Monday, December 7, 2015

984: Prisoner of the Future - 1982

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Tibor Takacs isn't a household name.  He's not someone who has wide box office appeal, nor is he even somewhat well known of outside of his movie The Gate.  Tibor would not remain in the known-of light much after The Gate, he soon took to directing made for TV movies, and has pretyt much remained there ever since.  I first became aware of him with the 2003 film Rats, then the monumental Mansquito, then Ice Spiders.  Yes, we are talking about the SyFy channel with some of these.  Aw yeah.

984 is some sort of dystopian future scenario in the same vein as 1984 (obviously) and other similar works.  It's a short movie, low budget, and the actors aren't very well known.  Everything I can find tells me that this was originally meant to be the pilot for a TV series, and that would have been pretty weird.  I guess it could have changed, or been different, maybe kept some of the twists hidden for a while longer in the show, but I really can't imagine this movie going on for very much longer than it did.  At 76 minutes, it was still not the best pacing and tended to be very dialogue heavy.

Basically you have a story about a high level executive guy who one day gets captured by the evil government and taken to a political prison.  There he is assigned the name 984 and told he must confess his supposed sins.  He is most likely innocent, the movie never really shows us if he is actually guilty or not, but that's not the point.  The point is the supposed thrill of watching him as he suffers through the prison system.  He makes friends with some of the other prisoners, who encourage him in different ways.  Slowly he begins to understand the gravity of his situation and he has to face the evil government.

A TV show from 1967, The Prisoner, has an almost identical plot.  Actually, the plot is also pretty similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  In a way, a lot of innocent-man-in-jail things go the same way.  Remember that scene in Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls when he's inside the robot rhino?  Classic scene.

This movie was pretty slow, had a low budget and minimal set and budget.  It was the simplicity I normally like, but in the end it ultimately felt like it was too pointless.  This has a lot to do with the fact it was a TV show pilot, they were obviously going to have more stories, more character development, more explanation, etc, as the show went on - but it was cut short before that could happen.  Instead they just sewed on some quick ending that they probably spent all of two minutes figuring out, and called it a day.

It would've probably been better had they not made it into a movie at all, but why wouldn't they?  The bulk of it was shot, with another 2 days of shooting, finish it up and throw it on TV much in the same vein as Killings at Outpost Zeta.  This was back when there weren't like, a billion shows and movies that they were playing- finding stuff to put on was still a challenge, and this was cheap so why not right?

Kinda feels like given everything I shouldn't rate this.  I feel like it doesn't quite deserve a huge mark down as a movie, because it honestly had some potential at least.  But they put it out, and what's more, they then included it on my Sci Fi Invasion boxset.  So I guess I kinda have to say, in the end, it doesn't matter what the intention was, it only matters what the final product was - which was a movie that was too slow, not very interesting, and really bland. I give it a star.

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