Weird Science - Thur. Dec. 3rd - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Weird Science, a compendium of eccentric, unknown science films from 60ish years of scientific discovery, all on 16mm film from the archive. From animated TB germs to sequin-clad aliens, to babies in goggles, songs about slugs and even electric shocks from eels, it's a bizarre night of scientific infotainment. An alien and his computer friend land on Earth and seek to classify the animal life they find in the incredibly weird Mission Third Planet: Creatures of the Land (1979). Noir and B-movie legend Edgar G. Ulmer brings us a tale of tuberculosis for the kiddies with an animated TB bug in Goodbye Mr. Germ (1940). Find out what happens when your vision is flipped upside down (and you're paid to live like that for two weeks!) in the imported short Living in a Reversed World (1958). Sun Healing (1930s), a jaw-dropping forerunner of the infomercial, pitches an ominous health device that's "safe" to use on your own children. Sing along with kids about those disgustingly cute yellow mollusks, Banana Banana Banana Slugs! (1988). Get a double dose of Christian science with the evangelical Moody Science Institute and the literally shocking Electric Eel (1954) as well as Slow As a Sloth (1954). Plus, the trailer for ”The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, clips from Popular Science and more!

 Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Mission Third Planet: Creatures of the Land
 (Color, 1979, Don Klugman)
During a meteor shower, the robot Ten-Ping and Aarak, a young gold and sequin-clad alien scientist, are separated from their mother ship and stranded on Earth. While awaiting rescue, they begin classifying the land animals of the planet, comparing body structures of both vertebrates and invertebrates with the help of Ten-ping's magical TV screen head!

Goodbye, Mr. Germ (B+W, 1940 Edgar G. Ulmer)
A mixed animation/live-action TB scare film from legendary directed Edgar Ulmer.  This antiquated campfest features actor (and sometime director) James Kirkland, this short film apparently predates the TB vaccine, or at least its widespread use. Kirkland is the doctor (or scientist) father of two youngsters. His lab consists of various different animals and pets. He imagines inventing a radio that can hear germs speak, and that he can understand their language. Most of the film features Kirkland talking to a animated tuberculosis germ (he views through his microscope) as they discuss how TB is transferred from one person to another, how the body fights it, and how it can live dormant for years in a person's body waiting for a moment of physical weakness that allows it to escape. TB causes one to cough until eventually it ruptures blood vessels such that the discharge contains blood. Kirkland then tells the germ that they've been able to discover "him" in the body now, which is then verified with an X-ray.

Banana, Banana, Banana Slugs! (Color, 1988)
Sing along with science when a group of kids tramp through the redwoods looking at the giant yellow mollusks and singing their praises in squeaky little voices.

Living in a Reversed World (B+W, 1958) 
An excellent re-rending of our external visual environment, directors and vision specialists Ivo Kohler and Theodore Erismann stitch the viewer into a weird world of screwy visual illusion and corky dystopia via the use of optical illusions.  

Sun Healing: The Ultra-Violet Way with Life Lite (B+W, 1930s) 

Quack science in all its glory, this long-form commercial from the 1930s was produced by Ultra-Violet Home Products Inc (out of Los Angeles, surprise, surprise) and demonstrates an ‘amazing’ new product – a handheld quartz instrument that will blast you the ultraviolet light you’re supposedly missing out on by being indoors. Watch it cure diseases of all kinds while starting new ones!

The Mouse Activated Candle Lighter (1973, Color)
Watch this offbeat Rube Goldberg device consisting of a mouse trap, fishing pole, alarm clock, ice pack, train motor, rubber band, match and candle illustrating various forms of kinetic energy.

Clips from P*pular Science featuring Wacky Inventions and Desert Destroyers (Color, 1954) 
The newsreel/TV special form of P*pular Science was a beacon in the Cold War, drawing America’s youth towards progress in industry and science. In these featurettes, see a woman slather her bosom with wine and spaghetti sauce (it’s new stain proof nylon!) and a new missile being tested in an uncharted Nevada desert. Area ’54 anyone? 

Liquid Air (1950, B+W)

Ten minutes of fun used to be the norm with shows like John Kieran’s Kaleidoscope (1949-1952).With episodes that focused on unraveling the mysteries of earth in sizable chunks of time, Kieran, a quiz show panelist and noted intellectual was our guide to the unknown.  This particular short explores the magic of gas and liquid with on screen experiments and candid conversations.  

With a Double Dose of the Evangelical Science Organization, The Moody Institute of Science!

The Moody Institute of Science, founded under the auspices of the Moody Bible Institute, an evangelical group started by Erwin Moon in San Francisco in 1938, produced a number of religious cult science films that were intended to demonstrate intelligent design through scientific experiments. These were marketed to schools and churches across the United States and their biblical subtext hit the viewer over the head with the proverbial hammer of faith.  Evangelist Erwin “The Million Volt Man” Moon stars in many  of these eye-popping classroom science films as he inhales helium, runs electricity through his body, makes metal float in space, experiments with electric eels and preaches god’s creationist “intelligent design” ideology.

The Electric Eel (1954, Color)

Dr. Irwin Moon - part showman, part scientist, part crackpot religious nutcase shows us the electric eel and demonstrates its amazing abilities to shock fish for food and to use "radar" to find them. Don’t miss the scene where he illuminates a florescent light tube using his eel then jolts his staff with electrodes attached to the deadly fish!

Slow as a Sloth (1954, Color)
Moon presents different breeds of sloths with the help of his lab-coated assistant.  The duo explain interesting facts about sloths and attempt to elicit reactions from the animals by petting their fur the wrong direction, poking them with sticks and other "scientific" methods.

For the Early Birds:

Mr. Pasteur and the Riddle of Life
 (1972, Color)
This stop-motion educational film attempts to use humor in the form of an animated puppet-scientist.  The puppet plays devil’s advocate to the narrator, debating the theory of spontaneous generation.  Learn how it is possible to reach false conclusions with an insufficiently thorough application of the scientific method!!  Pasteur’s mold experiments are re-created!

Curator’s Biography

Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric film hoarder. She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009. She has programmed over 200 shows at Oddball on everything from puberty primers to experimental animation.

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.

Our screenings are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.