Feb 23, 2016
Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) (part 5 of 7)
We cut to Lena asleep in her room. The shades pop up for no apparent reason, and two guides march in and drag her out, kicking and screaming.
Back to Richard, now in the big city, looking at random people walking around. I have the feeling none of these people knew they would be in this film, otherwise all the lawsuits would have kept it on the shelf for decades.
Richard’s still holding his shoulder (Yeah, those wounds from sniper rifles can sometimes be bothersome). He passes by all the stereotypically seedy landmarks: the pawn shop, the adult movie theatre, etc. Nearby, a guy on a motorcycle is drinking out of a paper bag. He pulls out a CB radio and in his best BJ and the Bearimpression says, “This is Unit 2, pursuing… Alright, 10-4,” then puts on his helmet and takes off. Just out of curiosity, do they always have this guy sitting on this street corner, just in the off chance that a clone escapes from Clonus?
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Richard walks into an alleyway and wearily leans against a dumpster. Suddenly, the motorcycle appears behind him and a bad rip-off of the CHiPs theme song starts up in the background. Richard runs off, heading across a pedestrian bridge. There are metal posts on either end to block off traffic, so Motorcycle Guy doesn’t follow, even though it appears a motorcycle could quite easily squeeze through these posts.
Instead, Motorcycle Guy pulls out a handgun and squeezes off two shots in Richard’s direction. This is at the same time Richard runs past two kids standing on the bridge. Remarkably, the kids just continue to stand there nonchalantly, despite the fact that they were just shot at. One of the kids has a bicycle, and Richard hops on it to make his getaway. In case we don’t quite get what’s happened here, the filmmakers have helpfully dubbed in the kid yelling, “Hey, come back with that! That man took my bike!”
This bike, quite hilariously, is much too small for Richard, and might even be a girl’s bike. He pumps the pedals on this dinky little bicycle for all its worth, until a pile of trash bags spontaneously appears and knocks Richard to the ground.
We get more “heartbeat” noises (don’t ask me why) as Richard writhes around in garbage. Fitting, I’d say. A balding man with white hair and a white beard appears and drops the trash bag he’s holding. He crouches down to take a look at Richard and says, “Hi, I’m Keenan Wynn. You may remember me from such films as Dr. Strangelove, Orca, and Piranha!” Actually, what he really says is, “Hey, fella, looks like you’re been through some really heavy seas!” Which makes about as much sense. He helps Richard up and takes him inside.
The old guy brings Richard past his wife, who naturally is modeled after Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz (horn-rimmed glasses, hair in a bun, wearing an apron, the whole bit). She’s even stirring a pot of soup when they walk in. Old Guy tells his wife that Richard just had a bicycle accident, and that she should get some hot water ready (for what purpose?). In this scene, there’s some pretty heavy improvisation between the two older actors, and they stumble all over each other’s lines. Look, improvisation is all well and good, but it helps to actually rehearse it before the cameras roll. Or, even better, perhaps they should have shot a second take.
Old Guy sits Richard down in the next room. I thought Richard had been shot twice by this point, but it’s impossible to tell. Certainly, he doesn’t act like a guy with two bullets in him. I’ll just have to assume, based on my extensive knowledge of medicine (and Bad Movies), that he’s actually only received customary “flesh wounds”. Richard tells the old couple that “They’re after me,” and that he has to find his “other part”.
Old Guy (his name is Jake) points out the silver tag on Richard’s ear, despite one or two slightly more pressing matters to attend to. The wife (her name is Anna) informs Jake that “That’s an earring! They’re all wearing them today!” The silver tag, by the way, is on Richard’s left ear, but Anna doesn’t ruminate on his sexual orientation. So I guess she’s not that hip to what the young folks are doing these days.
Richard asks again if they will help him find his “other part”. Jake has no clue what he’s talking about, so Richard produces the sheet of paper with the picture of the original Richard Knight on it. Jake immediately assumes this to be Richard’s father, apparently not noticing the part where it says “CLONED IN 1948”.
Richard insists he doesn’t know who the guy is. “I only know I’m his clone!” Anna says, “Clone,” and the actress begins making up whole chunks of dialogue off the top of her head. “Clone, now where have I heard that? Clone, oh, I just, uh—Jake, do you know what a clone is?” Jake tells her to be quiet. I’m starting to like Jake.
