Three Of The Worst Sci Fi Fantasy Films Of All Time

As a child, sitting in the dark at the historic Loew’s Paradise Theater on the Grand Concourse off Fordham Road in the Bronx, a grand palace in the classic sense, the theater where I initially saw the first three of my list of horrible science fiction films. Often described with “an eclectic and luxurious period-revival architecture”, it evoked a comparison to Radio City Music Hall and its art deco ambiance.

Most notable were the ornate fountains filled with water and large live goldfish swimming around without a conscious thought, and all those coins in the bottom, an attractive sight during intermission with mini mints, bonbons and popcorn, as I stood awestruck and doing my best to resist the urge to stick my hands in and grab them. Then there was the glimmering ceiling with stars resembling the night sky. A fit place to see the full range of films offered by the cinematic world.

The worst of the spectrum of science fiction is distinguished not only by the script and the poor special effects, but also by the actors, especially the distinguished ones like Academy Award Winner Ray Milland who took home the gold statue for his stunning portrayal of an alcoholic in The lost Weekend (1945). It also starred Jane Wyman, former President Ronald Reagan‘s first wife.

Somewhere, Milland veered off the track in 1972’s, The Thing With Two Heads, written by Wes Bishop, directed by Lee Frost and also starred Rosey Grier. In the movie, this British actor plays Dr. Maxwell Kirshner, a dying wealthy white racist who demands that his head be transplanted onto a healthy body. As his health rapidly deteriorates, the only alternative is to graft Kirshner’s head onto the body of a black death row inmate. Truly horrible.

This same year, 1972, the famous British Thespian went on to star in Frogs, directed by George McCowan, also starring Sam Elliot, Joan Van Ark and Adam Roarke. A film that explores different animal species as they exert revenge on a southern family of an ecologically abusive patriarch, played by Milland. How timely! Lizards, snakes and birds. Perhaps a cheap imitation of Alfred Hitchock‘s masterful horror film, 1963’s The Birds. “If you are squeamish, stay home, Cold Green Skin against Soft Warm Flesh. Ribbit.”

The third film on my list is X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes, by famed horror director Roger Corman. Arguably with some redeemable characteristics, written by Ray Russell and Robert Dillion, it starred the relative unknown comedian, Don Rickles in a rare performance displaying his dramatic range as a swindling cad. The x-ray special effects were portrayed through the eyes of Dr. James Xavier, a dedicated physician experimenting with a developmental drug to increase the range of human vision, beyond the visible spectrum and past the x-ray wavelengths. Perhaps a glimmer of what Clark Kent sees as the man of steel. The film definitely has some charm as Dr. Xavier, beginning to detect the effects of the drug, goes to a party and sees all the people dancing the Twist bare skin, uncovering the truth of their nature and driven mad by glimpsing the divine, compelled at the end of the film to pluck his own eyes out.

Interesting choices for the actor who also starred in some of Hollywood’s finest classics as Beau Geste (1939) starring Gary Cooper; Dial M For Murder as Grace Kelly‘s husband and  Love Story, as Ryan O’Neal‘s father.

For more on the life of British Actor Ray Milland, click on the link

The Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Films Of All Time