Mar 7, 2018
Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) (part 2 of 7)
Bald Scientist Guy is leading George into a room with an examination table. Jameson walks in and tells George his farewell party is “step number one”, and that “step number two” is to drink a glass of an unknown liquid. Doing his best impression of Chuck Norris in Firewalker,George eagerly gulps it down without question.
Jameson then tells George that they’re going to play a game. He wants George to start at 100 and count backwards. George giddily complies, but doesn’t make it past “Ninety-five…” before immediately falling unconscious. So, either that liquid was some sort of tranquilizer, or the amount of mental exertion involved in figuring out what comes before 95 caused George to pass out on his own.
Either way, the two “scientists” lie him down on the examination table and break out some good old fashioned technobabble. Bald Scientist Guy tells Jameson that they have a “subject at standstill”, and if he’s talking about the plot of this movie, I wholeheartedly agree. Jameson then asks for the “standard density solution”, which sounds about right to me.
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They stick IV tubes into both of George’s arms. Jameson tells Bald Scientist Guy to “start the pump” and a greenish fluid flows into one arm and a red fluid flows out of the other arm. Meanwhile, George jerks around on the table. I appears that they’re removing all the blood from his body and replacing it with (I’m guessing) Hi-C Ecto Cooler. If this is the case, that’s gotta be one miraculous pump, because the whole process of removing all the blood from George’s body takes less than ten seconds.
Next, they wrap George in a big Ziploc bag and connect a tube which Jameson says will generate a vacuum. Apparently, “generating a vacuum” means “filling the bag with dry ice fog”, because that’s what happens next. At the last possible moment, George wakes up and starts screaming and clawing to get out of the Ziploc bag. But, this is to no avail, as Jameson has verified that, in fact, yellow and blue have made green.
Now, if you haven’t figured out what all this is supposed to be about, then you might just be in this movie’s target audience. For those two or three people, I’ll stop and explain. All the young men and women in this “commune” are, in fact, clones. Apparently they’re kept in perfect health and good shape (hence the pushups and jogging and so forth) until the scientists decide it’s time to put them in deep freeze (AKA “going to America”). Once in deep freeze, the clones sit there waiting for the original people (i.e., the people they were cloned from) to need organ transplants. This isn’t entirely nonsensical, but I have to ask, why the “America” subterfuge? Couldn’t they have just as easily told the clones they were going to Shangri-La, Xanadu, or Michael Jackson’s Never-Never Land ranch?
2005 Comments: I got the chance to ask Robert Fiveson this question directly in my interview with him. His answer, basically, was that the “America” thing was “post-’60s fuck you-ism,” which I think pretty much says it all.
We cut to Richard sitting in a field and reading a book. He glances up a hill and sees a line of bicyclists passing overhead. Among them is our “heroine” Lena. She accidentally runs over a rock, but given its size and position she’d have to be blind not to have seen it. Maybe they explained what “rocks” are on the same day they covered the concept of a “bet”. Needless to say, she falls off her bike and rolls down the hill, ending up just a few feet from Richard.
Richard runs over to her to see if she’s okay. Lena immediately notices that the tag clipped to Richard’s ear is silver, just like hers. See? And you didn’t believe me when I said these clips weren’t just some extraneous detail. Richard sees some Running Suit Guys coming their way, so he quickly asks where she lives. She tells him, right before they drag her off. One Running Suit Guy says into his microphone that “two controls accidentally met on Rural Sector 6.” Naturally, when he says this, he’s standing right next to Richard, which doesn’t seem particularly wise.
Bald Scientist Guy is on the other side of this transmission, and he tells Running Suit Guy to separate them immediately and identify them for “future deprogramming”. Now, just wait one minute. These guys are clones, not robots. Is it really possible to “deprogram” people into forgetting they ever met someone or saw something? If so, may I please be “deprogrammed” into forgetting I ever saw this movie?
Bald Scientist Guy breaks the bad news to Jameson. Jameson sees the silver lining on this cloud, however, and says that “this could prove to be interesting.” Sorry, but given what I’ve seen so far, I’d have to say probably not. He then tells Bald Scientist Guy to cancel the order for deprogramming because he wants to monitor Richard and Lena.
