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Screamers

4.0 out of 5 stars 149 customer reviews

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(Jul 28, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

The year is 2078.The man is rebel Alliance Commander Col. Joseph Hendricksson (Peter Weller, RoboCop, 1987), assigned to protect the Sirius 6B outpost from ravage and plunder at the hands of the New Economic Bloc. His state-of-the-art weaponry is known as Screamers: man-made killing devices programmed to eliminate all enemy life forms. Screamers travel underground, their intent to kill announced by ear-piercing shrieks.They dissect their victims with precision, then eradicate all traces of the carnage. They are lethal. Effective. Tidy. And, somehow, they are mutating and self-replicating into human form and slaughtering every beating heart on the planet.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jennifer Rubin, Ron White, Peter Weller
  • Directors: Christian Duguay
  • Producers: Tom Berry
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 28, 1998
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767810880
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,386 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Screamers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Quick -- name a motion picture based on a short story by Philip K. Dick and starring a tough guy who played a killer cyborg in a previous hit movie.

If you guessed _Total Recall_, you're correct, but it's not the one I had in mind.

This one is nothing like _Total Recall_ (which was an excellent movie but wandered far -- or did it? think twice -- from Dick's 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'). The story here is straightforward and doesn't involve any questioning of the nature of reality -- though it does, at least obliquely, question the nature of the relationship between humans and machines.

Peter Weller (_Robocop_) is the big cahuna here, and he does an excellent job as the morose, taciturn, tough-as-nails, just barely likeable 'hero' of the piece. The situation: there's some sort of corporate war on, and there's a mining colony, and there's some disinformation, and there's a possibility none of the fine folks that work the mines will ever get home again. (The film is based loosely on Dick's 'Second Variety' but doesn't follow it in detail; for one thing, the story was set on Earth.)

And there are the Screamers.

I can't tell you much about them without spoiling the movie for you. I guess I can let you know that they are machines and that they are evolving. Beyond that . . . well, watch and see.

This is a gritty, taut movie, and it's mostly well executed. The cast do a fine job -- especially Roy Dupuis but also that kid who used to rollerblade around on _Caroline In The City_. Some of the tension is artificial but the plot keeps on developing to the very last moment of the film.

It's not great, but it's good.
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Screamers - Wow. If slightly derivative, this is a beauty; an overlooked gem of the just-above 'B' level sci-fi/horror genre.

Peter Weller (in the twilight of his 'A' list career) stars as Col. Hendricksson, a disenfranchised career soldier for the Alliance, stuck on a decimated mining planet ravaged by a decade of never-ending warfare, who sets out into no-man's land to negotiate peace with the enemy forces of the New Economic Bloc. Think a futuristic version of the Hatfield's vs. the McCoys, with radiation poisoning and advanced weaponry, as manipulated by an unseen, off-world government, and you've got the general idea.

Eventually Col. Hendricksson realizes that he's been scammed and stranded, stuck fighting a hopeless battle void of any importance, and he and his rag-tag band of Alliance survivors are the last handful of humanity left on the planet. As the shock sinks in, Hendricksson and his small group suddenly become the hunted, chillingly, by weapons that they helped to create -- the burrowing, semi-intelligent, buzz-saw like creatures of the title.

To say too much here would give away the surprise waaay too soon - although if you've seen more than a couple movies, you'll catch the Big Twist well before you're supposed to. Let it be said though, that Screamers is one of those surprises, one that's earned a place in this jaded video hound's heart.
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'Screamers' is a very entertaining movie, albeit definitely of the B-Movie variety, as so many other reviewers have pointed out. This film reputedly had a budget of 11 million, and it seems like it should be a lot less than that, but no matter what it's got a real low-budget feel to it with a kind of a basic cable sci-fi show look to it. This is, of course, based on the classic Phil Dick short story 'Second Variety' and is also the only Dick adaptation that I am aware of that follows the story with any faithfulness at all, though the upcoming 'A Scanner Darkly' looks like it might change this trend. (Other adaptations being 'Blade Runner', 'Minority Report', 'Total Recall', 'Paycheck', 'Impostor' etc.) Of course, even as the most faithful adaptation they still make a lot of changes, but much of the general plot and major details remain the same anyway, which is nice. Anyway, this is the kinda movie that requires a very specific taste as it walks the line between effective drama and campiness, making it a movie that's kinda silly and wacky but one which I still take more or less seriously, as a whole. Anyway, I likes it.

'Screamers' centers around a long-standing conflict between the the Alliance and the New Economic Block on some distant planet. (Sirius 6B, or something like that.) As the film opens a lone NEB troop walks into the Alliance base carrying a message. He's torn apart by the murderous, subterranean robots called Autonomous Mobile Swords or Screamers, but they still receive the message: The NEBs want to negotiate peace.
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Another reviewer here attributes the story on which this movie is based to "Andrew K. Dick". Well, at least he got it part right. Philip K. Dick wrote a short story called Second Variety a few decades ago, and it is on his interesting idea that this movie is based.
Philip K. Dick has been adapted before. Movies like Blade Runner [Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?], Total Recall [We Can Remember It For You Wholesale], and in summer 2002 The Minority Report [same title] have thrilled audiences while not remaining entirely faithful to Dick's ideas [especially Total Recall, in which Paul Verhoven took huge liberties]. Screamers holds to the idea, but not the setting, of Dick's story. To understand this story you must understand the context and what was on Dick's mind: The US and USSR [keep in mind the time of writing] have finally done it. They have finally blown each other up, and the remnants on earth fight it out in a style reminiscent of WWI. The US develops mechanized standoff weapons called Claws [the Screamers of the movie] which kill in an indiscriminate fashion. US troops are protected by wrist bands which ward off the Claws. Because the Claws are built in wholly mechanized factories, Dick takes them to another level - that of designing new weapons of their own. The obvious happens: US and Soviet armies alike are now targets. The clever, signature Philip K. Dick twist comes when the protagonist of the story finally recognizes the fact that these mechanized killing machines, just as we humans, have developed the means to start killing each other. What irony.
This movie's telling is small, yes, and it is low budget. The story does not need glitz and special effects. The story, in order to be understood, requires perspective and a recognition of what is actually being examined. Human folly is the tale here, and it is fairly well told. Enjoy this story.
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