Cyborg 2087 (1966)
Hi all, Nate here. In the last 30 years there have been about ten thousand rip-off movies of the Terminator series, right? Yes, I know I'm right. But have you ever wondered if there was a movie that you could say that the Terminator ripped-off itself? No, you haven't wondered, don't lie to me. I, however, did wonder about such things (total lie) and searched high and low (random google link hunt) for the answer and I think I found it (or not). For those of you who have not seen any of the Terminator movies, here is a quick recap... What the hell is wrong with you? Go netflix these movies. Now. Especially the first one from 1984 with an unwrinkled Arnold, it's fantastic. Now.
We open in the future, specially the year 2087, where we see that two scientists (duct tape suspender guy and polyester pantsuit girl) are prepping a time travel capsule for a trip back to 1966. Just as they hit the “send” button, some Gubbmint goons bust in and arrest them, showing us that this future world is a totalitarian hot mess. Man, check those control panels with their preschool-level Dymo labeling and one-switch-for-all design, classic b-movie gold. And no, we never return to these people in the future so don't think too much about their lives or their hair or anything.
What's with all the mauve?
The milk tank-shaped capsule pops into existence in contemporary 1966 near a small Southern Californian village called Desert City, located on the arid outskirts of the LA Basin. The capsule's lone occupant is here to kidnap a scientist who is about to make a breakthrough in his research that will alter the future in drastic and terrible ways. The time-traveler is a big hulking man named Garth who is part man/part machine and all arrogant dickhead with superhuman strength, zero sense of humor, and no time (no time!) for tomfoolery or lollygagging of any sort. He's here to do his mission and do it quick and no one will get in his way without being zapped by his Temporary Paralysis Raygun (he can't kill anyone with screwing up the timeline, dontchaknow). To this end he injures a dog, steals a jeep, burglarizes a department store, forcibly enters a locked laboratory, and causes the whole town to get the willies about supposed invaders from Mars or Rooskie spies on the loose.
He never smiles.
His target scientist isn't at the lab, however, so Garth barges in and Vulcan mind-melds with his assistant, a sultry blonde named Sharon, to get her on his side. He confides in her his mission and his bleak future and how they have to stop the scientist from giving his invention to the Military Industrial Complex, who will use it to build Skynet and allow the machines to take over the world. Or something similar. Everyone in this movie seems to take the notion of time travel in stride, like it's just something to be expected in the near future, no one is very concerned about paradoxes or branching streams or any of that stuff the Captain Janeway kept fretting about.
Late for his appointment.
Manipulating Sharon's mind.
Sharon, with her flippy Jackie-O hair and her gravity-defying bra, totally buys Garth's story and the two of them go to see a doctor friend of hers who can help them. It seems that Garth is concerned that because his mission is running behind schedule the Future Gubbmint Secret Police of 2087 will be sending back “Tracers” to prevent him from completing his task. So this doctor guy has to dig out a transmitter doohicky thing from Garth's chest so that the Tracers can't track him. The cyborg make-up and prosthetics are predictably lousy, but that's not where the top lines on the budget sheet went.
Garth does his best Don Draper.
Like Luke Skywalker's arm!
And so we have a long, long 40 minutes of the Tracers, who are dudes in overalls with motorcycle cop helmets and laser pistols, running around town in the dead of night trying to track Garth on their beeping wrist watch compasses. All the while Garth and his new friends try and survive long enough for the scientist to get back from his dinner date in LA so he can kidnap him. Punches are thrown, padlocks are busted, dumb local cops are made fun of, one of the Tracers is fried by electricity, and a bunch of hotrod-n-poodleskirt kids show up to drop the needle on a record and dance a bit (really).
Dancing is a sin.
In the end, Garth has a final showdown with the last Tracer in an old abandoned ghost town nearby and kicks his ass dead in the dirt. He also discovers that his cold, calculating, computerized heart has fallen in love with Sharon, though he knows that they can never be together. Sharon is also smitten with the cyborg Garth, who she just met six hours ago, but that's just because he keeps messing with her brainwaves to do his bidding. The entire cyborg/human love angle is forced and annoying and I'm pissed at whatever check-writing studio executive made the director put this bit in, it totally hijacks the flow of the movie and doesn't make a damn lick of sense for these two characters.
Garth puts the last Tracer down.
Oh stop it.
Garth takes the scientist forward in time to 2087 to show him around the place a bit and impress upon him what a world-wide balls-up his invention caused. Once returned to 1966, the scientist sees the error of his ways and turns down the Army's request for his research, thus resetting the timeline for at least as long as it takes for that other guy up at Stanford to independently stumble upon the same test conclusions and patent his own version of the forbidden technology (cue Skynet). Any evidence of Garth and the Tracers and all that instantly disappears and no one remembers anything happened (except the scientist, he came back from the future and still has his memories huh?). Sharon is free now to marry her doctor friend and have pretty babies.
He better give his grant money back.
Ok, that's over. Was it a good movie? Ummm, sure, sure, lets go with that. It kept me interested for the most part (except for the teenage dance party bit) and it had a pretty good script. Though I have to admit I spent the entire movie looking hard for parallels with Cameron's Terminator, of which I found plenty. Not only is the basic concept of a cyborg traveling back in time to keep the future from going to hell similar, but there's quite a few little moments where you find yourself pointing at the screen and saying, “Hey, Kyle Reese did that!”. And no, I'm not going to give you any more examples, watch the movie yourself you lazy schlub.
Karen Steele played Sharon (I know, right?).
Yes, Michael Rinnie as Garth was once Klaatu.
Written in April 2015 by Nathan Decker.
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