Scream Factory has become my go-to for the very best Blu-rays of cult, science fiction, and horror titles. Their double features are nothing short of a mixed bag of oddities that used to populate the video store shelves. Many of these films have been long forgotten, except by film enthusiasts and former video store clerks like myself. On February 23, 2016, Scream Factory will add a Double Feature Blu-ray of Millennium and R.O.T.O.R. to their catalog.
From one the the greatest movie summers of all time comes Millennium. If you experienced the summer of 1989, you probably remember it for Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Ghostbusters 2, and Lethal Weapon 2. Millennium debuted in late August and was quickly sentenced to death. Remember, in 1989 movies played for weeks, if not months! The bat and Indy were still going strong, not to mention the others packing them into the aisles. This little time travel story featuring Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd from the director of Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson) never stood a chance. If it weren’t for Starlog Magazine (remember that publication?), I, too, would have never heard of Millennium.
Let’s get one thing straight, Millennium is bad. It is not one of those films where it is so bad that it is good. So why push this release when there is a third Vincent Price Collection arriving this week? The ideas and story are what make Millennium the tiniest bit bearable. The premise of the film is that 1,000 years in the future, mankind has ruined the planet. The atmosphere, the land, and even our own bodies are in decay. We may have mastered technology, but we never found a way to save the planet. Scientists are sending teams of time travelers back to the past to kidnap people off of doomed airline flights. There is no danger of creating a time paradox, as these people will be dead in their own time line. It is their hope to re-populate the Earth with these souls from the past. A problem arrises when someone leaves behind a piece of future technology and it is discovered in our present.
The film is told from two different perspectives. The first is through safety investigator, Bill Smith’s (Kris Kristofferson) eyes. He arrives at a doomed crash and discovers a strange piece of technology. Before he can report it, he is stunned and it is stolen from him by Louise (Cheryl Ladd), one of the time travelers. The story then flips and we see how everything unfolded for the device and how these two characters meet twice for the first time through their different time lines. Where the film falls apart is in the casting of both Cheryl Ladd and Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson is incredibly dry and even by the film’s end you can’t believe in him delivering the simplest of lines. Ladd’s attempts at humor, with her fish out of water (girl out of time) dating techniques should be fun, but, perhaps because of Kristofferson, fall flat.
I’ve seen this film probably four or five times now and what gets me, is that there is a really good film screaming to get out. Time travelers stealing doomed airline passengers, all in an attempt to repopulate the Earth, is a great story. A time travel film that is told from two different perspectives in the same story, is sci-fi gold. Sadly, Millennium only teeters on these good, if not great, ideas.
The likes of Millennium and R.O.T.O.R. are two films that are lucky to be on DVD, let alone Blu-ray. I love that Scream Factory cranks out these films on this format. To be honest, Millennium and R.O.T.O.R. both look as if they were shot yesterday. I of course mean in picture quality. Special effects are another story, which now brings us to R.O.T.O.R.
I worked in a lot of video stores (at least five) and I have never heard of R.O.T.O.R. Released theatrically in 1987, the film is by Cullen Blaine. You have probably never heard of him, but he has some incredible IMDB credits on cartoons that we all know and love (find out which here). The premise is almost RoboCop (also released in 1987), however Blaine’s film is one of an engineer, Barrett Coldyron (Richard Gesswin), who is developing a Robot Police Officer called R.O.T.O.R. (Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research). It is his hope that one day R.O.T.O.R. will be judge, jury and executioner. This tool is for the future and is only in the developmental stages.
As luck would have it, the engineer’s backer wants R.O.T.O.R. on the streets in 60 days and remove Coldyron. As you can probably guess, R.O.T.O.R. goes online and starts killing innocents for minor traffic violations. From the immediate get-go, you can tell R.O.T.O.R. is going to be bad. The poster, which is blatantly ripped off from the original Mad Max, is cooler than the movie. However, when the the cast starts making movie references and asking what could possibly go wrong, you know that this film is heading only one way. Now for the first half of the film, it seems as if R.O.T.O.R. could be the ultimate cheese fest. Simple continuity errors run amok and our first victim blinks three times in the same shot as she lays there, dead. Our lead Coldyron, looks as if Ted Danson had sex with Donald Trump and was raised in Texas. Even the funny, self aware, office Robot looks as if he is bored with what is going on.
If you have spent any time behind the camera or you love movies, you’ll think, “hell, I can do better than this”. Which, sadly, is why you keep watching the film. There are long establishing shots throughout the film that really bump up the ninety minute run time. Where the cheese starts to stink is when R.O.T.O.R. starts killing people. It’s dull and not really any fun, not even in a grindhouse kind of way. There was one glimmering ounce of hope left and that is when Coldyron’s partner arrives who co-created R.O.T.O.R. She has a weird skunk head hairdo and looks as if she could rip R.O.T.O.R.’s arms off. Surprisingly or not, she does go toe to toe with R.O.T.O.R. Sadly for both her and us, this is not the greatest gladiatorial confrontation of all time.
Since Joel Hodgson is bringing back Mystery Science Theater 3000, I suggest R.O.T.O.R. for the re-launch. However, the jokes are almost too easy. Yet, I still want to hear Tom Servo and Crow riff the three Beach Boys references made in the board room scene.
Millennium / R.O.T.O.R. [Double Feature] arrives February 23, 2016. Order the film here.
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for February 16th, 2016.
Action/ Adventure/ Mystery
The Challenge (1982)
No Way Out (1987)
Pray For Death
Bleach Movies: The Unforgiven Double Feature
Fate / Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2we
Free! Eternal Summer: Season 2 + OVA – For the Future Premium Edition
Space Brothers 7
Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series
The Iron Giant
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
Bigfoot Vs. Zombies
Curse of the Faceless Man (1958)
Demonoid Blu-ray + DVD (1980)
The Embalmer / The Red Headed Corpse
The Executioner Part 2 / Frozen Scream
Voices From The Grave
Science Fiction/ Superhero
My Science Project – Blu-ray
The Vincent Price Collection III [Blu-ray]