If nothing else, 2012 2012 may well prove to be final destruction of the American intellect, at least if what passes for disaster movies is any indication. Then again, I buy some of the damn things.
Looking over some movies at the Evil Empire last weekend, Tracy and I included 2012: Doomsday (starring Dale Midkiff, Cliff DeYoung and Ami Dolenz) in our selection. Yeah, okay, bad sign. But I kinda liked Midkiff in his 90s science fiction series Time Trax - yeah, it was cheesy, but I’m a sucker for time travel stuff.
Anyway, to get this over with before 2012 actually gets here.
Deep in the jungles of Mexico brave archeologist dale Midkiff discovers, deep in the bowels of a Mayan tomb, a - gasp! - Golden Crucifix! This means that Christians were here long before Columbus!
Okay, for the sake of the movie, I’m willing to go that far, but its dropped as soon as the words come out of Midkiff’s mouth. He determines that he must travel to yet another Mayan tomb, cross and ex-wife in tow, to do something “important.”
Next in our cast of characters is a young woman (Ami Dolenz) working as a paramedic in a major American city. While sitting at home she is drawing the very same crucifix that Indiana Midkiff has just robbed from the Mayan tomb. She gets a call that she is needed on the job and she rushes to her job as an EMT.
EMTs just get to hang out at the house until they get a call that someone is sick or dying? Bet the mortality rate is really high in that city.
Anyway, the poor schmuck they try to help wouldn’t stop trying to pray so they couldn’t save his life. Her partner, a committed Christian, is very philosophical about this, but she is is very questioning.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, her mother, a devout Christian (and you know she is devout because she looks sappy all the time) is waiting for the end. Ami picks up her mother and drags her off to this weird Mayan pyramid.
And in Mexico itself, a young missionary is freaked out because the village that she has been preaching to has suddenly all vanished - well, they were sick first. A young man offers to help drive her to this pyramid. Along the way they pick up a woman who is eight months, 29 days and 23 hours pregnant.
“Watch,” I said to Tracy, “her name is gonna be Maria.”
Okay, I was wrong there.
Meanwhile, Missionary Woman’s (Danae Nason) father, Cliff DeYoung is in the United States, head of some weather service, and they are concerned because the world seems to be coming to a stop.
No, really, just like in the Old Testament. We’re gonna have storms, bad stuff is gonna happen to the magnetic poles (if I wasn’t Diabetic I would have been drunk by this point in the movie) and he is all a twitter about getting hold of his daughter. Ultimately, he gets a buddy to fly him down to Mexico, and the guy has a car rented for him - somehow in flight, without Cliff DeYoung knowing about it.
I don’t know - just go with this.
In the meantime, Graverobber Midkiff’s ex-wife discovers that he is still wearing his wedding band - cuz that’s what guys do in movies. There hasn’t been anyone else, he tells her. Nor for me, she says.
Cool - chastity.
In the meantime, EMT Girl (has DC got a lock on this name yet?) is dragging her mother across the country, where they talk about God, and cool stuff. Occasionally a yellowish glow will cover her mother’s face. Since the young woman is having trouble with her faith, she should at least wonder if her mother is having kidney problems.
Car trouble happens and she gets out of the car, carrying on some silly monologue. She asks her mother a question, but - oh, no! - Mom is no longer there! Her agent rescued her!
As she is standing distraught by the side of the road, Weather Man drives by and picks her up.
Missionary Woman, meanwhile, is forcing this young guy to take herself and the pregnant woman to the pyramid, instead, of to, say, I don’t know, a hospital? “It’s important!” she cries!
Did mention that it was snowing - or at least that white stuff seemed to be blowing around? Nothing accumulating on the ground, though. That would have cost the film-makers too much money.
It’s not snowing everywhere, mind you. In half of the scenes it is as bright as day, even though it is obvious the characters are within a few miles of each other.
As we get closer to the pyramid, two characters die. Midkiff’s wife dies from a scratch she received in some mishap. Okay, a scratch.
The poor schmuck driving Missionary Woman is is felled by a hailstone which smashes through his windscreen. His death is actually pretty good; he takes almost a minute to die, milking the scene for all that it is worth.
