Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Oak Theatre, an art-deco movie house once perched among the motor courts and used car dealerships on Kingsway in Burnaby, is a faint apparition of a memory now. But I will not forget seeing Riders to the Stars (1954) there, a clunky space yarn in which astronauts try to catch meteors in large nets suspended beneath their rocket ship.

Riders to the Stars didn't arrive at the Oak until the early '60s, along with the pneumatic Dawn Addams in her obligatory skin-tight spacesuit.
One scene in which an astronaut abandons the womb of the ship in a fit of claustrophobia and consequently has his face promptly sucked off by the cosmic vacuum, disturbed my sleep for months, and still haunts me occasionally.
Perhaps the futurism suggested in the Oak's forward-looking architecture along with the simultaneous promise (some of it erotic) and dread evoked by the movie's "technology" anticipated my own uneasy futuristic encounter with modernism and mortality.

— Lee Bacchus

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