Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) (part 6 of 7)

We cut to the back of a really old guy’s head as he’s on the phone, yelling at Jameson. “Why am I paying you all this money for security?” Which is the first sensible question anyone’s asked in this whole worthless movie. Even though we don’t see his face, we find out that he’s the mysterious “Mr. Walker” of Walker Industries. Naturally, Mr. Walker doesn’t want “that tape” to get into “the wrong hands”. So, wait a second. Are we really supposed to believe Richard smuggled the videotape about cloning out of Clonus? That’s, in a word, impossible. We never saw him carrying it, and he certainly doesn’t have any pockets that could possibly hold something that big.

But, smuggle the tape out he did, because in the next scene, Jake, Older Richard, Younger Richard, and Rick are all watching it. When the video finishes, Older Richard tells Younger Richard to get up and lift up his shirt. This immediately brought to mind that gay gigolo scenario I mentioned earlier, but instead it turns out that Younger Richard has a big brown birthmark about the size of Texas just below his nipple. “It’s true,” Older Richard says, “He is a clone, my clone!” He lifts his own shirt, exposing a similar birthmark. You know, I never knew that the size and placement of birthmarks on a person were genetically determined. Huh. I guess you learn something new every day.

Caption contributed by Albert

Older Richard. Not to be confused with Richard the Lionhearted, Pool Hall Richard, or Little Richard.

Caption contributed by Albert

Yet another entry on the big list of Things I Never Needed to See in My Life.

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Rick feels it’s a good time to weigh in with some wise commentary of his own. “That means that someone took a piece of you… and created a duplicate!” Thanks for keeping up, Rick. The actor playing Rick, by the way, is astoundingly wooden. Honestly, if they had instead taken a mannequin and propped it up in different places for different shots and had the boom operator yelling Rick’s lines from off-screen, most people wouldn’t have noticed the difference.

Jake wants to know more about Clonus. (Didn’t he just watch the damn tape explaining the whole thing?) He asks if everyone on Clonus is a clone. “No,” Younger Richard says, “They’re all my friends!” [?] Rick asks Younger Richard where Clonus is. Younger Richard, giving every muscle in his face a tremendous workout, spits out “I don’t know… I’m con-fuuuused!!”

Older Richard guesses that the people behind Clonus might be looking for Younger Richard. Yeah, you’d think so, huh? Meanwhile, Jake theorizes that the tape could “blow the lid off of everything!” I’m sure glad these two are on the case. Jake offers to take the tape home, because he knows “exactly where to keep it”. Despite the fact that no one in this room has known Jake for more than an hour or so, they all just sort of nod and go along with this.

Older Richard tells Rick that he wants to meet with “Jeff” and discuss Clonus. Jake asks if Jeff is “the Jeff Knight?” Yes, that’s right. Richard Knight just happens to be the brother of Senator Jeff Knight, the guy played by Peter Graves who was running for president in the opening scene. “That’s very interesting,” Jake says. Yes, and very convenient, too.

Older Richard leaves to go to meet with Senator Knight. For some reason, Jake hitches a ride along with him. Maybe Older Richard is going to drop him off at a bingo game on the way, who knows. After they leave, Rick tries to comfort Younger Richard, who just runs away and buries his face in a curtain. Eventually, he turns around with patently fake tears and says, “This isn’t my world! I’m so alone here!” Then why did you leave Clonus in the first place, you moron?

Meanwhile, back home at Clonus, Lena is getting slapped around by Nelson. He and Jameson ask her again where Richard went. When she says she doesn’t know, Nelson pulls out some kind of machine. When Lena sees it, she begins to panic and scream. Nelson tapes some sensors to her wrists and (of course) right in the middle of her cleavage. She pleads with them not to do this. “Look,” Jameson says with an evil smile, “She remembers something.” The implication is that this machine has some relevance to something Lena experienced in the past, but what that might be is left to our imaginations.

We cut to a dock, where Jeff Knight comes running down some steps. Peter Graves is wearing very short shorts in this scene, which is wrong in too many ways to list. He greets his brother Richard and they walk down the pier. He apologizes for being late, what with that whole “running for president” thing and all.