Finally, we’re all together at the Pyramid of Doom. Missionary Woman - in a scene of wild hilarity, forces a screaming pregnant woman to climb the steps of an ancient Mayan pyramid.
Inside, Midkiff has taken the Golden Crucifix - remember that? - and jammed into a slot in the temple wall. Yeah, because that’s what you do with a crucifix, you cram it into things. It’s the first thought that comes to mind, right?
And vague stuff happens after that.
They start a prayer circle around the creaming woman while she gives birth.
Not to ruin a great movie for you, but after the kid is born, things pretty much go back to normal.
It stops snowing, the world starts to revolve on its axis again, and everyone is happy once more. The world has been given a “second chance.”
The DVD box says that this pyramid is in “heart of the Mexican jungle,” yet every damned paved road on the planet seems to go there.
I’m gonna find someone who really needs their weekend ruined, and pass this movie along to them . . .
Dive! Dive! Dive! - In your heart, you know you loved it
Exploring with my cable remote, I see that American Life (a channel devoted to older television programming) has an entire evening devoted to Irwin Allen, with Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants playing every Thursday night.
My father was stationed in England in the mid-1960s, so I was already a big science fiction fan, courtesy of Fireball XL5 and Doctor Who. But when Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea began running, I just fell in love with the whole notion of Monster-of-the-Week shows.
The series was based on the movie of the same name, though I didn't see the movie for many years afterward. It concerned the adventures of the futuristic research submarine Seaview, and its creator, Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart - The Satan Bug). It was captained by Lee Crane (David Hedison - The Fly, The Lost World).
Every week the Seaview and her crew would face foreign spies, monsters from the depths and whatever other evils that Irwin Allen could find to throw at them. The first season, for those who keep track of such things, was the best of the four. Shot in black and white, the stories were often fairly gritty tales set in a cold-war background, along with the occasional science fiction elements. Later seasons were shot in color.
And what a submarine! It had transparent steel plating in the observation room, so that the crew - and TV viewers - could see what was happening outside the ship, and it came equipped with a diving bell and a mini-sub for exploring.
Of course, later seasons saw the advent of the magnificent Flying Sub, a vehicle which operated in the air and under the sea. Sadly, though, the later seasons of the program were marked by inferior writing, and Irwin Allen's bizarre belief that if we did meet aliens, that they would somehow have skin that looked like it was spray-painted on.
It's not Run Silent, Run Deep, but it is pretty good Saturday afternoon fare, especially for an Irwin Allen production. Allen seemed to start out strong on shows, and then sort of lose interest in their quality as time went on.
Too many irons in the fire, perhaps?
The show was able to use many of the props and footage from the movie, and from other Irwin Allen films. In fact, one episode, "Turn back the Clock," is a silly mishmash of a minimal plot using scenes from "The Lost World," in which Hedison also starred.
The extras are minimal, though amusing. The pilot episode, "Seven Days to Zero," is shown in color, and there is a wonderful promo film that Irwin Allen made for ABC execs touting Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, showing scenes supposedly from the upcoming season.
But they aren't. They are all from previous Irwin Allen films. I guess the executives just weren't paying attention. Network executives not paying attention?
Gee, go figure.
Those interested in reading novels about the Seaview crew can find three novels. Two are simply called "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. " The first, by Theodore Sturgeon, is a novelization of the film. The other, put out by Whitman Publishing Company, in their "Authorized TV Adventure" line, is written by Raymond F. Jones, of The Day the Earth Stood Still. This novel is not only the best that Whitman ever put out, but is superior to most of the episodes of the show.
If you can find this book, you are in for a real treat. It's a book that both adults and young people can enjoy, even 40 years after it was first published. It's hard to find, though.
The last book, City Beneath the Sea, is total garbage, written by a man who once wrote a novel called Rape is a No No, for The Man from O.R.G.Y. spy novel series.
It's just Saturday afternoon stuff, but you know what? It's better than a lot of what passes for entertainment on the Sci Fi Channel these days. Sad to say, that's kind of like my yardstick when I review some of these shows.
Quote of the Day - an old one, but still a good one
Home, in the twentieth century, is less where your heart is, than where you understand the sons-of-bitches. - Dave Hickey, The Texas Observer