Behold a Dark Pyramid

As a resident of the Nevada wasteland, it isn’t too often that I run across a model that reminds me of my less than beloved home town.  When I look at the next model in the Manifesto spotlight I’m not transported to a bleak and foreboding Martian landscape, I stay right at home in bleak and foreboding Las Vegas.  To my admittedly heat-addled brain, “Dark Pyramid” is an apocalyptic vision of a possible future, with Sin City’s alien-infested Luxor hotel at the center of the action.  Builder of great renown, Paddy Bricksplitter, does an admirable job of framing the shot  and the result is one of the best forced perspective treatments I’ve seen in a long time.  The modest scene suggests a much larger story, accomplishing that difficult trick of making the viewer want to see more of everything.  This image would have been right at home on a pulp Sci-Fi novel cover from the 1970’s, even the title Dark Pyramid is perfect for the time period.  In his write-up, Paddy says the build was inspired by pre-production art for the films Alien and Galaxy of Terror, its lesser known clone that traded Sigourney Weaver for Joanie from Happy Days.  I never thought I’d see a model influenced by Galaxy of Terror in any way, but I’m delighted with the obscurity of the reference.  The bones of this diorama are so good that you could easily swap out the astronauts for a couple of iron age beef-cakes and you’d have a Conan book cover, in which he explores the black pyramids of Stygia with his swarthy companion Juma.  I can imagine any number of minifigs substituted for the two guys below, such is the power of the image.  This model is also a good example of how you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in terms of technique to achieve great results.28529667762_303128ddbf_o

For those of you not acquainted with Galaxy of Terror it has a quite a cast, including Freddy Krueger, My favorite Martian and Captain Spaulding.  What more could you ask for, constant reader?  It is difficult to believe this film came out 4 years after Star Wars and featured special effects sequences from pre-Star Wars Roger Corman films. If you’re staying in tonight you could do worse than a tall glass of your favorite adult beverage and this B movie delight from 1981.  Scream Freddy, Scream!

5 thoughts on “Behold a Dark Pyramid

    1. What a fun review, I forgot about Laura Palmer’s mom. Now those re-used Corman SFX shots make sense, I didn’t realize he was involved as producer. Ditto Cameron, but now that I know it, I can see his fingerprints everywhere in the set design. That first screen capture you used in the article is kind of stunning for the time. Such a great B-movie, it’s actually pretty ambitions (if derivative) for a Roger Corman production. Thanks for the link Jeff! I hope we see more of you around the Manifesto.


  1. Good choice with Paddy, one of my favorites for taking a seemingly simple shot and fully realizing it. The fact that you can switch out any fig and it still holds interest and mystery is just even more icing on the cake. I actually envision Natasha Henstridge (sp?) and Ice Cube running from “Ghosts”, guns blazing, trying to hop a Martian train. Where’s Pam Grier?

    Now, on to Galaxy of Terror. As a Corman aficionado, I have to agree completely with Jeff’s assertion that this was one of his finest moments. “Stupid and clever to be thoroughly enjoyable” not only describes most of Roger’s offerings, but this one exists near the apex of Cormandom. All those space shots used over and over again through MANY of his productions including Battle Beyond the Stars (Hooray John Saxon! Who also starred with Freddy.), Forbidden World, and of course Space Raiders (Vince Edwards! I may have pooped a little there.) are HIGH ART in the B movie universe. If you actually throw in a psychedelic story with some thoughtful intrigue with Captain Spaulding AND Joannie, how can you not spell total win?!

    I think I just may go and watch all these again since I haven’t seen them in about thirty years. I’ll follow it up with the palate cleanser that is Starcrash. God bless B-movies!


    1. Yeah, you really can’t go wrong with Paddy, his stuff is reliably amazing. Good call on the Ghosts of Mars reference, Cube and Pam with bling’d out machine-pistols would be right at home in the diorama.

      I have to admit that I don’t fully embrace Corman, he’s like some of the builders in our hobby, he just makes no attempt to get any better. That said, Battle Beyond the stars is a trashy delight! A spaceship that is nothing more than disembodied boobs with guns attached? Sign me up John-Boy, we’re a goin’ to war! Don’t get me started with Starcrash…Marjoe’s gift to the world!


  2. I have made the painful decision to open with comments about the MOC.

    One of the best examples of “less is more.” Bricksplitters forced perspective works perfectly. I have NEVER even tried FP. I’m too scared. But here… it looks so completely natural. The viewer has almost no choice but to “get it”.

    Ah, they climbed up that craggy slope, in those slightly retro suits, with the pick and the rope, and they wanted to find the source of the odd energy field that disabled their ship as it passed to close to this forbidden and little known world… And… There it is Doctor! The signal must be emanating from that odd structure on the horizon!

    Ah… so totally cool. Timeless boiler plate. Old, done, tired… and yet… comforting, and more… even delightful!

    Like cheap ramen in a styrofoam cup on a cold rainy afternoon. Dig it! Just dig it man!

    As to the topic of the B movies… Galaxy of Terror… hell yes! Ghosts of Mars… The dope! My offering? Pitch Black (and ONLY Pitch Black! Not any other product affiliated with that narrative). But that first film? Classic. Not a lot of money. Not a lot of acting. Not a lot of… anything but monsters and cheap sets. OK, they did drop a little coin on the digital stuff for the monsters. But still… B to it’s core, and a great time!



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