Director: Jack London

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I just caught the last half-hour of Killdozer on broadcast television. It was based on a story by a pal of mine, the late Ted Sturgeon. I first saw the whole thing when I was a youngster & it was a new film made-for-TV.

There were several surprisingly good television-horror movies in the early to mid 1970s such as Bad Ronald about a murderous child who lives in the walls; Richard Matheson's Trilogy of Terror with that devil-doll episode; another Matheson script Duel about being pursued across the desert by a killer in a really big truck; Don't Be Afraid of the Dark about yucky little creatures living under the house; How Awful About Allan wherein Anthony Perkins does what he does best (play a "sensitive" & possibly dangerous nut); Frankenstein: The True Story which followed the Mary Shelly novel more than any other version; Gargoyles which is a rather sympathetic treatment of weird monsters; & two Nightstalker movies which were far more serious & unsettling than the more jesting series thyat was spun out of the suprisingly good films.

I remember when Killdozer was first aired. In the week that followed just about everyone I knew was all excited about having seen it. At the time I loved the hell out of it, but that was so long ago I really didn't remember much but the general outline: A group of hardhat workers are doing land-clearing work on an island with a lot heavy equipment, including the bulldozer which strikes a meteor & becomes a living, thinking, unstoppable killing machine.

The killdozer has just enough physical possibilities of movement to convey animal-like sniffing & tracking skills & murderous foresight. When its lights come on as "eyes" the color is enough "off" to look eerie. The sound effects that give it its own alien sound are sufficiently weird to sustain a sense that it's an unearthly living machine. And even though it's just a bulldozer the cinemtographer is able to make it seem honestly strange.

Nothing will stop the slow, methodical killdozer until there are only two workers left, including Clint Walker who starred in a western series with a theme-song that began "Cheyenne, Cheyenne, where will you be camping tonight./ Loney man, Cheyenne, will your heart stay free & light?" Things had looked pretty bad for the last of the crew until (because by the clock it was time to wind the thing up) they quickly figured out an easy way to electrocute the killdozer.

So having just had my memory refreshed a bit, it still seems (judging by the last half hour alone) pretty entertaining, despite being a bit too pat & with pacing that plods along at the same pace as the killdozer. The acting is certainly better than today's direct-to-video B-horror. It's nice as a change of pace to see a cast playing exclusively working class nobodies struggling against the unknown instead of the usual Ken & Barbi hunk & babe characters; & the killdozer vs the human-operated heavy equipment has a whimsical dinosaur-war quality. In other words there are much worse films to waste your time on.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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