They discuss the Clonus situation. Jeff grills Richard, asking where the clone is, and also where the videotape is. Richard quickly picks up on this, pointing out that he never even mentioned a tape in the first place. Now, Jeff is supposed to be a career politician running for president, but when backed into a corner like this, the best he can come up with is, “Well, I just assumed, everything’s on tape today, isn’t it?” Yep, this guy is going to make one hell of a president, I assure you.

Richard deduces that Jeff knows something. “There is such a project,” Jeff admits, but it’s “still in the experimental stage.” If by “experimental stage” he means that it’s producing actual fully-grown human clones, then yes, that’s absolutely right.

Jeff tells Richard that he’s “sitting on a keg of dynamite” because he knows about Clonus. Some people pass by (actually, just one guy), so the two men step onto the senator’s nearby sailboat to talk privately. Boy, you’d think a senator running for president could afford a slightly bigger boat than this. And while we’re on the subject, where exactly is the Secret Service during all of this?

Caption contributed by Albert

“You ever seen a grown man in hot pants, Joey?”

Jeff reveals to Richard that Clonus is all about organ transplants, which comes as a stunning revelation to anyone who didn’t know the title of the movie. Jeff delivers some lengthy exposition on the subject, but you know where this is going: Getting organ transplants is risky, blah blah blah, most bodies reject donor organs, blah blah blah, a clone is an exact genetic match, yadda yadda yadda. Jeff explains that only an elite few have their own clones.

Now, get ready for a titanic battle of wits as Jeff and Richard debate the ethical and moral issues surrounding cloning. I promise you, you haven’t heard arguments this persuasive since your fourth grade speech and debate class.

Richard, apparently not quite grasping the spare organ concept, accuses his brother of trying to start a “master race”. Uh, what? These are clones, not genetically altered superhumans. Jeff tries to explain his actions, asking, “What if Einstein, Churchill, or Roosevelt had lived for 200 years?” Hmm, so what if they had? It’s not like those guys did their best work in their later years.

Richard immediately Godwinizes the debate, asking what would’ve happened had Stalin or Hitler also lived for 200 years. Jeff, forgetting any notions of grammar, says, “Jesus, ever since we were little kids, you’ve been doing that knight on a crusade!” (I thought briefly that this might be a play on the last name of “Knight”, but nothing else in the movie comes anywhere near being that subtle.)

Richard points out that Clonus is murder, because the clones are held prisoner and they’ll die for their organs. He asks, “What about their human rights?” Jeff asserts, “Clones are not human, they’re things!” and adds, “If it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t exist!” Richard could rightly point out that a normal child wouldn’t exist either, if not for his parents getting together and reproducing. Instead, Richard throws out an argument appropriate for a film of this caliber: “You’re playing god!” I mean, you knew you were going to have hear that at some point, right?

Richard starts to take off, but is stopped in his tracks when Jeff admits the heart transplant he got two years ago was from his adult clone. Without it, he says, he wouldn’t be alive today. And his “new clone is just a baby.” He says he’s offering Richard “a gift certificate to life”, (but unfortunately, not the much more coveted “get out of jail free card”) and Richard’s turning his back on it. “Do you know the strings I had to pull to get you cloned?” Jeff explains that the cell used to clone Richard was taken thirty years ago during a physical without him knowing. Just out of curiosity, what possible advantage could there be to having a clone if you don’t even know about it?

Richard begins softening on his whole “Clonus is murder” stance, saying instead that he wants some time to think about it. Jeff warns him that there are people who will do anything to keep Clonus a secret. “People I can’t stop.” Richard replies, “Some of the things you said are well taken. Especially that last comment!” Yes, what he said! Jeff tells Richard to keep the clone at his house until Jeff can arrange to pick him up. As soon as Richard’s gone, Jeff picks up a phone (on his sailboat?) and asks for an operator.

We cut to Younger Richard running through corridors at Clonus. He flashes back to Lena saying, “Your ear is just like mine. I just noticed, noticed, noticed, noticed…” I have an echo, echo, echo… Richard climbs back down the ladder into the basement of Clonus, and finds his way back to frozen George in the plastic bag. George suddenly comes alive and says, “I’ll see you soon!” In case you hadn’t guessed, we’re in the middle of another B-movie staple, the Spooky Dream Sequence™, which serves several purposes in a movie like this. First, it cheaply pads out the running time of the film by allowing the director to re-use footage from earlier in the movie. Also, it gives them a chance to arbitrarily insert “scary” imagery, which is especially useful when the plot doesn’t provide any.

