Despite everything else there are moments of tranquil beauty in this place. Like stepping out of the igloo into a sunlit morning and taking in the endless miles of virgin snow shimmering reluctantly like the veil of a teenage bride.
But even such small pleasures cannot be relied upon because as I exited the igloo today to take my morning constitutional, a terrible sight met my eyes. Churned earth. Mud everywhere (surprising, as there's no mud under the ice). Large tracks despoiling the landscape. What in God's name?
The tracks were 100's of metres long in parts. It took me a while to discover that they formed letters, and even longer to painstakingly follow the tracks and record what they were trying to say.
When eventually I came to the end of the last track I reviewed my scrap of paper to try and make sense of the message.
It simply said "Duck!".
As I stood there, trying to work out what this could possibly mean, something hit me on the back of the head and I passed out.
When I came to I was in the igloo, back on my bed, naked and shivering. There were several puncture marks on my right arm and a sharp pain in my ar...ha! Here comes a film!
Killdozer starts with a view of a strange rock hurtling towards earth. This is a great start to a film, any film. There hasn't yet been a film made that starts with a view from space of a strange rock hurtling towards earth that has been a let-down. Except perhaps, for An Inconvenient Truth. And even then, it would only have taken a little bit of imagination on the part of the film-makers to turn Al Gore into a mindless space zombie and have his Powerpoint presentation run amok, killing the world's leading environmental campaigners. The tagline could be 'Nothing is scarier than the truth - apart form Excelor, the mutant spreadsheet!'. Maybe an idea for the sequel, when global warming turns out to be a myth*.
Killdozer is a perfectly formed and skillfully directed 'made for TV' horror movie from the early 70's, with a solid, professional cast that has the balls to play it straight. See, this is what's lacking in a lot of modern horror movies. Balls.
And few have bigger balls than Clint Walker (Kelly) the gentle giant who we last saw in The Dirty Dozen complaining that he didn't like being pushed:
"I didn't mean ta kill him, Major. Honest!"
The rest of the guys have great construction worker type names like Clyde and Mack (but disappointingly, no Kowalski), and together form a standard horror template that has stood the test of time - isolate a group of bickering humans and make them share their living space with something that wants to kill them horribly (Alien, The Thing, Killer Shrews etc).
This small, isolated group of bickering construction workers discovers a strange looking rock on the island that they're working on. They try shifting it with their bulldozer. The rock glows blue, the bulldozer glows blue and Mack, the driver, screams! He's been mysteriously hurt and dies later, not before warning Kelly about the bulldozer.
Can there really be something strange going on with the bulldozer? A standard D-9 to my untrained eye, with its primary working tools being the blade, affixed to the front and controlled by six hydraulic arms, and the optional ripper, which can be attached to the back. The blade is mainly intended for earth-moving and bulk material handling - pushing up sand, dirt, and rubble. It also can be used to push other heavy equipment such as earth-moving scraper pans.
But yes, there is something strange going on with the D-9, and I don't just mean the fact that the drive sprocket has been elevated to give the belly pan more ground clearance. You see, it's turned into Killdozer - an evil killing machine, with ominous flashing headlights for eyes, and a cool wibbly wobbly synthesizer theme tune that sounds a bit like someone from the 70s would imagine a killer bulldozer's brain would sound like.
Soon the gang of workers are pitched into a battle of survival. It's man against machine. And machines don't die. To make matters worse, the gang do stupid things similar to this guy...
...like trying to hide in metal tubes right in front of the bulldozer (goodbye Al) or stalling a car and stubbornly trying to restart it right in front of the bulldozer rather than making a run for it (farewell Clyde, hope they let you go for that swim in heaven).
It's natural to watch Killdozer and think of ways to get the better of it. What would we do in a similar situation? Sitting on it's roof and having a nap until things blow over sounds like a fine idea to me, but of course, that wouldn't stop its murderous tendencies. Machines can't be killed, which presents us with a real problem so... why not make Killdozer fall in love?
If you don't believe it's possible check out this little cutie called Yuchai:
Yuchai - or YCT306S-5A to her friends - has a firm yet supple yellow rounded fiberglass body with a small LW-6 backhoe on its cute little rear hitch. Of particular interest to Killdozer would surely be the fact that she has a full width box scraper!
However, just as the final two members of the construction team, Kelly and Holvig, are discussing the possibility of a love match between the two dozers, Killdozer comes crashing into view and all thoughts of romance are gone!
Kelly and Holvig have been busting each other's chops all the way through the film but are slowly growing to respect one other...
... and after an unsuccessful but nicely choreographed robot-wars style scrap (no pun intended) between their crane and Killdozer (which this still photograph doesn't quite capture the excitement of)...
...they come up with a last ditch plan - and it's an old classic - electrocution!
Working in perfect harmony now, they lure Killdozer into their hastily constructed killing zone and flick the switch. Killdozer bursts into flame and his synth-soundtrack turns briefly into a free-form jazz wig-out before going silent. His headlights flicker for one final time and turn off. He's dead.
The two buddies have survived, and all is well - but how will they explain things to the authorities? "Tell them the guys died in landslide." suggests Holvig. "Nope," replies Kelly "you gotta tell the truth..." Which is a noble sentiment for sure, but I do hope that Holvig eventually managed to change Kelly's mind... company investigators tend not to believe the truth. Ask Ripley.
* - I know it isn't, I'm scared too!
Amazed by Aparo: "Masque of Mirrors" by Kaler and Aparo - By popular demand, here's Dave Kaler and Jim Aparo's third solo *Nightshade* strip from the final issue of Charlton's *Captain Atom *(#89, September 1967)!...
15 hours ago