A website about UK Science Fiction, digging through the past to uncover the future.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Buy content through ScooptWords Save The Devil Girl From Limbo


The above embedded video clip is from the much maligned 1954 film 'Devil Girl from Mars', starring Patricia Laffan as the titular extraterrestrial female. Going on this clip it doesn't look half as bad as it's made out to be, with the robot, Chani, having a fair degree of charm and a quite imposing bulk.


The problem is that Archeology of the Future only has this clip to go on. Whilst the American films of the same period are well documented and widely available for the most part, the British science fiction cinema that was its parallel has all but disappeared. To the best of Archeology of the Future's knowledge, 'Devil Girl from Mars' is not commercially available anywhere at the moment. Currently, there are very few available British Science Fiction films, or at least very few that are currently 'in print'. Lacking the budgets, charm or allure of their more canonical American counterparts, and falling into the gap between commercial viability and archivists objective, they seem to be consigned to the limbo of small viewership satellite channels and charity shop shelves. Like most things, something has to be considered either of overwhelming historical importance or of salable value to be saved from limbo.

Reading through some histories of British Science Fiction, Archeology of the Future has come across a long list of 'missing presumed dead' films that read like a litany of possibilities, frustratingly just out of reach. Some of them Archeology of the Future remembers seeing as a child, others we know only through stills and articles where they appear almost as footnotes to the 'real' business of science fiction on the big screen.

Each one represents a possible excavation of a known site that we don't, as yet, have access to, like a rumour of something untoward happening on the moors just out of town, waiting to be investigated.

These remote and exciting possible future digs, misty and indistinct, known only through snapshots and third person accounts include:

High Treason (1928)
The Tunnel (1935)
The Perfect Woman (1949)
Mr Drake's Duck (1950)
Dick Barton at Bay (1950)
The Four-Sided triangle (1953)
Immediate Disaster (1954)
Fire Maidens From Outer Space (1956)
Satellite in the Sky (1956)
Strange World of Planet X (1957)
Man Without A Body (1957)
First Man Into Space (1958)
Fiend Without A Face (1958)
Behemoth, the Sea Monster (1959)
Womaneater (1959)
Horrors of the Black Museum (1959)
Konga (1960)
Gorgo (1960)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Damned (1963)
Unearthly Stranger (1963)
Children of the Damned (1963)
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
The Night Caller (1965)
The Projected Man (1966)
Invasion (1966)
Night of the Big Heat (1967)
Priviledge (1967)
The Body Stealers (1969)
Moon Zero Two (1969)
The Bed Sitting Room (1969)
No Blade of Grass (1970)
Percy (1971)
The Final Programme (1973)

Each film, regardless of its place in the overall pantheon of cinema history represents something which we wish to interrogate, question and explore... They really are some of the lost worlds of British Science Fiction. As we've said before, there's something deeply cherishable about an apocalypse on your own doorstep, no matter how small or marginal.

Archeology of the Future asks all of you to consider us in our task. If you have a copy of any of these films, taped off late night television or boxed inappropriately for the 1980s video shop boom, we'll happily pay costs if you can let us have them for a while.

It'd really help us, if for no other reason, to save from obscurity the history of British futures.

Come on, look at the Devil Girl... There's no way she should be consigned to oblivion...

For more about the history of British Science Fiction Cinema, read the superb Kim Newman introduction to SF:UK: How British Science Fiction Changed The World.

Buy SF:UK from amazon.co.uk here

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11 Comments:

Blogger suspected said...

I'd try Sinister Cinema (in U.S.A.), they've been advertising in b-movie related magazines for years. Devil Girl is available on both video and dvd according to their website.

10:11 am, April 08, 2006

 
Blogger First Nations said...

the damned, village of the damned and children of the damned are all available from Blockbuster videos here in the U.S., a national video rental chain.
LOTS of nutjob-fringe movie culties here. also try Joe Bob Briggs movie sites. If anyone can hook you up, he can.

3:40 am, April 09, 2006

 
Anonymous Anne said...

Village of the Damned is on Sky or TCM quite frequently. I'll try to tape it for you. Percy you can rent from Amazon DVD - it's a pretty good service. Not a great film, mind. I'm also on the lookout for The Bed Sitting Room so could you let me know if you get a copy?

