Screamers

Tagged: Film

1. Film (1978); vt of L'Isola degli Uomini Pesce.

2. Film (1996). Triumph Films in association with Fuji Eight Co. Ltd and Fries Film Company presents an Allegro Films production. Directed by Christian Duguay. Written by Dan O'Bannon and Miguel Tejada-Flores, based on "Second Variety" (May 1953 Space Science Fiction) by Philip K Dick. Cast includes Roy Dupuis, Andy Lauer, Jennifer Rubin and Peter Weller. 104 minutes. Colour.

After civil war on a desolate colony world has left a legacy of self-modifying mines which have been upgrading themselves to the point where they can impersonate humans, a fractious group of survivors uneasily try to differentiate true humans from lethal mimics.

The least glossy, and thus both tonally and thematically the most authentic, of the films of Dick's work to date, this respectful disassembly of one of Dick's landmark early stories uses its own cheapness as a cognitive weapon, taunting the viewer to guess which of the underwritten characters, if any, are human. The much more expensive ending of O'Bannon's original version – in which the survivors escape to a supposedly Screamer-free colony, only to find it already infiltrated – was drastically scaled back, but in truth it matters little how the film ends, since the engaged viewer will already have enjoyed outguessing it with a series of more interesting Paranoid possibilities. Tejada-Flores wrote a belated DVD sequel, Screamers: The Hunting (2009), which sees the daughter of Weller's character seeking the truth about her father's fate (in the light of the first film's closing twist) as the Screamers continue to upgrade to further varieties; the production values are higher but the plot sillier, and the anti-radiation cigarettes (O'Bannon's most inspired invention) have quietly dropped from use. [NL]

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