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Some good bits, but overly derivative and focused on dull characters
Leofwine_draca11 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A sub-par science fiction tale dealing with intelligent robot life, this has been done too many times to be constantly entertaining, although there are a few choice moments. Frankly I'm pretty sick of the gloomy, grungy, depressing tone of a lot of modern thrillers like SEVEN and HARDWARE, and obviously that kind of atmosphere has rubbed off on the makers of this film who do their best to make their world look as dull and horrible as possible.

The story itself - based on Philip K. Dick's novel - is not too bad, dealing with A.I. and an interesting race of self-replicating robots. Unfortunately the film should have concentrated on these robots as they are the most interesting thing about the film, but instead human relationships are the main focal point, and they're really not that interesting.

On another note, if you're expected good special effects, then look elsewhere. The original flying spheres (like something out of PHANTASM) are shown only briefly a couple of times, and then gone for the rest of the film. The only time we see them is when they're underground like the worms in TREMORS. The use of children as merciless killers is a clever idea - see the original VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED for another menacing example - and this film has one excellent moment, where Weller and his friends desperately fight a never-ending stream of robotic killers issuing from an army base. It's this kind of visual theme which makes SCREAMERS stand out a bit from the rest.

The cast itself is okay, yet nothing special. Peter Weller is rather good as the charismatic, ageing hero, and proves himself well in the action sequences. It's good to see him in another film. However, everybody else is merely middling. The action scenes are well staged, especially the ending, but are frequently at the expense of the plot. Still, for a science fiction film you could do a lot worse; just try watching TERMINAL FORCE.
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complicated expositions but good sci-fi B-movie
SnoopyStyle5 February 2016
It's 2078 on the planet SIRIUS 6B. The Berynium mining colony was run by the all-powerful the New Economic Block (NEB). The Alliance, mine workers and scientists, demanded mine closure due to the pollution. This led to the devastating war as the Alliance unleashed self-replicating weapons under the surface called Screamers. Col. Hendricksson (Peter Weller) commands an Alliance outpost. He receives an offer for peace negotiations. Ace Jefferson is the sole survivor of a mysterious transport crash. Hendricksson discovers the Screamers are being modified. With conflicting reports, Hendricksson believes that they've been abandoned. He takes Jefferson on a mission to negotiate with the surviving NEB soldiers.

The story is overloaded with background expositions. Sometimes, less is more. The movie needs to have one scene which reveals everything that is needed to know about the Screamers. Once that stuff is put away, this is a compelling sci-fi B-movie. Peter Weller is a solid sci-fi actor. I really like the premise but the expositions need to be tighter.
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Not bad considering the budget
bob the moo8 November 2001
In the future the mining planet Sirius 6B has become a war zone with two warring factions. The ground is patrolled by underground robots called Screamers who target anyone not wearing identifying marks. One side receives a plea for peace negotiations after 10 years of war and discover from a lost soldier that the war has been forgotten on earth. The two sides have been left to die on Sirius 6B while another way is started on another planet. Commander Hendricksson (Weller) sets out with the lost soldier Jefferson (Lauer) to contact the other side and declare peace. However what they find will spell the end of their war one way or another.

This is based on a Phillip K. Dick story and has all the intelligence you would expect from a sci-fi from him - this is not a gory horror movie. This is an intelligent story about the creation of the Screamers and their "evolution". It also has a cynical edge lended by the way that the soldiers have been deserted by their leaders and continue to be tricked into fighting while the leaders get on with their business.

Weller is excellent as the world weary commander who finds his life sold out from under him. The supporting cast are OK with their stereotyped characters but the real stars are the Screamers who start out by small things with saw-blades and gradually take other forms. The child versions of Screamers are particularly creepy and perhaps a little disturbing.

However this is not as terrifying as it should be, nor is it as intelligent as it starts out being. The whole issue behind the different screamers is not explained and towards the end they just keep popping up without reason! It also has one of those "watch out for the sequel" style endings - although in fairness it isn't quite as bad as that. The special effects are a bit ropey but do the job - after all this is a very low budget movie.

The whole thing is not as good as it could have been but is certainly head and shoulders above a lot of low budget sci-fi thrillers.
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What's beneath
kosmasp23 August 2020
If you have multiple layers ... it is a good thing to reveal them one layer at a time. It is fun for the viewer and it makes sense for the movie too. Now at a certain time you might be able to foresee certain "twists" or at least story points coming. That does not take anything away from the movie or the fun you can have with this. Peter Sellers and Jennifer Rubin are quite the pair - really great chemistry and an idea that one might have thought would have been used for more movies - there is at least one sequel (not sure if a Screamers 3 is in works), which I haven't seen yet.

