The Film (3/5) *
“The time is the tomorrow after tomorrow”- So says the opening text scrawl.
And so begins one of the oddest sci-fi films of the 1970’s. In the distant future, Earth was nearly destroyed by The Robot Wars. Humanity now lives on the moon. Another planet is now being controlled by Omus (Jack Palance) who threatens a new robot invasion if he is not crowned ruler. It’s now a race against time as Omus’s former master Caball (Barry Morse) and a rebel leader named Nikki (Carol Lynley) try to stop him.
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) is one of the most bizarre and confusing bad sci-fi movies of the 1970’s. Loosely based on the H.G. Wells source story, SHAPE is baffling to sit through. The slow pace and lackluster effects coupled with the confusing plot make this a tough sell for anyone. While it’s not by any means a good movie, it sure does score points with the cheese factor. It quickly became a new favorite bad movie.
The whole cast seems lost in the sci-fi schlock fest. Jack Palance (CITY SLICKERS, TANGO AND CASH) gives a show stopping performance as the mighty space villain. With his purple cape and bi polar mood swings, you simply can’t look away while he is on the screen. One of the most bizarre moments is his spinning hologram head showing up in the sky, while Palance screams his dialogue at the screen. Carol Lynley (VIGILANTE) seems to be completely out of it struggling with her lines. Barry Morse (Gerry Anderson’s ambitious but problematic series, SPACE: 1999) Gives the movie it’s best performance but his character is just given nothing to do. Nicholas Campbell (THE DEAD ZONE as the cop who commits suicide with scissors in the mouth) plays the “leading man” Jason, who gets some fun moments but ultimately is just included to have a STAR WARS like hero. Eddie Benton (aka Anne-Marie Martin, PROM NIGHT) is also likable as the love interest who helps fly the space ship. John Ireland (RED RIVER, ALL THE KING’S MEN) has a minor role as a Senator.
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME’s limited budget shows in every aspect of the movie. The space ships and effects look pitiful. The actual fight scenes are also depressing affairs as many cast members just run around in circles and whack the robot suits in the head. Open fields and empty factories are the biggest set pieces here. The movie slows to a complete stop in the second half and the lack of energy shows.
On the positive side of things, the movie has a great disco soundtrack. While the whole movie is pretty terrible and boring for long stretches, the cast make this sci-fi disaster worth watching. Not quite Ed Wood of the 1970’s, but hilarious. Those looking for a fun bad movie for a party, this may be your cup of tea.
Audio/Video (4.5/ 5)
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME comes with two English audio options. One is the DTS-HD Master Audio Channel and the other is the 2.0 Mono track. Both tracks sound wonderful and clear. The DTS-HD track is slightly sharper of the two. No noticeable problems like hiss or crackles. Included are English, French, and Spanish subtitles. All three are easy to read with bright yellow text.
For such an uneven movie, the picture quality is actually fantastic with so much detail and gloss. It almost makes the worse parts of the movie forgivable. The 1080p HD Transfer is near perfect in spots. Everything is shiny and clean with eye popping colors. Scenes on earth are very picturesque and the crisp colors are splendid. Especially the oranges, yellows, blues, and not to forget the bright red spacesuits.
First up is Jason’s Journey an Interview with actor Nicholas Campbell. The interview is pretty fast but Campbell covers a lot of ground talking about his beginnings as an actor and his career. Next up is Symphonies in Space an Interview with composer Paul Hoffert. There’s a French trailer, tv spot and two different galleries, posters and pressbook.
I had a blast with this movie for all of the wrong reasons. Terrible and under developed but still extremely entertaining. SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME is a fun bad movie for the cheese fan in all of us. Jack Palance unusual performance alone should entertain a crowd of people holding drinks. This Blue Underground Blu-ray gives the movie a simply amazing transfer with some cool extras. Just be warned it’s not for everyone, so your enjoyment may vary. Recommended.
*The movie is technically a 2 out of 5 movie, but the cheese level and enjoyment factor upped it up a point.