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Thursday, April 30, 2015

THE TERMINAL MAN (1974)

With about ten features over three decades, Mike Hodges is like a cult director without portfolio. His following stems from a debut pic, the smashingly violent GET CARTER/’71, and an enjoyably camp flop, FLASH GORDON/’80, with its day-glo color scheme & pop score soundtrack from Queen. This entry, a forgotten adaptation of a lesser Michael Crichton novel, is a not so farfetched mind control cautionary tale with computer whiz George Segal hoping to control his ultra-violent seizures by having a computer chip implanted in his brain. He’s the Epileptic Serial Killer. Crichton gimmicks often run to ground without much plot to speak of. A weakness Hodges tries to finesse by vamping thru elongated brain surgery and needlessly extended psychological interviews, padding up what comes down to the simplest of chase films. Aware of just how thin this all is, he bunts, pulling out a Stanley Kubrickian production design with smooth, clinical surfaces, airless compositions, and the chilliest cast of characters imaginable. The main visual references are 2001/'68 and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE/'71, but you’ll spot prescient links to THE SHINING/’80. Odd, that film is six years in the future! Maybe not so strange, since Kubrick was a big Hodges fan, even helping to get the film a theatrical U.K. release after it sank without a trace Stateside. Did this film’s late rampage influence Kubrick on THE SHINING? See LINK to pick up the story. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-kaplan/encounters-with-mike-hodg_b_2932422.html

DOUBLE-BILL: This all sounds so intriguing, you wish the film were a little bit better. From the same era, try DEMON SEED/’77 which does a better job hitting many of the same buttons.

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