1974 | Color | 74 min
Starring: Clint Walker, Neville Brand, Carl Betz, James Wainwright, James A. Watson, Jr., and Robert Ulrich
Directed by: Jerry London
Allow me to state the obvious: Killdozer may be the greatest b-movie title of all time. It’s short, it sounds awesome when said in deep,“movie guy voice,” and most importantly, it lets you know exactly what you’re in store for. Namely, a movie featuring a killer bulldozer.
Killdozer is such a great, enduring title that it has been lifted and applied to many other things since its 1974 release. Wisconsin rock band, Killdozer, obviously wanting to sound both awesome and ironic, took their name from the film back in 1983. An excellent episode of the equally excellent cartoon, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy featured a dragon bearing the name. Even the mainstream news media was guilty of appropriating the Killdozer moniker, applying it to the bizarre creation of grade-A nutbar, Marvin Heemeyer, a man who, after a nasty zoning dispute, used his heavily-modified Komatsu bulldozer to level thirteen buildings in Granby, Colorado back in 2004.
With the weight of that undeniably-awesome title on its shoulders, the movie opens (after commercials for pet rocks, 8-tracks, golden marble shag carpet, and avocado green kitchen appliances on the original broadcast, I’m sure.) with a meteor falling from space and crashing on a remote island off the shore of Africa where a group of six oil workers have been stationed. The crew, led by stoic, recovering alcoholic, Kelly (Clint Walker), inadvertently unleashes the malevolent entity contained within the meteor after they attempt to remove it from their construction site. When the blade of Kelly’s bulldozer makes contact with the meteor, it emits a blinding blue flash, stunning and later killing co-worker Mack (played by Robert Urich, who milks the hell out of his later death scene) and possessing the Caterpillar D-9 (Uh-oh, prepare to “Shake hands with danger…”) being used to remove the pesky boulder.
Mack’s closest friend on the crew, Dutch, takes his death especially hard, slowly coming unraveled as the film progresses. Chubs, the mechanic, (played by Neville Brand) does his best to keep the crew calm and focused on the task at hand, but the perpetually-disgruntled shovel operator Dennis (referred as “Sourball” by Kelly…and I really hope that is in reference to his personality…) never misses an opportunity to prod and antagonize everyone around, especially Kelly, whom he dislikes for reasons never fully explained. Despite being distressed after the loss of their friend and suspicious of Kelly’s role in the incident, Dennis and the remaining crew decide to go on with construction. After a second suspicious accident claims the life of another worker, Dennis figures out that something very strange is happening with the D-9 and he and Kelly butt heads some more on how to handle the possessed bulldozer.
The Killdozer spends the rest of the movie slowly picking off the rest of the crew, despite the fact that you could thwart its attacks by simply walking at a brisk pace. I mean, it’s a bulldozer, not a Lamborghini. Seriously, it takes about a minute and a half for the damn thing to turn around. In fact, the guys often go out of their way to get squished—driving straight into its blade; standing under a cliff so the ‘dozer can push rocks at them; curling up in a drainage tube directly in its path, and other Darwin Award worthy decisions. Eventually Killdozer whittles the crew down to just Kelly and Dennis and the two rivals hatch a plan to take out the murderous bulldozer before it finishes them off, too. Spoiler: It involves electricity and a HYDRAULIC MURDER SHOVEL!!!
Despite having perhaps the best b-movie title of all time, and Neville Brand playing a character named “Chubs” (how great is that?!), Killdozer fails to deliver, mostly meandering along with brief moments of unintentional hilarity to break up the otherwise over-talky and plodding narrative. It’s a bit of a shame, but in reality there was very little chance of ever living up to that amazing title, especially with the budget and censorship restraints of a TV movie from the time. Still, Killdozer is a pretty solid, 70s-era, made-for-TV movie and definitely worth a watch for any b-movie fan.
Reviewed by Derek “Hydraulic Murder Shovel” Miller
Posted January 10, 2017
Video Clip Dutch goes swimming(SPOILER ALERT)
Additional Screenshots (Click an image to view full-size)
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