The Geek Week: this week’s movies on TV

Geek gold on UK TV in the next 7 days. Which three films will the Sci-Fi channel be looping this week...?

We'll be right back after this short fictional break...

MONDAY 14th JULY

Barb Wire (1996) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 10.00pm Runtime: 2 hours Director: David Hogan Starring: Pamela Anderson, Temuera Morrison, Victoria Rowell, Jack Noseworthy, Xander Berkeley,

In the second-most famous film featuring the ex-Playboy playmate, nightclub owner and bounty-hunter Anderson ends up fighting the fascistic “Congressional Directorate” that has taken over almost all of America after a second civil war. She does this on a souped-up bike in a series of revealing costumes. Included in The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in John Wilson’s The Official Razzie® Movie Guide.

Conan the Barbarian (1981) Channel: ITV1 Time: 10.40pm Runtime: 2 hours and 20 minutes. Director: John Milius Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman

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Former Mr. Universe Arnie makes an impressive if relatively unchallenging debut in the big league after years of schlock (Hercules In New York) and bit parts (Stay Hungry). Enslaved by the hordes of the evil Thulsa Doom (Darth Vader voice James Earl Jones in an icy performance), young Conan is made to push a mill-wheel for ten years until he turns into Arnie and goes in search of revenge. Conan’s moment of intimacy with a witch is one of the most explosive and pyrotechnic sex-scenes ever.

Bloodsuckers (USTV 2005) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: Midnight Runtime: 2 hours long Director: Matthew Hastings Starring: Joe Lando, Dominic Zamprogna, Natassia Malthe, Michael Ironside, Leanne Adachi

Set in 2210, this made-for-TV movie posits a world (well, universe) where man has made contact with alien life only to find that it consists of various types of vampires. Bummer. The Vampire Sanitation spaceship led by Captain Churchill (Joe Lando), who is captured on a rescue mission, leading our heroes to believe they have a traitor in their midst. Oh, and they have vampires in their own crew too. Good luck finding that traitor, guys.

TUESDAY 15TH JULY

The Saint (1997) Channel: ITV2 Time: 9pm Director: Phillip Noyce Runtime: 2 hours, 20 minutes Starring: Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedzija, Valeri Nikolayev, Henry Goodman

Master of international espionage Simon Templar is hired by the Russian mafia to steal the secret of cold fusion. This film disappointed legions of Saint fans expecting a more debonair and Moore-esque Templar, and a plot and set-up that dicked around less with the formula, but has since come to be appreciated as a well-made action-adventure thriller where the main character happens to be called Simon Templar, rather than a true re-boot of the Leslie Charteris franchise.

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Bedazzled (2000) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 10.00pm Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes Director: Harold Ramis Starring: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor, Orlando Jones

Brendan Fraser and Liz Hurley stand in for Dudley Moore and Peter Cook in a shambolic remake of the trendy 1960s tale of Faustian damnation and redemption. Loser geek Elliot Richards (Fraser, cast ludicrously against type) is granted seven wishes by the Devil (Hurley), but she conspires, predictably, that none of them will bring him any happiness. Though casting the devil as female is a nice twist in theory, Hurley renders a performance so bad that onions have been known to creep back into their hamburger bun when she is on. Fraser, a great comic talent, yet again finds himself wrong-footed by his own good looks and by a weak script.

Open Water (2003) Channel: ITV2 Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes Director: Chris Kentis Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein

A very nice young couple on holiday in the Caribbean end up stranded in the water and surrounded by sharks. A short summary, but that’s pretty much all there is to the plot. For a movie with a $9 budget, it’s a masterpiece, but plays as pointless in the ‘A’ league.

WEDNESDAY 16TH JULY

Daredevil (2003) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 10.00pm Runtime: 2 hours Director: Mark Steven Johnson Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau

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Iron Man director Jon Favreau features as Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson in this under-rated but also mishandled adaptation of Marvel comics’ most disabled superhero. Ben Affleck turns in a decent performance as Matt Murdock, a lawyer blinded by toxic waste as a child but who has been granted compensatory acrobatic and super-sensory skills. Farrell is great as the very low-rent villain Bullseye, and Garner passable as the love interest who would go on to reprise her role in the even-less-celebrated Elektra (2005).

