NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: The Cremators (1972)

Julian May sold her first professional fiction, a short story called “Dune Roller,” to Astounding Science Fiction where appeared in 1951. The name J. C. May was listed as the author and it was accompanied by her original illustrations. May was unique in that not many women participated in science fiction fandom; she was also the first woman to chair a worldcon, the Tenth World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago in 1952. Over her lifetime, she wrote thousands of science encyclopedia articles and more than 250 books for children and young adults. These non-fiction, under her own name and a variety of pen names covered the worlds of history, science and pop culture.

One of her pseudonyms changed my life. As Ian Thorne, she was responsible for writing ten orange hardcovered books for Crestwood. Once you see these covers, if you read them, you will be transported back in time.

Under her married name Judy Dikty — they spelled it incorrectly in the credits as Ditky — she is credited for the story in this movie. The good news is that after years of writing as a job, she got back into science fiction by attending a convention after moving to the west coast. After creating an alien costume for a con party, she got so many ideas of what that creature would be like she started her Galactic Milieu Series, which was a series of eight books published between 1981 and 1996.

Harry Essex is credited as the director and writer of this movie. He’s probably better known for writing It Came from Outer SpaceThe Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Sons of Katie Elder, but by this time in his career, he was directing. I, The JuryMad at the World and, yes, Octaman are the other three that he helmed.

Originally released as The Dune Rollers, what emerges is a movie that’s, well, disjointed at best. A giant ball of fire has dropped from space and it slowly, ever so slowly rolls over people and gets bigger, kind of like Katamari Damacy. Except nowhere near as interesting, as Dr. Iane Thorne (Marvin Howard) sleepwalks though solving this. Is that where May got her pen name from?

His love interest Jeanne doesn’t get much to do either. She’s played by Maria De Aragon who shows up in plenty of 70s exploitation like Wonder WomenTeenager and Blood Mania. Perhaps her best known role is one that she was not credited for: she was Greedo in Star Wars.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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