12:01 PM (1990)

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12:01 PM (1990)

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:32 pm

12:01 PM starring Kurtwood Smith * Directed by Jonathan Heap — 27m.

Anyone else here remember this intriguing and, ultimately horrifying short sci-fi film which first  played on the Showtime channel over 20 years ago? Yes, yes... it’s coming back to me, as if I had written this before.. as if in a recurring nightmare... Want to see it? Click here: 12:01 PM on Google. This is a rare option to watch the film; it’s hard to find on any visual medium; see also the end of this post  for the video.

This was the earliest filmed version of the short story by Richard Lupoff, later remade as a full length, more whimsical TV movie in 1993 and as the even more comedic Groundhog Day (1993). But, this early short version was as grim as it gets.  The central character is the mild, unassuming  Myron Castleman (Smith), a low-level office worker, introduced to us standing in the middle of a street intersection in some city. The time is just after noon, 12:01 PM.  He begins a routine which we will become accustomed to as the film progresses - walking to a nearby park, sitting down to eat his meager lunch, and so on. We find out that he has done this many times before - perhaps 30 or 40 times by the point at which the film begins.
A cosmic imbalance has apparently affected the entire universe - a time bounce. When time reaches the 1:00 PM mark, everything ‘bounces’ back to 12:01 PM and the hour begins again. This is a never-ending cycle, like a needle on a record always skipping back a bit. The catch is, no one else remembers or knows that this time bounce is happening. Only Myron, according to this story, is aware of the cosmic problem - only he retains his memory each time it happens. No real explanation is detailed as to why Myron is so unique; there’s mention of a theory regarding consciousness being a separate variable. Myron, of course, begins the film as worried & annoyed by the cosmic repetition and eventually becomes enraged, even maddened as the time loop continues. (There could have been scenes of Myron, as one possible, going on a killing rampage as the time loop drives him insane - and what does it matter if everything resets? -  but the film doesn’t go there; still, that possibility doesn’t go away, just one of the moral/ethical aspects to this premise that can drive much debate).  He finally reverts to a man of action, not just a bystander as he had been his entire previous life; but, to no avail - his doom, his damnation, is perhaps expected but oh-so-chilling.
12:01 PM shows what can be done in the short film format; it’s like an ultimate Twilight Zone episode. The film is compelling and memorable, and the ending is haunting, staying with you. The more you think about it - the entire concept and ramifications - the more frightening it becomes. This is the ultimate hell, isn’t it? What would a character like Myron be like after a 1,000 of these repetitions? A million? A billion? Is this a punishment for Myron for going through the motions in his normal previous life? Quite severe, quite horrific. This opens the door also to the proposal that a mind can retain infinite memory. This is also a commentary on the concept of immortality - this really underlines the positives of a brief, temporary life. I wonder, too, if there aren’t ‘other Myrons’ in other parts of the world, also retaining their memories, also doomed. This Myron has no knowledge of them and probably no way to reach any of them in the short hour that he has. When death is looked upon as the most attractive option, yet always unattainable, we’ve really entered a cosmic madhouse. This is perhaps not fully graspable by the human mind. All this in under half-an-hour of  extraordinary sci-fi. BoG's Score: 9.5 out of 10
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