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PCR #409 (Vol. 9, No. 4) This edition is for the week of January 21--27, 2008.

The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part 6 áby Will Moriaty
The 80th Annual Academy Award Nominations áby Mike Smith
Pirates! Pirates! Pirates! áby Terence Nuzum
DVD Grindhouse: Parts: The Clonus Horror áby Andy Lalino
Book Review: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills áby Lisa Ciurro
FX ľ The Mike Herz Interview áby ED Tucker
Birthday Boy....New Furnishings....Politico....Rondo Awards....Masters of Horror....Heath Ledger áby Matt Drinnenberg
I've Got An Erection! .... The Anti-oscars .... The Name Is... .... Lost .... Passing On .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1969 Should Have Gone To... by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

DVD Grindhouse: Parts: The Clonus Horror

Warning! This review contains spoilers! If you're squeamish, read no further!

Wow, talk about a movie exceeding expectations...most "cloning" films I've seen throughout my life have been tipped toward the dull side, but here's an exception. In a storyline that was obviously ripped-off by the inferior 2005 dud The Island, Parts: The Clonus Horror is a groovy sci-fi tale largely set in a clandestine compound called - appropriately - Clonus. Clonus is a breeding facility for a large batch of clones who have been bred to provide exact duplicates of their host's internal organs, should they be needed. Most of the clones are placid, enjoying their carefree lifestyle, that is until one of them starts asking questions.

Why are they reported to a mysterious overlord when disobeying orders? Why are certain clone factions not allowed to fraternize? Why are they not allowed to ask too many questions?

All will be explained when - in a Logan's Run-style plot element - at a certain point in time the clones are taken to "america" - a land, they are told, that is a place where they will enjoy eternal happiness. In reality, however, "america", is a grotesque meat locker for clones who've had their organs removed! I have to say that the location, lighting, and production design of the "america" morgue-style environment is top-notch.

Two clones, Richard Knight Jr. (Timothy Donnelly) and Lena (Paulette Breen) grow suspicious of their constant surveillance, and team up in an effort to solve the puzzle of "america". Standing in their way is Dr. Jameson (Dick Sargent from Bewitched), the head of the Clonus research group. It's his every intention to keep the colony of clones as docile and under complete control as possible, which he effectively manages. He raises them like pasture cattle - keeps them fit, drugged, and serves them a false history of their origins.

Richard manages to break into the Clonus research facility, and steals a videotape (the now-extinct 3/4" format) which is proof of Clonus's existence. He escapes to the outside world (California) and falls into the hands of retired newspaper reporter Jake Noble (the great Keenan Wynn). The inquisitive Mr. Noble eventually tracks down Richard's host - Prof. Richard Knight - who is stunned to see a youthful duplicate of himself.

Much of the action now shifts from Clonus to a cat and mouse fight in the outside world. There's some juicy political intrigue too, with demigod Peter Graves playing Prof. Knight's brother, who's a politician running for president. He warns his brother to keep a lid on the top-secret Clonus project less they both wind up dead in some back alley, assassinated by government agents.

Parts: The Clonus Horror is pure, undistilled 1979, and is a study of great independent science-fiction filmmaking. Made on a shoestring budget of $350,000, director Robert Fiveson and crew pulled off a magnificent little production. The sequences set in the Clonus facility are outstanding, but once the action shifts to the world outside, the story and characterizations become flawed, sadly.

Keenan Wynn is always fun to watch, but his character really doesn't go anywhere, other than serve as a device to deliver Richard Jr. to his clone host. The whole Clonus conspiracy subplot isn't too hashed-out either, and I had a difficult time buying that Graves's character is a presidential candidate. Timothy Donnelly too is a dud as the hero.

In an interview with Fiveson on the DVD, it was amazing to hear how they benefited from corporate product placement, from everything to Addidas jogging suits (he erroneously referred to them as Nike during the interview!) to an Old Milwaukee beer can. I thought Fiveson created an effective "alternate universe" with the concept of "america", which to me seemed influenced by Westworld, Futureworld, and Logan's Run. The DVD contains a fun, almost tricky presentation menu reel for "america".

Kudos to Mondo Macabro for releasing not just a great movie, but also a pristine-looking transfer that would make a handsome addition to any Crazed Fanboy's DVD collection.

"Oddservations" is ©2008 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.