The wild and amusing ramblings of sci-fi fans

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Movie Screams

I got an e-mail from the creator of Movie Screams, which purports to be the world’s first online horror and sci fi film theatre, and who are now screening sci-fi and horror videos, with uploads every week that showcase work by video artist, filmmakers, animators, actors, screenwriters and horror fans around the globe.

Now, the quality of the videos featured varies substantially, but it’s a nifty idea, and I quite like the simplicity of the approach.

Probably a good site to keep an eye on, if you’re a fan of the content and/or the genre.

Click on the image below to jump through to the site:

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3 Sci-Fi Ships Perfect for Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve!  To celebrate the holiday season, we take a look at the three sci-fi ships most suited to live in during the festive season!

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1. Deep Space Nine (ST: DS9)

Okay, so it might not be a ship, but where better to spend your Christmas!  Imagine the Promenade lined up with decorations, festive shops and a warm gingerbread coffee (with some Kanar, of course!) at Quark’s!

Those dark corridors could quickly look quite cosy with some multicoloured LED lighting!

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2. Serenity (Firefly)

I’d imagine Serenity could be quite festive once Kaylee had time to get everything set up!  A homely ship, with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide presents and decorate, park on a snowy, forest planet and enjoy the 25th December.

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3. Destiny (Stargate Universe)

She may not look like much, but I’m talking more about the ship before it became deserted and broken.

With an arboretum and Ancient technology, you could create a nice wintery forest for the season and camp out there!  With the beautiful backdrop of the ship travelling between star systems overhead, it’s hard to picture a more tranquil and festive scene!

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Lovecraft, Cosmic Horror and Existential Dread

I’ve been watching a lot of horror films lately. My girlfriend and I marathoned Star Trek: Deep Space 9 recently, and she fell in love with Jeffrey Combs (and Rene Auberjonois, Nana Visitor and Terry Farrell, but they’re less relevant to the topic at hand). This has allowed me to introduce her to the joys of a couple of his horror films, most recently Re-Animator 3. This got me thinking about the loose nature of film adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s work.

Unless you’ve been living on Yuggoth your entire life, you’ve probably at least heard of H.P. Lovecraft. Born in 1890, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a writer best known for his tales of weird fiction and eldritch horror. Ancient gods, madness and fantastic dreamscapes featured heavily in his writings. Even those unfamiliar with his stories have heard of that tome of evil magicks the Necronomicon, dead dreaming Cthulhu and perhaps even the tentacled one’s resting place sunken R’lyeh beneath the sea. This is largely due to his fellow horror authors who carried on his legacy and continued to develop his Mythos after his death, but Lovecraft created it and without him we wouldn’t have the Cthulhu Mythos which has become a staple of geeky pop culture. We also wouldn’t have the Cosmic Horror sub-genre we know and love today.

Cosmic Horror isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It strikes us right in the ego, puncturing the bubble of self-importance that we as a species erect around ourselves and reinforce every day with our worries about jobs, relationships, bills, taxes. Cosmic Horror highlights the ultimate insignificance of all our acheivements. Ancient and immeasurably huge gods travel the cold infinite stretches between the stars, creatures so inconceivable in scale that we are less than an ant to them. They aren’t impressed by us, nor are they threatened by us. If they notice us at all, it’s in the moments before they accidentally snuff out our lives and carry on about their unknowable business.

This isn’t the danger-could-be-right-behind-you-now-in-fact-what-was-that-bump-from-upstairs Slasher Horror, nor the no-that’s-impossible-there’s-no-such-thing-as-zombies/vampires/werewolves Supernatural Horror. These focus on antagonists that can be battled and, with luck and skill, bested. The my-fingers-now-have-eyes-on-them-and-my-face-has-developed-a-vagina Body Horror comes close, but it still happens within the sphere of human influence. If your hand has become possessed, lop it off at the wrist. Problem solved (and you can replace it with a groovy chainsaw).

