By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Who has the power?
Professor Jim Tanner (George Hamilton) is the head of a scientific research group who come to realize that one of their members has strong telekinetic powers and is slowly killing off the other members one-by-one by fantastic and bizarre means. It is up to Jim and his assistant Margery (Suzanne Pleshette) to find out who it is and try to put a stop to it before they become his next victim.
There are definite shades to Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel ‘And Then There Were None’ and in fact that title even gets mentioned here. Despite a pace that ebbs and flows Director Byron Haskin gives the proceedings a flashy and creative flair. Watching Jim getting attacked by toy soldiers in a display window is cool as is the part where he gets stranded in the middle of a desert. The ending features visuals of faces melting and skeletons dancing that reminded me a bit of the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I also enjoyed the scene showing an actual heart inside a man’s body getting squeezed and forcing it to stop.
The supporting cast is fabulous and almost of half of the film’s entertainment alone. Yvonne De Carlo is terrific in a brief, but fun bit as the tipsy wife of one of the victim’s. Gary Merrill is solid as a hard-bitten police detective and Aldo Ray is good as a menacing bad guy. Michael Rennie better known for his starring role in another sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still is effective here as the mysterious Arthur Nordlund, but my favorite of them all would have to Arthur O’Connell as the nervous and high-strung Henry Hallson. The look on his face after he is spun around at high speeds in a space compressor is probably the film’s best moment.
Where the film fails is that this mysterious person’s powers are much too broad with no limitations of any kind. I can handle the idea of telekinesis, but this guy can also make walls of buildings grow and make doorways disappear. He can even change the words on street lights to go from ‘Don’t Walk’ to ‘Don’t Run’. To me this made it seem too fabricated and far-fetched. Even in sci-fi there needs to be same perimeters and basis of logic of some kind and this film offers none. The fact that there is never any explanation given for how this person got these amazing powers, or what might have caused it makes it even weaker and hurts what is otherwise an interesting idea.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: February 21, 1968
Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes
Director: Byron Haskin
Available: DVD (Warner Archive)