Parts: The Clonus Horror

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Parts: The Clonus Horror
Parts The Clonus Horror (poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert S. Fiveson
Screenplay byBob Sullivan
Ron Smith
Myrl A. Schreibman
Robert S. Fiveson
Story byBob Sullivan
Produced byRobert S. Fiveson
Myrl A. Schreibman
CinematographyMax Beaufort
Edited byRobert Gordon
Music byHod David Schudson
Distributed byGroup 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd.
Release date
  • August 1979 (1979-08) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3 million

Parts: The Clonus Horror, also known as The Clonus Horror, or simply Clonus, is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Robert S. Fiveson, and stars Peter Graves, Tim Donnelly, Dick Sargent, Keenan Wynn, Paulette Breen and Frank Ashmore. The film is about an isolated community in a remote desert area, where clones are bred to serve as a source of replacement organs for the wealthy and powerful. The film won a Saturn Award at the 7th Saturn Awards, nationally televised in July 1980, in the category Best Film Produced for Under $1,000,000.

Parts: The Clonus Horror was featured on the comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. In 2005, the filmmakers filed a lawsuit against DreamWorks Pictures for copyright infringement, citing numerous similarities between Clonus and The Island. The two parties reached a settlement, with the amount settled being seven-figures and other specific terms being court-sealed.


The film takes place in an isolated desert compound called Clonus, where clones are bred to be used as replacement parts for the elite, including a soon to be president-elect Jeffrey Knight (Peter Graves). The clones are kept isolated from the real world by workers of the colony, but are promised to be "accepted" to move to "America" after they have completed some type of physical training. After a group of clones are chosen to go to "America", they are given a party and a farewell celebration with their fellow clones. The chosen clones are then taken to a lab where they are sedated and placed in an airtight plastic bag, and their bodies are frozen in order to preserve their organs for harvest.

The story surrounds clone Richard (Tim Donnelly) who begins to question the circumstances of his existence and eventually escapes the colony. Pursued by compound guards, the clone enters a nearby city. The clone is found by a retired journalist, Jake Noble (Keenan Wynn) who takes him to his sponsor, Richard Knight, who happens to be the brother of Jeffrey Knight. The Knights argue over what to do with the clone (who is revealed to be a clone Jeffrey had secretly made for himself).

After a falling out, Richard's clone returns to the colony to reunite with his love interest, Lena (Paulette Breen). To his horror, the clone finds that Lena has been lobotomized by those running the colony. They had used her for bait to trap the clone. Once they have him in custody, they kill and freeze him. Meanwhile, Clonus completes its cover-up by hiring thugs to murder Richard Knight, his son, and the Nobles. Jeffrey Knight is stabbed through the chest in the ensuing struggle with his brother, but appears fine the next day at a press conference, where he is stunned to find that Noble had, before his death, managed to disseminate a secret tape to the news media, exposing the Clonus project. The final shot shows Richard's frozen corpse with an open chest and a tear coming out of his eye.



Parts: The Clonus Horror was written by Bob Sullivan. The idea for the script came while Sullivan was taking a screenwriting class at the University of Southern California. The class was taught by Irwin Blacker, a story editor for Bonanza.[1] The movie was directed by Sullivan's classmate Robert Fiveson.[2] Production began in Southern California in September 1978 with a budget of $350,000. In exchange for making a donation to the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the town of Simi Valley, California was rented for the picture. Students from a local college received class credit for working on the film. On-screen credit was given to people who offered the production crew dinner, tennis shoes, and bicycles.[3]

The original title Robert Fiveson intended was "Clonus". The film distributor meanwhile wanted it to be called "Parts", much to the protest of Fiveson. Eventually the two titles were combined to make it Parts: The Clonus Horror.[4] The Clonus compound was shot at the then new campus for Moorpark College in Moorpark, California.[5][6]


Box office gross for the film in the United Kingdom at the end of 1979 ended at £1,680,000.[7] By November 1979, the film grossed nearly $3,000,000.[3]

The film has been released by Mondo Macabro under the title Clonus.[8]


Blockbuster Entertainment gave the film two stars, calling it an "Interesting suspenser."[9] Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide also gave it two stars, describing it as "Watchable, but uninspired".[10] VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever by Jim Craddock gave it one and a half stars.[11] John Kenneth Muir called it "A compelling low-budget film that despite lapses in taste and style has the sweet odor of paranoia all over it."[12] Robert C. Trussell for The Kansas City Star praised the cast and its social commentary, saying it deserved cult classic status.[13] Linda Gross from The Los Angeles Times gave praise to the films cinematography and art direction.[14]

