The Philadelphia Experiment (film)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2011)|
|The Philadelphia Experiment|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stewart Raffill|
|Produced by||Pegi Brotman (assoc)
John Carpenter (exec)
Joel B. Michaels
|Written by||Wallace C. Bennett
Charles Berlitz (book)
William L. Moore (book)
Bobby Di Cicco
|Music by||Kenneth Wannberg|
|Editing by||Neil Travis|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
|Running time||102 minutes|
The Philadelphia Experiment is a 1984 science fiction film. It is directed by Stewart Raffill and stars Michael Paré, Bobby Di Cicco, and Nancy Allen and based on the urban legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. The movie is set in 1943 where two sailors, David Herdeg (Paré) and Jim Parker (Di Cicco), are stationed on a ship used for an experiment to make it invisible to radar. However, the experiment goes horribly wrong and Herdeg and Parker are the only two survivors. They both undergo time travel (because of the experiment) and find themselves in the Nevada desert in the year 1984.
- Michael Paré as David Herdeg
- Nancy Allen as Allison Hayes
- Eric Christmas as Dr. James Longstreet
- Bobby Di Cicco as Jim Parker
- Louise Latham as Pamela
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Barney
- Ralph Manza as Older Jim
In 1943 United States Navy sailors David Herdeg and Jim Parker are assigned to the destroyer escort USS Eldridge during a project to make it invisible to radar. The ship is in Philadelphia harbor, filled with equipment from a team led by Dr. James Longstreet. During the experiment the equipment begins malfunctioning and crewmen are suffering throughout the ship. Jim tries to turn off the equipment at the main switch but receives an electric shock. Unable to do anything, the two men jump overboard. They fly through a time vortex instead of landing in the harbor. Observers simply see the ship disappear.
David and Jim land in the middle of a small town, which immediately disappears, and are caught in a helicopter spotlight. They run till they get to an electrified fence, on which the helicopter crashes. After making their way through the desert, they find a highway. David picks up an empty bottle of Löwenbräu German beer and Jim finds an aluminum Coca Cola can, marveling at its lightness. David identifies the rusted remains of a 1930s Chevrolet, and they follow the highway to a diner.
Learning that they are in Nevada, David makes a phone call while Jim is intrigued by the television. He is feeling the side effects from his electric shock. There is also a mysterious electric storm affecting the area as well as Jim. David is waiting to use the phone while a young woman, Allison Hayes, is talking to someone about a job interview.
Jim inadvertently electrocutes an arcade game in the diner, and the upset diner owner grabs a revolver, demanding Jim pay for the damages. David grabs the gun and the men run, taking Allison's 1976 Ford Torino. Since he is unfamiliar with the car's automatic transmission, he takes Allison as a hostage and driver. They escape the diner and start quizzing Allison, finding out it is 1984. They reach a city, where Jim and David are shocked by modern society.
The police catch them and Jim is hospitalized. David and Allison speak with the doctor. David explains their time travel, assuming it is a common modern occurrence, but realizes the doctor doesn't believe him. Jim eventually dissolves in a sizzle of plasma-like energy. David and Allison then evade Naval Security, who have arrived to take David into custody.
At a motel they call Jim's family, who live in California on a ranch. David hears a familiar voice and hangs up, becoming despondent and angry. Allison is ready to leave him when he convinces her he needs her help. He sees President Ronald Reagan in a news conference and wonders if it is a movie. The next day they drive to California.
They reach the Parker ranch and knock. Jim's 1943 girlfriend Pamela recognizes David. She says Jim came back and was hospitalized for telling the truth about what happened. David asks about himself and finds out he never came back. A lot of the men on the Eldridge were burned and many died. David sees Jim in the distance riding a horse, but Jim refuses to speak with David. David and Allison see military police approaching, but manage to escape.
Longstreet has been investigating a mystery at the Nevada military base. A town has disappeared, but a piece of the Eldridge is found in the desert. They fire a camera probe into the vortex in the sky. Before the signal is cut off, the camera shows the "town" and the Eldridge.
David is able to get back onto the base the two men landed in the day before. Longstreet is there and tells the guards to let David in and shows him the situation.
Longstreet is still experimenting with the same concept, this time to protect a small town from ICBM attack. This second experiment also went awry, but as opposed to the Eldridge in 1943 the town didn't reappear. Instead, the vortex created by the experiment stays open, and starts sucking matter into it. After firing a probe at it, the camera reveals images of the missing town and the Eldridge. Longstreet understands there is still a generator running somewhere in hyperspace on the Eldridge, providing the vortex with the energy to stay open.
According to history, the Eldridge reappeared when David shut down the generator. Longstreet says that unless the vortex is closed it will suck in and destroy the Earth. David must go through the vortex and return to the Eldridge and shut off the generator.
Allison urges David not to do it, but he volunteers and is outfitted in an astronaut-type suit to protect him. He is driven out and catapulted into the vortex. David lands on the deck of the Eldridge where he finds the crew in agony, some fused into the ship's hull. He hurries to the generator room and begins smashing equipment. The generator shuts down and David looks for Jim. Assured that Jim is fine, David jumps over the side of the ship and disappears. The Eldridge reappears in Philadelphia harbor.
Likewise, in 1984 the missing town reappears. Allison steals a jeep to drive to it. She calls out and David reappears, proclaiming, "I got it all figured out. The Navy owes me 40 years back pay."
- 1985, Nancy Allen was nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for the Saturn Award for Best Actress.
- 1985, Stewart Raffill won the Best Film Award at Fantafestival.
Sequel and remake
- A sequel called Philadelphia Experiment II, featuring a different cast and crew, was released in 1993.
- A made-for-television reconception of the original film was released in 2012 on SyFy. Michael Paré also appears in this version, but in a different role.
- The Final Countdown (film) - (1980) - A reverse plot of this film.
- Axis of time
- Forever Young (1992 film) - Time travel genre through Cryostasis (clathrate hydrates)
- Portals in fiction
- The Philadelphia Experiment at the Internet Movie Database
- The Philadelphia Experiment at AllMovie
- The Philadelphia Experiment (2012) at the Internet Movie Database