I would say that almost any Science Fiction movie can be used to make a sequel. Or further the story one has build. It doesn't have to be the same players as in the original - they might not be alive anymore anyway. But back to this and a really cool story - you have to have a heart for Science Fiction and not be squeamish ... there will be violence!
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A Visual Mess
gavin694220 April 2015
On a distant mining planet ravaged by a decade of war, scientists have created the perfect weapon: a blade-wielding, self-replicating race of killing devices known as Screamers designed for one purpose only -- to hunt down and destroy all enemy life forms.

This is a film that should be successful. Start with producer Antony I. Ginnane, who had great genre films dating back to Patrick" and "Strange Behavior". Add a story by Philip K. Dick, which was turned into a screenplay by Dan O'Bannon. Add on great actors like Peter Weller and Jennifer Rubin. Heck, even add the Chiodo brothers for special effects. How can this fail? And yet it does. Visually, it just looks a mess. The opening narration is off-putting. The cinematography is sloppy (though this may be because of the CGI and not the fault of the camera). This is the sort of film that would benefit from a remake, but there is always the fear they would botch it again.
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a combination of Phillip K Dick and Dan O'Bannon in a better than average/less than great sci-fi flick
Quinoa198418 May 2007
Screamers is like one of those made-for-HBO science fiction programmers from the mid 90s, except that there's some brighter things going for it. One of these is that it's based on a short story by one of the hallmark authors of science fiction, Philip K Dick, and another is that the script mostly got work done (and seems most noticeable) by Dan O'Bannon, writer behind Alien and Return of the Living Dead. There's more weight in levels of irony, not always the uproarious variety but more nuanced and violent, more in putting some good twists to the clichés that are taken for granted in stories set in desolate futuristic environments (the discovery of a cute abandoned child, the devilish nature of the 'screamers' themselves and how their more advanced counterparts work, the personalities of the crew that Peter Weller's character discovers at the base, and how each member soon dies/gets killed off). This might also be attributable to O'Bannon, who tackled this in his previous successes in films, but to say who is totally responsible for what can only be said for those who've read Dick's story Second Variety, which I have not. However it should be said, if only on some level of understanding from reading past works of his, it feels like it has a level of faith to the source, albeit changing locations and certain details in the situations, by being approximately cynical to the characters.

The only problem then comes in with it being directed, more or less, as a standard slightly-higher-in-quality made for TV movie. It's by no means a sci-fi channel movie of the week, however Screamers might have fared a little better with its challenging and darkly funny bits without director Christian Duguay, who is professional enough to make it watchable on such a low budget (low for how it looks anyway), but doesn't give certain scenes enough juice to really fly past where it stays at being average. The cast too is a little more of the regular variety, with isn't totally a bad thing; by having character actors, B-level character actors (if that), it helps add to the levels of slight subversion in this story they're in about technology gone to the dogs on a snow planet in 2078. I liked seeing actors cast to type, like Andrew Lauer as the 'kid' who's got enough experience as a soldier but is still pretty naive in other ways; Roy Dupis in a sublimely duplicitous role; Jennifer Rubin as the token tough girl. Even Weller has his right place in the framework, not too cocky a hero but with enough confidence to carry a picture without the Robocop gear. I even enjoyed some of the action set-pieces, with one especially involving a whole field of Davids (the little robot boy).

There's also a slight issue that has to be contended which is too many 'gotcha' addendums to the climax. It's not enough that one character suddenly appears as another cyborg, but that there's another, and then another...and then finally one last wink in the final shot (which actually does work as a creepy last bit), and it's detracting from what is attempting to be a little more substantial. It's only when the hints of things not staying all happy-in-the-end do the director and actors really hit good ground. Screamers has more than its share of moments, and it will continue to be an underrated find by sci-fi fans as the years go by. That it's nowhere near the best of Dick's adaptations- and not the worst- is understandable. 6.5/10
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Scarecrow-8825 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
On a planet named Sirius 6b, a civil war between two factions has broken out over a mineral energy source called Berynium which was once a unified state. Earth supplies the planet with soldiers of the Alliance to battle those who dub themselves the NEBs. The Alliance were in trouble of losing to the NEBs until the creation of robotic creatures underground were created called Screamers(the screech loudly as they prepare to kill). The Screamers are self-evolving to the point were they can actually duplicate humans and use the human-shell to trick Earthlings. Through a downed aircraft carrying a nuclear device carrying one remaining soldier left alive, Jefferson(Andrew Lauer)explains that the Alliance were bound for another planet housing a mineral source to do battle with another group of NEBs. Through a message that was sent to leader of the Alliance Joe Hendricksson(Peter Weller), they discover that they were told of unified peace between them and the NEBs which turns out to be a lie when Jefferson informs them that the one that delivered that very message has been dead for over two years. Joe, knowing that the Alliance had left them on the planet forever, sets out to make contact with any remaining NEBs that might still be alive, carrying gung-ho gunner Jefferson with him. The Screamers do not attack the Alliance members for they have these arm bands which throw off their signal.

