August 31, 2013

Sci-Fi Invasion: Welcome to Blood City

I will not quit on you, Sci-Fi Invasion box set. No matter what kind of lame, bizarre, and boring junk you throw at me, I will keep coming back until the last movie is done. It may take some time, but I will get through. I just have to look at each movie as an opportunity, a new experience, and hopefully I will walk away with something. Good or bad, every movie adds to your experience. I know its been awhile, but i am back. This latest experience was not bad. Of course, that is comparatively speaking and does not really say all that much.

The movie is called Welcome to Blood City and it arrived way back in 1977. The first thing I should really say about it, is that the transfer in this set is not good at all. The quality is poor, which is not big of a deal as I expect that. The problem is that it is a zoomed in pan and scan version, many scenes have people's heads cut off and there is the occasional weird zoom move to catch the action that should have in a single frame.

The feels a little like a mash up of Westworld and The Prisoner to me. Not exactly like either one, but there is a feel to it that is undeniable to me. The movie brings together the science fiction and the western genres, but rather than weaving them together, it is more like a car crash. It is not a skilled mix, but a blunt combo that never quite pays off.

The movie opens on a busy city street in modern (well, modern for 1977), but before we do anything here, we get the credits and our protagonist (2001's Keir Dullea) wakes up in a dusty western setting. He is asked if remembers anything, he doesn't. Among the small group, the only thing they know is that there are cards in their pockets that tell them they are killers and how many people they have killed. Our main guy, we learn is named Lewis, does not look at his add, he rips it up and scatters it to the wind.

Before long they are jumped by some hillbillies who do some not so nice thins to them and their female companion. Fortunate for them, they are then found by the local law, Sheriff Fredlander (Jack Palance). He explains to them how the town works, how you sad as a slave and how you can become a citizen (who all wear black with red crosses on the shirts, front and back). Murder is sort of legal and can speed up the citizenship process. It is a complicated town full of backstabbing, shooting, and double crossing. To what end? There does not seem to be a real endgame here.

Well, while things in the town are shaking out, we cut to a couple of scientists watching the town form a variety of angles. They are watching these people, looking for things, one of those things happens to be the lady scientists developing affection for Lewis, even watching him make love. Yes, it is a little creepy. It is not so hidden a secret that they are looking for law enforcement recruits.

It is interesting that the movie winds up being an early experiment in virtual reality as a plot device. It is not a very elegant film but it does benefit from a solid lead performance from Keir Dullea. Jack Palance is also solid as the sheriff, he is always commanding when he is on the screen with his unique charisma.

Welcome to Blood City was directed Hungarian born Peter Sasdy. He has spent much of his career on television, but is notable for having helmed a few Hammer films, including Taste the Blood of Dracula with Christopher Lee and Countess Dracula with Ingrid Pitt.

This is no great movie, but it does have some good performances and really has moments that do entertain. I just wish the transfer I have was a bit better. Sure, the movie could have been better, but it is a low budget thing and for what it is, it really is not all that bad.

Mildly Recommended.

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