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USA 1984
Directed by
Stewart Rafill
102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

The Philadelphia Experiment

The Philadelphia Experiment is one of those films that over the years gathers a reputation more because of its cheesiness than any real merit, and in this case even that is largely because cult director John Carpenter’s name is attached to the project as executive producer.

The film is based on an urban legend about an event that supposedly occurred during a Naval test during WWII. The goal was to make a battleship invisible to enemy radar but something went wrong and nearly everyone on board was killed or injured. That’s the legend part. Charles Berlitz’s book on the subject gets extrapolated into a story about two of the original crew members (David Paré and Bobby Di Cicco) who get teleported to 1984 where brilliant scientist Dr. Longstreet (Eric Christmas) who devised the original experiment, and his cohorts are in the middle of an even bigger balls-up, this time having kicked off a chain reaction threatening the planet.

With an grossly inadequate budget, everything about the film is second-rate, from the script to the cast to the special effects. When it segues into a romantic sub-plot (enter Nancy Allen a familiar face in the 70s and 80s from films such as Carrie and Robocop) it simply goes off the rails and ends up in a welter of time-warp ludicrousness that it is so ham-fistedly realized that one can only conclude that the makers, realizing that they had failed to make a convincing sci-fi film, decided to go all out with a self-parodic mash-up. Either way the net result is the same, lame and sometimes, according to your sense of humour, laughable.




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