Good old-fashioned old-school sci-fi actioner B-flick directed with visionary flair by Christian Duguay is actually exciting and imaginative. It's also tense with these Screamers quite elaborately detailed. Good special effects and a tough-talking band of soldiers brings this noir mentality to the film. Weller's hero is a direct representation of that very noir mentality as he doesn't dawdle with small talk..he's a man of few words, wiser than anyone else. I could give or take the ending, though, as The Screamers have evolved quite impressively into humans to the point where they express emotion and bleed blood.
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"Are you coming... or are you just breathing hard?" Average sci-fi/horror.
poolandrews5 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Screamers is set on the war ravaged mining planet of Sirius 6B during the year 2078, a group of rebellious miners who call themselves the 'Alliance' revolted against their company N.E.B. or the New Economic Block when it was discovered that the revolutionary fuel they were mining for them called Berynium produced lethal amounts of radioactive gas & as a result a long 10 year war between the two has raged. Joe Hendricksson (Peter Weller) is the commander of the Alliance when one day a lone N.E.B. soldier (Sylvain Masse) hand delivers a plea for peace & to set up a meeting. Soon after a N.E.B. spacecraft crashes near the Alliance's headquarter's which contained soldiers & weapons on their way to another planet rich in Berynium, the N.E.B. were going to leave everyone else on Sirius 6B to rot as a new source of Berynium has been found. Hendricksson decides to head to the N.E.B. base & discuss terms with whoever is left & takes the one & only survivor from the crash Jefferson (Andrew Lauer) along with him. Once there they discover almost everyone slaughtered & the few survivors talking of killer robots left over from the war known as Screamers that have evolved to mimic a human being perfectly, trusting anyone suddenly becomes very difficult...

This Canadian, American & Japanese co-production was directed by Christian Duguay & is an average sci-fi horror at best. The script by Dan O'Bannon & Miguel Tejada-Flores was based on the short story 'Second Variety' by Philip K. Dick & to be honest it feels like it as there just wasn't enough of a story here to maintain my interest. For a start Screamers is far too slow, after a promising opening scene things settle down & plod along for the next 90 odd minutes & I just found it very difficult to get excited about anything in Screamers. Don't get me wrong as I don't think it's not without some merit but I thought it was pretty forgettable stuff. The character's are clichéd, the situations they find themselves in are & various other films have more than a passing influence on Screamers like The Thing (1982) & the mistrust of each other, lots of soldiers with guns in futuristic settings reminds of Aliens (1986) & robotic killing machines mimicking people was done decades earlier (& better) in The Terminator (1984). There is also a fair bit of political nonsense & a slightly over complicated war that seemed a bit too complex.

Director Duguay does a pretty good job, some of the snow covered, post apocalyptic wasteland landscapes give Screamers a nice atmosphere & feel to it with some really good matte painting as well. The action scenes are flat & not very exciting unfortunately, just imagine lots of people running around in dark corridors. Screamers could have done with some decent action scenes, the opening sequence of the N.E.B. soldier being sliced 'n' diced by a Screamer is as good as it gets. There is also a disappointing lack of gore, a few severed limbs & some splashes of blood is as good as it gets.

With a supposed budget of about $20,000,000 I have to admit that I would liked to have seen more on screen, there are no big name actors, no big action scenes, limited special effects, limited locations & a few run down factory locations. As a whole 20 big ones seems like a lot of money considering the end product. The acting was OK but no one will remember Weller for anything other than Robocop (1987) will they?

Screamers is an OK film, it's generally well made with that Hollywood polish to it but I found it rather forgettable, a bit dull & lacklustre. Don't expect an all guns blazing sci-fi shoot-'em-up because Screamers isn't it, watch Aliens again instead as it's far superior in every way.
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Wasp Woman meets Robo Cop
lastliberal25 April 2007
It is amazing what you'll find at 4am. This was certainly one that I should have skipped and tried to get back to sleep. It's far into the future and on a mining camp the robots are loose. They are cute little things that look like doggie-sized metal T-Rexs. Got the picture.

But they also can assume human shape. So watch out. Your best friend may not be real. Better see if he bleeds.

Peter Weller (RoboCop) didn't have Nacy Allen around to help him, so he relied on Jennifer Rubin (Roger Corman's Wasp Woman). They made a nice pair, but he still cut her hand to check if she bled. She kissed him after that. What a woman will do when there are no other men around! Lots of shooting at these screaming robots, but not much else.
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Not sure why it never got appreciated any better.
Boba_Fett113819 January 2010
This movie has basically every great science-fiction element in it. Granted that it's not the best ever movie but still the movie does really deserve some more attention and recognition.

