UnXplained at Center of Earth

DATELINE: Under the Earth

 Brain Waves/underground acoustics?

Put Jules Verne’s Journey aside, UnXplained  is taking Shatner to the center of the Earth. In the series volatile up and down quality, this episode is a gem.

This show looked at the phenomenon of underground habitations, both natural—and man-made. The first stop in Turkey uncovers a labyrinth of rooms, a city actually, that could house 20,000 people. Conservative estimates suggest it is 1000 years old, but some say it is closer to 12,000 years. Who built this before the Pyramids, and why?

If you think we don’t have the technology today to accomplish this, you haven’t heard about the multi-layers of Area 51 or the cavernous living areas of Cheyenne Mountain, both military zones.

The experts (physicists from Ancient Aliens  like Drs. Travis Taylor and Mike Dennin) will tell you about a secret high-speed rail-subway system running clear across the United States.

If there is a nuclear winter, or a new ice age, the elite will be saved. The rest of us may not fare so well.

The show also visited a necropolis, an acoustic marvel in Malta where voices are enhanced, or seeming come out of the crypts of the dead. It almost sounds like Gregorian chanting from the netherworld. Actual recordings are played on this episode.

Shatner does mention Jules Verne toward the end, and his mid-19thcentury novel that may not be as fictional as some claimed. He even had a crystal world under the Earth, which has recently been discovered as real.

These giant crystals are hundreds of feet long from centuries of growth, and weigh tons. Humans cannot spend more than 15 minutes in their habitat because of heat and high humidity. You will be cooked alive.

The crystals are containers for microbes from outer space, not earthly, and they have been in suspended animation for 50,000 years inside the crystals. Uh-oh.

Subterranean worlds may be part of the “hollow Earth” syndrome, which has been dismissed by experts both as a fact here on our planet—and even the Moon.

This UnXplained  was truly worth the title.




Profiteers of Science Fiction



Prophetic writers have been the backbone of imagination since before an anonymous scribe wrote The Book of Revelations.

The Prophets of Science Fiction illustrates the power of ten brilliant modern writers to foresee the future. The documentary series with host Ridley Scott may be suffering from a misnomer in the title of the series.

The ten writers under examination are each given an episode and a dominating theme from their works becomes the focal point. Soon, however, observers will note that experts and scientists cite the writer only in the context of seeing a movie version of a short story or novel.

Yes, stunning movie clips from the illustrated visions of the writers becomes Ridley Scott’s point as he sketches storyboards while narrating.

Even with the biographical information on Arthur Clarke, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and others, the literary works really are secondary to the prophets of movie science fiction. Let’s face the fact that these great writers have been resurrected by the technologies they foresaw.

Any child knows that the movie vision has hallucinatory impact that causes nightmares. And, the series delves into the psychological terrorism of computers, death, and the time/space continuum. Kids generally don’t have nightmares from reading the books.

None of this should denigrate the series that is both literary and cinematic. It contains insights the average fan of movies (or books) may not understand about the writers and their lives.

The episode count succinctly distills (is that a tautology?) each horrific vision (or even optimistic view) for its accuracy against modern science. The results are quite impressive and may drive you to download a book or two to your tablet.

Of course, some great science fiction writers have been left out of the loop—probably saved for a second season that never came. We should therefore look at what the series gives us as a crash course in the genre as a gift, not the end-all.


If you like movies and TV, you can find the complete reviews of Ossurworld in books like MOVIE MASHUP and MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE. All movie books are available for download at Amazon.com for smart readers.

Octopus Battles Paparazzi

DATELINE: Movie Octopi

Over the years we have seen some major stars fight off unwanted cameras and the Paparazzi who chase them. For those unfamiliar with the concept: Paparazzi was a character in Federico Fellini’s movie 8 & a Half. He is both singular and plural as a proper name. We decry the pedants who refer to a Paparazzi as a paparazzo.

Where has movie history gone?

Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, and Charlie Sheen have given the invaders of privacy a black eye now and then, smashing lenses and giving fingers to ruin photo ops.

Now two underwater cameramen have found the denizens of the deep are as sensitive to surprise attack photo bombing as the biggest red carpet stars. Here you will find two minutes of a putative trailer showing the fight for photo rights.

So it was off the California coast this week when a giant octopus attacked a camera. We haven’t seen such excitement since Kirk Douglas fought the giant squid in the Jules Verne classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

You did not have to go as deep for this adventure, all caught on video for those who appreciate the rights of privacy and watching Paparazzi do battle. Lady Di never had it so bad.


Usually at Carmel, California, the only big stars with a temperament might be Kim Novak and Clint Eastwood, but the Garbo of the underwater set now joins the circus.

The fight to repel the cameras always fails, leaving the subject facing an embarrassing mugshot on YouTube.

So it is even with octopi. This octopussy may have thought he was up against James Bond, but his fifteen minutes of fame have left his suction cups empty.


On a Mysterious Island with Ray Harryhausen






Michael Callan circa 1961

ImageBack in 1961, we had a chance to see one of the classic Ray Harryhausen special effects extravaganzas entitled Mysterious Island. With Harry’s recent passing, we decided to see if the film held up to our long ago memories of a Saturday afternoon moviefest.




We had nearly forgotten that the movie was based on a novel by Jules Verne and had music by Bernard Herrmann. So, this suddenly became a treat to anticipate.




The story has its improbable and inexplicable side as it opens with escaping Union prisoners out of Richmond in 1865.




Conveniently, a hot air balloon is parked right outside their cell for easy travel. Gary Merrill is a Northern journalist taken prisoner, and 1961 heartthrob Michael Callan is the sensitive teenage soldier. He was big in the 1960s and faded fast as a James Dean clone, becoming a producer instead.




After an encounter with a giant crab, the crew meets a few stranded women conveniently washed up on shore. The film has about it for a while, the look of King Kong, even with a downed tree as access across a chasm.




Alas, the story deteriorates less into Robinson Crusoe and more into Gilligan’s Island with ingenious living making Harryhausen’s contributions secondary. All this occurs to the tenebrific strains of Hermann’s score.




After a while, the gang is attacked by a giant ostrich—and the two teenagers (Callan and Beth Rogan) at the beach, dressed in skimpy bathing suits like it was 1961 in Santa Monica, find a beehive with giant bees.




Clearly a force is behind their survival that is practical, not spiritual. Anyone familiar with Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo may be two steps ahead of the characters. Herbert Lom apprises himself as the mysterious captain of island in a cameo role on steroids in an exquisitely coiffed white wig.




Nemo flashes brilliance out of every pore, but the island paradise is where Atlantis met its end—and a volcano will soon destroy everything again. The effects are less impressive with flowing lava, but the story holds up, thanks to Jules Verne.




The effects hold up in the climax thanks to Ray Harryhausen.


What was once a fantasy sci-fi thriller has become a new generation’s think piece.



Be sure to read MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE for more movie reviews by Dr. William Russo. It’s available on Amazon.com in both ebook and softcover.