Sunday Matinee: Westworld

On March 5, 2013, Warner Brothers is releasing the 1973 science-fiction thriller Westworld on Blu-ray. Written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton the film is about a futuristic amusement park.

The amusement park called Delos promises “Have we got a vacation for you!”. For a mere $1,000 a day, visitors can visit three different worlds. Roman World which is like ancient Rome, Medieval World, with swords and torture chambers and of course West World which is an old west setting. Everything is populated by robots and you can do whatever you want, sex and killings are plentiful.

Richard Benjamin and James Brolin are two vacationers set for West World for a chance to live it up as a couple of cowboys. They plan to have a good old time by getting into gunfights, barfights, etc. Then some minor things go wrong. Brolin is bitten by a robot snake when that’s not supposed to happen. In the other worlds more things start to go wrong. Things come to a head when the robots start to revolt and Benjamin finds himself being stalked by the gunslinger robot played by Yul Brynner.

The film has influenced a generation of science fiction. John Carpenter based Michael Meyers on Yul Brynner’s character and James Cameron’s The Terminator seems to owe a bit to the character. There’s a chase through a factory, the robot is set on fire and yet it still goes after its quarry. Hmm, sounds strangely familiar.

This was Crichton’s feature film directorial debut, he had previous directed a made for TV movie called Pursuit. Crichton would later recycle this film’s plot but change out the robots for dinosaurs when he wrote Jurassic Park. The film was parodied in The Simpsons in the episode Itchy and Scratchy Land. A sequel was made starring Peter Fonda but it changed the plot to something about replacing people with robot duplicates. Shout Factory is releasing it on Blu-ray on March 26th. The sequel was successful enough to have a very brief TV show spin-off called Beyond Westworld. It only lasted three episodes.

The film also had a very amusing tagline “…Where nothing can possibly go worng!”

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.

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