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Someone at Universal thought it would be a good idea to make a show about a guy who can turn himself invisible. But, they made him a government agent, and made him mellow. Dr. Heywood Floyd, transported from the year 2001, assigns the ever cool and mellow Sam Casey to transport Murray from the MTM Show, from point A to point B. Oh there's also something about an unstable liquid. Anyway, Captain Stubing intends to doublecross our mellow hero and take off with ten million dollars. Then there's some scenes with Jim Stafford singing and driving a truck, Sam turning invisible and then finally a truck blowing up. Then we go into the fast paced world of raceing! There's the elusive Robert Denby and why he's elusive, we never find out. Dr. Floyd is harassed by his dentist and a woman named Cupcake plots and schemes. Sam and Buffalo Bill, as Stafford is known in this mishmash, throw some punches, drive some cars and thwart the machinations of the ever elusvie Robert Denby. Oh, and Abby is quite a gal. She's such a gal that she can view things in her lab and project her thoughts over space and time. Based on a story by H.G. Wells, and I think he's suing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This "film" is nothing more than two episodes of the short-lived
(actually, that's an understatement, considering the show lasted only
from Sept. 23-Oct. 28, 1976) NBC series, "Gemini Man," which was itself
simply a re-warmed version of David McCallum's "The Invisible Man,"
also a failure from the same network earlier that year.
In this program, Ben Murphy ("Being From Another Planet," "Alias Smith & Jones") plays "Sam Casey," an employee of Intersect (a government think-tank of some kind), who, because of an underwater explosion, and by using a special watch, has the power to become invisible -up to 15 minutes a day. This is based, very loosely, on something that H.G. (Homer Gump) Wells wrote-once.
Murphy's co-workers include Katherine Crawford as "Dr. Abby Lawrence," who serves no useful purpose other than to get in the way (or observe the proceedings on a large TV screen), and his boss, "Leonard Driscoll (played by William Sylvester, "Devil Doll," "Gorgo," "2001: A Space Odyssey)," who is also obsessed with the "elusive" Robert Denby.
First segment has an evil scientist (John Milford) trying to embezzle money for some reason by hiring the dimwitted Murphy to drive a semi full of explosive "tripaladene" (so named because it "triples vehicle mileage"), across the country.
During this silliness, he (and, unfortunately, the audience, as well) meets up with one-time minor league pop and country star, Jim Stafford ("Spiders And Snakes," "My Girl Bill," "Wildwood Weed"), typecast perfectly as a braid-dead, redneck trucker named "Buffalo Bill.
His introductory shouts of "Ah'm on t'hair! Ah'm on t'hair!" over his citizen's band radio bring back all of the horrible memories we thought had vanished with C.W. McCall, Cletus Maggard and all of the other idiots who populated the high point of the C.B. craze.
Later on, Richard Dysart (a decent actor who starred in "L.A. Law," and "Being There") makes a cameo appearance, but it doesn't do any good, although the conclusion of that part, when Milford is taken away and Sylvester's hair looks like Bill Murray's at the end of "Kingpin," is drop-dead (unintentionally) hilarious.
Part two features Murphy, posing as a pit crewman for the ever-annoying Stafford, who has miraculously become a stock car racer. Both work for Denby, who finally shows up in the form of Ed Nelson ("Teenage Caveman," "Night of the Blood Beast"), and is a villain who invents a radio that can blow things up, or something to that effect.
This half is lamely tied to the first by Murphy saying to Sylvester, "I understand you grew a mustache while I was away," and proves, if nothing else, that stock car racing was just as boring in 1976 as it is today.
Highlight comes as Stafford, attempting to perform during "Amatuer Night" at the Pit Stop Saloon, gets into a fight with a Robert Shaw look-a-like and a Margo Gortner clone. He later lets out an embarrassing series of whoops in a public restroom because he's allowed to drive a car that eventually explodes.
While all of this takes place, Crawford is watching, unemotionally, on a big TV screen from Intersect headquarters. There is NO explanation for this, and no practical demonstration on HOW there can be cameras at the various locations, but thinking about this too much can be mind-boggling, so I'll leave it at that.
The end has Stafford "singing" a "thank you for saving my life" song to Murphy, while Crawford continues to watch - this time in SLOW MOTION! This garbage should have been left in NBC's dumpster where it belonged, and only serves as an interesting episode for the smartly satirical cable program, "Mystery Science Theatre 3000."
