"Movie Magazine International" Review -- Air Date: Week Of 1/31/96

By Michael Marano

Hello, America!! This is Mad Professor Mike with the Headbanger Movie Review!! SCREAMERS, the new science fiction/horror movie set on a desolate, dying, snow covered planet littered with the rotting remains of an industrial culture...made me homesick for the town where I grew up, Buffalo, New York!! No kidding. I saw SCREAMERS with a buddy of mine from Buffalo who moved out here to Berkeley a few months ago. There was a scene where Peter Weller, RoboActor himself, is trudging across a wasteland of frozen slag heaps under the shadow of a crumbling factory. I nudged my buddy and said, "Hey, Gib! Doesn't that look like..." Gib cut me off. "... the Bethlehem Steel Mill. Right near the Niagara River." Old Gib and me started hankering for a bucket of chicken wings and a six pack of Genny Creame Ale, right then. Ahhh! How I miss the days when Sabres hockey games and nickel progressives in the Nickel City were the apex of my existence.

As for the movie, the parts of SCREAMERS that are good are really good. The parts of SCREAMERS that are bad are really, really bad. I enjoyed SCREAMERS, as a whole. But I can't deny that parts of the movie truly suck. SCREAMERS is based on Philip K. Dick's story, "Second Variety," and there are genuine flashes of Dickian paranoia and decay, such as our heroes' need to smoke specially treated cigarettes to neutralize the radioactive particles they're breathing. The premise of the movie, robot war machines get smart and reprogram themselves, is true to the story, and the film makers have turned this idea into a not very subtle Bosnia allegory, with emphasis on the gory.

Despite five or so scenes where characters do and say astonishingly stupid things to keep the plot going (i.e., soldier goes on point while listening to futuristic walkman with attached VR goggles), SCREAMERS is a good shot in the arm of big screen Sci Fi cheap thrills of the type I haven't had in years, with lots of cool special effects and a bitchin' battery of butt-kicking 'bots.

Besides. Upon reading the end credits, Gib and I figured out that SCREAMERS was, indeed, filmed within fifty miles of Buffalo. We got the warm fuzzies from that. On our headbanger scale of 1-4, SCREAMERS gets three headbangs.

Copyright 1996 Michael Marano

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