From Here to Obscurity: Killdozer
PLEASE NOTE: The movies reviewed in From Here to Obscurity have either never been given an official VHS or DVD release, have been released on VHS but are long out of print and very hard to find, or are readily available in some form but have generally gone unnoticed by most of the general public.
Killdozer is a movie whose title has become a punchline to many. It’s a hokey, sensationalistic title for a movie with a dopey premise – an alien force takes control of a massive bulldozer and proceeds to kill off the members of a construction crew for no particular reason whatsoever. Killdozer is the kind of title you can just throw out there amongst a group of movie fans and probably get a laugh or at the very least a double take. It’s a movie so many are aware of even if they haven’t seen it, which is most likely the case since the film has been all but completely out of circulation for about the last 20 years. That would explain why the only copies of the movie you’re likely to find are shoddy quality bootlegs. At least the shoddy picture quality now matches the shoddy quality of the picture to begin with.
Unfortunately, the title and the premise are the most entertaining aspects of Killdozer. Despite having a place in the bad movie vernacular, Killdozer is really a crushing bore of a film that never lives up to the cheesiness its title and premise promise. The film is very slow going, even more slow moving than the titular bulldozer itself. A monstrous bulldozer controlled by a malevolent force on a rampage could make for a convincing movie menace. Just imagine all the havoc it could wreak, all the destruction it could cause, and all the devastation that would be left in its wake. That’s not Killdozer. Envision a movie about a monstrous bulldozer controlled by a malevolent force that wanders around an island occasionally finding something worth knocking over and having to rely on the stupidity of others in order to run them over. That’s Killdozer.
Let’s use some simple human logic, shall we? If there’s a rampaging bulldozer chasing you then maybe you shouldn’t climb into a flimsy metal tube on the ground to get away. If there’s a rampaging bulldozer trying to run you over then maybe you shouldn’t just stand there waiting to get run over. And how the hell does that behemoth machine keep sneaking up on people? Bulldozers are some of the noisiest and slowest moving vehicles on the planet yet there are several occasions where it manages to ambush them. And worst of all, none of these scenes have an ounce of suspense or even succeed at being laughably bad. It’s just bad, boring and bad.
A glowing blue meteor falls to Earth, crashing onto this island 200 miles off the coast of Africa that a skeleton crew for an oil company is excavating. A young Robert Urich has a small role and by small role I mean he dies in the first 10 minutes after getting zapped by the meteor while it transfers its essence to the bulldozer. An animated blue glow accompanied by a faint humming sound transfers from the meteor to the blade of the bulldozer, which a dying Urich tells the foreman about. The foreman opts to keep it a secret, even after he tests the bulldozer and it briefly develops a mind of its own. Then one of the crew disobeys orders and takes the bulldozer out for some bulldozing only for it to go all Maximum Overdrive on them. Considering both the bulldozer’s and the movie’s utter lack of speed or intensity, maximum underdrive would probably be a more appropriate term.
And don’t expect to get even the slightest explanation or even some simple theorizing as to why this alien power is on a random, indiscriminant killing spree. That would require thought having been put into the story and I assure you that any sort of thought was one of the last things put into this movie.
Even at a scant 70 minutes, Killdozer is a mostly a tedious chore to watch. As for our characters, we got the recovering alcoholic foreman guy, the guy all the other guys like, the mechanic guy, the paranoid guy, and the token black guy. All are completely one-dimensional and for much of the movie’s first 30 minutes, these characters mostly just stand around with a bottle of booze discussing one of the five topics:
I hate the foreman.
Something weird is going on.
I’ll miss (dead character name).
How do we stop that thing?
That didn’t work so what do we do now?
The sole highlight of the movie is a sumo match between the bulldozer and this enormous digging machine but even that doesn’t amount to much. And then afterwards the bulldozer decides to take a 10-minute nap while the last survivors set up a trap right in front of the thing.
Oh, did I mention that the bulldozer is seemingly psychic too, anticipating what they’ll do before they do it? Well, it is and it does. Given this fact you’d think it would have caught on to the final plan to electrocute it. Nope. The bulldozer is nice enough to wait around doing nothing for 10 minutes while the last two survivors put set-up their trap just a few yards away from it and then the thing just treads right into it like a complete dope. Another problem with this scenario is that the thing is being completely powered by the alien force. It’s been established that there’s no fuel running through its system which leads me to assume it wouldn’t require a battery to operate it either so I don’t understand why zapping it’s electrical system would shut it down and kill the alien power source.
Again, the movie just plain sucks.
The 1970’s were a golden age for made-for-TV genre films but Killdozer is not gold, just a great big lump of rusting metal.
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