Project X (1968) Poster


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PROJECT X, the granddaddy of the cyperpunk genre?
Maciste_Brother14 May 2003
I finally saw William Castle's PROJECT X the other night and I was surprised by the story-line. It reminded me a lot of JOHNNY MNEMONIC or THE MATRIX and the whole cyberpunk genre of films or books. PROJECT X is seriously outdated because of the FX and the boring and cheap production values, which makes this movie look like a standard 1960s TV movie. But the story itself screams William Gibson: it's about retrieving some memory from a spy (played by Christopher George) who's suffering from amnesia and who might have the information about Asia's attempt to destroy the West. The amnesia was artificially induced in the spy by someone in order to prevent the information from reaching the authorities in the West. When the film starts, the spy is incased in some coffin-like chamber and he's in suspended animation. Scientists revive the spy and try to get that memory from his amnesiac mind with a holographic device that can see inside the man's mind when he's sleeping. The scientists also recreate a 'virtual reality" setting that looks like something from the 1960s where the scientists hope the spy will be duped and eventually hand them the missing memory (the spy knows a lot about history, which is the explanation for the elaborate set-up. It's also cheaper this way. No expensive futuristic sets. LOL!). Of course, someone tries to botch the scientists attempt to save the world. The story is filled with details like biowarfare, overpopulation, infertility, etc. The identity of the spy is repeatedly changed by the scientists, who keep referring to these new virtual personalities of his as a MATRIX!

JOHNNY MNEMONIC is basically an unofficial remake of PROJECT X. In JOHNNY MNEMONIC, the whole world is suffering from some sort of condition called Nerve Attenuation Syndrome. Keanu Reeves has information implanted in his brain (which has a chip) that could cure NAS. Keanu got this implanted info in Beijing and he only has 24 hours to bring the vital info to the scientists in the US. William Gibson basically reworked the ideas found in PROJECT X and updated them for JOHNNY MNEMONIC. For instance, In JOHNNY MNEMONIC, the world is already suffering from something and the cure is from Asia. In PROJECT X, the threat is from Asia and it's some sort of virus/biochemical/nerve weapon. And the action in both stories are governed by some sort of limited timeline.

While watching the film, I had a vivid sense of deja vu. The whole idea of advanced technology capable of controlling memories, and the "reality vs virtual reality" aspect seen in PROJECT X are the basic ingredients of the whole cyberpunk genre. PROJECT X was very familiar and yet, thanks to the look of the movie, very outdated too. As a movie, PROJECT X is not that good but it's interesting to see where the whole idea of memory manipulation started from.
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A very interesting movie, prophetic in ways
Scooby-4322 August 1999
Project X (1968) was a mystery & a science fiction film. The premise is that in the year 2118, the world is very overcrowded and there are two main powers, the Oriental East, and the occidental West. A mysterious message from the main character says that the East is going to destroy the West in 14 days but then he loses his memory due to an anti-torture drug he has taken. The race is on using mind reading technology to try and find out what is going on, but someone is really working for the other side? Who to believe? What is the threat? The movie correctly predicts that genetic manipulation would soon be a real possibility. The ability to read minds with machinery, and the need to go thru an elaborate deception is explained in some detail, they do a good job setting it up, but it complex and hard to follow in one viewing. Henry Jones as the head scientist lends some believability to the situation, making keen observations, but whose side is he on? Greta Baldwin is a very friendly young woman from 2118 that makes me think that there is hope for the future if there are a lot of women like her then. Christopher George as our amnesic hero does a good job portraying a good man thrust into an immoral situation. All in all it was a better than average Sci Fi movie for it's day, with many thought provoking ideas embedded in it. Incidentally I know how this movie can be seen in 1999.
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Great Movie, Very Mysterious, Interesting Ideas.
Scooby-4316 August 1999
I actually have a videotape of "Project X" and that makes me one of the few people that has actually seen this movie in the last thirty years. The movie deals mostly with biological warfare, human genetic manipulation, and mind machine interfacing. It was prophetic in a way that it predicted that Genetic Engineering was a coming thing. Despite it's rather low budget look, Henry Jones as the head scientist gives this movie an aire of reality. The mystery is the meaning of the last message the amnesiac agent sent to the West, a doomsday message, and we are kept guessing to the end what that doomsday message means. A memorable moment is when Karen Summers meets our amnesiac agent and the friendly way she acts and picks him up is something I've often imagined might happen to me someday. No wonder the bad guy kept breaking into her room, he was the only other guy to see it. Another scene that is memorable is when the released anger thing, whatever it was, does whatever it did to the meanie bad guy. That's something I have never forgotten.