9:08 am, April 10, 2006

 
Blogger Wyndham said...

Yes, Village of the Damned and, I think, Children of the Damned, its Ian Hendry-starring quasi-sequel, are both available on dvd.

A lot of those movies bring back memories - get on the case!

10:08 am, April 10, 2006

 
Blogger Archeology of the Future said...

These films bring back a lot of memories for us, too! Anne, we well remember Percy is rubbish as a film, but does include some interesting location shots etc. It's in the list of english films 'seen late at night not quite believed in the morning'. That goes along with anything that stars Arthur Lowe, James Bolam or Patrick Mcnee and features one of the following: psychedelic freakouts; scenes set in shopping centres or anything filmed on the British coastline...

For all of you who are interested, we recommend that you buy the current issue of Kettering:

http://www.bodnotbod.org.uk/kettering/

There's a wonderful article about British comedy colliding with the counterculture.

Percy also crosses over a bit with the arse end of the british film industry, all of those terrible sex comedies and the like. In a lot of ways, I really love the film industry in the UK during the seventies because it was a complete free for all. Make a film for as little as possible, sling it out, wait for some sort of return. Base, tawdry, ridiculous... Smashing!

If any of you can think of any further additions to the missing presumed dead file, please flag them up...

We're kicking ourselves that we missed a Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne curated season at the Barbican on fictional bands in telly and film, of which Priviledge was probably one.

So there we have it, rubbish sex comedies, tawdry pop films, science fiction in cold country lanes...

Smashing!

12:59 pm, April 10, 2006

 
Blogger Wyndham said...

I was always a fan of The Beast Must Die - an Amicus Werewolf in a country house feature which has a ridiculous one-minute time-out sequence where the audience is invited to guess which of the visitors is sharp in tooth and claw.

And I particularly enjoyed Death Line in which young blonde women are stolen from Russell Square tube station in the dead of night. It has a long-running gag in which Donald Pleasance enjoys a pot of tea. I was delighted to see that the dvid turned up in our office last week. I'll nab that, I think.

1:52 pm, April 10, 2006

 
Blogger DavetheF said...

Horrors of the Black Museum, which I vaguely recall seeing, is available on DVD -- in HypnoVista!
It's a shame that no one has seen fit to release Spike Milligan's The Bed Sitting Room, very funny and rather savage satire on post-war Britain.

6:50 pm, April 10, 2006

 
Anonymous Anne said...

This sounds great. I've been watching a lot of films lately so will have a think. Did you watch The Likely Lads film at the weekend? One of my faves. Includes James Bolam *and* the British coastline (Whitley Bay) so full marks. Have you seen The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer? Stars Peter Cooke and just about everyone else who was on telly in the 60s (inc. Arthur Lowe I think). It's very good but hard to find. Let's start a video club!

9:10 pm, April 10, 2006

 
Blogger Wyndham said...

For anyone interested in classic British films and their locations, check out this site:

http://www.reelstreets.com/

9:47 am, April 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6305772681/102-7446489-8496907?v=glance&n=130

3:23 pm, April 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Buzz said...

Several of the films listed -- THE TUNNEL, FOUR SIDE TRIANGLE, IMMEDIATE DISASTER, SATELLITE IN THE SKY, FIRST MAN IN SPACE, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, (THE GIANT) BEHEMOTH, BLACK MUSEUM, KONGA, GORGO -- used to play frequently on low budget independent stations in the U.S. until fairly recently. Two were fodder for the long running cable series MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE and MOON ZERO TWO. The various DAMNED pics (VILLAGE, CHILDREN, THESE ARE) have played on TCM and THE BED SITTING ROOM and THE PROJECTED MAN have played recently on one of the Encore channels.

PRIVILEDGE also ran on low-budget stations, a brilliant film that nobody understood or appreciated; I would love to get a chance to see it again. THE FINAL PROGRAMME was also released stateside as THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH; it's an interesting alternate direction that sci-fi films might have taken if blockbusters like STAR WARS and ALIEN hadn't popped up.

I've seen most of the films on the list as well as DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (very slow and talky; your clip has all the best stuff) but would love to get a chance to see HIGH TREASON and THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING.

6:25 am, April 21, 2006

 

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