The movie has a pretty good main concept, that is formulaic but well done nevertheless. It's set in the distant future, on a distant planet and has evil, constantly self-improving, robotic characters in it that are up to no good for humanity. It sounds real familiar all and yes watching "Screamers" is not the most original experience you will ever have but it all works out well nevertheless for the movie and its story and it's an overall really well done movie, that didn't even had too much of a budget to spend.

It has the rights looks and feeling for a science-fiction flick. It has some pretty good looking effects, especially when considering that this is an 1995 movie. It looks and atmosphere certainly help to make the movie work out.

Perhaps thing with this movie is that it just isn't always fast enough moving. It has a bit of a dragging middle part, when new characters suddenly get introduced but overall the movie has plenty of redeeming qualities in it to still really consider this a good and also quite enjoyable genre film.

I really liked Peter Weller in his role. I actually think that he is a pretty good actor who just however made some wrong choices in his career and got mostly stuck with playing in low grade science-fiction or horror stuff and never got the best out of his career. He's over 60-years old now, so it's hard to imaging that things will suddenly still start to improve for him.

A pretty good genre movie that is also really enjoyable to watch.

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Watch robots maim and dismember... or not
view_and_review2 June 2007
Oh no! Not intelligent adaptive robots?!! Whatever shall we do? Yeah, this movie may have preceded others like "A.I.", "Virus", "The Matrix", "I,Robot" and probably a slew of other similarly themed movies, but I've just seen it all before. It still came after greats like "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Blade Runner", "Terminator", and even "Short Circuit".

But unlike the aforementioned movies, I thought this movie was extraordinarily lame. Peter Weller played a prototypical tough guy complete with all of the stock one liners. He wandered aimlessly going from one desolate compound to another with seemingly no real goal. The screamers, which started off as government weapons, evolved into independent machines with the ability to upgrade and "revise" and reproduce more of themselves to..., well I guess, kill. If there was an adequate explanation for the robots becoming what they became it passed me by. I thought the movie was going the direction of perhaps destroying these destructive and blood thirsty machines, but in fact the only solution was to just leave the planet. O.K. Well, if that was the only defense against the underground bots, then why didn't the remaining folks just up and leave to begin with?

I didn't particularly like the characters nor the script in this flick and there were no exciting scenes to at least keep me visually stimulated. This movie was a B movie and just a small blip on the cinema radar.
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Not as good and as bloody as I would have hoped.
Aaron13752 July 2009
When I saw the previews for this movie I thought it had a chance to be a really good and kick ass type of horror science fiction hybrid. What it turned out to be was just an okay one that could have been better, as it turned into what amounts to a who is real or not type of movie, paranoia horror that just is not as good as the super paranoia horror movie "John Carpenter's the Thing". The plot centers on these two opposing groups on a far away planet. One side has taken a decided advantage by using these machine like weapons that burrow underground. Well the opposition is now requesting help and the one group is going to learn the price for setting this super saw like weapons on the loose. Some good scenes here and there make up for the plot that has gone bad at points, I love the scene involving the little "kids" coming out of the one facility. It also has a typical horror ending of the 80's that I did not care for one bit and one to many plot twists involving what is real and not. Still, the movie has Peter Weller in it and he is always good in this type of role, I can not put my finger on how this movie could have been a lot better, but I know it would not have taken to much.
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Even in space, you'll still be able to hear them scream...
The_Void31 May 2006
Screamers takes obvious influence from a whole range of Sci-Fi films, including Aliens, The Terminator and The Thing and somehow manages to bring everything together to form a coherent and exciting movie. Futuristic action movies were in vogue in the nineties after the successful release of Terminator 2, and this is certainly one of the better releases since James Cameron's masterpiece sequel. Director Christian Duguay presents a good futuristic atmosphere, which is all the better given the fact that this movie was made before CGI became part and parcel of action films. The locations are good, and it's easy to believe that the film really is taking place on a distant planet. Screamers takes place on a mining colony known as Sirius 6B. The planet has been at war for ten years, and one of the results of this war is the creation of the deadly 'Screamers', a machine that has the ability to maim and replicate its victims. However, what the scientists who created them didn't count on is the evolution of the machines post man's control, and this is proving a problem for Colonel Hendricksson, as it's not easy to tell the difference between people and machines anymore...

Christian Duguay evidently decided that it would be a good idea to play it safe with the lead star and opted to cast Peter Weller, who had been tried and tested in futuristic actioners almost a decade earlier with Paul Verhoeven's Robocop. Weller makes for a good B-movie lead as although he's no Arnold Schwarzenegger; he looks strong and knows his way around an action scene. However, for me he's a weak link in an otherwise strong film, as he doesn't look interesting enough and has a hard time when it comes to the emotional scenes. The rest of the cast is good, despite there not being any big names on board, and Jennifer Rubin provides eye candy as the female interest. The film is very imaginative, and while the effects aren't always solid; they're well used and seeing all the different things that the title villains can do is always a highlight. The action sequences are exciting, and while some scenes feel very derivative of Aliens; Screamers works because it's always exciting and the fast pace benefits it immensely. Overall, this film is a good B-movie and while it's certainly no masterpiece, Screamers comes recommended to action and Sci-Fi fans.
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Not bad for a 1995 sci-fi.
deloudelouvain19 February 2019
Screamers might not be a high quality science fiction movie but for a 1995 production with a not that big of a budget it isn't bad at all. It has some issues, that's for sure, but it kept me entertained for the whole duration of the movie so I'm not going to complain about those minor futile details. The story is futuristic, and sometimes funny as you see they still use a walkman in the future, at least that's how they thought the future would look like in 1995. There is constant suspense because of the screaming creatures, there's enough action to keep you alert, the acting isn't the greatest (at least not award winning) but certainly not the worst either. All in all for a sci-fi movie from that time it isn't bad.
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Once it gets inside, that's when the killin' starts
tieman6411 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"We are now in a new form of schizophrenia. No more hysteria, no more projective paranoia, but this state of terror proper to the schizophrenic. […] The schizophrenic can no longer produce the limits of its own being. […] He is only a pure screen." - Baudrillard

"That's right - Pinnochio's not a real little boy!" - Becker ("Screamers")

Scifi author Harlan Ellison once took James Cameron to court, alleging that the director's 1984 film, "The Terminator", plagiarised "Demon With A Glass Hand" and "Soldier", two tales written by Ellison in the 1950s.

But Cameron, a scifi nut, seems to have also borrowed heavily from Philip K Dick's "Second Variety", a 1953 short story which finds the world ravaged by war and mankind locked in combat with a race of machines. These machines were created for defence purposes, but eventually became "self aware", started evolving, making armies, factories and hunting down humans, whom they sought to completely eradicate. The machines then began creating terminator-like infiltration units; cyborgs which convincingly resemble humans and which are programmed to penetrate human bases. Dick's hero, a resourceful soldier, even resembles Cameron's Kyle Reese, and much of Dick's dialogue, desperate, fast and apocalyptic, recalls the frenetic banter in Cameron's "Terminator".

While "Screamers", Christian Duguay's adaptation of Dick's "Second Variety", barely captures the tone and urgency of Dick's short story, Cameron's "Terminator" films do, though all these "adaptations" are more interesting in the way they demonstrate how Dick's approach to scifi changed from the 1950s onwards. All of Dick's novels are ontological conundrums, taking place in a landscape in which all "reality" seems to be constantly shifting, and in which worlds and selves constantly seem to fall apart. For Dick, there is no definitive reality, human identity itself is uncertain, nothing exists as it seems, and everything is simply a perception of pure information. In "Second Variety" these themes are approached in a fairly simple manner ("Is it an undercover killer robot or is it a human?", "What constitutes a robot?", "What constitutes a human?", "Aren't humans already cyborgs?", "How do I know what is real?", "How do I know what is machine?", "How do I know what I think I know?"), which is largely why it, and Dick's early work, remain his most popular. As Dick turned to drugs, stopped proof-reading, stopped perfecting and re-writing his stories, abandoned conventional narrative structures and started churning out novels quickly in a desperate attempt to pay his bills, his books, like his heroes and his own state of mind, became increasingly schizophrenic, paranoid and shapeless. Many deride Dick for this, but such a stance was the logical continuation of his early 1950s work. Today, Dick's later writing bare a striking similarity to postmodernist theories by thinkers such as Jameson, Baudrillard and Brian McHale. Dick anticipated the twenty-first century network society, a fragmented, culturally overloaded, media saturated world characterised by rapid technological change, constant movement and a dizzying, excessive and sometimes surreal aesthetic. For Dick, the future, our postmodern present, would morph into a sort of virtual reality game. A "consensual hallucination" in which all traditional demarcations or distinctions are erased. It is no longer an issue of there being a split between man and robot, but of man and technology constantly co-mingling, of both servicing the other, of all being technology, of man himself already being cybernetic, of the world already being cyberspacial, representational, all emotions faked, all behaviour play-acting, every object in quotes, everything grounded on the illusory. Whereas in an explicitly modernist film such as "Metropolis" the dichotomy between the original copy or experience (man) and the replication (machine) is very clear, in later Dickian films ("Blade Runner", Total Recall", "A Scanner Darkly", "Matrix", Cronenberg, Assayas etc - note how comparatively conservative Spielberg's version of Dick's "Minority Report" is) a crisis of representation occurs, as the signifier is now alienated from the object it signifies, a Deleuzian "schizoid existence" brought about by a breakdown "in the signifying chain".