Well if you haven't seen this movie, you missed a classic and good luck trying to find it.
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PROJECT X (William Castle, 1968) ***
Bunuel19761 May 2014
Following a couple of lame genre spoofs starring Sid Caesar, producer/director William Castle had hoped to return to his previous successful formula – albeit via a more sober approach – with the screen adaptation of Ira Levin's classic diabolical chiller ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968); however, the powers-that-be at Paramount only allowed him to produce, while placing acclaimed Polish auteur Roman Polanski – in what would prove his U.S. debut – at the helm. The resulting film was a veritable milestone of the genre – but, in compensation, Castle was given the movie under review to direct…after which, as it turned out, he lay down his boots in this capacity for six years running! Incidentally, 1968 also marked a great year for Science-Fiction cinema, under which banner – the former Horror master's first and last – PROJECT X falls, since it saw the release of both 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and PLANET OF THE APES which, needless to say, overshadowed Castle's effort…even if, for what it is worth, along with his subsequent bizarre venture SHANKS (1974), the director's last two pictures emerged as definitely his most original (thus interesting and considerable)!

Anyway, to be sure, the movie is a futuristic tale with ideas far above its' maker's usual station (only THE TINGLER {1959}'s analysis of Fear and HOMICIDAL {1961}'s probing into personality disorder, both dealt within the context of a shocker, had previously attempted anything of substance); indeed, here we have a secret agent struck by amnesia while in possession of the enemy's plan for world domination! While this can be seen on the one hand as the director's take on the current craze for James Bond imitations (thus resembling FANTASTIC VOYAGE {1966} in its mix of sci-fi and espionage), the plot also involves an elaborate scheme to induce a fictional, past and crime-oriented existence into the leading man's psyche in the hope that his subsequent paranoid feeling can unleash – via holograms depicting his unconscious state – the vital information needed to thwart the Orient's nefarious designs on the Western world! In this respect, it anticipates the likes of the two TOTAL RECALL (1990 and 2012) movies and THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998)…while also keeping in mind that the WWII thriller 36 HOURS (1964) had already used a similar ruse!

The film, then, is decidedly fascinating and relatively satisfying in the long run; that said, some elements – owing perhaps to its B-movie origins – do not work. For starters, Christopher George (who had been so striking as John Wayne's black-clad nemesis in Howard Hawks' EL DORADO {1967}) never really gains our sympathy as the perplexed hero (indeed, genial scientist Henry Jones emerges as the true protagonist)! Since the two narrative strands – real (that is, 22nd century) and fabricated (contemporary) – move in fits and starts, one has to constantly tweak his mind-set to the characters' within each particular setting; besides, their own adjustment to the 1960s lifestyle is too smooth despite professing obliviousness to what passed for the norm in that by-gone era – while the would-be technological advancement produces predictably streamlined sets (albeit featuring now-hilariously gargantuan computer systems imparting inevitably archaic feedback) and goofy costumes (notably transparent helmets for the men at the military base and skimpy outfits for the female factory-workers)!

