Jim Beard 7 of the Best

Jim Beard’s 7 of the Best

Written by Jim Beard

STAR WARS (1977)
I have to start here because of the impact this little indie film has had on my life, which is, really, immeasurable. I know what you’re saying, and I get it, I do. Everybody says Star Wars. Done to death. But the only way to look at it and see a glimmer of what I’m talking about is to place yourself inside a twelve-year-old in 1977 who thinks that science fiction in film is LOGAN’S RUN or whatever. Though at its core it was older than time itself, there was absolutely nothing like it before. That’s Star Wars.

 

PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
I look on it as more fantasy than science fiction, but it works as both. You can blah-blah-blah all day long about its “commentary on the human condition,” and all that other long-hair claptrap, but it works best as a “what would you do?” kind of thing. As good as the sequels are, just watch the original and keep asking yourself that. It’s terrifying.

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FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956)
Damn thing gives me the chills every single time I watch it. It’s the effects and the creepy music and the cast and the robot and Anne Francis’ outfits, but it’s also that deep backstory about the ancient civilization that’s not there anymore but they’re coming to get you right now. Brrr. A classic.

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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)
Pulpy-cheesy title, incredible ground-breaking film. This one is all about Michael Rennie and how he says “obliteration.”

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THE HIGH HOUSE (1998)
I’ve tried to get legislation passed in my town making it illegal to not read James Stoddard’s amazing fantasy about a house that encompasses the workings of the universe and the simple guy who inherits its keys. Every time I read it, I want to stay within its halls and walls and walks it rooms and galleries and staircases forever.

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THE LAST COIN (1988)
Describing James P. Blaylock’s fantasy novels is never easy. This one is his very best, all about some weird guy trying to acquire Judas’ coins, yeah, but also about the magic of breakfast cereals, funny chef hats, lovable losers, and summer days that are so perfect they become unreal.

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THIS PERFECT DAY (1970)
This has my vote for the best dystopian future novel ever. Ira Levin looked into the present-day from 1970 and nailed his every prediction. So much more satisfying then “1984” and infinitely more readable, it will fill you up with equal parts anger and joy as you wish that they’d made of movie of it like all of Levin’s other books.

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