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Spectres of the Spectrum

7 customer reviews

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(Mar 29, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Agitprop genius Craig Baldwin, director of TRIBULATION 99 and SONIC OUTLAWS, returns with his grandest work to date! SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM plunders Baldwin's treasure trove of early television shows, industrial and educational films, Hollywood movies, advertisements and cartoons, combining these with live-action footage, no-budget special effects, and relentless narration to generate a wholly original paranoid science-fiction epic.

Special Features

  • director's commentary
  • bios
  • Behind the Spectrum featurette
  • Vintage TV clip of "Science in Action"

Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Kilkoyne, Caroline Koebel, Beth Lisick
  • Directors: Craig Baldwin
  • Writers: Craig Baldwin
  • Producers: Craig Baldwin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Other Cinema
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007LBLZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,260 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spectres of the Spectrum" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy on February 20, 2004
Format: DVD
This is a collage of archival media, mostly from 1950s TV shows and discarded clippings from Z-budget science fiction movies, interlaced with original film footage shot to match the grainy, desaturated color of the old media. An ongoing voice-over ties all the old clips together into a sort of trippy paranoid fable. This film is a true delight for the eyes. It reminded me a lot of "The Atomic Cafe," but where "Cafe" simply juxtaposed archival clips to create ironic humor out of historic fact, "Spectres" completely recontextualises its collage of images into a fictional story. The second half feels more like a documentary on the history of broadcast communications, and on first viewing I felt it slowed down a bit and lost track of the "plot" which had been set up in the first half. But with subsequent viewings everything becomes more clear. This is one of those movies you can watch over and over again and it just keeps getting better.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sheckie Green on June 1, 2006
Format: DVD
"Nothing in this film is science fiction," is the tagline of mad scientist/media archeologist Craig Baldwin's SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM, a film that picks up where his previous works have left off. In SONIC OUTLAWS (a documentary about culture-jammers), Baldwin explored the ownership of the airwaves. In TRIBULATION 99 (which Baldwin considers a quasi-prequel to SPECTRES, starring the same actor, Sean Kilooyne), he explored conspiracy theories. SPECTRES further explores and updates similar themes, using Baldwin's signature manipulation of found footage mixed with newly shot live-action to tell a futuristic David & Goliath narrative.

Kilooyne stars as Yogi, a telepathic holdout from the age before the New Electromagnetic Order (NEO)--a vertically integrated company that sounds eerily familiar in the wake of the AOL/Time Warner merger. Yogi is one of the few free thinkers left and, holed up in his radioactive wasteland, he broadcasts his views and news to other members of "TV Tesla." With Yogi is his mutant daughter, Boo Boo (Caroline Koebel as voiced by Beth Lisick), an obstreperous telepath with little love of the world that NEO has helped create. When the NEO threatens to use the earth's magnetosphere to "bulk erase" the brains of every human on the planet, the only way to save humanity is for Boo Boo to travel out into space, following the history of television broadcasts back in time, to uncover a secret her grandmother lodged in an old episode of the 1950s series, "Science In Action."

Dealing this time with the topic of the transference of energy through broadcasting, Baldwin demonstrates that there have been countless fringe dwellers that history has cast aside or relegated to footnotes. Nikola Tesla, Philo T.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rohan Parkes on January 9, 2006
Format: DVD
This is a colourful and original attempt to present the history of the development of mass communication in the twentieth century as a series of competing narratives.

There are two basic threads. The first is a comically paranoid, alternative "history" of the development of mass media, weaved out of footage of real twentieth century events. It's very well done, mining imagery from hundreds of old movies, airforce footage, cheesy old 50's science programs, and is also amusingly outrageous. I have to credit Baldwin for working the relationship between rocket pioneer Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard into the story, which, despite appearing in the fantasy part, is almost entirely true!

The second thread consists of interviews with serious commentators, or "activists", as they tend to describe themselves, who provide insights into the real development of the communications industry. This is also illlustrated by archival footage but in this case the clips often playfully or ironically underline the narratives of the commentators.

There are two criticisms I'd make, though.

The first part is somewhat let down by average script writing and very amateurish acting. I found the acting in particular quite grating at first, although I found that eventually I could accept it as part of the joke, in an Ed Woodish sort of way.

The second half is rather too bogged down with the commentators, who tend to overstate their own importance. Beyond some interesting facts about the relationship between early media experiments and mysticism, most of what they say tends to be fairly conventional, and was familiar territory, at least for me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Mierek on August 16, 2006
Format: DVD
Words fail me in describing why you should IMMEDIATELY buy this film, but I will try nonetheless. Think of it as the movie Ed Wood tried to make, resurrecting stock footage and fragments from the cutting room floor as a compelling, if low budget, SF headtrip adventure. The dark, grainy collage of surrealistic cinematic scraps is mated to a dense archeaological narrative told by two voices, a man's and a woman's. They relay a paranoid, if accurate, history of the mass media and of "electronic domination" and then go back in time to do something about it.

To be honest, the film's special effects are terrible, yet it doesn't matter, and not because of irony or kitsch either as in the case of Wood, but because their DIY aesthetic is integral to the film's critique of mass media and mass culture.

As a bonus, this is a perfect DVD for the Baked Potato in your life.
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