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Movie Review: SpaceDisco One

Since the year 2000, every once in awhile you hear people expressing regret that our modern world resembles in no way, shape or form the futuristic world promised to us via movies and television of the 1950s. You know, like when people sound bummed out that we we’re not keeping up with the Jetsons?

Quite frankly, I don’t want to live in that world anyway. And after viewing Damon Packard‘s latest opus, SpaceDisco One, I’d rather much live in the groovy future predicted by ’70s TV, the universe of Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, Logan’s Run, et. al. Yeah, I hated those shows back then and thought they sucked, but I watched anyway, little knowing that 30 years later I could feel nostalgic for them. Damn you, Packard!

Clocking in at just under 45 minutes, SpaceDisco One is still an epic, weaving together a deliriously entangled thread of sci-fi concepts, plus commentary on the whole nature of filmmaking and the juggernaut that is the Hollywood promotional industry.

The film is essentially two separate movies jammed together. Packard has taken two separate ideas, stuffed them into the bodies of crash test dummies, seated them unbuckled into two different automobiles, then set the vehicles at each other at 200 mph so he could film the resulting sculpture of twisted metal and broken glass entwined with plastic dummy limbs.

The first movie is a low-budget remake of George Orwell’s 1984, or more accurately I guess Michael Radford and Michael Anderson’s 1984 film adaptations. An emotionally unfulfilled Winston Smith (Robert Myers) aimlessly wanders the hollow shell that is Universal City’s CityWalk — a brilliant use of location on Packard’s part, mimicking those odd “space mall” outdoor spaces you’d see on Galactica and shows of that ilk — until he’s sent in for mental re-conditioning by Arthur Frain (James Mathers).

Meanwhile, a movie called “SpaceDisco One” is being filmed that features Stargirl 7 (Amanda Mullins), the daughter of Logan of Logan’s Run (the movie), being pursued by Francis 8 (Donnamarie Recco), the daughter of Logan’s pursuer Francis. The “SpaceDisco One” within the overall SpaceDisco One is presented as a mish-mash of movie clips and behind-the-scenes making-of footage, including incessant whining by the fake director (Patrick Thomas) about how he’s unable to fulfill his vision.

The sci-fi homages are really fun and appropriately goofy, i.e. perfectly recreating the goofiness inherent in the shows and films Packard is tributing here. But what’s more interesting here is Packard’s subversion of the whole notion that Hollywood movies do not exist in and of themselves. That part of the whole “experience” of watching a film includes the press junkets, making-of featurettes, promo trailers and clips and the whole shebang. Every film is presented as if it’s an event and not just another product out of the mill.

Due to my own personal career writing about film for the web, I often joke that I know more about movies I haven’t seen than the ones I do. In a lot of ways, that’s not a joke at all and it was terrific to see Packard weave a strand along those lines among what seems like a hundred other strands in SpaceDisco One.

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