Monday, January 07, 2013

Killdozer!

It says something about my movie-viewing priorities that I have a stack of Academy Award contending screeners collecting dust next to the DVD player, but I threw on Killdozer as soon as it arrived. A TV movie from the 70's in the "when machines come alive!" genre, I vaguely remember seeing this when it was on network television and kinda liking it.  I still do...

First off, we're talking about a great 70's cast.  Clint Walker, Neville Brand, Carl Betz, Robert Urich, James Wainwright... all stuck on a remote African island where their tiny crew is running heavy equipment, clearing an area for some sort of oil installation.  Urich accidentally drives his D9 bulldozer into a meteor that glows, fries Urich with radiation and then takes control of the bulldozer.  It's never really explained why the meteor-imbued bulldozer feels the need to kill all humans, or how charging around an uninhabited island knocking over logs furthers some sort of goal.  But maybe I'd be angry too if, after careening through the universe, my essence got stuck in a piece of construction equipment.

The best part of the movie is the extremely laconic way these guys deal with their increasingly precarious situation.  Urich is french-fried by radiation, lingering just long enough to tell Clint Walker that he saw a blue flash "enter" the bulldozer.  Foreman Walker decides to keep that rather pertinent info to himself and tells the other guys to bury Urich and get back to work.  Nobody really asks how somebody driving a bulldozer could get so irradiated his skin would bubble and turn black.  Then another worker gets flattened by the runaway dozer after trying to hide in a pipe.  They plant him next to the first guy and Walker still insists everybody should just suck it up and get back to work.  Call me a softie, but if it were my crew, I'd give them the day off.  

Only when Carl Betz (who must have spent his time between takes wondering how he went from being the lead on The Donna Reed Show and Judd For The Defense to playing an embittered scoop-shovel operator named "Sourball") admits he overheard Urich's dying declaration does Walker decide to level with the other two survivors.  But he STILL insists they need to keep working because, uhh, they might get in trouble. Like two guys out of a six man crew dying 24 hours apart in industrial accidents won't raise an eyebrow or two...

Anyhow, Walker finally decides to let the job go when his pal "Chubb" gets blown up by a D9 sneak attack.  Two things here.  One, even though Killdozer has been taken over by an alien entity, it still makes a lot of noise when chugging around, so "sneak attack" may be the wrong word.  And two, Neville Brand's Chubb was really a pretty nice guy considering he had to endure people calling him Chubb.  If they called Killdozer Chubb, I'll bet it would have been twice as mad.

Anyhow, our last three survivors take time out of being chased by Killdozer to bury Chubb's remains with the others, only to be suckered by another bulldozer move (shoving an avalanche down on the gravesite).  Now Clint's pissed and it's time for vengeance!

So there you go!  Cool 70's TV movie sci-fi at its finest.  And the made-to-order DVD looks great.  I don't know if the picture's been remastered or someone just took very special care of the original, but the color is vivid and the image quality is great. Highly recommended!

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