Friday, 28 June 2013

Friday Night Film: The Power

I can remember seeing ‘The Power’ on a Saturday night in the early eighties, not at one am or anything daft like that, but at eight o’clock, prime time, BBC1. It was a very different world back then. It’s a strange, funny, semi- psychedelic film – a crazy, colourful collision of ‘The Man From UNCLE’,  ‘North By Northwest’, ‘The Fury’, ‘Scanners’ and ‘Altered States’, i.e. pretty interesting.

George Hamilton, the cut price, Cuprinol coated Warren Beatty, stars as a bio-chemist who works in a team where one of the scientists obviously has telekinetic powers, but nobody is admitting it. Toys come to life; fairground rides go mad; a man is spun around in a centrifuge until his peepers pop out of his head; an illuminated sign starts making up messages, and the team gets smaller and smaller, knocked off one by one by an assailant with strange, secret powers.

The climax, in which Hamilton meets the killer and is subjected to a psychic attack is brilliant – the most metaphysical sequence in US science fiction cinema since ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ over ten years earlier. In his beleaguered mind, Hamilton is drowned, frozen, burned, thrown into space – his body disintegrates, his skeleton explodes and the atoms are scattered across the universe. It’s superbly done. Hamilton, however, has latent powers of his own and, in order to survive, suddenly unleashes them with deadly consequences, making for a literally heart-stopping climax.

It’s a brilliant way to end a film that drags in parts and can’t really decide whether it’s a conspiracy thriller or a psychedelic fantasy - if the whole film was like the last ten minutes it would now be an undisputed classic of pop art sixties cinema, a sci fi Hitchcock – as it is, however, it fits into this particular series of curios, oddities and also rans very nicely indeed.      

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