Friday, May 20, 2011

Nightmare Theater - The Hottest Films in Horror Sci-Fi & Cult Cinema #3

This month's Nightmare Theater will delve into Science Fiction and shall be dedicated specifically to films adapted from the works of Phillip K. Dick.

Phillip K. Dick, as almost everyone knows, was a deeply cynical and brilliant writer who wove his stories through apparitions of conspiracy theory, dark political agendas and (despite the fact that some would say he presented things through a lens of paranoia), some frighteningly prescient thoughts on authoritarian governments.
All the while he found a way to drift through issues of spirituality and transcendence as seen through the lens of the remnants of the 1960s drug culture. The first thing that comes to mind is probably "Blade Runner". While that's a fine film, I'm going to go with a few less obvious for this PKD edition of Nightmare Theater recommendations.

His style became clearly evident in some of the first PKD stories that I read which included "A Scanner Darkly" which was adapted for film in 2006 by Richard Linklater.

This was the cover that introduced me to Phillip K. Dick.
The film was a partially animated endeavor that delivered the drug-like nature and subject matter of the book in a unique way. Featuring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downy, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder in both live and in disturbed looking animation form. When I first read the book I wondered how a film adaptation would address the "scramble suits" (clever ever-shifting "human camouflage" suits designed for undercover law enforcement).

Next up on the PKD "hit list" is John Carpenter's "They Live" a film that is not generally thought of as a PKD film (because it is not based on one of his stories.) 

While this 1988 horror film is based on Ray Nelson's short story "8 o'clock in the Morning", I can't help but think that both Nelson and Carpenter were deeply inspired by the style and subject matter of Phillip K. Dick. Although Carpenter approached the material with a more action/comedy tongue in cheek approach (casting Rowdy Roddy Piper as lead and including a 4 minute buddy fight scene with Kieth David kind of spell that out) the core elements of PKD's primary obsessions are all over this film!

It's hard to deny the Phillip K. Dick influence at work in this film. The sense of  "paranoia that might not be paranoia",  Authoritarian Governments obscuring the truth from the masses, and somewhere mixed up in that truth, sure enough, there's aliens ...Sounds like Phillip K. Dick must have been typing in the subconscious of John Carpenter and Ray Nelson to me!

And of course "They Live" left us with classic images like this one below.


Last but not least, the latest Phillip K. Dick adaptation is 
John Alan Simon's "Radio Free Albemuth" featuring: Shea Whigam (as Phillip K. Dick), Jonathan Scarfe, Alanis Morrisette, and Katheryn Winnick.

"Radio Free Albemuth" was perhaps my favorite Phillip K. Dick novel, so I wait with excitement for this film (which is currently doing the festival circuit) to reach a festival near me or achieve distribution that brings it into theaters and/or the hands of anxious PKD fans!

While I have yet to see the actual film itself, the trailer looks promising and I have spoken extensively with Producers John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr about adapting "Radio Free Albemuth" for the big screen. 

You can catch - Part 1 of that interview -
"Radio Free Interview - Part 1" at Film Courage.

Link to Radio Free Interview by T. Reed for

Keep your eyes peeled for 
Part 2 of "Radio Free Interview" COMING SOON!
 What are YOUR favorite movies 
adapted from Phillip K. Dick Novels?

T.Reed - Composer/Sound Designer, Writer and Artist 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome to Nightmare Sound Lab!
If you can be cool,relevant,respectful and say something interesting, I'd love to hear from ya.
Happy Nightmares