- Movie Rating -

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

| August 3, 1984

I stand at ringside completely amused by unsolved urban legends, not at the legends themselves but by the people who turn it into a cottage industry.  Entire sections of bookstores have been devoted to the exploitation of Roswell, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the prophecies of Nostradamus, Madame Koi Koi and the legend of Blood Mary.  Similar territory has been explored with the case of The Philadelphia Experiment which holds just about as much water, so to speak.

Legend has it that in 1943, the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Eldridge was made invisible and was teleported from Philadelphia Pennsylvania to Norfolk, Virginia.  No records of this incident are known to exist, you should know, and the legend follows through the annals of history right down to the profit-making authors who write well-thumbed books about them.  So, here the legend has been turned into a science fiction movie so inept and so stupid that Madame Koi Koi could have made a cameo.

The movie follows the Navy destroyer as it a science experiment throws the ship into a time vortex on its way to God-knows-where.  At that moment, two sailors David (Michael Pare) and Jim (Bobby Di Cicco) jump overboard and end up somewhere in Nevada 40 years later at the exact moment that the same scientist from the original experiment is conducting a similar experiment that has caused an entire town to vanish from sight.  The sailors find themselves in the bizarre world of 1984 not only confused about what has happened but still connected to whatever cosmic energy was connected to the vortex which causes Jim to eventually vanish into thin air.

David, meanwhile, falls in love with a modern woman named Allison (Nancy Allen) who becomes his 1984 conduit so that he won’t have to wander around the 80s all by himself.  They fall in love but their relationship is complicated by the fact that they are four decades removed from one another.  She wants him to go back but they want to be in love so what does that mean for them?  Does he go back and wait four decades to date a child?  Does she go back with him and risk never being born?

This movie is a crazy box of stupidity.  Pare’s mission to get back is to jump into the vortex and catch the battleship so that he can stop the experiment before it starts never stopping to consider that the experiment has already started.  So, does that mean that he has to go back before the experiment and risk running into himself?  No, the movie never really answers that question nor any other logical question that you may have.  And trust me, when it is over, you’ll have plenty that the movie didn’t take the time to answer.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty