Killdozer (1974) a (very) belated review

I saw Killdozer exactly one time before yesterday.  Back when I first saw this film, I was an 8 year old boy and it aired for the first time in 1974 on television.  Despite the fact that thirty eight (OH MY GOD!!!!) years have since passed, I still had memories of this film.

When I got my DVR setup, I put the film under the que, to record whenever it might show up.  A couple of years passed and the film never did show up on any channels.  Then, a few days ago, I casually made a search of the film on Amazon and, to my surprise, the film was available as a “manufactured on demand” DVD via Universal.

After thirty eight years (CHRIST I’M OLD!!!), I had a chance to finally see this film from start to finish.

Would it live up to my childhood memories?  Would it still be the suspenseful film that eight year old enjoyed so much back then?

Frankly, I was expecting the worst.  I had a couple of memories of the film -three to be exact (including the ending)- but I couldn’t help but fear that this long-forgotten-by-most film might not have aged particularly well over time.

As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised.

No, Killdozer isn’t one of the best of the “machines gone homicidal” suspense sub-genre…I still feel the Steven Spielberg’s 1971 breakout movie (and probable influence to KilldozerDuel is the best of the lot there, but the movie is still quite entertaining.

Based on a short story (and teleplay) by noted sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon, the plot of Killdozer is simplicity itself:  On an island off the coast of Africa a group of six construction workers have been tasked with clearing a section of the island.  The group is led by Lloyd Kelly (Clint Walker, still as tall and massive as a mountain), a man who drives his workers perhaps a little too hard.  There is some resentment among his men, but nothing terribly serious until their main bulldozer rams a meteorite and Mack McCarthy (a very young Robert Urich in one of his earlier roles) is fatally burned by the radiation (or whatever) emitted by bulldozer slamming into the rock.

Things go from bad to worse quickly as the bulldozer begins operating on its own.  Isolated on this island, the construction crew rapidly comes to the realization that the bulldozer has a homicidal mind of its own and that they must somehow stop the machine before it kills them all.

As I said before, I came into watching Killdozer after all these years (whimper) fearing the worst.  I’ll grant you that modern audiences may find the pace of this film wanting.  Further, this being a TV movie there is virtually no gore (and not a single drop of blood) at all to be found.  Still, the implied brutality of various crew members’ deaths shocked me as a child (particularly the first person to actually fall to the “kill” dozer).

All in all, I’d recommend this film to those who, like me, have a fondness for these type of films and are forgiving toward the pace of films from the past.  Killdozer may not quite live up to Duel, but it is worth a look-see.