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|The Cast of Characters:|
|Richard (Timothy Donnelly). A confused young man living a sheltered life in the isolated colony of Clonus. He longs to go to a place called "America", but soon learns that "America" is really a codeword for having his organs harvested (shock of shocks, considering the name of the colony). So he takes four days to hitchhike through Saginaw, all gone to look for "America".|
|Lena (Paulette Breen). Literally stumbles over Richard one day, and her empty-headed musings cause a major epiphany for him. After Richard makes his escape from Clonus, he stupidly risks life and limb to go back for Lena, because they have the kind of real, lasting love that can only come about after a one-night stand on a camping trip.|
|Senator Jeff Knight (Peter Graves). Running for president, and appears to be doing quite well despite his reluctance to take a stand on any particular political issue. Unfortunately, he's only alive today due to the magic of Clonus and its spiffy organ bank, and Richard's escape might spell doom for him and his increasingly ambiguous campaign.|
|Dr. Jameson (Dick Sargent). The administrator of the Clonus colony. He pushes buttons, operates security cameras, and teaches clones that cans of cheap beer are a naturally occuring element found in the river. And somehow, the Clonus colony remains top secret and unknown to the public, despite his best efforts.|
Ah, human cloning. The inspiration for a countless number of misguided sci-fi movies. Most films dealing with the concept of human cloning generally fall into three categories, based on the general public's misunderstanding of how human cloning (if it ever becomes a reality) will be practiced and applied.
In the first category, we have films where a particular person (usually a historical figure) is replicated perfectly, down to the last detail (The Boys from Brazil, for example). The second category of cloning films are those where an evil super-villain/emperor longs to mass-engineer an army composed of exact duplicates of himself (This looks to be the most appropriate category for the upcoming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones).
The third category, and perhaps the most feasible of the three, is where the rich and elite create clones to use as their own personal organ banks. This is impractical (not to mention completely illegal) for a number of reasons, but nevertheless the concept could, if handled well, make for an interesting sci-fi thriller. Needless to say, our current subject, Parts: The Clonus Horror, does not handle this concept well. If not for the idiotic dialogue, incompetent direction, horrific acting, non-existent budget, and relentless parade of goofy imagery, this possibly—possibly—could have been a decent movie.
Also adding insult to injury is the movie's insistence on blatantly swiping ideas from classic novels like Aldous Huxley'sBrave New World andGeorge Orwell's 1984. Suffice to say, this movie is doubleplusbad.
Before we get to the movie, I can see that it's time for yet another installment of Video Box Idiocy. The description on the back of this particular box is deserving of immortality, mostly because the person who wrote the copy was quite enamored of a new device he apparently just discovered called "alliteration".
Test tube terrors! Evolved from evil! Venture over the edge of eternity! Come face to face with a frightmare of frozen fear and pulse pounding paranoia!
Don't drift into the dark domain of dreamless sleep where cryogenic creatures wait, suspended in space!
Imagine extending your life with spare body parts! Imagine being the body the parts come from!
An ear-splitting scream shatters the night! Squirming terror crawls at the base of your brain! Reality dissolves into a nightmare of surreal superscience [No arguments there] when you ask yourself "Am I real?" or "Am I really a clone?"
Don't overdraw your account at the body bank! The only part they don't use is the scream!
It almost boggles the mind that someone actually thought this would help sell more copies of the movie. (I mean, what the heck is a "frightmare"?)
The film opens on shots of supposedly "high tech" scientific equipment, including, inevitably, an oscilloscope. We hear excited watermelon, watermelon whispers in the background and cut to what looks like frozen bodies standing upright in big Ziploc bags. The "ominous" whispering grows louder. (For a bad movie reference, the whispering is similar to when Linda Blair comes close to jumping off a skyscraper in Exorcist II: The Heretic.) For an instant, we cut to a political rally, then back to the bodies. We cut back to the rally, then back to the frozen bodies. This is supposed to be "artistic" but mainly ends up being "confusing".
Wow, I never knew they made sofa covers for human beings!