Unlike the apocalyptic, cosily hopeful rubble of "Terminator" and "Second Variety", later Dick also posits a urban, networked and mechanical landscape which engenders a consequential decline in organic feeling and sensibility. Men then become "consumers of illusion", an illusion of "belonging and participation" covering up massive industrial alienation. But every connection seems to lead back to corporations, a "soft fascism" whose grid it is impossible to escape. Here, everything is organised by the constant flow of money, all landscapes are advertising-saturated and the "goal" of commerce is to destroy history itself, to put its customers in the eternal Now, the big happy theme park of desires. No surprise then that one of Dick's last stories, "Stability", takes place in a world in which mankind doesn't progress anymore, despite the illusion of constant, hyper-motion. The story's solution? The invention of a Terminator-like time machine. If Dick got one thing wrong, it was in his assumption that this "schizoid existence" would trouble or traumatise man. Today, the opposite is true. Man's adapted. He loves his cage, even as he fantasises about Judgement Day.

So postmodernist theory has itself has become what Brian McHale calls the "sister genre" of science fiction, both revolving around similar themes (What is reality? What constitutes the authentic human being?) and issues of technology and its effects on society and the individual subject. And while modernism was mainly interested in epistemology, the condition of knowledge, both Dick's scifi and postmodernism are governed by ontology and the basic conditions of existence. But "Screamers" and "The Terminator" films represent a kind of outdated, 1950s Philip K Dick, with nice easy, clear demarcations best suited for action cinema. Latter Dick is perhaps unsuited to the medium of cinema itself, though some of Olivier Assayas' more trashy films capture well his style ("Boarding Gate", "Demonlover").

7.9/10 – Worth one viewing.
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Couldn't the other side have just sent an SMS?
fedor811 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Screamers" is not bad, but somehow can't get away from its humble B-movie origins. The exteriors of the planet are solid, but the interiors consist almost solely of your typical "railings and balustrades" factory-look crap. (See MST3K episode "Space Mutiny".) The background story promises complexity, yet very little is explained, made clear. I certainly didn't understand why "N.E.B." couldn't simply send the Alliance a message through radio or whatever about wanting to meet for peace negotiations. This technologically advanced world has ultra-effective robots and androids and yet no-one can afford a mobile phone! The pretty Jennifer Rubin certainly helps things, but not to the extent that she could have prevented the movie from ejecting a few "oh, come on!" moments. In the end, everyone turns out to be a robot and this might be a little too silly. Still, silly or not, it was fairly interesting.

Leonard Maltin, that goofy little deluded film critic, claims that "if there were a list for most depressing sci-fi film, 'Screamers' would be right at the top". "Screamers" doesn't look particularly depressing. What about "Outland", "Quintet", or even "Blade Runner"? Maltin is even worse than your average, pretentious IMDb contributor who fancies himself a "film critic".
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The Vidiot Reviews...
capone66613 July 2018

It's hard to be quiet in a horror movie when you're being shadowed by a string quartet.

Fortunately, the creatures in this sci-fi movie don't hunt by sound, but heartbeats.

In the not-too-distant future, two warring parties on a remote mining planet have reached a stalemate. Directed by their earth superiors to make peace with the saboteurs, Col. Hendricksson (Peter Weller) of the Alliance leads his team in to enemy territory to endorse the accord.

En route, however, self-replicating AI created by their enemy attack the contingent. Emitting high-pitched squeals as they engage, newer versions can even replicate humans.

Atmospheric and suspenseful thanks to a shrieking threat hidden around every corner, this 1995 adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story is a low-budget space thriller that dabbles in both hard science and shock horror with respectable results.

On the bright side, once robots look human we can start sharing clothes. Yellow Light
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The war between the workers and the bosses moves to a new level.
The-Sarkologist23 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is an awesome movie and is one that leaves you wondering what really was the truth. In the end you find out but what seems basic at the beginning of the movie, that is the nature of the screamer, in the end becomes a plot with many twists. This movie is about what you think you know is really what you do not know.

Screamers is set a little way in the future (2078) and is on a planet, Sirius 6B, that has been totally ravaged by nuclear war. An energy corporation, the New Economic Block (NEB), has discovered Berynium, a new source of energy. The problem is that mining it is incredibly lethal and the miners want protection. The NEB won't give it to them so they form an alliance and declare war on the NEB. The war turns into a cold war on Earth between the NEB and the Alliance while NEB obliterates Sirius 6B with Nuclear bombing raids. The movie opens at the tail end of this where both sides are holed up in bunkers and want to negotiate peace.

