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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Parts: The Remake Horror

So the other night Niles and I were watching TV, and on comes a preview for the movie The Island. It shows a standard-issue antiseptic future with jumbotron TVs. People gather to see who is chosen by lottery to go to "the island". But it turns out that anyone who goes to the island is killed. The trailer says something about everyone being a clone, and there are many exciting scenes, and a man and a beautiful blonde, and that's about it.

So Niles and I said, wait a minute, that's pretty much the plot to Parts: The Clonus Horror, a 1979 movie that was so bad it was an MST3K episode.

In that movie, attractive young people are kept in some sort of perpetual summer camp, where they spend their days in sporting contests, kindergarten-level lectures, and being ministered to by "guides". They're all really dumb, except for one of the least attractive young men, who's just plain dumb. He gets together with an attractive young woman who's also just plain dumb, and they wonder dumbly about why things are.

Actually, the real purpose of the camp is to grow clones for replacement body parts. At some mysterious moment the clones are mature (or maybe just needed), and are frozen for future use. The chosen clone is given a party to send him on his way to sigh America!, which is where the departed clones are said to have gone. The lectures and guides constantly remind the clones that they're preparing themselves for sigh America!, "where good friends live".

One day our hero finds a beer can in a river, and has an epiphany. He questions everything he knows. Finally, he breaks into the OFF-LIMITS building of this TOP-SECRET operation, and makes his way to the Department of Backstory. There, despite having about a second-grade education, he finds a tape on the history of the CLANDESTINE outfit, figures out what to do with it, and comprehends the concepts of cloning and organ replacement. (We are left to speculate that the HIGHLY-ILLEGAL and S00PER-SEKRIT Clonus Corp. keeps these things lying around in their offices in case they need to show them to visiting VIPs, or put out a press release.)

Remembering to take the tape and some documents, he escapes from the HIGH-SECURITY Clonus compound (because the guards aren't very good shots, although he does get hit), and very shortly finds himself on a hill overlooking Los Angeles.

He flounders into the backyard of Keenan Wynn, who plays a washed-up muck-raking journalist named Jake Noble (subtle, eh?). Now in Seventies LA, having a grubby, bullet-riddled young man come crashing through your back fence, muttering about being cloned and needing desperately to "find my other part" has got to be at least a weekly occurrence. But Noble decides that, no, dagnabbit, there's something fishy going on here!

And so he helps our hero track down the man from whom he was cloned, a college professor who lives with his hairy, creepy son and writes speeches for his brother (played by Peter Graves, in a cameo lasting maybe five minutes, total), a senator running for President. Noble and the clone (New, this fall, on NBC!) have no trouble getting themselves a hearing, presumably because the professor recognizes his younger self in our pallid, lipless hero. The professor, who is presented as having great integrity, goes to ask his senator-brother about all this.

The senator tells him that the whole thing's out of his hands, and, hey, don't you want to live forever, and besides clones aren't real people anyway, so screw 'em. Professor Integrity swallows this with no effort whatsoever.

He goes back home and tells his dim, oily son that, naaah, they're not gonna help the clone, and in fact some people will be by to take him off their hands. The son, dull-witted though he is, objects to this, and drives the clone off in his bitchin' Charger to some remote point where he can break back in to the high-security operation (because, you see, he's worried about his girlfriend).
Unfortunately, when the clone ranger arrives back at Clonus he finds that his sweetie has been lobotomized for someone else's protection, which doesn't change her one bit. The last we see of him is his Sad Clown face in a giant-sized freezer baggie. This is a bit pointless, since we also see that his original, the professor, has been killed by Clonus minions, along with his son. So there's really no need to keep the parts anymore.

Jake Noble and his wife (who resemble the Lockhorns) are killed in mid-bicker by an explosion designed to eliminate all evidence of Clonus. But wily old Jake has made a copy and given it to a crusading journalist pal (Brown, from the Sun; no, really) who pops up to bedevil the Senator's next press conference. The End.

If you go to the movie connections, you do indeed see that the movie is a remake of Parts: The Clonus Horror. I don't see any common writing credits between them, however.

From the look of the trailer, it'll be a lot more exciting than Clonus.

I was briefly annoyed that this was going to be yet another remake. Can't Hollywood do an original movie anymore? And then I was embarrassed when Niles reminded me that I had recently said that if they wanted to remake something, why didn't they remake one of the MST movies that was worth salvaging. And this was the only MST movie where (at the beginning), I kind of wished Mike and the Bots would just shut up and let me watch.

On the IMDB comment boards for this movie, people have (rather stupidly) cried "Ripoff!", comparing The Island to The Matrix or Logan's Run. The thing which makes The Island *very* much like Clonus is the whole "island" thing, in which the lucky individuals get to go to the idyllic island.

Of course, one guy has it figured out:

Of course it sounds like a ripoff. That's because every single science fiction movie ever made has the exact same plot. In the future, society sucks and there's always a cute guy and a cute girl who find out the truth and then team up to either save society or escape from it.

Yeah, that's it.