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Although a bit hokey in places, I always considered THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT ($25) to be one of the best "B" science fiction movies from the 1980s. Using a real W.W.II incident (that the government never fully explained) as a springboard, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT tells the story of two sailors who get thrust 41 years into the future. THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT opens in 1943, with the U.S. Navy conducting an experiment in the Delaware Bay to render a battleship invisible to radar by creating an electronic field around the ship. At first, the experiment seems to succeed, with the Battleship Eldridge disappearing off of the radar. However, the Eldridge then completely disappears from sight, stunning the scientists and Navy personnel conducting the experiment. On board the ship we find David Herdeg (Michael Paré) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), the two sailors in charge of ship’s generators, unable to shut down the power when the experiment begins to go terribly wrong. David and Jim find the situation even worse up on the deck, so they decide that their best course of action is to jump overboard.

However, instead of hitting the water David and Jim land in the desert, and when the two sailors finally make their way to civilization, they learn that the year is 1984. The situation worsens when David and Jim discover themselves not completely free from the influence of the experiment, which forces them to flee from the authorities with the help of Allison Hayes (Nancy Allen), a woman they inadvertently kidnap. As he search for answers, David comes to the realization that the same type of experiment that brought Jim and himself to the future is being conducted again. Only this time, instead of just a shipload of sailors, the new experiment places the fate entire world in jeopardy. Sure, the plot of THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT has holes in it that could envelop and entire planet, but the earnestness of the cast keeps one from questioning things until the movie is over. THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT also has a number of solid action sequences, as well as fast paced direction, which works in the movie’s favor. Eric Christmas, Louise Latham, Kene Holliday, Joe Dorsey, Michael Currie, Stephen Tobolowsky, Gary Brockette, Debra Troyer, Miles McNamara and Ralph Manza fill out the cast of THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT available in a wide screen presentation that frames the film at 1.85:1, plus the DVD has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. I was surprised at how good THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT looks on this DVD. For the most part, the image on the DVD is crisp, clean and very detailed looking. Colors are strong and fresh looking, which makes the film appear a lot newer than it actually is. Neither chroma noise nor bleeding caused any issues with the picture. Blacks appear accurate and the image has a respectable level of shadow detail. The print used for the transfer has a minimal amount of blemishes, although film grain is noticeable at times throughout the presentation, especially in scenes that have some sort of optical effects. There are virtually no signs of digital compression artifacts on this DVD.

The folks at Chase have provided THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Considering the film’s age and low budget origins, the mix is pretty effective. The soundstage is pretty broad, with all of the five channels being called into active duty. Directional effects are well utilized, which makes watching the film a lot more fun than it was in the past. Dialogue is clean and crisp sounding. There are some frequency limitations in the sound effects and in the music, but otherwise the sound is very pleasing. The Bass channel sees its share of use, although there is nothing ground shaking about it.

The interface for the interactive menus has been enhanced with animation and sound. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, plus a theatrical trailer.

For a "B" sci-fi movie from the 1980s, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT is still a lot of fun. So, if you feel nostalgic for this particular flick, don’t hesitate to pick up the DVD because Anchor Bay’s presentation is just fine.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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