Spectres of the Spectrum


Spectres of the Spectrum Review

Questions raised and answered by watching Spectres of the Spectrum that do not go away after a week's time.

1. How did the nice idea of increasing communication, of tapping the ionosphere to search for somewhat spiritual signals, become the behemoth we know today as the telecommunications conglomerates?2. Can an Airstream trailer really be outfitted to navigate space and time?3. Is time really reversible?4. How can 50s educational films be molded into a cohesive and still-brilliant film?5. How can a movie that uses B-footage, video cameras, Airstream trailers, and frequent homages to the science fiction style of Ed Wood be five-star cinema?

The answer to all of these questions is a simple I don't know.

Spectres of the Spectrum is yet another media archeology delivered to us by San Francisco eccentric and experimental filmmaker Craig Baldwin (Sonic Outlaws). Compiled out of stock footage and video camera clips, Spectres of the Spectrum ends up being one of the most mystifying, freaky trips that I have had in a theatre... EVER.

The year is 2007, one giant conglomerate controls the entire telecommunications industry, and the ionosphere is quickly being destroyed by this nasty conglomerate's evil tactics. The people of the world, for the most part have become zombies due to television... a select few intelligent life forms remain. These intelligent life forms create a pirate television network in order to spread information as to how the world became this way, and talk about how the evil plans of the telecommunications supercorporation can be thwarted.

This discussion leads us back into time, as Baldwin effortless intercuts educational films and gives voice-overs that explain how each time a massive advance was made in telecommunications, it was taken over by a corporate or government power. This ultra paranoid rhetoric may seem just rhetoric to the layperson, but to anyone at all acquainted with the telecommunications industry, the tagline of Spectres rings true: "nothing in this film is fiction."

Rarely does one get to see a film that is totally different, completely brilliant, and incredibly timely, and Spectres hits all of these qualifications with ease.

Spectres, like other media archeology films (i.e. the 16mm short film out of Kent State University, What Happens when we Swallow), is ripe for self-parody and effortless humor. As the "fiction" of Spectres begins to take over, we are granted a severe dose of B-movie parody. An example: an Airstream trailer is refitted to travel through a wormhole, and, when going through said wormhole, the strings which hold the model trailer aloft are clearly visible. Also, when Amy Hacker's (real life person, real life name) fictitious body is put into the ground, her granddaughter Boo-Boo (don't ask) ponders over her last words and comes up with the simple question "But what the fuck does that mean?"

Perhaps that question is as good as any to end this review with, for Spectres of the Spectrum is a film that is so beyond words that any compliment I give it will end up with a similar utterance from your lips. The only coherent thing that I can say is this: go see it.

Spectres of the Spectrum

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th March 2000


Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew



Starring: as Unknown, as Voice of Beth Lislick

Also starring: ,