This war seems to the something similar to the union disputes occurring today. The workers are being forced to work in harsh conditions and the corporation doesn't want to fund the extra money to protect them. The protests today are of a different matter, namely removing union control, but what we see here is the same sort of thing happening, except the war between the unions and the corporations has resulted in a shooting war.

There is also the idea of the arms race. Both sides have struck with destructive weapons. The NEBs used nuclear weapons while the Alliance developed the Autonomous Mobile Sword, or the Screamer. They are called Screamers because they scream when they attack. At first they are just little nasties that burrow under the ground and attack anything with a pulse, but we learn a little way into the movie that the are built in an underground bunker, operated completely by automation, and they upgrade themselves. At first the Alliance believe they know all about the screamers, but when a new guy arrives, ignorant of it, they slowly begin to realise that what they accepted for so long they really don't understand.

Then there is the nature of the war. It seems at first that the war is coming to the end and negotiations are nearby so they prepare to travel to the NEB bunker to talk, but then a transport crashes and they learn that the war is nowhere near over, but just moving to another planet. With the nuclear wasteland and the screamers, Sirius 6B has become uninhabitable. It is also interesting to note that Hendricksson says a number of times, "We were all NEBs once." The whole nature of war is that we are the same and in the end the whole reason of the war becomes moot and we just fight because we can.
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sol-4 July 2017
Soldiers stationed on a distant planet come to realise that the weaponised machines that they have built to protect themselves are starting to evolve by themselves in this Philip K. Dick adaptation. The machines are fascinating to view, especially with some of animalistic forms that they have adopted in evolution, though the juice of the story comes from the soldiers soon discovering that some of the 'screamers' have discovered how to add flesh to their bodies. The result of this is an intense midsection of the film in which one is unsure who is and is not a 'screamer' and there is a lot of interest in their evolution and the cunning ways they have adopted to dupe human beings, all of whom they have come to see as prey. This solid middle section is, however, bookended by a weak opening and closing act. The film opens with so much verbal exposition that it is difficult to keep track of the politics and war scenarios that the characters find themselves in (apparently this is far more complex than in Dick's story, simply set on the moon). The final half-hour of the movie is also rather mushy and sentimental and comes topped off with a character reveal that is obvious from much earlier on. The vast majority of 'Screamers' is relatively engaging though and the special effects are top notch. The planetary settings look incredible realistic too for a movie shot entirely in Québec.
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A real stretch ..................................
merklekranz4 May 2011
"Screamers" is what it is, and what it is, is a short story STRETCHED beyond belief. Most of the film is Peter Weller and a cast of bad actors wandering around the landscape. Occasionally a mechanical "Tremors' sand worm buzzes through the soil or attacks in mutated form. Almost everything about "Screamers' is redundant, boring, and ultimately, forgettable. Character development is non existent, so you really could care less if someone gets buzz sawed. I saw glimpses of at least a half dozen far better science fiction films, and rode the fast forward button through a pointless romance towards a "couldn't wait for it to end" conclusion. - MERK
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The Terrors of War
Tweetienator29 January 2019
Nice little sci-fi flick of the B-category based on a story by Philip K. Dick (his short story Second Variety) - no masterpiece but entertaining and with a good and dense atmosphere and solid actors. The restricted budget shows here and there but in general the movie is well made with an interesting story.

Well, Screamers may be no movie for the kids of today who expect to be blinded by CGI-finesse, but a good one for the sci-fi lover who likes some trash for his dish.

If you like movies like Event Horizon or Moon 44, this one may be a good watch for you too.
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an unfortunate thing
funkyfry15 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I can't say much that's good about this film. Not that I really expected it to be anything fantastic, but Peter Weller has always been an interesting actor and Philip Dick's stories are among the very best in all of science fiction. However this is just a cheap shot, turning his story into a rather typical action film with poor production values. Weller is pretty much the only real actor on the scene, and the director (Christian Duguay) isn't able to do anything to help them. The whole thing looks so cheap as to be sordid, and features so many clichés as to be dull.

Weller plays the commander of a unit on some alien planet which has been engaged in a war for years with an entrenched opponent. To help them win the war, Earth has imported "screamers" to aid them, small mechanical battle units that operate autonomously from their owner's control. Gee, who would guess that they might get out of control and start killing everybody? Philip Dick's stories are always original and never predictable, so they must have done some heavy surgery to get this one down to a less ambitious and more digestible form for whoever they thought was their target audience. I've read the story "Second Variety" several times, and other than the idea of a mechanism evolving there isn't a hint of Dick's story or ideas to be found here.

