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Countdown to Halloween: Cyborg 2087 (1966)

Updated: Apr 27, 2019



WHY I'VE NEVER SEEN IT

Cyborg 2087 is another movie I had never heard of. However, it introduces into this year’s Countdown to Halloween a previously unmentioned purpose for buying it…


WHY I BOUGHT IT

…it was on sale for a really good price through one of Kino Lorber’s big sales. They have some good sales and when Blu-rays fall under $10, I’m more likely to purchase something with which I’m unfamiliar.


WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT

Probably because of its title, Cyborg 2087 made me think of The Six Million Dollar Man (which was based on the 1972 novel, "Cyborg," by Martin Caidin.) In the movie, Michael Rennie plays a human/machine hybrid (Garth A7) just like on TV, Lee Majors played Steve Austin. Any similarity stops there. What I didn’t anticipate was that the plot of the movie would so eerily predate The Terminator, made 18 years later: a good cyborg arrives from the future to stop the scientific advancement that will bring the downfall of society; and, he’s followed back through time by two bad cyborgs attempting to prevent his mission from succeeding.


Cyborg 2087 was written by Arthur C. Pierce, who was supposedly not terribly original with his screenplays. Wikipedia says that The Cosmic Man (1959) used many of the same ideas as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and that Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) exploited The Time Machine (1960). It’s either ironic that he wrote an original story that would become so popular two decades later, or there’s another movie preceding Cyborg 2087 from which Pierce, and later James Cameron, borrowed. Whatever the case, it’s a terrific story, just not one that’s particularly well executed here.


Cyborg 2087 has the look and feel of a TV series, particularly since much of the action for a potentially exciting science fiction climax takes place in… an old western ghost town. That must have been a budgetary restriction, as was the costuming, which evokes Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). This is not a surprise because Cyborg 2087 is one of nine low budget movies produced by United Pictures Corporation between 1966 and 1970 that were intended for television distribution, but received theatrical release. The other films include Castle of Evil, Destination Inner Space, and Dimension 5, all released in 1966.


None of this is meant to imply that Cyborg 2087 is not a fun film. I enjoy the score by Paul Dunlap, although it becomes repetitive. I enjoy Rennie as Garth A7. He was probably 57 years old when he made the film and it sure looks like he did his own stunts. I enjoy the 60’s-ness of it all. The story isn’t so action-packed or suspenseful that it can’t stop to feature the latest dance moves. It’s also refreshing that, unlike in The Terminator, Garth A7 doesn’t have to waste time getting his allies to believe why he’s there. He simply puts the same headgear on Dr. Sharon Mason (Karen Steele) that was used to experiment on a monkey, and he’s able to synchronize their thoughts. Schwarzeneggar should have thought of that!

Written by Arthur C. Pierce Directed by Franklin Adreon Starring Michael Rennie, Karen Steele, Wendell Corey, Warren Stevens, Eduard Franz Released October, 1966 RT 86 min. Home Video Kino Lorber Classics (Blu-ray)

ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN


We all have them... stacks of movies we've purchased, but never watched; or, movies on the DVR, filling them to capacity. This year for the annual Countdown to Halloween, I'm going to make a dent in my "stack," watching one movie a day for the month of October that I've never seen, then writing about it.