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The Philadelphia Experiment

231 customer reviews

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(Sep 19, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The experiment that should never have happened 41 years still going on.

Philadelphia, 1943: A top-secret experiment is underway to make U.S. Navy ships invisible to enemy radar, but something goes horribly wrong, and the Battleship Eldridge disappears. Two sailors jump overboard...and are mysteriously transported 41 years into the future. On the run and trapped by the past, can they stop the experiment that has torn a hole in time?

Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers) and Nancy Allen (Carrie, Dressed to Kill) star in this provocative sci-fi action hit, executive produced by Halloween creator John Carpenter!

The Philadelphia Experiment takes as its jumping-off point an incident that is now paranormal legend, the U.S. Navy's supposed 1943 induction of an extremely powerful electromagnetic field around a destroyer in Philadelphia, causing its crew to become transparent, go insane, burst into flames, and so forth. The movie takes the tack that this was to render the ship invisible to radar, because of the war that was on. The test goes awry, however, and two of the crew leap forward in time to the filmmakers' present tense, 1984, where a similar experiment has caused a vortex that has trapped the 1943 ship and its crew along with a small Nevada town. The key to unbollixing this sad time-fracture lies in our heroes, the two time-travelling crew members, David Herdeg (Michael Paré) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), whose electromagnetic instability keeps drawing them painfully back to the vortex to set things straight. This is silly stuff, but it's very fun silly stuff. One might cavil at gaps in plot logic, such as when Michael Paré seeks out the '80s version of his partner and finds more or less a trauma patient, while subsequent action contradicts this characterization. Still, there are plenty of still-worthy special effects, creating the requisite sense of awe and wonder. And for romantic interest, there's Nancy Allen's '80s girl paired with Michael Paré, affording plenty of amusing occasions for culture comparisons, most notably when Paré sees Ronald Reagan on TV, says, "Hey, I know that guy!" and refuses to believe he's president. --Jim Gay

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Paré, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco, Louise Latham
  • Directors: Stewart Raffill
  • Writers: Charles Berlitz, Don Jakoby, Michael Janover, Wallace C. Bennett, William Gray
  • Producers: Douglas Curtis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305971935
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,220 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Philadelphia Experiment" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Scott Prazak on March 30, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Because this film lacked real star power, not many people have caught this as they should have. Even non sci-fi fans will enjoy this one. No need for me to reiterate the plot. The story is tightly crafted, well acted, and beautifully executed. Everything is explained nicely and nothing left to confuse the viewer. What is truly refreshing is the use of actual older actors playing the characters at later ages. No latex for a change!
Word of warning: If you order this used, be sure the version you are getting is produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment. It's wide-screen and contains the trailer as an additional feature. There is another version out there which is advertised as containing no features. This one is put out by an independent distributor, is Pan & Scan, the picture quality is dark, very grainy, and sound poor.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT is a pretty good, solid piece of B-Movie sci fi. Loosely based on actual events during World War II, the U.S. government tests a naval battleship to see if it can disappear from radar by using high powered electromagentic energy. The writers, producer (John Carpenter i.e. HALLOWEEN), and director, have used these events to create an entertaining time travel story in which during the experiment, two of the crewmen are transported through time to 1984 and must find their way back. At the same time, the experiment in 1943 is affecting a similar experiment in 1984 Nevada conducted by the same scientist, Dr. James Longstreet, (Eric Christams as the elder Dr. Longstreet in 1984 Nevada, and Miles McNamara as the young Dr. Longstreet in 1943 Philadelphia) creating a vortex and distruption in the space/time continuim. There are characters you care about, decent if not conventional time travel plot devices, just the right amount of special effects, the usual government personnel chasing the innocent time travel victim(s), and a love story thrown in for good measure. Michael Pare shows some pretty good emotional depth as David Herdeg, one of the crewmen sent into the future and he and Nancy Allen as Allison Hayes have pretty good onscreen chemistry. Bobby Di Cicco has a great supporting role as the other crewmen sent along with Micheal Pare. He practically reprises a role he played in the Steven Speilberg WWII comedy film "1941" as he uses the dancing skills he learned during the filming of that movie and uses it in the opening scenes of 'EXPERIMENT (Perhaps it was an in-joke?). Overall, an entertaining sci fi, time travel film that delivers.
Movie should be noteworthy because released the same year he produced this movie, John Carpenter wrote and directed STARMAN with almost the same kind of pathos and romance/road trip film. Instead of a a man far from his time period (PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT), we have an extraterrestial far from home (STARMAN).
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86 of 100 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2004
Format: DVD
I am a 29 year old man who remebered this movie fondly from my childhood. So i pointed, clicked and oredered it up. I was horrified the instant the menu came up on screen and the option to start the movie was spelled wrong, it read "STRAT MOVIE". This should give you some idea as to the level of care and attention that went into the production of this inferior product.
The picture quality was unforgivable. Usually a bad transfer doesnt bother me that much as long as I can see whats going on, but this movie transfer is pathetic. I am not kidding when I say that you are better off ordering a clean VHS copy than wasting your time and money on this DVD. It was absolutely unwatchable on my widescreen TV, I eventually had to put it in my computer to watch it as the "pixelization" was so bad ... consider youself warned.....
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The Philadelphia experiment is a classic in the Sci-Fi genre. What makes this movie really interesting though, is not the action, plot, or special effects. It is the fact that this movie is based on an actual military experiment. During an experiment to make a ship invisible to radar, the ship did just that, but it also became invisible to the naked eye as well. This may or may not be true, but it does make the story more interesting when this is considered. Even without it, it is a thought provoking story, with good visual effects.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hedge on May 14, 2007
Format: DVD
I've always liked the two lead actors in this film, Michael Pare of "Eddie and the Cruisers" and "Streets of Fire", and Nancy Allen (wife of Brian DePalma) of DePalma films "Carrie", "Blow out", and "Dressed to Kill." Neither actor ever made it really big and were more flashes in the pan than anything else, but they both should have more success as they are decent actors. Allen had played rather slutty characters with conviction for much of her career, but here she is disarmingly sweet and innocent in spite of her 80's hairdo. Pare built a short-lived career playing James Dean-like roles. He's mostly tough, but can be sensitive too. The scenes where he learns of his father's passing and when he must say good-bye to both his best friend and Allen are quite touching. He's a tough guy who isn't afraid to cry on-screen. He was refreshing as an actor and his full range of talents were not nearly tapped enough.

The story has been explained to death already here in other reviews and Amazon's synopsis, so I'll suffice to say that the script is faulty at times, but the story is satisfying enough and based upon an ill-conceived military experiment to cloak our ships that supposedly was really done and had back-fired. The special effects are very dated in this film, but they are watchable nevertheless. In fact, the entire film is rather dated, but still enjoyable.

Weaknesses: The film is rather dated and the effects clearly demonstrate that. The time-travel storyline has some flaws in it. Things don't always add up right. It's annoying at times when people who knew Pare's character in 1943 don't recognize him in 1984 although he hasn't changed in 40 years. I might be shocked that he hadn't aged, but I would certainly recognize him nevertheless.
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