Thursday 11 December 2014

Worlds Unknown #6 - Killdozer!

Worlds Unknown #6, Killdozer cover
I do feel there can be no finer sight in the world than that of a homicidal bulldozer threatening to murder people for daring to defy it.

Let's be honest, we all like our construction equipment to have a bit of attitude.

And that can only mean one thing.


I first learnt of that mighty machine's existence when watching a TV movie about it, sometime in the mid-1970s but my other encounter with it was in the pages of Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic, where it featured as a back-up tale.

How I thrilled as it massacred man after man after man.

But, looking at it again, for the first time in roughly forty years, will it still hold the same charm for me?

It starts with a scene familiar to all James Cameron fans; a world where human beings are at war with killer machines possessed by an evil consciousness. Unlike the Terminator franchise, this war is in the distant past and, unlike the Terminator franchise, the human race develops a defence against the machines. A defence which gives us total victory.

Worlds Unknown #6, Killdozer
But that's not before one evil bit of consciousness escapes and survives, on an island, within the structure of a temple, for untold ages.

Sadly, when a team of workmen set out to demolish the temple, in order to start work on an airstrip, the evil consciousness takes over their bulldozer and starts to kill everyone off.

It's not just a tale of serial murder, it's also a tale of distrust; as the moment one man is killed, the workmen quickly turn against each other, blaming everyone except the obvious culprit.

What strikes me about this tale now is how angry everyone is. You do get the feeling that if they themselves could take possession of bulldozers, our cast of characters would all be going on a bit of a homicidal rampage themselves.

Worlds Unknown #6, Killdozer
To be honest, the bulldozer doesn't have any great personality - it's not like it has any means to express itself, apart from by killing people - and it doesn't seem to have a plan beyond killing people. So, the tale's not some sort of classic but it's harmlessly diverting and it's nicely drawn by Dick Ayers, with an uncredited but fairly obvious helping hand from John Romita.

Of course, that's the comic. I don't have a clue how the TV movie stands up after all this time. It is, however, up there with Snowbeast as one of the few TV movies that's lodged in my memory from my childhood, so it must have done something right.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember Killdozer via the TV movie and the POTA strip too. If I recall correctly the movie had an asteroid or something which contained an evil alien force which jumped into the bulldozer when it was struck during construction work on the island.

Brendan said...

Killdozer is on YouTube. In the interests of research (and rather than attend to more important things) I'm currently watching it and can confirm the asteroid opening a la John Carpenter's The Thing.

Can't tell you any more at this point as that's as far as I've got.

Brendan said...

Actually I think now The Thing had a spaceship plummeting in at the opening, but Killdozer's sort of the same idea, Maybe I'm confusing it with (the game) Tomb Raider 3. That really did have an asteroid - or a meteorite.

I'm starting to miss bits of Killdozer, so I'll stop waffling and return to my research.

Anonymous said...

Lacking Brendan's selfless dedication, I'm going to be a bit slack and go with memory, Steve, and say that I wasn't very impressed when I saw the film on tv as a kid back in...what, 76, 77..?

Mainly, it was the Terminator style opening that really lodged itself in my mind when I read Killdozer in POTA. Its the kind of thing that comics could do really well - even with a fairly average artist - but was hard to replicate on film before digital fx.

Mind you, I was also disappointed by the comic when I read it again at Diversions of the Groovy Kind a few years ago, and found the opening bit was only three pages long - my vague recollection was so much better. Still, on the plus side, I did get to see that cover finally.


Ant Master said...

I was fairly certain that Stephen King wrote It, and it revolved around a space borne alien clown....

Steve W. said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Brendan, you have shown dedication beyond the call of duty, in watching it.

Ant Master, I had it in my head that it was a Stephen King tale too. I think I must have got it mixed up with Christine.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of general goofiness around here today, I thought I might recommend Bulldozer by Iggy Pop, also on the U-tubes, a perfect sound-track for the Killdozer comic.

Brendan said...

Well, I made it.

I have to say that having recently watched some early original Planet of the Apes films - not to mention some Pertwee era Doctor Whos - the lurching, jarring sounds of the 'menace' held no (aesthetic) fear for me. The 'music' of many films of the era seems to have been scored by John Cage with a stylophone. Killdozer's audials were remarkably restrained, even subtle by comparison.

It's a simple, rather good idea, done without unnecessary fuss or padding.

I liked it. I liked it because its sparse characterisation, all-male cast and single-focus plot (indeed rather like The Thing, again) just seems right for the theme, and it was all very satisfactorily of its time. It made me come over all 70s, and all that was missing was an Aztec Bar and a cushion to hide behind.

Thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

I vaguely remember the TV movie, with Clint Walker, Carl Betz, Neville Brand, and James Wainwright. Several people who had read the original Ted Sturgeon story said the movie was a letdown.

"Duel," with Dennis Weaver as a motorist in a small car menaced by a tractor-trailer truck (i.e., lorry), was a huge hit. I suspect "Killdozer" was bought and filmed because ABC-TV was looking for something similar.

IIRC, Clint Walker was also in "Snowbeast," although I may have it confused with some other Bigfoot/Abominable Snowman movie.

Steve W. said...

Clint Walker. I'd totally forgotten about him. My main memory of him is him being in some sort of advert involving him shooting tin cans. I don't have a clue what he was advertising.

Anonymous said...

I never saw that advert, and I haven't been able to find it on YouTube.

Walker was very popular in the late 1950's, as the star of "Cheyenne." He was best known for TV Westerns, although he also played one of the convicts in "The Dirty Dozen."