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Into the Wild - Outdoor Movies: Adrienne Barbeau Hangs Out with "The Swamp Thing"

Twenty years before Spider-Man first appeared on the big screen, The Swamp Thing, a character from the world of DC Comics, appeared in the live action movie that bears his name. Wes Craven, the man who would later unleash Freddy Krueger on an unsuspecting world, wrote and directed this science fiction thriller that was set in and around a marshy swamp.

Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) and his sister Linda (Nannette Brown) are developing a method to combine plant and animal tissues when Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) and his henchmen confront them. In the struggle for Holland’s research, Linda is killed and Alec is doused in his own chemical formulas and starts to burn. To save his life, Dr. Holland then throws himself into the nearby swamp and disappears.

A short time later, Government Agent Alice Cable (the beautiful Adrienne Barbeau) finds Alec Holland, but he has been transformed into a hulking green plant creature. Still possessing his human mind and emotions, Alec and Alice start a kind of “Beauty and the Beast” relationship right there in the swamp. Arcane isn’t content to leave them alone, however, and he wants to use the Swamp Thing to recreate Dr. Holland’s chemical formula.

A cult classic from 1982, The Swamp Thing is based on one of DC Comics’ lesser-known characters, but the film definitely is a lot of fun. It is strange, though, to see an established actor such as Louis Jourdan in a horror film, but he throws himself in the villain role with skill and class. Jourdan even gets his own dramatic transformation scene after he drinks Dr. Holland’s special formula.c

When talking about this film, most comic book fans fondly remember Adrienne Barbeau’s performance as Agent Alice Cable. Fresh off featured roles in The Cannonball Run and Escape from New York, Barbeau had a large fan following coming into The Swamp Thing, a movie that comic book fans still fondly remember.

Seven years later, The Return of the Swamp Thing picked up the storyline, but nothing can match the outrageous 1982 original.

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Outdoor TV Shows: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

During the 1960’s, Irwin Allen was the undisputed king of science fiction television, with shows such as “The Time Tunnel” and “Land of the Giants” on the major networks. One of Allen’s creations that had some basis in reality was “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” a series about a submarine crew assigned to keep the world safe.

Based on the movie of the same name, most of the action takes place in and around the Seaview, a nuclear sub designed by Admiral Harriman Nelson (*Richard Basehart*). In the first episode, Admiral Nelson has to stop a tidal wave with a nuclear bomb, but there are forces in the world who want to stop his efforts.

Like the characters on “Star Trek” who wore red shirts, careers on the Seaview were painfully short for some crew members. The original Captain doesn’t make it through the entire first episode, so Lee Crane (*David Hedison*) takes command of the Seaview in time to save the world from mass destruction.

In addition to the nuclear vessel, Admiral Nelson also designed the “The Flying Sub,” an ultra-cool ship that could leave the Seaview and travel through the air. Some of the best sequences show the Flying Sub breaking the surface of the water and speeding into the upper atmosphere.

With the Cold War still burning hot, many “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” episodes dealt with the tensions between the United States and various Communist nations. Mysterious villains typically would capture Captain Crane and his crew, subjecting them to beatings and torture.

Because this was an Irwin Allen production, the show did feature plenty of alien invaders and recycled footage from several of Allen’s other movie and television projects. No one at the network could ever accuse him of spending too much on special effects.

Despite the ingenious designs of Admiral Nelson, the Seaview did suffer damage in some episodes, sometimes causing it to linger at the bottom of the sea. At those times, the crew probably wished they had some rubber boots to navigate through the sub . They may have been on a “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” but nobody likes wet socks and shoes.

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Into the Wild: Edward Burns Hears A Sound of Thunder

Time travel could become the ultimate adventure trip, offering people a chance to correct past mistakes as well as providing glimpses of the future. Traveling through the Fourth Dimension doesn’t come without some serious risks, though, which becomes painfully clear in A Sound of Thunder, an overlooked 2005 thriller.

Based on the short story by Ray Bradbury, this film is set in 2055, when time travel has become a profitable reality. One company uses this technology to conduct exclusive safaris into the past. Dr. Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) and his crew take groups of wealthy hunters into the past to stalk and kill a dinosaur. To avoid changing the past, the hunters must stay on a special path and not bring anything back with them. They also must be careful not to kill anything but that particular dinosaur, which was going to die even before the hunters got there.

After conducting many such safaris, something goes terribly wrong. Ripples through time cause drastic changes in the Earth’s climate, plant, and animal life. Somehow, a member of the last safari did something to affect the course of history and evolution. Plant life grows out of control, threatening to engulf buildings and people, and animals mutate into strange new forms.

Even the most skilled hunters would find the violent creatures in A Sound of Thunder rather challenging. Reptile and primate evolution has gone haywire and only Dr. Ryer, with the help of physicist Dr. Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack), can set things right again. Ryer literally has to race the clock to find out what the hunters changed on the last safari and correct it before it is too late.

During normal safaris, experienced hunters take precautions, and this is especially true during a time safari. Everyone wears protective gear and uses guns loaded with frozen nitrogen bullets. In this way, the normal flow of time is preserved and unaltered.

In addition to an interesting science fiction plot, A Sound of Thunder takes place both in a prehistoric jungle and Chicago of the mid-21st century, which is overgrown with tropical plant life. Though ignored during its initial theatrical run, this film definitely offers one wild ride.

The Secret to the Zappos Quick Delivery

That’s an easy one: Zappos scientists have created a hole in the space/time continuum.

Have a question for us? DM us on twitter: http://twitter.com/zappostv

The Importance of Science Fiction Fashion

Everyone knows that science fiction film and television invariably spawn lots of t-shirts that are cool with geeks. (“Han Shot First” and “Republicans for Voldemort” are just two examples.) The sci-fi genre also has a lot to say about fashion — both mainstream and the avant garde.

From high-tech fabric to body-hugging cuts, science fiction fashion often offers a viewpoint on where we think we’re going. While the body suits in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century may look ridiculous to us as clothes, they’re not much different than many high-tech outfits currently designed for running and other workouts.

But as much as science fiction fashion is often about the presumed future, it’s also often about the now. The miniskirt uniforms in the original Star Trek are just one great example. Miniskirts were high fashion when Star Trek first launched on the airwaves, and clothing the women of the show in them wasn’t just about giving the guys watching at home space babes to look at. The miniskirt was a symbol of the empowered woman.

Science fiction fashion also often speaks to the past, with many films and movies viewing space as a sort of wild west. Both Star Wars and the cult-hit Firefly followed this model and brought us characters dressed in waistcoats, long-suit jackets and fitted pants tucked into boots, in a way that proves all fashion trends manage to come around again in their own time. Meanwhile, the BBC hit Torchwood, features a lead character who always wears a WWII-era British greatcoat.

When it comes to science fiction fashion, Firefly utilized another popular trope, by viewing the future as a world with a distinctly non-western cultural influence. With that in mind, Firefly showcased bright colors and clothes based on many forms of traditional Asian dress including kimonos , sarees and cheongsams, all of which are increasingly seen influencing western fashion as Asian nations gain economic and cultural strength.

Science fiction fashion isn’t just for geeks. Rather it can show anyone interested in fashion history where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going, although not necessarily in that order.