Mar 28, 2016

Drunken Zombie Aliens (1970)

In my previous blog post we traveled back in time to 1959 for a look at a science fiction story about telepathic humans. I like to blame John Campbell for some of the popularity of the paranormal in science fiction, but the human brain is designed to make us all feel like telepathy is possible. As social mammals, we can often predict what other people are thinking and experiencing by mentally processing (mostly via unconscious brain activity) clues such as facial expressions, body language and tone of voice.

In 1959 some episodes of Oh Boy! were broadcast on television in the United States, complete with screaming British girls. Shortly after that, Bob Rafelson began imagining a television program about a rock band. After A Hard Day's Night splashed Beatlemania across the big screen and made lot$ of money, a Beatles-like band was created and their story (about "4 insane boys") was made the basis for a new television show, The Monkees.

Olivia Newton-John
By 1968, with 2001: A Space Odyssey in theaters and Star Trek on TV and "space rock" on the radio, the time was right for a science fiction movie about a rock band. Or so some people imagined. Olivia Newton-John was 20 years old, cute and musically gifted. She was installed as the lead singer for a newly-invented rock band called Toomorrow. A two-year-long struggle to make a movie featuring the new band began.

This project was the "brain" child of Harry Saltzman (of James Bond fame) and Don Kirshner (who had previously worked to sell music by way of The Monkees) and who was just launching a similar round of song selling using another specially created band, The Archies, as a sales device. What could possibly go wrong with Toomorrow?

The Monkees of the 70s
I find it hard to believe that the original intention was to make a science fiction movie. According to Wikipedia, the script was to be written by David Benedictus. Apparently the original story was dumped for being too stiff, but somehow a movie still got made (read about it here). I'm amused by the idea that the plot involved an alien who had lived for 3,000 years on Earth, tasked with observing Earthly customs.

In some sense, Toomorrow was ahead of its time. Ten years later, Olivia hit the jackpot with Grease and she had become one of the best selling pop music artists in the world.

The Astro Zombies
They're too much, they're Toomorrow
The film Toomorrow takes place all in one madcap day. It includes a scene in which the space aliens play some of their mathematically-precise music for the members of the Toomorrow band. One of the band members says that the alien music, “wouldn’t stimulate a drunken zombie.”

In the Ekcolir Reality
"Drunken Zombie Aliens" might have been a better name for this movie, particularly at the end when the two alien agents on Earth start dancing. Maybe it was called that in another Reality. At the end of Toomorrow, the aliens turn back time and the band members are ready to live that day over again.

Next: more on the science and Sci Fi of sound
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