THURSDAY 17th JULY

The Phantom (1996) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 2pm Runtime: 2 hours Director: Simon Wincer Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar

Old-school hokum with Billy Zane as the Africa-based superhero who must travel to New York to stop villain Treat Williams from obtaining three magical McGuffins in the form of skulls. Needless to say, these represent the key to ultimate power…

FRIDAY 18th JULY

Coneheads (1993) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 2pm Runtime: 2 hours Director: Steve Barron Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Michelle Burke, Michael McKean, Phil Hartman

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Engagingly daft comedy. Cone-headed aliens Aykroyd and Curtin end up making the best of being stranded on Earth, raising a family and getting into all sorts of amusing cross-species antics. But the government smells a rat…

Weird Science (1985) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 10.00pm Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes Director: John Hughes Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton

John Hughes spins a self-consciously absurd teen-fantasy about two hormonal nerds who create idealised sex-bomb Kelly LeBrock from a bunch of dirty mags and a Barbie doll. Your last chance to see a pre-Aliens Bill Paxton slumming it in the admittedly effective bit-part of the psycho older brother. Spawned an absolutely appalling TV series some years later.

Candy Stripers (2006) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 11.50pm Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes Director: Kate Robbins Starring: Scott Aaronson, Brian Lloyd, Sarah McGuire, Brianna Berman

Over-sexed gory horror with absolutely no message of any kind. A slightly-Sapphic kiss between a dying accident victim and a ‘Candy Striper’ nurse leads to a mass outbreak of man-eating aliens amongst the staff of a hospital. The aliens need sugar – lots of sugar – to procreate…

SATURDAY 19th JULY

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Channel: More4 Time: 1.10pm Runtime: 2 hours, 35 minutes Director: Stanley Kubrick Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter

More4’s Kubrick season arguably peaks with what many contend to be the greatest science-fiction movie ever made, and the one that took the genre out of the pulp-comics league. An unknown alien intelligence interferes with the development of fledgling mankind, giving him the ‘killer instinct’ necessary to evolve into a technological society. When mankind trips one of the aliens’ ‘alarms’ on the moon, the mysterious monolith sends a signal to Jupiter. The space-mission to follow the transmission is endangered when the ship’s computer malfunctions and begins killing the crew. Dazzling and cerebral, this seminal cult classic took 5 years to make back its huge budget, and remains loved or loathed by both critics and public alike.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1970) Channel: Five Time: 1.10pm Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes Director: Robert Butler Starring: Richard Bakalyan, Joe Flynn, Alan Hewitt, Debbie Paine, Cesar Romero, Kurt Russell

Catch Kurt Russell in his previous life as a Disney kids-movie star, in this tale where a college student absorbs the knowledge of a school computer by accident; the avalanche of knowledge boosts his academic ability, but some of that useful information relates to a mob gangster, and there’s trouble a-brewin’…

Mystery Men (1999) Channel: ITV1 Time: 2.20pm Runtime: 2 hours, 5 minutes Director: Kinka Usher Starring: Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria

Superhero hokum with Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing, the leader of a poor-at-best bunch of superheroes who fall foul of their own magnanimity when they generously release villain Casanova Frankenstein (Rush), only to find that he is less than grateful.

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Flash Gordon (1980) Channel: The Sci-Fi Channel Time: 6.30pm Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes Director: Mike Hodges Starring: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol, Ornella Muti

Mike Hodges gets the balance of campiness, sexy action and inventive adventure perfectly right in this classic sci-fi fantasy. If you ever get the chance, check out Brian Blessed’s effulgent and hilariously over-the-top commentary on the region 1 DVD.

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) Channel: ITV2 Time: 9.50pm Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes Director: David Twohy Starring: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench, Karl Urban

Vin Diesel ruins the memory of Pitch Black to reprise the role of uncompromising psychopath Riddick in this overblown sequel. That said, there is much to enjoy here if you can manage to forget how much more focused Pitch Black was, and Chronicles is instead a sprawling intergalactic tale that finds our anti-hero in the against-type position of wandering champion, fighting off the Necromongers. What Judi Dench is doing in this tosh, apart from paying the ground rent in Tuscany, is anyone’s guess. Apparently the tie-in game was much better.

Quatermass and The Pit (1967) Channel: ITV1 Time: 2.25am (early hours of Sunday) Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes Director: Roy Ward Baker Starring: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

Nigel Kneale’s alter ego, the brilliant professor Quatermass, returns for an acclaimed second outing under Hammer films. This time a spaceship is dug up at a London underground station. In it are clues that all life on Earth may have originated on Mars. And the little beasties who made the ship are not dead yet.n.b. Play with headphones – the last half hour is horrifically noisy.

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