An intriguing yet potentially exasperating notion was the use of solarization, aided by a bit of Hanna-Barbera animation for good measure (a' la FORBIDDEN PLANET {1956}), for the recreated images pertaining to the 'lost' mission – which also see Keye Luke as the 'yellow' mastermind and Monte Markham as a defector (eventually violently dispatched by George's telepathic skill much like the same year's THE POWER!). By the way, I had first acquired this via a washed-out VHS rip but, realizing it had been jointly released on DVD and BluRay by Olive Films, I managed to acquire a copy of this handsome-looking edition in time for my ongoing centenary tribute to Castle!
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Classic 1960s sci fi adventure.
santafesheriff25 February 2007
MASTERFUL performances from Christopher George (as always) and newcomer Greta Baldwin make this William Castle Sci-fi adventure truly exciting, innovative, classic space adventure with a deep message and meaning. Monte Markham adds another polished performance to his long list of superb acting film and TV credits. The film is way ahead of its time 1968 and deserved Oscar recognition. A truly well made, beautifully acted gem. Christopher George one of the greatest 60s/70s tough action leading men gives another epic, dedicated performance that put to shame other so called major stars. To correct some imbecile comments it is the presence and acting ability of stars like Christopher George, Audie Murphy and similar leading action men that make a film watchable and memorable.
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not particularly good
Andy Sandfoss20 October 2007
I taped this film off of a cable TV broadcast, apparently a rare occurrence. The film doesn't seem to get any air time at all, and as far as I know it is not available commercially on VHS or DVD. As much as one would want to corroborate other people's opinions of less-well-known films, I cannot recommend William Castle's "Project X". I found the film wildly over-plotted and very much derivative of other, better films. Where it tries to present something different, I found it just confused. The acting is at its best moments routine, and occasionally goes way over the top. The special effects do not impress; the film eventually resorts to using animation and not very stylish animation at that. But give a gander to the cast and you'll see why. William Castle is most widely known as a showman and promoter. There isn't anything here like that, so the film has to stand on its own. It can't.
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X marks the project.
morrison-dylan-fan16 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Visiting Birmingham,me and a pal decided to check HMV Vault (the largest entertainment store in Europe.) Picking up The Ghost Note Symphonies by Rise Against,I went to check their Blu-ray section. Having gotten the Indicator box set of his work for my birthday,and a subscriber to UK film mags The Dark Side and Infinity,I was thrilled to stumble on a William Castle Blu,with a commentary by the Dark Side/Infinity editor, leading me to uncover project x.

View on the film:

Whilst the print has the odd spot of dirt, 101 Films present a shiny transfer of a clean soundtrack and a bright image with visible film grain, backed by fantastic extras,including a commentary by The Dark Side/Infinity editor Allan Bryce,and journalist David Flint.

The second to last flick he would direct, (the final would be years later with Shanks (1974) ) director William Castle & Harold E. Stine project a gloriously psychedelic atmosphere of Arnold's memories across the screen in brash overlapping distorted images.

Despite it sadly not getting a mention in his autobiography, Castle brings out a refreshingly kitsch stylisation to this Euro Spy-style action and Sci-Fi quirks mash-up. Teaming up with Hanna-Barbera, Castle paints their animation over Arnold's (a wonderfully chewy Christopher George) splintered spying memories, melting into clunky laser guns and Sci-Fi babe short skirts.

Following Castle in this also being his second to last script credit, (his final was a ep of Medical Center,which like Castle was also in 1974!) the screenplay by Edmund Morris nimbly criss-crosses adapting Leslie P. Davies's novels into one slick tale, thanks to Morris joining scientists attempts to unlock Arnold's hidden memory with a swift con trick convincing Arnold he's a gangster in 1968,as the scientists mark their project with a x.
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Dull, implausible, laughable
davis200024 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This rates three stars for the humor I found in its plot holes, bad animation and ludicrous plot. It's too bad nobody at MST3K got permission to riff this film.

The premise, that scientists can only retrieve the spy's memories by making him think he's 150 years in the past is never explained sufficiently, it's just a way to avoid using futuristic sets. Even though they create an isolated compound complete with period buildings and antiques gathered from multiple museums they can't seem to keep intruders from using the prop telephone to wrinkle the plot. Nor can they prevent a pretty girl from hiking along to flirt with their test subject and spoiling all their work.

Psychedelic patterns are used to obscure the poorly done matte paintings, action sequences and other "memories". Clear plastic helmets on the military add some unintentional fun as does the Dickensian matron of the "kinery" (sic). Somehow in this future they've stamped out most disease but don't seem to know how to immunize against smallpox and the plague.

I looked forward to seeing this as I never saw it in theaters as a kid but it's far from Castle's best work. This was ambitious but failed to capitalize on it's few good ideas. By the end I half expected Monte Markham to turn out to be Sen Chui in disguise but instead he's just a traitor, ultimately killed by a red mental tornado whipped up by Christopher George's character. You'd think the General would want to harness that as a weapon but no, he just wants to berate scientists.
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