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"Once it gets inside, that's when the killin' starts".
on 19 August 2011
In the year 2078 on a distant mining planet called Sirius 6B, a decades long war has all but ravaged the planet. It seems that one of the groups designed something called "screamers", a blade-wielding, self-replicating race of killing machines that were designed to kill the enemy. Years after they were designed, they began to evolve and decided to kill all human beings on the planet. Col. Hendricksson (Peter Weller) is in command of one of the groups when he discovers that everybody on the planet has been betrayed and have no hope of returning to earth, he decides that he must risk his life and cross the baron wasteland and negotiate a peace treaty between the two pockets of survivors. He has no idea who he can trust, or even if they're human as the screamers continue to evolve.
Screamers was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick called Second Variety, and although quite a lot has been changed for "artistic purposes" it's still essentially the same story. The screenplay was written by Dan O'Bannon who can also boast having done the screenplay's for Alien, Dead and Buried, Return Of The Living Dead and Total Recall. It was competently directed by Canadian Christian Duguay, and although this should have been a stepping stone to doing bigger movies, it never really worked out and he mostly does tv movies now. Peter Weller, better known as Robocop is by far the best actor in the movie. He does a really good job as the leader of men, who finds himself betrayed by his government. The supporting cast all do decent jobs, apart from Weller's character the rest tend to be typical sci-fi movie stereotypes and the actors do their best.
Like most sci-fi films, the most interesting part of the movie is the antagonists which in this case is the screamers. They were initially small machines that would burrow underground, that would shoot out of the ground and slice off body parts from people. They have eventually evolved into much more advanced machines, leading to many tense and creepy scenes. There's no nudity unless you count a woman's back as nudity, there isn't much blood and gore which was a surprise considering the screamers all have blades. What the film has is a constant sense of dread, and we're left as much in the dark as Weller's character on who can be trusted. One of the film's bad points is some of the special effects, although some effects are done really well, there's just as many that look really shoddy and does take you out of the movie. Alot of reviewers also talk about it being a low budget movie, but it did have a $20,000,000 budget and I felt a better director may have done a little more with the money.
The picture quality is pretty decent, but apart from a pretty pointless trailer and filmographies there are no extras. Screamers isn't up there with the best sci-fi films around, it isn't even close to being the best adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. It is a very interesting film with a great story, and given a bigger budget with a more established cast and crew it could have been a classic. Then again Second Variety is rumoured to be the story that inspired The Terminator, that IS a classic and only had a $6,500,000 budget. If you're a sci-fi fan and haven't seen Screamers, it really is a very worthwhile, interesting and tense movie. 3.5 stars.