I don't envy Weller for the quality of this film or some of the others that he's been involved in. He has to labor to try to make the character believable or to make the situation somehow less obvious. I can't say another actor would necessarily have done better, but it was a waste of his talent. At least we can say that not too many other talented people had their time wasted by this one, except perhaps various members of the audience.
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Close Deception
hellraiser711 June 2013
Trust has always been a fundamental problem throughout the years because by it's nature it's never been a solid foundation to begin with. Despite the length of time we spend with a person we never truly know them, from his/her past to even what they do when were not around them. This film is an under the radar sci-fi gem which is based on a short story by my favorite sci-fi author Philp K. Dick.

I like the production value despite a low budget they were able to use it well. We see a post apocalyptic world that is just dirty, grimy, and desolate. There is no vegetation, it is always cold, there is hardly any sun, and the worst part is the radioactive winds that blow every once in a while. It really adds to the suspense because it gives it a feeling of isolation, the fact there is hardly any life stirring means there is no help that will come when you need it the most.

I also like the effects, most to all are practical so there's no CGI, at least none I know about, though some effects are a tad dated but not bad in my book. I really like the designs of the Moble Sword/Screamer robots, whom are menacing from their capabilities not just in killing but in learning and the different types they were able to produce which unfortunately give them an edge.

The music is good, action is decent liked the hill battle, but most importantly I really like the suspense where you are on constant edge and has a steady build because you're never sure of what you'll discover, and when you do it might be too late. Like one sequence which is my favorite is when Hendrickson is using a computer in the bunker to discover all the different types of Screamers, it was suspenseful on two counts; one the fact that he has only a limited amount of time to use it and second what information is left in the dark afterward which puts us a step behind and makes the stakes of survival even higher.

The story is very good, I wouldn't say the concepts are entirely new but everything done right. I like how despite post apocalyptic conditions they still have high technology that still works. And certain aspects of the story somewhat acknowledges or are even prolific on our war for oil as well as terrorism. Characters are solid, Joe Hendrickson played by one of my favorite actors Peter Weller. I like that Joe is a person whom is layed back, has a sense of humor, tired of the war and just wants to go home. Same with Jessica Hansen play well by Jennifer Rubin whom despite someone on the shady end of things, is capable of being selfless, doesn't give her trust to just anyone. I like that both have a decent dynamic together, I bought it.

I really like how the film gets at the issue of paranoia as well as the philosophical issue on what is a human. One of the best things about Philp's stories is how our perception of humanity can be blurred. We discover how far the robots come not just in replicating human's physically but even in feelings and thoughts, which makes you wonder if that constitutes them as human and not just machines.

The only problems I really have are the pacing can be slow at some points. And also there isn't enough action, but then again this is more of a suspense thriller so I can't complain much.

Overall, I think is a very good sci-fi that I think is worth checking out. Be careful of who you trust, it could be the last person you give it to.

Rating: 3 and a half stars.
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A great adaptation of a Philip K. Dick Story
JoeB13110 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This was a pretty faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's story, "The Second Variety". The only major difference is that instead of a Cold War setting on Earth, they used a corporate setting on a colony world.

So why did this movie rock? Because they stuck to the story, which was quite a good one, of killer robots who decide to ignore their programming to attack the enemy and consider all humans the enemy, and have developed a way to replicate them in the process.

Peter Weller, whom I don't consider a great actor, is at his best here, as a war weary commander who stumbles onto this shocking fact, as he tries to get back to his base to warn his comrades. Jennifer Rubin is pretty good as a killer android who doesn't know what she is until the climax.

They gave it a happier ending than Dick did, but still, a solid film.
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Decent sci-fi with creepy children on a small budget
amesmonde3 November 2010
A war ridden apocalyptic mining planet, a small defence robotic weapon known as Screamers have continued to evolve into something more deadly which puts both sides of the conflict survivors at risk.

Alien (1979) scribe Dan O'Bannon delivers an interesting take on the infamous writer Philip K. Dick's short story, Second Variety.

Both Jennifer Rubin and Peter Weller are very effective as the leads in what could have be just another B-science fiction and the rest of the small cast are adequate enough. Christian Duguay direction is competent and he builds up some genuine tension when the Screamers burrow through the ground, wielding blades and attack their prey, the human war survivors.

Although the special effects are below par and are now dated, the practical effects, chopped limbs, explosions are decent and there are some great matte paintings and the costumes look excellent.

As Joe Hendricksson (Weller) journeys across wastelands to negotiate peace the film becomes more visually interesting and atmospheric with its desolate cold surroundings, sweeping snow covered landscapes and fort complex. An ominous atmosphere is created especially in the darker scenes, which have some nice surprise moments and creepy children.

Screamers is a slow satisfying paranoia sci-fi with guns and robots on a small budget. Overall, it's certainly worth the watch if you're a fan of the genre.
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