At the political rally, people are holding up posters and big signs saying "Knight for President". We cut to a podium, and I instantly got the impression that this is taking place in California. Maybe it's the big California state flag draped around the podium.
Anyway, the "Knight" who's running for president is Senator Jeff Knight, and as he steps up to the podium, we sadly see that he's being played by Peter Graves. (Oh, Peter. How could you? Mission: Impossible to this in only five years? Of course, two years later he would star in Airplane!, which just goes to show that not all actors' career paths are shaped like a bell curve.) Senator Knight addresses the crowd with a rather vague speech where he takes the controversial stance that he loves his country even though "we have some problems". Mind you, we'll soon find out this is supposed to be two weeks before the election. If I were a potential voter, I'd be seriously underwhelmed. You'd think he'd be talking about real issues by now.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, someone hidden from the camera is watching Senator Knight giving his speech on TV. "That's our boy," he remarks, while his aged, leathery hand switches off the TV. To all budding B-movie directors for future reference: It's not a good idea to show someone switching off a TV during the first few minutes of your movie, lest you give your audience ideas.
The next thing we see is a group of young people in Adidas running shirts and shorts jogging though a park. Choral music starts up in the background (get used to this music, folks) as the opening credits roll.
We pan around the park and see a lot of young people strolling around, lying down, and jogging. All of them are wearing nothing but Adidas shirts and running shorts. Look, I know this was filmed a good five years before Adidas was fashionable (Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash weren't household names yet), but that's no excuse for their advertising their product in this movie.
The most retroactively embarrassing product placement since the Atari logo in Blade Runner
Some of the youths are doing jumping jacks, and others are jogging around aimlessly. I guess this is supposed to be an idyllic community, but to my eyes, it looks a lot more like an idyllic community college.
A guy in an Adidas running suit and baseball cap walks into the shot, and he's wearing an earpiece and a microphone. Pressing on his earpiece in that TV-journalist kind of way, he pronounces into his microphone that "Area 14 is clear." Clear from what? We never find out. But if he means it's clear of anything that could possibly be taken seriously, he's absolutely right.
It's rumored that the subtitle of Star Wars Episode III
will be Attack of the Gym Teachers
As the scene goes on, two distinct groups emerge. There are the young people in the shirts and the shorts, and then there are the sinister-looking guys in the running suits and baseball caps. We slowly start to "get" that the guys in the running suits and baseball caps are there to protect or watch over the young people in shirts and shorts. And when I say "slowly", I mean it's pounded into our heads with all the subtlety of a jackhammer on concrete.
We see two of the Running Suit Guys having a laugh together. A Shirt and Shorts Girl overhears them, and asks, "Can I laugh?" She's informed she doesn't have to, because, according to Running Suit Guy #1, "it's only a joke." [??]
As the scene progresses, I can't help but wonder what twisted impulse took hold of executives at Adidas when they allowed their clothing to be used in this film. In addition to horribly dating this film, the Adidas running suits also have the added bonus effect of making any viewer in his late 20s or early 30s feel like they're back in high school gym class all over again. Which is to say, one long, extended, 90-minute gym class.
Some of the Shirts and Shorts young people are lined up on bicycles, and all of them have their helmets on except for one busty blonde. This is Lena, and I'd say she's going to be our heroine, but that's stretching the definition of "heroine" beyond any reasonable meaning. Let's just say she's the female character who spends the most time onscreen.
Lena, our "heroine".
Lena overhears a couple of the Running Suit Guys talking about a bet they had going on a football game. She turns to them and says, "What's a bet?" [!] Geez. Just so you know, for the remainder of this film we'll see Lena speaks American English more or less fluently. Even if you only have a rudimentary understanding of the language, how could you possibly not know what a "bet" is? As in, I bet the director of this movie hasn't seen much work since.
The two Running Suit Guys yell at her to put on her helmet so they can go. She complies and everyone rides off single-file. "What's a bet!" Running Suit Guy #1 exclaims. "Oh, brother," Running Suit Guy #2 says, speaking for many in the audience.
