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Philadelphia Experiment, The

Film (1984). New World/Cinema Group/New Pictures/Douglas Curtis. Executive producer John Carpenter. Directed by Stewart Raffill. Written by William Gray, Michael Janover, based on a story by Wallace Bennett and Don Jakoby, based in turn on the purportedly nonfictional The Philadelphia Experiment (1979) by William I Moore and Charles Berlitz (see also George E Simpson). Cast includes Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco and Michael Paré. 101 minutes. Colour.

In 1943 a device to render warships invisible to radar is tested, but instead it throws an entire destroyer and crew temporarily forward in time, where two crew members fall through a Timeslip vortex into the 1984 Nevada desert. One of them (whose electromagnetic instability has been creating havoc) is later drawn back to 1943. The second, joined by a paradigmatic 1980s woman (Allen), undergoes the culture shock obligatory in all visiting-Alien and Time-Travel films, refuses to believe that Reagan is president, looks up his buddy (now elderly), finds the time vortex is getting worse, and winds up – after a brief detour to 1943 during which he saves the world – back in 1984.

The Philadelphia Experiment is silly as sf (having undergone many rewrites, including a script by Carpenter) but fun. While not as amusing as Raffill's earlier The Ice Pirates (1984), it is better than his appallingly sentimental Mac and Me (1988), a film about cute Aliens that appears to be an unacknowledged advertising campaign for Coca-Cola and McDonalds. [PN]

see also: Invisibility.


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 18:24 pm on 15 August 2022.