This may be seen as sacrilege by the Monster Kid generation who grew up on the filmography of producer George Pal, but I much prefer the little-known “The Power” to his hit H.G. Wells adaptations, “The War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine.” This 1967 thriller was ahead of its time!
Researchers at a space lab “ here on Earth, mind you “ experiment with telekinesis, which is the power to move things with your mind. They start slow, with a makeshift top made of paper and pencil. Then one of them uses his or her gift to murder. Professors/lovers Jim Tanner and Margery Lansing (George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette, respectively) learn a fatal conspiracy is afoot when they discover one of their peers having been spun to death in one of those gravity whirlygigs. (That’s the scientific name, right?)
After being dismissed (with severance, whew!) from the team, Tanner grows ever the more paranoid as he rightly believes he’s being targeted next, culminating in an excellent, nightmare imagery-laden sequence in a funhouse that serves as one of the film’s high points. From there, he’s on the run, leading to another standout scene, at a swingin’ party where tension builds as you know something bad will happen well before the attendees do.
It’s kind of like David Cronenberg’s “Scanners,” although no heads explode. (Can you make do with a protruding tongue?) However, I was reminded more of John Carpenter’s “They Live” when Tanner begins seeing warnings around town reading, “DON’T RUN!” He doesn’t heed them, of course, and the chase culminates in a surprise ending that’s well-played, even today, not to mention all pop-arty in effects.
An incredibly effective Miklos Rozsa score matches Tanner’s rather justified hysteria. This is another manufactured-on-demand gem from Warner Archive well worth demanding. “Rod Lott