Collectively speaking, humans have long held a conflicted view of science. While we're inclined to trumpet our legacy of innovation and invention, somewhere at the back of our cultural conscience lurks a nagging insistence that we are encroaching on knowledge not intended for mere mortals, and that dire consequences await those who meddle in matters beyond our understanding. Such contradictory attitudes were practically a defining characteristic of the United States throughout the 1950s, a scientifically astonishing era that merged the awe-inspiring wonders of space exploration with the horrific dangers of thermonuclear warfare. These Atomic Age anxieties radiate from the featured films of Watch the Skies! 2012 Sci-Fi Fest. For five consecutive Thursdays, the Heights Theater will host a genre classic loaded with speculative paranoia and otherworldly creatures. After setting an ominous tone via the grim ruminations of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) — in which a visitor from the stars debates the fate of the human race — the series plunges into the horrors of the unknown. Interplanetary war rips through This Island Earth (1955), an alien menace stalks an isolated team of arctic researchers in The Thing (1951), atomic energy transforms common ants into gigantic monstrosities in Them (1954), and an overly ambitious scientist finds his very humanity abominably morphed into The Fly (1958). Who knew test tubes could breed such terrors?
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 20. Continues through Oct. 18, 2012