Who’s in this?
Jack Palance as Frendlander one of the cowboy types with a lot of power and a funny accent. You know Palance from tons of stuff from Shane to Batman to just generally being kind of a loon in most things.
Keir Dullea as Lewis one of the people from the beach who ends taking advantage of whatever it is that’s going on here. You likely know him most as David Bowman from 2001.
Barry Morse as the supervisor. You may know him best as Lt. Gerard the policeman who chased the Fugitive on that show or as Victor on season one of Space 1999.
Chris Wiggins as scruffy and nasty cowboy Gellor. You likely know Wiggins most from Friday the 13th the series where he played Jack Marshak.
Samantha Eggar as Katherine, actually she plays both cowgirl and scientist. Eggar is perhaps most known for being in Doctor Doolittle and voicing Hera in Disney’s Hercules.
What’s this about?
Have you ever woke up on the beach with several strangers and you all wearing dingy uniforms? Oh and you don’t know how you go there, but you and the other strangers all committed some kind of crime. So you take off walking away from the beach. Then you find water only some red necks attack and rape the only female of your group and kill one of the guys in your new pack. Then the old cowboy guy from City Slickers shows up looking like a cowboy for the Red Cross and he runs off the rednecks and starts to take you to town. This may sound like a dream you’d have if you ate Mexican food too late into the evening, but it actually it’s the start of a rather odd yet semi-interesting film. So the group of ragged people from the beach are taken to an old west town that doesn’t totally look like the old west. More like an old west set with slightly out of place western types tossed in. Yeah and this weird thumping type music is tossed in here and there whether it fits or not. So pretty we learn that everyone here who is anyone is all about killing. Killing gives power, kill someone and you get their status and their bodyguards and if you kill 20 you become immortal which means no one else can kill you. Lewis gets all noble and says he won’t play these reindeer games or war games or cowboy antics or whatever it is. However when a goofy nerd guy tries to shoot him Lewis gets a hold of a gun that Katherine throws and fires back. He wins and goes from being drab cloth wearing dirtball to slick black hat wearing fancy pants type. Then it slows down there’s back and forth yacking. Katherine talks with Lewis, Frendlandor and Gellor both want the girl who came in with Lewis, Frendlandor kills Gellor and threatens Lewis, blah, blah, blah. Lewis begins to have glimpses of another life where he was a student maybe at a college although it must have been a real boring college because he just sits there rather than going to parties and having the real college life. Soon enough we learn that this isn’t real. Katherine the real one and others are running these people (who are wired up and laying down) through this game/test to see who is the strongest. However Lewis begins to have more and more recall (yes, he uses this term and yes I know what film this sounds kind of like) and the scientists types with their big glasses and bigger computer screens start freaking out. Katherine gets caught up in the power and doesn’t like how Lewis is getting away from the game and trying rationalize and talk sense with the other characters-how dare he. She starts changing situations. Other members of the staff say Lewis has proved himself and they try to bring him out and back into the real world. He comes out, sees other characters as their real selves after being killed in the game and he goes all bug eyed. Okay, some of them did look like they needed a bath, but Lewis goes all spazzy, runs around and eventually hooks the wires back to himself and goes back to cowboy land in his head and rides off. Roll the credits.
The positives-The overall plot had real potential and for the most part it stays interesting although the first half of the film is stronger. The cast is solid overall with Wiggins being the real standout for me playing a real sleeze ball which is against the more educated type he frequently played.
The negatives-I think the film shows it’s hand about the experiment part of the plot earlier than they needed to. That cut down on the mystery earlier than needed. Also the end plays out a bit on the sloppy side. Not saying I don’t like what happened, but the way it happened didn’t quite fit with the rest of the film.
A strange film but I’m glad I finally finished it. Worth seeing for fans of 70’s sci-fi and if you western/sci-fi you may like it as well.