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  Killdozer Heavy Plant Crushing
Year: 1974
Director: Jerry London
Stars: Clint Walker, Carl Betz, Neville Brand, James Wainwright, Robert Urich, James A. Watson Jr
Genre: Horror, Action, Science Fiction, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: From out of the depths of space, hurtles an asteroid on collision course with Planet Earth, containing something mysterious and powerful within it. Though it is not enormous, it does not burn up in the atmosphere and lands on an island off the coast of Africa which just so happens to be populated, though not by locals, by workers from The United States. They are clearing a site left during the Second World War and have a few days to do so before the relief ship arrives to return them to the mainland so are using a lot of heavy duty equipment to do so, including a large bulldozer that happens to uncover the meteorite that has crashed into the ground. And its presence is still contained within…

Killdozer was one of those ABC TV movies of the week that promised action and suspense of an evening and were exported abroad as schedule fillers to television stations around the world. Quite a few of these have stuck in the memory, in this case partly thanks to an American hard rock band of the eighties adopting the title for their name, and partly because despite the cool title the fact remained that a bulldozer was kind of easy to run away from given, as we see here, that it has an apparent top speed of five miles an hour. Therefore latterly some hilarity has latterly been garnered from the sequences where the machine gradually attacks its hapless victims.

Now, a bulldozer is an impressive piece of equipment for its ability to smash things up due for demolition, but it was accurate to observe the British public information films warning children away from building sites and farms were significantly more frightening than anything we saw in Killdozer. So there was not a drop of gore, though one character was killed by a glow from the meteorite (somehow) as the energy alien transferred its malevolent life force from that to the vehicle, but this aside when the workers were squashed the camera cut away tastefully, which was not so much what you wanted from a movie (or a TV movie) about an evil, possessed bulldozer.

Add to that the matter of there being an awful lot of talk in between the attacks and you had typical nineteen-seventies television cheese, though this did have a respected pedigree in that it was scripted from his novella by Theodore Sturgeon, the quasi-legendary science fiction author most famous for his quote that "Ninety percent of everything is crap". That was assuredly the issue with Killdozer, assuming you were entertained by shots of middle-aged character actors trying to get out of its way, led by strapping Clint Walker, the 1960s Superman who never was, playing the head of the demolition workers and with a drinking problem chucked in for good measure; others of the small cast included such stalwarts as Robert Urich and Neville Brand.

If this premise sounds familiar, it was probably because Stephen King lifted it for his eighties directorial debut (and directorial farewell) Maximum Overdrive, which went one better and had an alien intelligence affect every vehicle on the globe. That included the idea the trucks and cars needed humans to fill them up with fuel, but Sturgeon's teleplay decided not to bother with that sticking point and had the alien presence able to propel the bulldozer without any recourse to human assistance, or it seems any fuel at all - the characters think it will strand itself once it runs out, but that is not what happens. However, the low-key chat was worth sitting through to get to the action, where one man climbs inside a corrugated iron pipe to protect himself (er... nope) and another sits at the wheel of his stalled jeep for a good thirty seconds awaiting his doom as the titular monster putt-putts towards him when he could easily have got out and wandered off. At least Gil Melle's music produced that appropriately eerie seventies uncanny vibe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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