Next we see Richard sitting in a cafeteria, relating a recent incident to some friends. He tells them he saw “a guide” (which is what they call the Running Suit Guys, by the way) driving his cart completely out of the way, just so that Richard couldn’t see what he was carrying. In case we don’t quite understand what Richard is talking about, the filmmakers have helpfully inserted a flashback clip of this happening.
Richard asks his friends if that’s happened to any of them, but no one replies. Then he asks if anyone thinks that’s strange. One guy (who remains nameless, but who I’ll call Fred because I think it’s a funny name) says blankly, and I do mean blankly, “Guides may do strange things sometimes. Because they have to watch out for many things for us.”
When Richard presses Fred on why the guides look out for them, he replies, “I don’t know… Maybe so we don’t get hurt. It’s easy to get hurt.” I totally agree. I mean, look at how easily this movie has caused us all deep pain.
Richard gripes that he sees the guides talking even though there’s no one there. I guess “microphones” are yet another concept the clones grasp as well as they do the idea of a “bet”. When Richard wonders aloud who the guides are talking to, Fred replies, “Who knows. Eat.” Richard gets pissy about this response and takes off.
Next we see Richard outdoors, walking past what’s supposed to be a river, even though it looks more like run-off from a nearby sewage plant. (Perhaps this is where they found the script.) Richard notices something gleaming in the water and quickly goes to retrieve it. It turns out to be a can of Old Milwaukee beer. [!] All I can say is, pity Adidas, and pity the makers of Old Milwaukee. They couldn’t have known what they were getting themselves into.
Next, we’re in an auditorium filled with clones. A screen is lowered as Dr. Jameson walks out dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi marching in a gay pride parade. He greets the class and asks if they know which lesson they’ll be learning today. They all reply in unison [?] “Lesson ten!” which, apparently, is the right answer. But before they proceed, Jameson wants a recap of previous lessons, so he calls on a student named Jack. Jack gets up, and with a stutter worse than Dana Plato in the aforementioned Exorcist II, he gives us the complete rundown.
Jack: In lesson number one, we learned about when we were babies. And in lesson number two, we heard about… animals! No, that was number three. In number two, we learned about… how food is grown! And all about our home!
Jameson congratulates him on his excellent memory, despite the fact that this is lesson ten, and Jack has only described lessons one through three. Not that I’m complaining.
Jameson walks away from the podium, and a film is projected on a screen. It looks significantly cheaper than those films about personal hygiene and human reproduction that they used to show in junior high (Remember what I said about this film feeling like a ninety-minute gym class?). “Qualification,” a female voice explains, “That magic time when you enter America!” I’m half-expecting the voice to explain that “qualification” doesn’t cause blindness.
As the voice continues, we see several still frames showing all the important events in a clone’s progress towards “America”. The voice explains that, first, they’ll get a party with all their friends. This part is accompanied by a picture of a cake, which looks suspiciously like the same cake that George was just served at his going away party. Then, the voice explains, they will be escorted to “the Round Building”, which is the “entranceway to America”.
Then we get slides of a hippie family, all smiling and dressed in white, which supposedly represents life in America. That is, if your idea of life in America is hanging out with the Manson family. The voiceover declares that they will “enjoy the happiness of your new world… forever!” For no apparent reason, there is a serious reverb effect under the word “forever”. Oh yeah, that’s not ominous. Then everyone bursts into applause [?] as Jameson returns, asking if there are any questions.
Richard stands up to say he found something floating in the river, and he wants to know if it’s from America. Richard goes to the podium and hands the can of Old Milwaukee to Jameson. Jameson chuckles and says the can is not from America. Instead, he explains, “it comes from the river [!].” Now, having had the misfortune of drinking Old Milwaukee in the past, I can say that it does in fact taste that way. But I don’t think that’s how Jameson meant it.
Richard buys this explanation, but asks for the can back. Jameson keeps it, replying that it “belongs to all of us.” Then Jameson concludes the lesson by telling everyone to go the “Confessional” if they have any more questions. At this, the clones again break out into applause, showing that they’re more easily entertained then the typical studio audience at a taping of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Meanwhile, Richard looks sullen (again) and walks out.
So there you have it: Lesson Ten. So, if you’re called upon later to describe it, here’s how you should put it: “In Lesson Ten, we learned that America is full of hippies and that Old Milwaukee grows in the river.”
After the class, Jameson goes up to one of the guides, demanding to know how the beer can made it past the water valves. If you guessed that he demands the person in charge of clean-up be fired, give yourself a gold star.