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.
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!