Please, oh please, somebody help me...every time i watch this amazingly amusing and cheesy bit of dreck on MST3K, I can't help myself. I know I shouldn't bother, I know that the plot makes no sense and that everybody involved was probably on drugs...but every time i still find myself obsessing over that second half of the...err....movie! The first part is bad, granted; but at least the whole Triplodene(or however you spell that) does make a certain amount of sense. But when they string that second episode together with it, that part always leaves me scratching my head. WHY does the Baxter Electronics guy want to blow up his own race car? Does the oh-so-elusive Mr. Denby specialize in sabotage-for-hire? They never made that clear, or what Mr. Baxter was getting out of it. A big paycheck from foreign countries, perhaps, if he used the deuterium to sabotage our military craft? It makes me tremble when I think about how little that MST3K cut out - and that the ten minutes or so probably doesn't explain anything any better. Also, why would mechanics need to sneak the deuterium into the car in East Berlin when Mr. Baxter could have hired some unsavory mechanics to do it, since it was his car. Was this whole thing supposed to be a demonstration to representatives of foreign powers? Again, they never made that clear. That second part just gets me every time, because by golly no matter how many times i watch it I'm baffled. What is it all about?! And why must I obsess about it rather than just letting it go as two bad episodes of a terrible seventies t.v. series made into an awful film? I just don't get it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, ratings of less than three stars are usually reserved for movies
with obvious technical problems, like poor lighting or sound-sync
issues. But really, it's superfluous to give this "movie," which is
really just two (bad) episodes of a titanically idiotic television show
(badly) spliced together, any rating at all.
But you can have some fun with it. In fact, the more times you watch this movie with Mike and the Bots (episode 814, and one of their best), the more completely idiotic and unbelievable pieces you can pick out of the movie's paper-thin premise. Literally every single thing in this movie is done or happens for apparently no reason whatsoever. Characters behave as if they can see the camera and ham it up accordingly. The dialog is cliché after cliché. After repeated viewings, the idiocy becomes manifest and reaches a level of sublimity simply not found in ordinary stupid television. Really. It's almost difficult to believe that writers Leslie Stevens and Frank Telford thought their potential viewers could be so stupid.
For instance, consider the scene in which Sam Casey (Ben Murphy) pulls into a garage to have his brakes checked. No, the brakes weren't acting up. He apparently just thought his brakes needed to be checked. The mechanic ostensibly checks his brakes, but as Casey drives away, we get a shot of a dangling brake line (and in the process are presented with a factual error involving the way that brakes work on a big rig, but whatever) and Carl the mechanic looking sinister. Apparently, he's a bad guy.
But wait. We're supposed to believe that the evil Dr. Hale (idiotically riding in his chopper and very obviously following Casey the whole time) somehow knew that Casey was going to randomly stop at a random garage to randomly have his brakes checked, and somehow managed to plant a bad guy there in advance with instructions to surreptitiously cut the truck's brake line? There, you see, is the sublime stupidity. It boggles the mind.
Also beware of insipid idiot cracker Jim Stafford, doing his best to make men everywhere ashamed of men's clothing in general. Ugh.
Watch and enjoy, folks. Watch and enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 70s were a unique time in American history. On the plus side, you
have Star Wars, and some really fine rock and roll. On the minus side
were the gas crisis, and Riding with Death. This movie, which is, of
course, two BAD episodes of the failed Gemini Man TV series, was
quickly packaged and sent to theaters in an attempt to recoup some
money from this series. We are introduced to Sam Murphy...or is it Ben
Casey? Either way, same result: a cheesy 70s era actor trying to be
something hes not. Ben Murphy works for Intersect, a sort of poor mans
spy network. Murphy has a special power...the power to turn invisible
for short periods of time, as a result of some sort of accident. We get
to see Ben in action early in the film, as he takes on two men who try
to jump a doctor in the Intersect parking lot. We learn in the next
scene that these men are trying to steal the formula of a gas additive.
A brilliant plan is hatched, where Ben Murphy is tapped by William Sylvester(of Devil Doll and 2001 fame) to drive Dr. Hale(a Captain Stubbing lookalike) in a moving truck complete with bolt-hole about 35 miles or so to....somewhere. And the next day, the mission begins, slightly ahead of schedule. Murphys partner in crime, Abby Lawrence, arrives a few minutes after they leave, and finds out that the fuel additive is unstable by blowing up her Kleenex. She tries to report this, but is captured by some other 70s men, and put in a laundry bag. Dr. Hale tells Murphy to stop at another lab to pick up something indispensable, and laundry bags are taken in and out of the truck. And, what do you know, Dr. Hale and Abby have switched places, with Abby locked in the truck vault with the unstable highly explosive additive. After some attempted sabotage, and way too many scenes with the cracker Jim Stafford, Murphy finally figures out that hes been duped, which probably happens to him at least 30 times a day.
