When it comes to science fiction, there’s the good, there’s the bad, and there’s the so ridiculous you can’t help but love it. Here are five productions based on premises so delightfully ridiculous even your doorknob of a neighbor who thinks Star Wars and Star Search are the same thing has to agree: It’s pretty cool they had the guts to try to pull that off.
1. A Predator movie starring that guy From The Pianist
This one is so bizarre it defies analysis. Admittedly, Adrien Brody is an amazing actor. But part of the appeal of the Predator franchise is that the action stars – Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Danny Glover, etc., are not especially good actors. They are good action stars, but not good actors. So who did they pick for 2010’s Predators? Did they get Vin Diesel? Did they call Bruce Willis? No, they got the guy from The Pianist. Then again, he learned to growl like Batman when he talks. So, it’s not a total loss.
2. Space: 1999
This brilliant totally-likely-to-happen mid-’70s classic TV show is based on the following premise: in 1999, a moon colony accidentally triggers a nuclear catastrophe. The resulting explosion hurls the entire moon into deep space.
This premise is so deliciously ridiculous it lasted three seasons. The bizarre ’70s space uniforms helped, and the puppet-like special effects were enough to make your inner child puke in your brain (or your heart, or wherever the inner child resides). But there is something about the show that appeals to that inner child. The neo-psychedelic plot points would never hold up with a less bizarre premise, if there is one, to get a moon colony into deep space. The whole idea is such a flimsy house of cards you can’t help but love it.
Entertaining ridiculousness abounds in this classic “science-fiction-as-excuse-to-get-women-naked” offering (admittedly, I made up the SFAETGWN sub-genre just now. But it could be a real thing. See also: One Million B.C. starring Raquel Welsh). But there is something charming about this utterly absurd film. And it’s not the fact that Barbarella spends most of her time screen time half-naked. Actually, that’s part of it, so make that “Ridiculous Premise we Love #1.” But there’s more to it than just that:
- Ridiculous Premise #2: Jane Fonda is the only hope to save the galaxy (or that she could save anything at all).
- Ridiculous Premise #3: The bad guy will defeat Barbarella by putting her into his “Orgasmatron” which will kill her by causing so much pleasure she overheats and dies.
- Ridiculous Premise #4: Fonda is such a powerful space-babe that she breaks the machine.
- Ridiculous Premise #5: In the future, people will make love by swallowing a pill.
There’s more, but that’s enough to get the general idea. We want to be outraged by the idiocy of it all, but you just can’t get mad at something this innocent in its lasciviousness. It was the ’60s, after all.
4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Author Douglas Adams may be the ultimate master of basing stories on absurdities. He does it with such skill that you can read his offerings one time and laugh like a wild hyena, then re-read the same material and gain life-altering insights into the human condition. Drink a few Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, and you’re talking about a wild time.
This series starts off with the Earth being demolished by intergalactic bureaucrats to make way for a hyperspace bypass, ends up in a restaurants suspended at the end of the universe where rocks stars go to avoid paying taxes, and reveals that mice are the second smartest species on Earth after dolphins. Then there’s the whole thing about a space ship being powered by improbability. Douglas Adams: master of the ridiculous.
5. Planet of the Apes
I’ve been doing a lot of POTA stuff. Watching the movies, the remakes, and reviewing the ongoing comic for Fandomania. It’s on my brain. I can’t get over it. The apes are smart. The humans are stupid. Charlton Heston shows up and sets things right.