Anna, however, doesn’t know when to quit. “I know what it is, I know what it is. Everyone knows what a clone is. Let’s see, I was reading in the Digest the other day, and there was an article about a tadpole…” For you young’ins who don’t know, a tadpole was the first animal ever to be cloned, which, coincidentally, happened around the same time this movie was made. And back then, it was widely reported in Reader’s Digest. Ah, Reader’s Digest. The one periodical responsible for more idiotic movie premises than any other magazine in history.
Richard explains that he broke into the “Main Building” (for some reason, no one will ever refer to it as the “Round Building” again) and got that sheet of paper. Anna takes another look at it and notices that Older Richard’s address is right there underneath his picture, which is rather convenient, to say the least. Anna tells Jake to take him over there.
Jake protests, “Don’t you think he may be a little—” And then the scene fades out in mid-sentence. That’s not all. When we fade back in, we’re in the same scene. I grant you, it’s entirely possible that this abrupt fade-out is an artifact of my particular copy of the movie. But it says a lot about a film when I even have to wonder in the first place.
2005 Comments: I specifically mentioned this moment in my correspondence with Robert Fiveson; According to him, it was just a bad transfer job, and whoever released this particular edition of the movie missed a reel change. (This abrupt fade-out is not in the newly released DVD.) However, all of Jake’s line after “Don’t you think he may be a little—” is mumbled so badly by Keenan Wynn that I still don’t understand it. Wynn also makes a wierd gesture around his chin when he says it, so I can’t even begin to tell you what he was getting at.
When we fade back in, Richard is again pleading with Jake, “Won’t you take me to find my other part?” Anna finally nags Jake into taking Richard over there.
Back in the Clonus doctor’s office, Lena is being interrogated by Nelson, Jameson, and the doctor. She denies even knowing Richard (I don’t blame her), but after Jameson shows her a photograph (the audience is never shown what it’s in the photo), she admits that they met once, but she didn’t know his name. Nelson asks for her help in this typically dopey exchange:
Nelson: You see, we’re afraid that Richard has gone to America too early, and that wouldn’t be good. There are many strange customs there, and he might get hurt!
Lena: But I thought America was a happy place!
The doctor: Only when you’re ready.
Lena: But I thought America was a happy place!
The doctor: Only when you’re ready.
Lena insists she doesn’t know where Richard went, so they send her back to her room to think some more about it. “We’re back where we started,” Nelson says. Jameson says, “Maybe.” [?]
We cut to a young guy in Speedos sitting in a pool on a floating lounge chair. He also happens to be drinking a can of Old Milwaukee [!]. What are the odds, huh? Poolside, an old man is dictating into a tape recorder. “And so,” he says, “It falls upon each and every one of us to accept the moral implications of our acts. Once we killed with stone clubs. Now we kill with atomic weapons. Period. Paragraph.” Then he stops the tape recorder. That seems like a slightly odd sentence to end a speech with, but, hey, what do I know?
The young guy in the pool starts complaining, and tells the older man to take the rest of the day off. “No dull philosophy for you,” he says, “No boring speechwriting for me!” Whatever that means. Meanwhile, they take so long in establishing the relationship between these two men that I started to think the young guy was some kind of gay gigolo hustling the elderly.
The young guy gets out of the pool, saying he’s tired of campaigning with his “uncle Jeff”. Yeah, lying in the pool all day can sure take a lot out of you. He adds, “It’s gotten so I can write the land of the free, the home of the brave, and free speech without batting an eye.” [?] Then we learn these two are related in some way. They would have to be, because they both have about the same gift for words.
Jake walks in through a nearby gate and asks for Richard Knight. The old guy says he’s Richard Knight, and introduces the young guy as his son, Rick. Jake says he has Richard’s “other son” with him. “The one who was shot,” Jake says. “The one who keeps talking about Clonus!” Okay, even if Richard did have another son, how in the world would he know the kid’s been shot? Did Jake expect him to say, “Oh, the one who was shot, why didn’t you just say so?”
Richard explains he has no “other son”. Jake steps to one side and says, “Then how do you explain [dramatic pause] this?” Younger Richard walks in, almost as if just given his cue. “I’m you, Mr. Knight,” he says, “I’m your clone.”