1936 — “Flash Gordon” premieres

Originating from a 1934 comic strip appearing in publications of the King Features Syndicate, Flash Gordon was one of Buck Rogers’ earliest competitors, and far and away his most successful. Flash Gordon was a blonde American hero who, with his love interest Dale Arden and scientist companion Dr Hans Zarkov, is transported to the planet Mongo. Here, Gordon comes into conflict with the dictator, Ming the Merciless, and encounters Ming’s many client states, slowly uniting them into a force that can overthrow the despot.

In 1936, Flash Gordon first his the silver screen. Episode one of a thirteen part serial premiered on April 6, starring Buster Crabbe as the title character. Since that time, there have been numerous sequels and revivals of the character, most notably the 1980 feature film of the same title that attempted to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars.

Referenced in:
Science Fiction Double Feature — Rocky Horror Picture Show original cast

Star Trek and the Rocky Horror Picture Show

While it’s not hard to imagine Dr Frank N. Furter’s reaction to meeting the Federation’s envoys (“Fresh meat!”), it’s a little more difficult to imagine how the various crews of the Star Trek franchise would react.
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1955 – “Tarantula” premieres

One of a spate of giant animal films produced by Hollywood during the Fifties, “Tarantula” is superior to most of them in two major respects. The first is the acting of Leo G. Carroll, as Professor Deemer, the mad scientist whose good intentions go tragically awry. (Who would have thought that randomly irradiating animals would be a bad idea?)

The second is the quality of its visual effects: the film used real animals shot against reasonably convincing mattes as much as possible. Compared to the giant ants of “Them!”, shot a year earlier, it was a quantum leap in effects quality. Jack Arnold, who directed this film, would use the same technique to even greater impact in “The Incredible Shrinking Man” two years later (although in that case, it would deal with shrinking rather than growing).

Referenced in:

Science Fiction Double Feature — Rocky Horror Picture Show original cast

1933 – “The Invisible Man” premieres

One of the great classics of Universal studios’ horror output, “The Invisible Man” was based on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name. The first adaptation of Wells’ classic, three screenwriters – R. C. Sherriff, and the uncredited Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges – all worked on it, and it was directed by James Whale.

It made a star of Claude Rains (in what was his first Hollywood film), and spawned an incredible number of sequels, spin-offs and rip-offs (although Universal were prone to make franchises out of their monsters – Frankenstein, Dracula, the Werewolf, even the Mummy, all had many films in the Thirties and Forties.) Even Wells liked it, although he thought that the title character was more of a madman in the film than in his book.

Referenced in:

Science Fiction Double Feature — Rocky Horror Picture Show original cast