Moab resident Richard Codd remembers when the United States was first developing a space program in the 1950s, and popular movies explored our fears and fantasies about the universe.
“I was a ten-year-old kid, so all that appealed to me,” Codd said. “Now later in life, it’s fun to reminisce when I see those films and remember how everybody was starting to think about outer space and Martians and what’s out there.”
Codd and his wife, Nora Shepard, were watching old sci-fi movies on TV a few months ago when they had the idea to create a town movie night devoted to the genre. They approached the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission with the proposal.
“I loved it,” said Moab Film Commission Director Bega Metzner of the idea.
Metzner contacted the MARC and the two organizations arranged for the SYFY Movie Nights to be hosted on three Fridays in February.
“It just came together,” said Codd. “People seemed to really like the idea of getting out on Friday nights during the winter to see a couple of old movies—silly movies—have some popcorn, and relax.”
There will be free popcorn at the event.
Codd and Shepard selected the films. The first will be “The War of the Worlds” from 1953 – don’t arrive expecting the 2005 film starring Tom Cruise! It is based on a novel by H.G. Wells about aliens invading Earth.
“‘The War Of The Worlds’ certainly is one of the classic science fiction films,” Codd explained.
For the next showing, Codd said “we wanted to pick something that was representative of very silly science fiction.”
To showcase the silly end of the sci-fi spectrum, he and Shepard chose “Fire Maidens of Outer Space,” a 1956 film about United States astronauts who discover a moon inhabited by women who are terrorized by a mysterious monster.
“It’s usually ranked as one of the worst movies ever made,” Codd said.
Internet Movie Database (IMDB) gives the movie 2.3 out of ten stars; the movie-rating website Rotten Tomatoes gives it 4%.
“The story is pretty far-fetched, and perhaps the special effects aren’t the greatest,” Codd said of the movie. “We wanted to get a film that was campy, and “Fire Maidens of Outer Space” fits that bill perfectly.”
“Fire Maidens of Outer Space” will be shown on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Codd said they thought the bizarre “class-c” movie would be a perfect way to enjoy a date-night through laughter.
The last movie will be shown on Feb. 21, and Codd said it’s another classic: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” from 1956, which is also about an alien invasion on Earth.
If the movie nights are popular, Codd says they’d like to continue them in the future.
“We’ll see what the response is by the community,” he said. “If it’s well-attended, we’ll try it again next year, and hope that it becomes a regular winter tradition here.”
If the concept does carry on, Codd said there are enough movies in the genre to sustain the event without repeating showings for a long time.
“I don’t think we’d run out,” he said.