Written & Directed by Michael Crichton
Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin
A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.
Westworld has the honor of being the first film I actually remember watching. I couldn’t forget Yul Brynner’s piercing silver eyes if I tried. There’s a terrific scene where he has acid thrown in his face and turns his back to the camera. White smoke billows from underneath his hat, in perfect contrast to his black Gunslinger outfit – that scene creeped me out big time. Upon my adult viewing of Westworld, it was thrilling to see it carried the same weight literally decades later.
Westworld is one of three possible scenarios wealthy guests could choose from at a futuristic amusement park of sorts. Guests could pick from Medieval World, Roman World, or Westworld to live out their wildest fantasies. For $1000 a day, you could belly up to the bar, blow away a rogue gunslinger or even spend the night with an old west prostitute, the catch, of course, is that nearly everyone involved is a very realistic android; some even built by other androids that seem to be sentient to some degree. It was a great concept then and it holds true today. Wouldn’t you love to lop the head off your enemy, sword in had at Medieval World? I could see the satisfaction of shooting an android cowboy through the hinged doors of a salon and into the dusty road. Who wouldn’t? Clint Eastwood trained us to love how bad ass it could be.
Richard Benjamin and James Brolin star as two friends who choose Westworld for their adventure. After some shots of rotgut whiskey and an insult from the Gunslinger (Brynner). Brolin’s character goads Benjamin’s reluctant character into blowing a hole through the aggro android. It’s exhilarating and everybody has a good time. Anytime you have realistic androids, the chances of them going rogue is about 96% according to my movie stats. So, as expected “something” goes south and guests become unwilling victims to the killer robots. The Gunslinger in-particular, seems to hold a grudge as good as any man, and begins to pursue Benjamin. This was so scary to me as a kid, and it was easy to see why, it shared that sense of inescapable dread that John Carpenter’s Halloween was so good at. Being pursued by an unstoppable monster remains one of today’s best scare tactics. No one likes being chased by monsters, ghosts, chainsaw-weilding killers, or android cowboys. It’s in that sense of organic dread that we find clear, but organic themes of technology gone wrong. This is a lean ass sci-fi/horror flick that will remain relevant forever.
If that wasn’t enough, the score is amazing along with the cinematography. Michael Crichton’s lengthy camera pans and sense of style make the film immensely enjoyable. Don’t be tricked by a nearly forty-year old film about robots – this is the stuff of nightmares and I’m living proof.