- Frankenstein's a hit with the ladies at this year's Sci-Fi Marathon.
The marathon, full of Yoda-approved classic flicks and trailers, begins at 8 p.m. Friday, January 18. Two surprise films are also on tap, for Friday at midnight and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. And Saturday's 7:30 a.m. showing of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's 1989 cult fave Meet the Feebles is worth the early-morning rise, if just to trace Jackson's progress, from working with homicidal puppets to working with puppet-like actor Elijah Wood.
1. Frankenstein (Saturday, 2 a.m.) -- It's the standard by which all horror films should be measured (and close enough to sci-fi to qualify for inclusion here). Yeah, we know The Bride of Frankenstein is generally considered to be a better movie, but for sheer terror and malice, you can't beat the 1931 original's creaky creepiness. Plus, Boris Karloff's poignant portrayal of the monster lends the creature the dollop of sympathy it needs.
2. Metropolis (Saturday, 9 a.m.) -- Fritz Lang's 1926 masterpiece can be read any number of ways: as utopian fable, as revolutionary call-to-arms, as public service announcement to dystopian society. All we know is that it's one of the finest silent movies ever made, with enough unforgettable images to last a lifetime.
3. AI: Artificial Intelligence (Saturday, 9:30 p.m.) -- Steven Spielberg's 2001 reworking of Stanley Kubrick's oft-delayed project is a grand meditation on life, death, and whatever states exist in between. It's a bit muddled -- Spielberg is too warm a filmmaker to pull off the film's more sinister urges; Kubrick is too cold to lend it any passion -- but the ultimate vision is one of elegance and reverence. And any movie that makes good use of a talking teddy bear is OK with us.
4. The Terminator (Saturday, 7 p.m.) -- Terminator 2: Judgment Day offers more bang, but the first entry from 1984 is where Arnold Schwarzenegger's mechanical "acting" actually works with the story. As a cyborg-from-the-future killing machine, he's ruthless and commanding. The film itself is sorta brainless, but the nonstop barrage of guns, bombs, and carnage is what it's all about anyway. A deserving genre milestone.
5. Futureworld (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.) -- The 1976 follow-up to Westworld features not only Bridget Fonda's dad and Gwyneth Paltrow's mom (that would be Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner, respectively), but also Yul Brynner, duded up as a gunslinging cowboy robot in a totally pointless cameo. It's more thriller than sci-fi, yet its post-Watergate political statements make it a smart, if dated, choice.