The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

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The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

Post  BoG on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:49 pm

Heard of the Manhattan Project?  Well, here's the even more radical Philadelphia Experiment. In 1943, a test was conducted on one of the U.S. ships to make it invisible to the enemy (Germany), i.e. to radar. Only a few were 'in the know' - all the Navy sailors were unaware of the nature of the experiment. Only, the experiment went one step further - the ship disappeared completely. Two of the sailors aboard (Michael Pare and Bobby DiCicco) jumped overboard when things started to go haywire. They fall through a time warp - yep, it's a time travel tale. This is the reverse of the earlier The Final Countdown (1980), in which an entire ship & crew go back to 1941. The two sailors in this one end up in the middle of the Nevada desert; it's only hours later that they find out when they are - in 1984 - from a modern woman (Nancy Allen) that they hook up with.
This film is based on the urban legend about the U.S. Battleship Eldridge, which was brought into Delaware Bay in 1943 to ostensibly conduct "Degaussing" experiments. This refers to the neutralization of magnetic lines, so that the ship would be invisible to underwater mines. As with such legends, the story expanded from there, until it includes the possible disappearance of the ship. In this film, one of the two sailors is ill and, while in a hospital room, he dematerializes. This leaves the one (Pare) on the run from modern military forces while a strange superstorm escalates - this is a direct effect of the time rift which has stayed open because the scientist in charge has started a new experiment in 1984. The remaining sailor seeks out his buddy, who had returned to 1943 and is now an old man, haunted by the events of 1943. He doesn't want to speak with his old friend, who must eventually save the day by returning to his old ship and turning off the generator.

Though this has a rather grisly moment near the conclusion - showing sailors halfway materialized in the ship's deck - it's mostly inoffensive, an old-fashioned and simplistic adventure. As to be expected, the better moments are when the two sailors are wandering in a rather alien landscape and later finding out that they are in the wrong time. Those moments all recall the old Twilight Zone episodes.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
There was a sequel in 1993, but none of the actors from this 1984 film returned. There was also a remake in 2012 for SyFy TV with Michael Pare.

Trivia Experiment: the sf/horror film playing on the TV in the diner and which shocks one of the sailors is Humanoids From the Deep (1980)
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