Cosmic Horror doesn’t strike terror into the heart of everyone, because it is easy to become bogged down in the nitty-gritty of everday life and lose track of The Big Picture. Indeed, this microfocused worldview is desirable – to get a proper glimpse of the true scope of the universe and the place of the individual in it would, in Lovecraft’s view at least, be enough to shatter the already-fragile human mind. You’re most likely to feel that if you suffer from bouts of existential dread.

Stand on a hilltop, nice and remote, in the middle of the night. Make sure it’s a clear night, with the moon shining brightly and the stars unobscured. Stare up into the sky. Keep staring. You are looking at the stars. Bright and twinkling points of light, billions of miles away. Thanks to relativity and physical laws that are certainly beyond my thickheaded understanding (Damnit, Jim, I’m a philosophy graduate not a physicist) by the time that light reaches your eyes, some of those stars have already died. Right now, though they are shining, they shine no more. Both dead and fiercely alive.

Out there right now are uncountable stars, galaxies, planets and nebulae, in a universe of infinite size. Think of your size in relation to the planet. Think of your planet’s size in relation to the galaxy. And so on. But that’s not all – now turn your gaze inward, beneath your own skin. Organs and systems, all made of cells. Cells made of proteins, mitochondria, tiny building blocks. Go down small enough and you discover the atoms, tinier than pinheads, which make up all of these. Then the electrons, protons, neutrons. Go down smaller still to the sub-atomic particles, the quarks and bosons.

Now think about their size in relation to the size of the universe. The infinitesmally small, compared to the unfathomably large. In a universe of such colossal scope, do the contents of your bank account matter? The size of your car? Even the love you have for your partner or family? The stars don’t care about your bank account. The quarks don’t care about your love. All that you accomplish will make not a bit of difference to the cosmos, even if you were to rule the world, slaughter millions or cure all known diseases. We are ultimately alone and ignored by the larger world.

This is … difficult to show on film. It’s difficult enough to write effectively, though there you at least have the advantage of a budgetless medium (page-count aside, of course). On film, it’s exceedingly difficult to portray a mammoth and uncaring universe. Perhaps that’s why Lovecraft adaptations tend to go for the more tentacular stories, with healthy doses of Body and Supernatural Horror rather than attempting its Cosmic scope. Lovecraft adaptations tend to be low-budget cult affairs – we very nearly got a film of At the Mountains of Madness helmed by Guillermo del Toro, but that disappointingly fell through. With Cthulhu’s nerd-cred seemingly at an all time high, and Hollywood currently being ruled by the likes of geek icons JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon, it would seem that a successful big-budget Lovecraft film would be a no-brainer. Sadly, it looks like that is not to be.

Over the next few months, I intend to get my hands on as many Lovecraft adaptations as I can and review them for your reading pleasure. I shall be comparing/contrasting them to the source material as I go, which will allow me to reread many of Lovecraft’s classics. I may include the odd heavily-influenced-by film, such as John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, simply to show the extent of his influence and also because I love In the Mouth of Madness and I don’t care what you say. My articles, my rules.

So strap in, clutch your talismans to your chests and watch out for tentacles. We’re going on a ride that may leave you a gibbering wreck by the end, clawing at your hair and screaming ‘The films! The films!’. Just do it quietly, will you? Don’t want to disturb Cthulhu’s slumber…

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Andi Gets Another Tattoo – The Dr Who Gallifreyan name

I went ahead and got it done again! As you all are aware from the TARDIS on my leg to the Bow Ties are cool T-shirt I’m an avid fan of Doctor Who. I took a notion last week of getting a third tattoo, so I had a think and wanted either a Space related one, a Portal one or another Dr. Who one, I came up with the following three…

In the end I decided to go for the Gallifreyan – more will eventually follow. So here it is complete, not going to lie it hurt a lot in the inner arm but it looks amazing, so I can say it was totally worth it.