Well, using his awesome invisible powers, Murphy gets the drop on Dr. Hale, and is rewarded by being told that he's elusive as Robert Denby, a name that means absolutely nothing up to this point. In an extremely violent cut, we are thrown into the second part of this movie, which revolves around Bob Denby blowing up things. The jet plane I can understand, but his own race car??!? It boggles the mind. Anyway, Murphy is reunited with the cracker Stafford, who sings way too much in this portion of the film. Suffice to say, Ben Murphy wins the C-class race, and is able to get the car far enough away from the filmmakers to avoid blowing them up, which is our collective loss. Riding with Death will leave you on the edge of your seat, especially if you really have to use the bathroom. I give this fine television episode...I mean movie a big 1 out of 10. MST3K episode: 9 of 10
Certainly not. This, the Master Ninja stuff, and two Kolchak movies (Crackle of Death, and Demon & The Mummy) display the odd penchant for taking two bad episodes of a TV show and stitching them together into one crummy movie. The strategy behind this is the studio wants to save the good episodes for separate syndication, so whoever makes these movies takes the worst episodes and stitches them together. I'm old enough to have seen Gemini Man, and these _are_ the worst episodes of that series, which displayed a modicum of intelligence at the best of times. They deliberately pick out the worst episodes to save the best for syndication, and the result is this unwatchable crap.
Obviously, this grandly made for TV movie stars, well, the camera
mostly stays on Ben Murphy as Sam Casey; supposed Harvard grad who
gains awesome power to disappear, much like the audience's interest. I
thought Ben really stunk it up as Prof. McCadden in Being from Another
Planet , the only other film (than goodness!) I've seen him in, but
this one is less agonizing as say repeatedly rubbing your hand to a
bloody pulp on sharp coral. Honestly, this really cool title Riding
with Death is far from it, but watch it enough, it's actually so crappy
and bad that you just have to laugh!
What are you in store for? Well there's our Harvard alum trucking a highly volatile chemical, less than honorable doctor highly anal over patent papers, one really not so great gal Abby (nice tissue toss Abby!), spies doing bad deeds in front of corporate buildings or in restaurant parking lots, really hilarious amateur night, race car event in Ontario(?), less than helpful gas attendant, that elusive Robert Denby who likes to make things go kablooey!, Riding with Death is aptly named as your senses take in the stimuli and cry in horror. Also, Jim Stafford aka Buffalo Bill is the most stereotypical yokel who hootenannys and YEE-HA's at any chance, that he actually steals the spotlight from Ben Murphy (not that hard a task). Lots of mumbling, nonsensical plot, and you have yourself one laugher. Mike and the bots were right: what's the deal with New England journalism?
Like most folks, I suspect, I saw Riding with Death on MST3K. There's no question that it's a totally hackneyed, badly acted, horribly edited movie. But there's something about their attempt to splice together two separate episodes into a movie that moves me. They're incredibly clumsy in their attempt; mainly it consists of totally obvious voiceovers while the camera shows a shot of a truck or a landscape. Gene Roddenberry, whatever his flaws, was able to do this brilliantly in "The Menagerie." But watching the attempt in Riding with Death can be fun, and all the 70's stuff (e.g., fadeaway jerk handshake) is a blast. So I give it a 2, perhaps my first-ever non-1 for a Msted movie.
Way back in the evil, post-hallucinogenic '70s, the TV execs were trying to
figure out a way to make the kids tune in and turn on to NBC, and came up
with the series "Gemini Man", a series about a secret agent who can turn
invisible with the help of his special watch. The kids didn't find it
groovy, man, so it went to Nowhere-Ville.
What does that have to do with "Riding with Death"? Everything, man!
As a gasp of air before going under, the producers decided to not only take a couple of the show episodes and sew them together to make a movie, but did so with different characters in main parts, a five year gap between plots and Jim Stafford. Remember Jim - "I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes"... or cheesy TV movies.
And Ben Murphy... WHY stick with television after "Alias Smith and Jones"? Surely there are other movie projects to be made.... Wait, he starred in "Time Walker". Never mind, Ben.
As far as the '70s go, not every movie of that decade ages well, and fewer TV shows do, either. Therefore, a TV show that they try to make episodes into a movie with is double trouble. So, instead of "Riding with Death", watch "Then Came Bronson" instead. Michael Parks - Ben Murphy, what's the difference, anyway?
Two stars - in fond memory of the '70s, not of this flick.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was one of the best MST'ed movies ever. Two episodes of "The
Gemini Man" were pieced together to make this into a made for TV movie.
Horrible to watch but mesmerizing to see.
Ben Murphy stars as Sam Casey, a Harvard Law graduate and Jurist Doctorate. Why this make him part of a Gov't crime fighting agency is still up for grabs. While on a mission underwater he was near a nuclear explosion that made him invisible. NO problem for the govt, they give him a Seiko watch that can stabilize his DNA and keep him visible. Why his clothes disappear is also up for grabs.
Anywho, he has to protect a scientist who has a new fuel additive, blah blah blah, hillbilly gay trucker, blah blah blah, scientist was in on the deception, blah blah blah. I cant go on.. Its to painful
Long story short. After Ben saves the day, a one sentence link is established to join the second half of the story. It goes downhill from there.
Just don't watch it without Mike and the Bots. You were warned
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