Today’s feature is Killdozer, a 1974 film about a murderous possessed bulldozer.
Killdozer is based on a novella by noted science fiction and horror author Theodore Sturgeon, who also co-wrote the teleplay for the movie. The credit for the adaptation, however, is given to Herbert F. Solow, who was a production manager on Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, and also acted as the sole producer on the film.
The director on Killdozer was Jerry London, who worked on a variety of television shows, including The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and Hogan’s Heroes.
The cinematographer for the film was Terry K. Meade, who worked as a camera operator on Rio Bravo and The Last Picture Show, and shot a significant number of television movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Killdozer featured two primary editors: Fabien D. Tordjmann (Scream Blacula Scream, Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man) and Bud Hoffman (The Hellcats, Bigfoot, Night Gallery).
The effects work on Killdozer is credited to Albert Whitlock, who has a long list of film credits that spans back to the 1950s, and includes flicks like The Birds, Catch-22, Marnie, The Andromeda Strain, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Diamonds Are Forever, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sting, Exorcist II: The Heretic, High Anxiety, The Wiz, The Blues Brothers, The Thing, Dune, and Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
The cast for Killdozer includes Clint Walker (Small Soldiers, The Dirty Dozen), Carl Betz (Stalag 17, Birdman of Alcatraz), Robert Urich (Magnum Force, S.W.A.T.), James A. Watson, Jr. (Airplane II, The Organization), James Wainwright (Battletruck, The Survivors).
The plot to Killdozer is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A small construction crew on an island is terrorized when some strange spirit-like being takes over a large bulldozer, and goes on a killing rampage.
In 2004, a man named Marvin Heemeyer went on a rampage in Ganby, Colorado, in which he demolished a number of local buildings with an armored bulldozer. Since the footage of the incident hit the internet, both the bulldozer and the rampage have earned the nickname of “Killdozer.”
Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien mentioned his adoration for Killdozer during an interview with comedian Patton Oswalt, which exposed the movie to a new generation and audience.
Killdozer currently holds a 5.1 user rating on IMDb, along with a 34% audience score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Killdozer is, above all, a strange little movie. For a film with such a strange plot, you would assume that it wouldn’t take itself too seriously. However, there isn’t even a hint of self-awareness or comedy in this screenplay. Basically, this is a blue collar drama about a hazardous workplace, but with the twist that the hazard is a possessed bulldozer.
The eponymous “Killdozer” isn’t particularly intimidating: it is just a heavy piece of machinery that slowly moves of its own accord. In an attempt to make the machine a little more menacing, someone made the decision to overlay all of its appearances with discordant synthesizer music, which is one of the most annoying sounds you can imagine. I can understand the logic behind giving the “monster” of the film an audio cue, but boy was this an annoying way to pull that off.
Killdozer isn’t a movie you are just randomly going to bump into: you are only going to find it if you seek it out. So, is it worth the hunt to find it? Not really, if you ask me. Maximum Overdrive, which I covered some time ago, takes the concept of large machinery running amok and turns it into b-movie gold, with the help of Stephen King’s notorious cocaine habit of the 1980s. Killdozer feels like it has the nugget of a great b-movie, but tries a little too hard to pretend that it isn’t that. It is still entertaining, but not enough to go out of your way to dig up. Most of the amusement I got out of the flick came from the juxtaposition of the seriously-played drama and the ludicrous premise, which runs its course before too long. I will say that the sudden ending, in which the bulldozer just sort of stops operating (after many attempts to “kill” it) and the survivors leave on a freeze-frame, gave me a solid laugh. If you are a bad movie fan looking for a deep cut, give this one a shot. Otherwise, this one isn’t worth dirtying your hands or expending much time trying to get a hold of.