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Best Sci-Fi Movie Cosplays

Today I end my look at the world of cosplay with some pictures featuring homages to the great and the good of science fiction movies.

Whatever your personal thoughts on Prometheus (cough, cough plot holes), the art design was fantastic, and it is a film that deserves to be cosplayed because of that. This Engineer is really excellent, perfectly recreating the super-muscled look of this race of alien creators – and he needs to be given kudos for choosing a costume that must have been freezing!

This recreation of Marcus Wright from Terminator Salvation is brilliant; good make-up like this is hard to do but this looks exceptionally realistic.

Ultraviolet is definitely a marmite film – you either really love it or hate it. It does make for a genuinely kickass cosplay though!

Another character brought to life by Milla Jovovich; Leeloo from The Fifth Element is an iconic character design and destined to become one of those sci-fi characters.  This is a great version of Leeloo and those convenient thermal bandages.

The uniqueness and difficultly of a particular design makes it a key choice for some cosplayers. Take the costumes from Tron and Tron Legacy; the combination of leather and lights looks impossible to achieve at home. These two have perfectly captured the look of Tron Legacy with simplicity, substituting the lights with light coloured leather on their jumpsuits, recreating the look of the grid in the real world.

Sucker Punch is a film that’s inspired thousands of female cosplayers; you get a cool outfit and get to act particularly kickass. Few, however, have won awards for their costumes. The photographer for this shot (link, as ever, with the picture) won awards and features in magazines for her work – well deserved features, as this shot is amazing.

Hopefully, from this series you’ve learnt that cosplay is fun, quirky and knows no rules – why not swap things around? Be a female Wolverine, be a male Lara Croft! Above all, have fun and enjoy yourself – and remember that we are all Mrs Nesbit at heart.

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Best Cosplays of Sci-Fi TV

There’s a lot of great sci-fi shows out there, kids. Seeing as I limit myself to about seven pictures, I could only pick what I thought to be some of the most creative and interesting cosplays. If I went all out, I’d be spamming you with fifty images, all of people dressed up as the Eleventh Doctor – and there are very few who’d want to look at that!

Those fancy Southern hair-dos from A Game of Thrones must be pretty hard to replicate at home, but this Sansa pulls it off admirably. She also made both these fantastic costumes. It also proves that no matter what form he takes, Joffrey always looks insufferably smug.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better version of Zoidberg. To be fair, I haven’t actually seen anyone cosplay as Dr. Zoidberg before, but I don’t think anyone could really top this!

It is the details that make a truly excellent cosplay, and this is one of the best Zoe’s I have ever seen. Every little detail is perfect, from her distinctive leather necklace to the mud on her boots. Very well done.

Oh, you do know how I love a group shot… It represents a lot of effort, time and devotion to get a group of people together, to make the costumes and to really display the essence of a character. This is a group of Merlin cosplayers, representing those with magic powers in the show.  The costumes are incredibly accurate and they really channel part of these beloved characters. And devotion, as this photo was shot in below freezing weather!

Another picture showing how cosplay is more than just dressing up – it’s about feeling and being a character you love for a day.  Sometimes it’s not about having the most elaborate outfits, but expressing what makes a character relatable – why do you like this character, and how can you show it? That’s why I think this simple and sweet cosplay of Riker and Troi is so effective.

I love group shots and it’s really showing this week.  What can I say? These Battlestar Galactica pilots look like they’re having great fun together!

Remember, the image of an angel is an angel…

Next week, I’ll be featuring cosplays from the world of Sci-Fi movies. That is, if I can escape the angels…

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The Giant Lego Batcave

So, you really love Batman.  You also, as it happens, really love Lego.  What’s the result?

Well according to Carlyle Livingston II and Wayne Hussey, the answer is simple.  Construct a huge – and I mean huge - LEGO Batcave, complete with lighting effects.

For more, see the original post at Geekologie.