We cut to a guy with dark curly hair. This is Richard (played by Timothy Donnelly, best known for playing Chet the fireman on the 60's TV show Emergency!), who happens to be our main character. Standing next to Richard is his blonde friend George. George is played by Frank Ashmore, who also played the alien Martin (and later, his identical twin brother Phillip) on the 80's sci-fi show V. We see a small circle of spectators around them as someone fires a starter pistol. Suddenly, both men drop to the ground and start doing pushups [!] while the others cheer them on. Finally, Richard quits, and the gathered crowd cheers George's victory. As a reward, a Running Suit Guy gives George a handful of peppermints, leading me to conclude that life in this commune is similar to when you get your bill at Denny's.
George, who seems like a useless character, but will become important later. I mean, relatively speaking, anyway.
I shudder to think that this is how people had to entertain themselves before there was TV.
Richard walks away, looking sullen. Nearby, a Running Suit Guy spots Richard and whispers into his microphone, "He has no interest in what we're doing." This causes most of us in the audience to immediately sympathize with Richard.
We cut to George and some other guy rolling around shirtless on a big mat while others stand around and cheer. Elsewhere, this gladiatorial combat is being observed on a monitor by two scientists. (We know they're scientists because of the white lab coats.) One of the scientists is Dr. Jameson, who's in charge of the facility. Sadly, he's being played by Dick Sargent, AKA the Other Darren. (Oh, Dick. How could you? Bewitched to this in five years?) Jameson remarks to the other scientist (who I'll be referring to as Bald Scientist Guy until they decide to give him a name) that George is quite strong and that he should be "ready" very soon. Then he asks for George's "workup". Just to let us know this is all very high-tech, the soundtrack is filled with lots of meaningless computer bleeps and bloops as they talk.
Jameson glances at the "workup" and finds no problems. Bald Scientist Guy comments eagerly that "All the tests were positive!" Someone should have told him that with most medical tests, coming up "positive" is not a good thing. Regardless, Jameson picks up a phone and tells someone named "Walker" that "it's ready".
Back out on the field, a Running Suit Guy gets word from Jameson and calls George over. Running Suit Guy has got good news: George has been "accepted", and now it's time to get ready. As George runs off to prepare, he bumps into Richard and informs him, "I just qualified. I get to go to America!" Now, up until now, everyone we've seen has spoken with a perfect American accent (more or less). So George's assertion that they are, in fact, outside of America is probably supposed to make us suspicious. Instead, it makes us sleepy.
We cut to a cake topped with the words "Welcome to America" in frosting. George eats a slice of cake while his friends stand around applauding. Hey, guys, shouldn't you wait until George actually gets to America before welcoming him there? Regardless, George delivers the following speech.
George: Thank you. It's good to know that I have all of you as friends. And I know that soon, all of you will be joining me in America, for that is the land where good friends live. And are always happy. [Laughs.] Thanks!
America is "the land where good friends live"? Wow, sure wish I could see that motto on some license plates. It's got that whole "Live Free or Die" thing beaten by a mile.
As they all cheer, we get a close up of one guy's ear in order to make the audience fully aware that all the young people here wear different-colored tags on their earlobes. This will become important later. Well, not really, but just for the heck of it, let's pretend.
This is years
before that Wham! video.
After the party, George runs off to a remote corner of the campus—I mean, commune—along with a woman who appears to be his girlfriend. They kiss and she talks about joining him soon in America. "I've grown accustomed to you," she says. "I... I like having you... touch me." I think I saw those exact words on a Hallmark card once.
George says he likes touching her too—fancy that—but he can't turn down going to America. She says "But—" and then there's almost a five-second pause before George shushes her and they go back to kissing. It's almost like the actual line in the script was "But—" and the actress couldn't improvise anything to fill in the pause. I'm not implying anything here, I'm just telling you what I see.
Another Running Suit Guy appears and tells George to come along so they can prepare for his trip to America. George waves goodbye to all his "good friends" and walks off. Richard strolls into the shot and stands next to George's girlfriend. "Will it be alright?" she asks. "Of course it'll be alright," Richard says, immediately letting us know that things will soon go horribly wrong.