Thursday, November 3, 2022

#2,856. Killdozer (1974) - Kino Lorber Releases


We open in outer space. A meteor has drifted from its orbit and plummets towards earth, eventually crashing onto the beach of a remote island.

Now, truth be told, that’s not how I originally thought Killdozer, a 1974 made-for-TV movie about a murderous bulldozer, would begin. But it certainly got my attention!

A team of workers is building an airstrip on the very island where the meteor landed. Under the watchful eye of foreman Lloyd Kelly (Clint Walker), the five-man crew relies on heavy machinery to get the job done. But when the always-reliable Mack (Robert Urich) attempts to move the mysterious meteor out of the way with his trusty D-9 bulldozer, an energy of some sort transfers from the space rock to the dozer, essentially bringing the big machine to life!

As Kelly and his crew, which also includes Dennis (Carl Betz), Chub (Neville Brand), Dutch (James Wainwright), and Beltran (James A. Watson, Jr.), are trying to figure out what has happened, the D-9 is getting down to business, killing everyone that dares to get in its way.

Directed by Jerry London, Killdozer has a lot in common with the sci-fi films of the 1950s, right down to the cheesy effects. Once it hits earth, the meteor looks like something out of 1958’s The Blob. As for the performances, they’re a mixed bag. I’m a fan of Clint Walker’s westerns, and in movies like Yellowstone Kelly and, especially, More Dead Than Alive, he was effective as the straight-laced hero. In Killdozer, he’s wooden. Whether being stern with his crew, getting angry at their lack of progress, or acting concerned for their safety, Walker’s tone remains the same throughout. The supporting players fare a little better, especially Neville Brand, whose Chub, the site’s mechanic, is the voice of reason; and Carl Betz is quite good as the enigmatic Dennis, a guy you’re never quite sure about.

The real star of Killdozer, though, is the rampaging D-9 bulldozer. Having already polished off one crewman, Kelly asks Chub to dismantle the D-9 and determine why it seems to have a mind of its own. Before Chub gets started, though, Beltran hops into the D-9 and takes off. Of course, he is not able to control it, and when the dozer finally comes to a stop, the radio has been destroyed and another person killed. Throughout the movie, the D-9 does everything from stalking the crew to starting avalanches, and despite its size, it moves pretty damn quickly.

It’s a silly premise, but it works because London and his cast play it 100% straight. And in this way, Killdozer is a nice homage to the sci-fi movies of old, when the goofy and unbelievable still managed to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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