Be sure to write:
in the subject line else you may be bounced like JunkeMail
A STORE FOR SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES
REAL SCIENCE BEHIND THEM
THING From Another World - 1951
"The Thing" may look like Frankenstein in a jump suit
but in fact he turns out to be more vegetable than animal, which
is fine. And he turns out to live on blood, so he's a carnivorous
plant, which is also fine. But human blood (or
blood from any non-whatever-planet-The-Thing-is-from life form)
should have been fatal. Every form of life on Earth is based on
DNA. Life that evolves elsewhere will have its own unique chemical
base so our proteins would be unknown to their biochemistry (and
thus probably poison) and vice versa.
True, this movie
was made two years before Crick and Watson discovered DNA, but ignorance of the law is no excuse!
Read THE THING From Another World review by Kelly Parks
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL - 1951
When Mr. Harley questions Klaatu about his trip, Klaatu reveals
that he traveled 250 million miles to get to Earth. He's coy about
exactly what planet he comes from, saying only, "Let's just
say we're neighbors." But given these clues his homeworld
could only be Mars or Venus. Keep in mind this is 1951, before
we knew just how thin Mars' atmosphere was and back when we still
thought Venus was a humid, cloud covered jungle world instead
of the sulphuric acid cloud inferno that it is. The movie sort
of acknowledges this because when Klaatu leaves the hospital we
briefly see the newspaper headline: "Martian Escapes!"
Read THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL review by Kelly Parks
DONOVAN'S BRAIN - 1953
The science, even for the early 50's, was fine up until Cory mentions voodoo
- I mean telepathy - as though it were a perfectly natural connection.
Aside from that the concept here is actually sound. In fact, I'll
make a prediction: Within the next thirty years it will become normal
procedure in emergency rooms that if a body (which is just a life support system and mobility unit for a brain)
becomes damaged beyond repair, the brain will be removed and kept alive until a new body can be grown.
Read DONOVAN'S BRAIN review by Kelly Parks
FORBIDDEN PLANET - 1956
The opening narration (have I mentioned that I hate narration?) tells us that the space age begins when
man reaches the moon in the final decade of the 21st century. This
movie was released in 1956, just thirteen years before we reached
the moon and five years before Yuri Gagarin became the first man
in space. As always, science fiction is rarely too imaginative.
More often, it's not imaginative enough.
Read FORBIDDEN PLANET review by Kelly Parks
GODZILLA - 1956
Once Godzilla shows himself the movie scientists place him as a Jurassic
creature that has somehow survived to modern times. They mention
the Jurassic as being 2 million years ago, which isnt even
close. The Jurassic Era (the middle portion
of the Mesozoic Eon) was from 144 million to 208 million
years ago. The trilobite that was apparently living between Godzillas
toes is even more of an anachronism. They became extinct 300 million
years ago, before there was any such thing as dinosaurs.
all minor quibbling compared to the fact that Godzilla is supposed
to be 400 freakin feet tall and breathe radioactive fire. Unprecedented
in nature doesnt begin to describe it. But thats okay
with me. As Ive mentioned elsewhere (see my review of GODZILLA 
vs. GODZILLA 2000) Godzilla
is plain and simple inexplicable. He just is.
Read GODZILLA review by Kelly Parks
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - 1956
There’s no science objection to anything happening here (although
a scientist from the 50’s would have disagreed). The only
comment I’ll make is that the pods, just like the Alien in ALIEN,
could never have evolved on their own. They must have been created
as a biological weapon by some very advanced technology, giving
them the ability to adapt themselves to any sentient beings they come across.
Read INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS review by Kelly Parks
THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES - 1956
The "Phantom" is only shown in water less than 30 feet deep,
not 10,000 leagues. That's a long way, in case you failed seamanship.
A league is 3 statute miles so 10,000 leagues equals thirty thousand
miles! That's almost four times the diameter of the Earth. Presumably
they were thinking of fathoms but a fathom is 6 feet so 10,000 fathoms
is just over 11 miles and no part of the ocean is anywhere near
Read THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES review by Kelly Parks
EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS - 1956
This movie has lots of scientific sounding jargon and most of it is
used incorrectly like you'd expect. For example the aliens tell
their human captive that their ships use a powerful magnetic field
to overcome Earth's gravity. That's not as impressive as it sounds.
