The Philadelphia Experiment – movie review – 1984 Blog-a-thon


This review is part of Forgotten Films Blog, 1984 Blog-A-Thon which is covering just about every film released in 1984. When deciding to participate, I looked over the list and chose to review, The Philadelphia Experiment. I hadn’t seen the movie in many years, but I remember liking it. This would give me the perfect opportunity to revisit this film.

philadelphia experiment -pic 4

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

Directed by Stewart Raffill
produced by John Carpenter

Michael Paré
Bobby Di Cicco
Nancy Allen
This sci-fi film concerns an urban legend about the US Navy experimenting with a cloaking device in 1943, and the mishap that arises from the ill-fated experiment. When the naval vessel, The USS Eldridge, goes completely invisible it actually travels in time. When it returned several minutes later, it is said that some of the crew members were fused into the bulkhead and deck of the ship itself. Some crew members came back inside-out and others experienced long term mental problems. It is also said, with a flash of light, the Eldridge was sighted in Northport Virginia, over 200 miles away from Philadelphia for those few minutes.

In the film, we follow two sailors, Dave and Jim, crew members on the Eldridge at the time of the experiment. They travel with the ship from 1943 and jump off in 1984, in a Nevada desert. They discover that the experiment was being revisited in 1984 and the new experiment interacted with philadelphia experiment -movie-posterthe original creating a vortex or wormhole between the two time periods.

The sailors are immediately being chased by the modern military. They hide out in a dinner where they meet Allison (Dave’s love interest for the film). Not able to drive a modern car, they get Allison to drive and flee the scene with them. The military attempts to end the experiment but the vortex keeps getting bigger, threatening to suck towns and whole cities into the space hole. Eventually, the military needs David’s help in closing the vortex and he is sent into the maelstrom where he will shut down the generator on the Eldridge, therefore severing the link.

I must say, I liked this film better when I first saw it in the 1984 than I like it now. The problem is that this film is book ended with two interesting and gratifying sequences, but the middle is bogged down with the budding romance of Dave and Allison. Some of the dialogue is hokey, but to be expected from a film that is 30 years old. There are a few time warp discoveries for the two men and Allison, but they are nothing mind blowing for a film about time travel. Considering this was released the same year as Terminator, I think they could have infused something more paradox.

I do like that Nancy Allen’s character is named Allison Hayes, an homage to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The TV in the diner is showing Humanoids From the Deep which I reviewed just a few weeks ago. The TV in the Motel room plays part of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. We also see an Ad for a very early computer. The effects in the film are dated, even for 1984, but convey the story well enough. The biggest aspect in time travel discovery is the actual film itself. As the men from 1943 look strangely at Pay Telephones, Cars with Chrome Bumpers, and free-standing Arcade Games, I am reminded that my children would probably look at these items the same way today as our movie characters do in 1984.

Some of my disappointment with the film is that my memories got this mixed up with another film about the same subject matter, released around the same time called, The Final Countdown. TFC had better special-fx and because of that, I was waiting for scenes in The Philadelphia Experiment that never came.

All in all, it’s not a bad movie, perhaps just a little light on the sci-fi aspect for such a serious film subject.

I give it 3.3 wormholes out of 5 for vanishing vessels and valiant heroics.

My Top 10 Horror-Comedies of All Time

My Top 10 Horror-Comedies of All Time:

I think the best of this genre captures the scares and chills of a top notch horror film and the true comedic elements that can make us laugh out loud. It was not easy to whittle this list down to ten. I also took into consideration, solid storyline and plot.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
What more can be said about this horror comedy classic? Early in the film the zombies are taking over but nobody seems to notice that their actions are any different from the rest of the populous. Throwing old records at the girl Zombie, taking a cell call at the most desperate of moments, pulling the shade down when you notice hundreds of zombies outside the window (that’ll help), and wanting to spend time at the pub until this whole apocalypse thing blows over; there is too much funny stuff in this film to mention. But it also has a terrific story and plot.


Black Sheep (2007)
There is something that I find hysterical about hundreds of sheep appearing over the hilltop, bah bahing away, then viciously attacking a bunch of dinner guests at an outdoor party. And, wait until you find out where these mutated sheep are coming from. This film is really crazy, funny, gory, and action packed. I’ll never look at a sheep the same way. No more counting sheep when I can‘t sleep… they bite.


Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
This is the only film that puts all three Universal top monsters in the same film, at the same time. Lon Chaney Jr. and Bella Lugosi reprise roles as The Wolfman and Dracula. Glenn Strange retains the classic look as the Frankenstein Monster and delivers a convincing role. This film has all the elements of the monster’s individual films plus the hyjinx and pratfalls of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Highlights include, the sliding candle, Frankenstein seeing Costello for the first time and getting frightened, a raging battle between Dracula and the Wolfman, and the “Untie the boat!” sequence.


Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The split dog and the medical cadaver zombie, the zombie talking into the cop-car radio, saying, “send back-ups!”, the kid whining about how much it hurts to die, and the frantic antics of James Karen, and Thom Mathews as Frank and Freddy, make this film one of my top horror-comedies. Plus, there are some great memorable Zombies: the chrome dome zombie and the half lady strapped to the table, for instance. And, don’t forget we have a punk’d out Linnea Quigley running around half naked thru the whole movie (or is it: running around totally naked, thru half the movie?). This film was hysterical when it came out and I still enjoy watching it to this day.

Fright Night (1985)
Teenager, Charley Brewster, thinks his next door neighbor is the undead but no one will believe him. He calls on Peter Vincent, a popular vampire killer in movies. Only to set the kid’s mind at ease, Vincent agrees to visit the Dandridge home but accidentally discovers, the guy is an actual vampire. Meanwhile, Charley’s bud, Ed, turns onto a wolf, his girlfreind sprouts fangs and has a mouth about two miles wide, and its up to him and Vincent to save the day. Dandridge turns into a giant bat at dawn, his cohort melts on the stairs, and Ed’s evil laugh stays with you long after the movie is over. Sure it’s a bit corny, but it’s a fun film and has some great old school FX.

Army of Darkness (1992)
While I would consider Evil Dead I & II horror movies with a few genius splashes of comedy (the eyeball in the mouth comes to mind), Army of Darkness was a full tilt horror-comedy. The 10-minute battle with the demon-witch in the pit, the choosing of the Necronimicon (stretch-face), and the evil Ashe battles are comedy gold. The three stooges-like, slap-stick antics with the mini Ashe creatures… I could not stop laughing!


Dead Alive (1992)
Just the idea of mother and the reverse birth, it’s so disgusting you have to laugh. But that’s not all folks, ‘cause this film’s got; the martial arts expert priest (heads and limbs flying off with each karate chop), a lawnmower strapped to our hero’s chest (Why you ask? To clear a path through the zombies, of course), Mom’s disgusting table manners (enjoy the soup), a gnarly looking rat, and the little fester baby… Everything in this film is taken to the extreme in comedy-gore. So gross, so funny.


Feast (2005)
Dismissed early-on by horror fans because it was part of Project GreenLight, (funded by Damon and Affleck) – If you never watched this film because of that or any other reason, you are missing one great horror-comedy. The film is funny, with plenty of hard hitting action, violence, original monsters and a strong R rating! Another lazy night in a Texas bar on the outskirts of Anytown, USA, turns into a war between humans and monsters as a horde of creatures move in from the desert looking for some eats (humans) and to procreate, (like the usual barfly’s).  Most of the bar goers are just mangled and eaten by these creatures and one woman is even raped by one. A distraught barmaid tries to protect her young son as the night spins out of control. Casting Henry Rollins as the level-headed, motivational speaker was classic! Did I mention tons of gore?

Ghostbusters (1984)
I’m usually not a big fan of the big blockbuster, big label movies – films have to have a bit of quirkiness for me to really like them. However, there is no denying that Ghostbusters got everything right and made a fantastic horror-comedy. Forget ‘Slimer‘, that is the fluff part of the film. There are some really excellent ghosts and entities to be found in Ghostbusters along with the hysterical antics of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd. The Librarian ghost is classic – and we all remember the plan, “Get her!” We have Zuul, Gozer the Gozerian, the key master and the gatekeeper and the other world portal on the 80th floor of a NY skyscraper. Then, to top it off, something so ridiculous, whoever thought of it is nothing less than genius. That’s right; I’m talking about the giant Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man.


House (1986)
The excitement of Roger, played by William Katt, trying to capture a picture of the entities emanating from his closet after midnight is quite humorous. Then he tries to get his straight-laced neighbor, played by George Wendt, to witness it in a classic comedic scene. This flick comes with a solid back-story(s), multiple plot-lines, and some real funny and anxiety inducing moments. We also got, Aunt Elizabeth, the crawling hand, the angry Vietnam soldier and the tool-shed! Lotsa’ freaky Fun!


the master list of horror comedies
Also considered: Gremlins, The Lost Boys, Slither, BeetleJuice, Zombieland, Bride of Chucky, Hold That Ghost (Abbott and Costello), Little Shop of Horrors, Young Frankenstein, Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Frighteners, Cemetery Man, An American Werewolf in London, Mars Attacks, Scared Stiff (Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis), The Goonies, Arachnophobia, Teen Wolf, Critters, Vamp, Otis, The Monster Squad, Idle Hands, Toxic Avenger, Jack Brookes: Monster Slayer, My Name is Bruce, The Swamp Thing, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Dead and Breakfast, Santa’s Slay, The Gingerdead Man, Monsturd, The Evil Bong, Fido, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Little Nicky, Bedeviled, Scary Movie (1-4), Idle Hands, Leprechaun, Dr, Giggles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Society, The Burbs, Elvira – Mistress of the Dark, Basketcase, Eight Legged Freaks…

got any to add?