Few who lived through the ’90s don’t know Agents Mulder and Scully. It weren’t just the suspenseful stories with the stamp of the paranormal but also the chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson that made The X-Files the TV hit of its time. So it made perfect sense to add a feature film to it in 1998 – and that’s what we’re screening at this year’s Future Gate festival. In it, the central pair go after the origins of a mysterious virus that turns the bodies of infected people into jelly. It’s being spread around the world by bees via genetically modified film, and if Rob Bowman’s film has passed you by until now, prepare to never see stinging insects the same way again after watching it.
Disney has Fantasia and the rest of us, we have Heavy Metal. The 1980s sci-fi short-story film was produced by Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and directed by Yellow Submarine animator Gerald Potterton. The film features several stories that appeared in the pages of the once-famous, eponymous magazine, and despite an ambivalent reception at the time of its release, Heavy Metal now enjoys cult status. This is due to the bombastic soundtrack, the combination of different animation styles (a different animation studio worked on each story) and, of course, the flood of blood, explicit violence and many, many exposed breasts – as befits the 1980s.
Thirty-five years ago, John McTiernan’s uncompromising sci-fi thriller showed us exactly how thick an atmosphere can be created when you throw a bunch of mercenaries, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a killer alien with lethal instincts into an impenetrable jungle. There’s not much talking in Predator nor are there any plot twists but it’s still impossible to take your eyes off the film: the minimalist cinematic language, with its restless camerawork and paranoid music, is entirely sufficient for an experience that, even more than three decades after its premiere, is thoroughly immersive, terrifying and also unprecedentedly physical. Maximum tension with minimum resources.
A bunch of paranoid scientists versus an alien creature that can assume the form of any living organism, all set against the backdrop of the endless white plains of Antarctica. What could possibly go wrong? John Carpenter’s The Thing is rightly regarded as one of the most iconic horror films of all time. And for a lot of good reasons: Kurt Russell is suitably nihilistic, Ennio Morricone’s minimalist melodies in an unconventional synth position burrow under your skin, and the extremely physical visual effects make you feel like The Thing is going to jump out of the screen at you at any moment. After this film, you’ll never look at dogs the same way again.