Consider that if I use a refrigerator magnet to pick up a needle
then the magnet is overcoming the gravity of the entire mass of
the Earth, which is pulling the needle the other way. Magnetism
is a much stronger force than gravity.
Most of the science mistakes are minor quibbles like that. The only big one
is how the aliens "stop time" on board their ships so
your watch stops ticking AND your heart stops beating.
But you keep breathing and talking and moving around with a stopped
heart. That's quite a trick.
Read EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS review by Kelly Parks
THEM - 1957
Living things are built for their size. Just making something bigger usually doesn't work.
For example, the 50 foot woman in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
If you take a 5 foot tall woman who weighs 100 lbs and somehow
make her ten times her size, how much will she weigh? 1000 lbs?
No, because weight is a function of volume, which increases as
the cube increases (this is the square-cube law). Thus if youre ten times bigger, you have 10³
or 1000 times the volume, so she now weighs 100,000 lbs (50 tons!). But how much stress your bones can stand is a function
of their cross-sectional area, which increases as the square.
So her bones are 100 times stronger but she weighs 1000 times
as much, 10 times more than her bones can stand. She crumbles.
That's just one example - and only the beginnings of her problems, or
the problems of ants made 250 times bigger than normal.
Read THEM review by Kelly Parks
THE DEADLY MANTIS - 1957
The only truly bad science, seen here and in many other films, is
the idea that any living thing could be frozen in ice and survive.
There’s lots of water in the cells of your body and if you or any
other animal was frozen solid all that water becomes ice crystals.
Jagged, razor sharp ice crystals, which reduce your cells to metabolic
There are a few animals that can survive such conditions because
they have anti-freeze-like enzymes in their system that prevent
ice-crystals from forming. But since the Mantis in the movie immediately
heads for the tropics it’s clear that it didn’t live in an environment
where being frozen was something to worry about.
Read THE DEADLY MANTIS review by Kelly Parks
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH - 1957
I can say one good thing and one bad thing about the science here.
First, the way Venus is described (but never
shown) here is perfectly accurate for 1957. After nearly
a century of study using the best telescopes and scientific minds
available, it had been determined that Venus was a rain forest version
of Earth, hot and humid and perpetually shrouded in clouds. Images
of jungles and mists and endless rain seemed about right. Then NASA
launched the first interplanetary space probe, Mariner 2 (Mariner
1 had a launch failure) in 1962. In one brief fly-by everything
we thought we knew about Venus was shown to be wrong. It wasn't
hot and humid, it was hot enough to melt lead and bone dry. The
clouds are mostly sulfuric acid, the atmosphere almost entirely
carbon dioxide and the air pressure at the surface is 80 times greater
than on Earth. Oh, and no lizard men. Astronomers can do a lot but
you really never know about a place until you go there.
The bad science
was the Pentagon's stated interest in capturing the creature alive
so they can find out why it could breathe the atmosphere of Venus
and the astronauts couldn't. I'm just guessing but maybe it's
because the creature evolved on Venus and the astronauts didn't.
Read 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH review by Kelly Parks
THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS - 1957
If you detected bursts of gamma rays from 30 miles away, the last thing you’d want to do is hop in a jeep for a closer look. Gamma rays are dangerous and the closer you got to the source the stronger they’d be.
You’d think nuclear scientists would know that.
Read THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS review by Kelly Parks
THE FLY - 1958
The idea of teleportation has been a favorite of sci-fi forever,
right up there with warp drive, but the details have always been
glossed over and this is no exception. I'm sure you've
heard of "E = mc2" ? This famous Einstein equation tells
you how much energy you get when you convert matter into energy.
"E" is energy, "m" is mass and "c"
is the speed of light. If we use metric units, a full grown man
masses about 85 kilograms. The speed of light is pretty close to
300,000 kilometers / second or 3 X 108 meters / second so plugging
these numbers in gives us an energy of 7.65 x 1018 kg-m2/sec2 or
7.65 x 1018 Joules. In case that means nothing to you, it's
equivalent to 1800 megatons of TNT (about 90 good, old-fashioned H-bombs). Not exactly the kind of
experiment you want your husband doing in the basement.
Read THE FLY review by Kelly Parks
Return to the
Return to Movies