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Classic satire reigns at the Magic Lantern

Dan Webster

Above: Slim Pickens in the 1964 film "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." (Photo/Columbia Pictures)

The Magic Lantern is known for playing alternative films. As in alternative to the mainstream.

But even by the Lantern’s standards, the two films opening Friday at the theaters couldn’t be more different. In theme, at least, if not tone.

In keeping with its recent trend toward playing classic films, the Lantern will open both Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire on nuclear war “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” and the 2021 sci-fi/Mexican wrestling flick “Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone.”

Ranking No. 39 on the 2008 American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Films of All Time, “Dr. Strangelove” is a true classic. Its plot involves the U.S. and Russia facing nuclear annihilation because of a rogue Air Force officer’s paranoid fantasies.

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, James Powers explained the powerful reaction Kubrick’s film was bound to have with the American public of 1964.

“Baleful and brilliant,” he wrote, “ ‘Dr. Strangelove; Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,’ will outrage a predictable percentage of the population and enthrall an even greater percentage.”

Variety critic Dave Kaufman was only slightly less enthusiastic. “While there are times when it hurts to laugh because somehow there is a feeling that the mad events in ‘Strangelove’ could happen,” he wrote, “it emerges as a most unusual combination of comedy and suspense.”

“Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone,” in contrast, has a far different plotline. Here that plotline is, courtesy of IMDb.com:

“In a Texas border town, car salesman Charlie moonlights as masked Lucha libre wrestler ‘Green Ghost.’ When assailants arrive seeking an otherworldly emerald, Charlie discovers that he has super powers that he must harness to save humanity.”

While I could find no critical reviews of the film, which is directed by Michael D. Olmos, I did find this: Based on the votes of 177 IMDb.com users, “Green Ghost” earned a weighted average vote of 4.5 … out of a possible 10. Ouch.

As always, though, the final rating is up to you, the viewer.

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