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Published on 20 Dec 2011
Ian's Talk at the Expolitics Great Britain Lectures 2011
3rd Annual Exopolitics Leeds Expo
University of Leeds
August 5th - 7th 2011
The Creation of the Humanoids is a 1962 American science fiction film release, directed by Wesley Barry and starring Don Megowan, Erica Elliot, Frances McCann, Don Doolittle and Dudley Manlove. The film is not based on the plot of Jack Williamson's novel The Humanoids, to which it bears little resemblance, but on an original story and screenplay written by Jay Simms. In a post-nuclear-war society, blue-skinned, silver-eyed human-like robots have become a common sight as the surviving population suffers from a decreasing birth rate and has grown dependent on their assistance. A fanatical organization tries to prevent the robots from becoming too human, fearing that they will take over. Meanwhile, a scientist experiments with creating human replicas that have genuine emotions and memories. The Creation of the Humanoids is normally dated to 1962, the year of its general release, but one screening in 1961 is documented by an advertising flyer and the film itself displays a 1960 copyright date (MCMLX in Roman numerals), indicating that it was a complete film before the end of that year. Short items in contemporary trade publications indicate that it was being filmed in the summer of 1960 under a working title variously reported as This Time Around or This Time Tomorrow. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lists August 1960 as the completion date. Producer-director, former child star and Hollywood area native Wesley Barry's Genie Productions was located in Hollywood and the cast and crew credits are populated by Hollywood personnel, but no information about the actual filming location and other specific details has yet come to light. The film's limited budget is most apparent from its rudimentary sets, which consist mainly of a few blank flats, floor-to-ceiling drapes, or other simple elements set up in front of a painted background scene or a black void, as well as from its costumes, most of which are either generic jumpsuits or a uniform composed of stock costume rental items such as Confederate Army caps. Yet the producers opted for the added expense of filming in color at a time when black-and-white was still being used for many major-studio productions and was readily accepted by audiences, and they obtained the services of two top-tier behind-the-camera talents, albeit in the twilights of their careers. Cinematographer Hal Mohr had a very extensive Hollywood career and two Academy Awards to his credit. Mohr used lighting and camera angles to make the best of the sets and add some visual interest to the long, actionless talking-head scenes that make up nearly all of the film. He sometimes used classic Hollywood "glamor lighting" techniques when photographing the normal-looking "human" characters, giving some scenes a degree of visual polish seldom seen in a low-budget exploitation film. Jack Pierce master makeup artist during all of the 1930s and most of the 1940s and created the iconic Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein makeups among many others. The most unusual features of Pierce's makeup design for this film are the large reflective scleral contact lenses that give the humanoids the appearance of having metal ball eyes. The lenses were furnished by Dr. Louis M. Zabner, an optometrist who pioneered the use of contact lenses to change actors' eye color and is credited in the film for "special eye effects". At that time, scleral lenses were made of a hard plastic. Wearing them was uncomfortable and they had to be removed frequently. Pierce had used similar silvery lenses in 1957 for brief close-ups in The Brain from Planet Arous. Most of the considerable time and effort it took to apply the rest of the humanoid makeup was spent on hiding the actors' hair, which it would have been unthinkable to expect them to actually shave off for a few days' work in a low-budget film. Latex rubber "bald wigs" were glued on, eyebrows were stuck down flat, then putty was carefully applied to cover rough textures and blend in tell-tale edges. Finally, the actors' heads were painted all over with blue-gray greasepaint and they were given rubber gloves of the same color. The musical score consists of electronically generated sounds and wordless female vocalizing that suggests the Theremin music often used in science fiction films of the 1950s (e.g., The Day the Earth Stood Still and It Came from Outer Space). The credit appearing in the film is "Electronic Harmonics by I.F.M." The Internet Movie Database lists producer Edward J. Kay as the composer, though this information is nowhere verified. The Creation of the Humanoids is often said to be "Andy Warhol's favorite film". The original source for this claim appears to be a 1964 art review of new Warhol paintings that begins with a short description of the film and states that the protagonists' climactic discovery is "the happy ending of what Andy Warhol calls the best movie he has ever seen."
The Colossus of New York is a 1958 black-and-white science fiction film, produced by William Alland, directed by Eugène Lourié, that stars Ross Martin, Otto Kruger, John Baragrey, Mala Powers, and Charles Herbert. The screenplay was written by Thelma Schnee, the maiden name of Thelma Moss, who would go on to become a famous parapsychologist. The story for the film is credited to Willis Goldbeck. John P. Fulton handled the special photographic effects. Colossus was released to most theaters on a double bill with The Space Children. Following an accident, Jeremy Spensser's brain is transplanted by his scientist father into the huge body of an unattractive, frightening cyborg, in order to save his brilliant son's mind so that it can continue to serve mankind. Soon, his son's brain becomes transformed by the experimental procedure, losing key attributes that make him human and define his personality. The film is noted for its haunting, minimalistic piano score composed by Van Cleave. Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin), the brilliant young son of a New York family of scientists and humanitarians, is killed when hit by a truck as he chases his son's toy airplane. His death occurs on the eve of his winning the "International Peace Prize", and he leaves behind a wife (Mala Powers) and young son (Charles Herbert). Jeremy's father, noted brain surgeon William Spensser (Otto Kruger), is distressed that his son's gifts will be denied to mankind. He conceives a plan to give Jeremy's excellent mind another chance to benefit humanity by transplanting the brain (which he has revived and kept on life support) into an artificial, robotic body. William convinces Jeremy's brother, Henry, an expert in automation, to assist with the process in secret. Because of its horrific appearance, the huge colossus (Ed Wolff) they've created is kept in seclusion for nearly a year, secretly continuing Jeremy's work on new food sources. However, deprived of normal human contact and possibly of its "soul", Jeremy's mind slowly begins to lose its humanity. He kills his brother, who has fallen in love with Jeremy's wife, and then speaks to his father of the futility of providing food for "the slum people of the world", when it's "simpler and wiser to get rid of them". As Jeremy's mind loses control of his mechanical body, other unexplained powers suddenly emerge from the strictly mechanical body, including mind control of humans and a death ray emanating from both its eyes. Finally, Jeremy's out-of-control body goes on a rampage in the United Nations building, killing several people. Only when Jeremy's young son confronts the cyborg is Jeremy able to restore his self-control just long enough to tell the boy how to switch off and destroy the body of the "colossus".
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