Fangoria gave it three stars. While criticizing the acting and writing as "awkward", praise was given for its political subtext in the film.[15] Time Out called the film a "Competent and engrossing sci-fi thriller in the Coma vein", speaking positive on its ethics.[16] TV Guide gave the movie two stars, saying it was undermined by its budget and was derivative of Coma, Logan's Run, and These Are the Damned.[6] In 1980, the film won the "Best Film Produced for Under $500,000" category at the 7th Saturn Awards.[17]

Mystery Science Theater 3000[edit]

Parts: The Clonus Horror was featured in an eighth-season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), a comedy television series whose premise is that the character Mike Nelson and his two robot friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo are forced to watch bad films as part of an ongoing scientific experiment. The episode aired on the Sci-Fi Channel in June 1997. In 2007, Rhino Video released the MST3K episode as part of the "Volume 12" DVD collection of the series along with The Rebel Set, Secret Agent Super Dragon, and The Starfighters. The DVD release of the MST3K episode includes an interview with Fiveson, who discusses the production of Clonus and the Island lawsuit.[18] Though hesitant about it for the first five minutes, director Robert Fiveson said that he felt "honored" that the film made it onto the show.[19] Shout! Factory re-released the boxset in 2019.[20]


The big-budget 2005 DreamWorks production The Island, also about a colony that breeds clones to harvest organs for the elite, mirrors Clonus in a number of ways. The makers of Clonus filed suit, claiming copyright infringement.[21][22] On August 25, 2006, the court presiding over this case ruled that it could proceed to trial.[23] When asked about the similarities, former MST3K host Mike Nelson called The Island a "pale copy of Parts: The Clonus Horror."[24]

According to a 2007 interview with Clonus screenwriter Bob Sullivan, DreamWorks and Clonus Associates reached a settlement, the specific terms of which are sealed. According to Sullivan, the amount settled on was in the seven-figure range.[1]



  1. ^ a b Walker, Albert (May 17, 2007). "An Interview with Bob Sullivan, Clonus screenwriter". AgonyBooth. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  2. ^ Greto, Victor (June 25, 2007). "Of clones and other copies". The News Journal. p. E1 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ a b Taylor, Robert (November 24, 1979). "How to clone a low-budget film". Oakland Tribune. pp. A8–A9 – via
  4. ^ Walker, Albert (January 8, 2006). "An Interview with Robert Fiveson". The Agony Booth. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007.
  5. ^ Ward, Mike (October 3, 2004). "The Silent Future". Popmatters. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "The Clonus Horror - Movie Review". TV Guide. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  7. ^ Crawley, Tony (June 1980). "Top Fantasy Films of 1979". Starburst. No. 22. pp. 24–25.
  8. ^ Newman 2008, p. 346.
  9. ^ Blockbuster Entertainment 1994, p. 820.
  10. ^ Maltin 2006, p. 1009.
  11. ^ Craddock 1995, p. 268.
  12. ^ Muir 2002, p. 590.
  13. ^ Trussell, Robert (August 8, 1979). "'Parts': It's More Than a Graft of 'Coma'". The Kansas City Star. p. 9A – via
  14. ^ Gross, Linda (November 10, 1979). "Brave Old World in 'Clonus Horror'". The Los Angeles Times. p. 9 – via
  15. ^ Gingold, Michael; Kieran, Matthew (April 2005). "DVD Dungeon". Fangoria. No. 242. pp. 65–66.
  16. ^ "Parts: the Clonus Horror". Time Out. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  17. ^ "Skywalker Meets Stella Star!". Famous Monsters of Filmland. No. 170. January 1981. pp. 26–29.
  18. ^ Sinnott, John (October 30, 2007). "Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 12". DVD Talk. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  19. ^ "Interview with Director Robert Fiveson", "Special Features", Parts: The Clonus Horror disc, Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD Collection, Volume 12, October 2007.
  20. ^ Sheehan, Gavin (November 23, 2019). "Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XII". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  21. ^ Arched, Army; Snyder, Gabriel (August 9, 2005). "Was 'The Island' cloned?". Variety. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009.
  22. ^ Rahner, Mark (August 10, 2005). "Cloning scuffle between "Island," "Clonus"". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "CLONUS ASSOCIATES v. DREAMWORKS, LLC | 457 F.Supp.2d 432 (2006)". 2006-08-25. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  24. ^ Berger, Arion (July 26, 2005). "Did Bay Say 'Copy That'?". The Washington Post.


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