Spend some time this summer watching a movie that will make you want to stay inside, in your nice, safe home, for the rest of your life.
  • Melancholia — Finally, here’s just a beautiful, heartbreaking, deeply existential film with some cinematography that’ll leave you breathless. Because all things, sooner or later, must end. And that includes summers. And that also includes lists curated by me of free movies to watch during said summers. Thanks for reading!

Guest Curators

More From Tarik (Our Guest Curator for June)

by Chance Shirley • June 14, 2022

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Not only was Tarik Davis nice enough to be our guest curator for June, he also put together an epic Twitter thread about his picks. A few highlights...

The Brother From Another Planet — “The first film on the list is by John Sayles and stars the great Joe Morton, who is masterful as the kind and gentle Brother From Another Planet.

“So much to say about this incredible film. It’s still relevant, unique, it’s a time capsule of ’80s NYC. It’s perfect.”

Starman — “One of my favorite directors, John Carpenter, plus Jeff Bridges collaborating... what could be better?! They bring this alien-comes-to-earth tale to life. Starman also stars Karen Allen and is an amazing sci-fi film.”

Cosmos — “Here’s a master class in great acting and storytelling done on a budget. Directed by Elliot and Zander Weaver and shot all in the interior of a car, Cosmos has so much heart.”

Read the whole thread on Twitter.

Guest Curators

June’s Guest Curator: Tarik Davis

by Chance Shirley • June 4, 2022

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Many thanks to actor/writer/Renaissance man Tarik Davis for being our guest curator for June! Aside from his work on The Amber Ruffin Show, Tarik performs with Freestyle Love Supreme and is one of the hosts of the weekly Brothers From Another Planet podcast.

He also wrote, produced, and performed Lucas Sinclair's A.V. Club Interview: My Crazy Uncle Jack, a wonderful Stranger Things fan film.

You can follow Tarik on Twitter for the latest news about all of the cool stuff he’s working on.

Tarik went above and beyond and sent us eighteen excellent picks!

  • The Brother From Another Planet
  • Buckaroo Banzai
  • Starman
  • Night of the Comet
  • The Wraith
  • Eve of Destruction
  • Doctor Mordrid
  • Parallel (2018)
  • Cosmos (2019)
  • Lifeforce
  • The Philadelphia Experiment
  • Face/Off
  • Steel Dawn
  • Trancers
  • Turbokid
  • The Last Man On Earth
  • Robot Jox
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still

Guest Curators

May’s Guest Curator: Jay Burleson

by Chance Shirley • May 5, 2022

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Many thanks to Alabama-based filmmaker Jay Burleson for being our guest curator for May! Jay’s shot-on-VHS feature film The Nobodies was released in 2018 by Troma. You can pick up a copy for yourself at Amazon (in glorious standard definition) or stream it on Troma Now. And Jay is premiering two brand new slasher movies in June — The Third Saturday in October and The Third Saturday in October Part V. Yes, you read that correctly — Jay has devised an entire series of original slasher films, and he’s shooting them out of order. Part V has a 1990s feel, and I believe that part one has a 1970s feel. I got to see a sneak screening of Part V a few months ago, and I love it and can’t wait to see the rest of the movies in this amazing series.

So both of Jay’s new movies are premiering at the Chattanooga Film Festival, which is online this year. That means you can attend even if you are nowhere near Chattanooga. Check out the festival website for more information.

And you can follow Jay on Twitter for the latest news about his films.

Jay’s picks...

  • Donnie Darko
  • Dark Star
  • Miracle Mile
  • John Dies at the End
  • Phantasm
  • The Signal
  • Timecrimes
  • The Crazies
  • Quantum Leap

Guest Curators