In Richard’s dream, all the clones in the Ziploc bags start struggling to break through the plastic. Lena lies down on an operating table, and then from another angle, a medical-type saw is lowered down onto a fake forehead. Next, we get a charming shot of Lena screaming with blood flowing from her eyes and mouth. Naturally, at the end of this dream, Richard shoots straight up in bed. Apparently, someone came in while he was sleeping and sprayed water all over his face, because that certainly can’t be sweat.

Caption contributed by Albert

As it turns out, long-term exposure to films like this can have serious consequences.

He hears Older Richard has returned and is out in the living room. Rick asks Older Richard what Uncle Jeff had to say, but Older Richard is attempting to avoid the whole subject. It seems the thought of living a hundred years longer has some sort of appeal to him, because he’s now calling Younger Richard a “freak of nature” (agreed) and says whatever is going on is “nothing to get seriously concerned about”. You know, this is guy is really starting to talk sense.

Older Richard says that Rick wouldn’t understand because he’s young, and shares his unique philosophy on life.

Older Richard: You’re born, you run through life, you wear out… you die!
Rick: So?
Older Richard: So… Clonus!
Rick: I don’t get it.

Thanks again, Rick. However, Rick has guessed that Clonus is an organ bank and calls his father a murderer. Older Richard, however, has now seen the light and taken the Jeff Knight position on things, asserting that it’s not really murder because Younger Richard is “not human. He’s a clone.” Upon hearing this, Younger Richard bursts out of the hallway. Pointing at Older Richard, he yells, “No! I’m just like you are!” Then he screams, “You, alright? I learned it from watching you!” (Okay, I made up that last part.) Then he storms out of the house.

Caption contributed by Albert

“My child arrived just the other day / He came to the world in the usual way / But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay / He learned to walk while I was away / And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew / He’d say, ‘I’m gonna be like you, dad / You know I’m gonna be like you.'”

Rick chases after him and pins Younger Richard against his car, which happens to be a yellow Lotus. (Pity Adidas. Pity Old Milwaukee. Pity Lotus.) Younger Richard says that he just wants to go back to Clonus, and Rick, for some reason, says that he’ll help him go back. Does this make any sense? He’s going to go back to Clonus, where they’ll almost certainly put him in deep freeze? Where he’ll die once Older Richard needs some spare parts? Oh, well. Richard is the clone with “above-normal intelligence”, so I guess he knows best.

The two of them walk back to the house and find Older Richard standing on the doorstep. Rick demands that he help them, but Older Richard says there’s nothing he can do. However, Rick has cleverly formulated the perfect comeback. “Didn’t I hear you say just this morning that we’re all morally responsible for all of our acts?” This is a reference to that inane speech Older Richard was dictating earlier at the pool, and it instantly changes his mind. Wow, it works out so perfectly, it’s almost like he was writing that speech with this situation in mind. Older Richard lets them go, agreeing to “call the newspapers”.

After Rick and Younger Richard head off to Clonus, a Government-Style Goon™ drives up. He’s using a CB radio to talk to Mr. Walker on his phone. I’m not exactly sure how that setup is supposed to work, but whatever. Walker, whose face we still don’t see, wants to know where the videotape is, but the goon says that the clone and Rick weren’t carrying anything when they left. Walker says, “Knight must have it!” Um, given that you’re dealing with at least three guys named “Knight” here, you might want to be a little more specific. Walker tells the goon to follow Rick’s car.

The goon tails the yellow Lotus as they just happen to cruise past a big truck with the Dr. Pepper logo on it. (Add Dr. Pepper to the list of corporations that want to see every print of this filmed burned down to ash.) We get a shot of the truck driver speaking into his CB radio, but whatever he’s saying is covered up by the pipe organ on the soundtrack (What is this, The Omen?). I’m guessing that the guy driving the Dr. Pepper truck is also one of Walker’s goons, but he will never be referred to again.

The Lotus pulls up to some rocks, which are supposed to be the same rocks that Richard climbed over when escaping Clonus. Funny, I don’t recall seeing any kind of road or path leading up to them before. Richard says farewell to Rick, and takes off, finding his way back to Clonus. And there’s no certain death awaiting him, I’m so sure.

Multi-Part Article: Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979)

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