CYBORG 2087 (1966).
Fifteen years after his iconic Klattu role in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Michael Rennie returned to the sci-fi genre for this decidedly pulpy, cut-rate effort, packed with familiar character actors. It's the sort of B-movie hokum that used to litter Saturday afternoon TV schedules, and despite all of its shoddy production values, flat acting, clichéd characters, wobbly time travel logic -- hell, they couldn't even keep the camera still in order to properly pull off a cheap-ass 'vanishing' effect -- it's still infinitely more entertaining than any of today's insipid reality programming... Garth (Rennie) is sent back in time, from 2087 to (then present-day) 1966, with an important mission -- stop a scientist's upcoming breakthrough in "Radio-Telepathy" from turning the future into a totalitarian shithole in which all free will has been destroyed. You see, Garth is a half-human, half-machine cyborg (which explains the blinky metal plate in his chest). After contending with an armed old codger near his landing zone and using super-strength to steal a more timely wardrobe, Garth locates his target, Professor Marx, who runs a rinky-dink research facility named "Future Industries," which consists of big banks of fake computers, a chimpanzee, plus pretty blonde associate Dr. Sharon Mason (Karen Steele, who began her career in the Oscar-winning MARTY but, by the mid-'60s, was relegated to playing one of "Mudd's Women" on STAR TREK). But evil, futuristic "Tracers" (who jog around town on foot, in TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET-style el cheapo garb) are also on Garth's trail, with a physician (FORBIDDEN PLANET's Warren Stevens) reluctantly helping him out and Sharon (who naturally falls for this suave time traveller) endangered. Scripter Arthur C. Pierce (DESTINATION INNER SPACE) sneaks in an admirable subtext about scientists' responsibility for their creations, but his slim story would've fit more comfortably into a hour-long OUTER LIMITS, instead of being stretched to 85 minutes. Director Franklin Adreon's pedestrian style betrays his '50s-TV roots (LASSIE, SEA HUNT), plus there's inexplicable padding galore, such the Doc's teenage daughter inviting some hep, hod rodding friends over to her house, with these Frankie & Annette flick rejects dancing in the living room while dad is secretly operating on this cyborg in the next room. Meanwhile, its 'big' finale consists of one long fistfight between cyborgs. Yawn! Poor, slumming Rennie brings the only class to this malarkey (the same year he was guest-starring on BATMAN, THE TIME TUNNEL and LOST IN SPACE), but playing an emotionless super-being isn't exactly an acting challenge. Co-stars include Wendell Corey as the local Sheriff, Adam Roarke as Deputy Dan, future ROLLERBALL-teammate John Beck plays one of the rowdy teens, plus Jo Ann Pflug (M*A*S*H's Lt. Dish, who's now a Born Again Southern society hostess) can be spotted as a technician-babe of the future.
© 2013 by Steven Puchalski.