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Best Gaming Cosplays

As my look into the creative and curious world of cosplay continues, this week we’ll be looking into the world of gaming. Gaming is a particularly hard area to cosplay in; unlike films or comics, gaming heroes don’t have to really have a basis in human physiology and can be intensely unhuman. How best to portray in real life what pixels have brought to life?

Why not cosplay as GLaDOS? Like the best villains, she’s memorable, distinctive and gets all the best lines. Oh, right, the whole computer machine thing… as this cosplayer shows, a good GLaDOS cosplay is very achievable, getting across the key aspects of the character, while making her human form look reminiscent of classic comic supervillainesses .

Yes, no look at gaming and cosplay could overlook a certain Miss Croft. The character’s, ahem, natural attributes make her a difficult character to pull off convincing, but the naturalistic surroundings and lighting in this shot make this Lara Croft look entirely realistic.

Another game that presents possible problems for potential cosplayers… nevertheless Assassin’s Creed has a very healthy and creative cosplay scene.

Legend of Zelda cosplays are always really popular and Link is a great character for men or women to have a go at. In fact, the best Link cosplayers (like this one) are often women. Who wouldn’t want to be a character who gets to save the kingdom?

The quality of the photo isn’t that great but… wow. Just wow. This guy made this entire Diablo costume himself and… wow.

American McGee’s Alice is a cult favourite game, an excellent example of a psychological thriller. I want to describe this as a fun costume, but I think it’d be the wrong word to use… I wouldn’t want to cross this Alice!

Ah yes, I did promise Final Fantasy cosplay. It does offer a challenge for the creative cosplayer, as the designs for the games are often incredibly outlandish and impractical. There are a lot of really good Final Fantasy cosplays, and this is one of the best; using a whole group to portray a wide variety of popular characters successfully.

Next week, I’ll be looking at cosplays for sci-fi TV shows. I’ll try to limit myself to just one picture for each of my favourite shows, so you don’t get spammed with twenty images of weeping angel costumes!

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Best Comic Book Movie Cosplays

The second part in my look at the weird and wonderful world of cosplay, this week we’re taking a look at fans who’ve gone the extra mile in recreating their favourite comic book movie heroes – or villains.

Captain America: The First Avenger was a surprise of a film to many; I personally didn’t think much of the patriotic superhero. I think I can safely say that we were wowed by Chris Evans’s performance in the role and the charming nostalgic feel to it. These fans have gone the extra mile in recreating the showgirls in the film, proving you too can win World War 2 with legs.

Everyone loves a good villain, and Heath Ledger as the Joker was certainly one of the more memorable ones. A firm favourite with cosplayers, this excellent interpretation also comes with hired goons – a sure must for any version of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Whatever your personal opinion on Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the Hellboy comics, this is a great example of some creative and clever cosplay in a group. I’ve seen a lot of bad Hellboy costumes but this one truly looks like he’s walked from the film set.

  Tim Burton’s Batman Returns has become somewhat of a cult favourite and there are many attempts to recreate Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic Catwoman catsuit. This is a fantastic and detailed version of such a famous costume.

Spiderman is a difficult costume to pull off; after all, how many of us can look good in bright red and blue spandex? This cosplayer has made his costume realistic while maintaining the classic Spidey look.

I appear to be making a habit of picking cosplays from contentious films! Silk Spectre is another favourite for lady cosplayers but I like this team up of the original Silk Spectre and her daughter.

A Loki cosplay is a particularly difficult one to pull off successfully; the costume is very fiddly and detailed. This hasn’t stopped people from being their favourite villain for the day and this is one my absolute favourites. The detail in this costume is amazing and he’s managed to perfect the Loki strut.

Anything involving Loki and Shawarma is always going to be hit with me!

Note: I am aware that the two Loki cosplayers are two different people; I can see that it’s two different people. That’s why the photos link to two different accounts. The Shawarma photo is by Fahrlight.

Next week, I’ll be looking at the gaming cosplay world, an yes, Final Fantasy may be involved.