Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Tibor Takacs

Hungarian-born film-maker, Tibor Takacs, has made a consistent living out of mining offbeat genre themes in quality B-movies, starting in 1978 with the rarely-seen Metal Messiah. Like many fans, I first came across his work in the late 1980s, with the video release of supernatural horror The Gate (1987), followed by stylish fantasy-chiller Hardcover (aka: I, Madman, 1989). He made a sequel to The Gate in 1992, and directed five episodes for the mid-1990s revival of The Outer Limits, tackled TV erotica in episodes for The Red Shoe Diaries series, and turned to modern noir with Deadly Past (1995), before teaming up with action star Mark Dacascos for a batch of routine thrillers, the best of which was sci-fi adventure Armageddon (aka: Redline, 1997), co-starring Rutger Hauer.

In 1998, Takacs went on to launch the Gene Roddenberry-created sci-fi TV series Earth: Final Conflict, and has also contributed episodes to TV series like The Crow, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. The director's more recent films include such varied projects as Nostradamus (2000), Rats (aka: Killer Rats, 2003), and Black Hole (2006). The last of these is a sci-fi apocalypse in which subatomic research using a particle accelerator threatens St Louis when a micro black hole is accidentally created on Earth, unleashing an energy draining 'electrical entity' upon the city. Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson play the scientists fighting against military paranoia and gross stupidity (the US army general wants to nuke the black hole!), and figure out how to use sound waves (a borrowing from Day Of The Triffids, perhaps?) to lure the electric monster back towards the 'gate' that allowed it entry into our world.

If the film's basic plot sounds a bit familiar to SF readers, it does hark back to 1950s' pulps and Twilight Zone stuff, but also has echoes of more recent formidably hard-SF novels like Cosm by Greg Bear, and Artifact by Gregory Benford, but that's not to say Takacs' Black Hole movie offers anything resembling a proper take on hard-SF themes, as it's simply a topically quantum-theory inspired action adventure with a disgruntled yet heroic scientist, who almost single-handedly saves the planet from destruction. Still, despite its typically stereotyped characters and humdrum wannabe blockbuster plotting (with CGI visuals depicting the televised collapse of St Louis landmarks into a swirling vortex of debris surrounding the growing black hole's event horizon), this is worthwhile viewing if you enjoyed similarly themed disaster pictures like The Core.

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