Review: The Terminal Man

the terminal manI hadn’t seen Mike Hodges’ somewhat exceptional The Terminal Man for over 40 years, so naturally, that film I derided that long ago for its awful TV edit was quite the gloomy, rewarding surprise as a revisit a day ago as a complete film. As a kid, I can recall vividly the scene where George Segal, wearing a messy blond wig, white suit and whiter shoes was beating a large triangular-headed shiny metal robot to “death” and how it made me laugh as I retold the scene to a few amused school friends.

As you can guess, I want to kick my younger self a bit now (not too hard, though) because it’s one of a number of haunting images the film has and it comes a few minutes after a shocking murder mostly clipped from the TV edit. Initially to be directed by its author, Michael Crichton (who the studio felt was changing his own novel too much for the film), Hodges was given the task of getting it into the depressing, downbeat sci-fi thriller it turned out to be, writing and directing the project himself. Amusingly, I came into the film as a fan of The Andromeda Strain. The film version of that had me go take the book from the the library that past summer and I blew through it a few times (it’s a fast, tense read and took under a day to blaze through non-stop the first time). So I didn’t get the less conventional manner in which some of The Terminal Man was structured. Well, the edited network version didn’t help much, that’s for sure.

terminal_man_ver3That initial derision from my younger self was also a definite case of being too young to grasp the film’s tone and my only exposure to Segal’s work being a few comedic and lighter performances. Seeing the film now reveals the range and rage on display, or an actor fully in charge of the character he’s inhabiting. As Harry Benson, a computer scientist prone to anger and seizures, he goes through an experimental surgery that has a tiny computer hooked into his brain to keep things under control.

Guess what? The early predictions of a successful recovery by his smug doctors? Yeah, they’re rendered into obsolescence when Harry decides to stop taking his meds and escapes from the hospital with the help of his girlfriend (Jill Clayburgh) who has no idea Harry’s implanted computer (which she has no clue about) is going to misfire quite badly. There’s murder and mayhem to follow, but the film doesn’t go to places it doesn’t need to outside of telling its particular tale, clocking in at a lean 107 minutes before it ends.

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Film Review: Memory Lane

Memory Lane MPPacking in a compelling story that’s part thriller and murder mystery with a supernatural bent into seventy minutes is a tricky thing to do well. Nevertheless, Memory Lane is one of those odd yet impressive little indie films deserving of a wider audience. Director Shawn Holmes gets some decent mileage from his ridiculously small budget of $300, making a flawed yet powerful, emotion packed ride. While the film has echoes of Memento, Flatliners and oddly enough, Groundhog Day, that small amount of money spent doesn’t exactly buy you always stellar acting or prime locations to shoot in.

The cast of eager unknowns does what they can with the melodramatic material, but some are better than others in conveying the dense but compact script. The brief running time means some plot points get slimmed down or booted in the logic balls to make way for story advancement with the clock ticking away. But if you go in with no expectations, you may end up enjoying this one a lot more than you thought. When Nick (Michael Guy Allen), a PTSD afflicted Afghanistan veteran decides to end his life after his girlfriend Kayla (Meg Braden) takes hers, he sees a vision of what looks like her being murdered. Brought back to life by some friends, Nick realizes he “needs” to die again and again in order to find out what actually happened to the love of his life… Continue reading

Memory Lane Trailer: Be Still, My Beating Heart (Once More)


 

Question of the day (or at least the very second you’re reading this): Would you kill yourself (and a few times at that) in order to solve the murder of someone you love? That’s the somewhat shocking premise of Memory Lane, a thriller coming to Blu-Ray/DVD on March 24, 2015 courtesy of MVD Visual and Wild Eye Releasing.

Memory Lane MP
 

How’s this for a plot:

“When PTSD-plagued war vet Nick returns home and finds that his finance Kayla has committed suicide, he decides to take his own life, but what he sees in flashbacks moments before he is resuscitated leads him to believe Kayla was murdered. Now Nick must travel back and forth between our world and the afterlife in a search of her killer – but to do it, he will need to die over and over again.”

Memory Lane has already been compared to films such as Memento, Primer and Pi, and that’s some pretty decent company, I’d say. Of course, I’d probably add in references to everything from Flatliners, Jacob’s Ladder and Groundhog Day (minus the humor, of course), but I haven’t yet seen this flick. I want to, though. The premise is intriguing enough to get me to want to sit down with this from start to finish, something not a lot of modern horror-like films do.

Blackhat Trailer: Time For Paranoid Mann to Make An Appearance…


 
Just what we needed, yet another reason to hate computers, the internet and hell, anything tech-like that you push a button on that does something useful. Well, it’s Michael Mann behind the camera, so that means the film will be dense and interesting for sure. My problem is Hollywood blows the hacking thing badly every time they try, no matter who makes a movie or TV show. Hell, if computers all made those funky noises like they do in these films and shows when something weird is going on, we’d all know when someone was poking around in our private stuff. Anyway, Blackhat is out in February, provided the world doesn’t end thanks to evil hackers in some unnamed country taking down the internet and stealing all your money so you can’t afford the cost of a movie ticket. Yaaaaah! Stupid internet.