The Philadelphia Experiment

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Michael Pare, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby DiCicco
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

’The Philadelphia Experiment’ is a sci-fi/adventure film that opens in 1943, where the Navy is conducting an experiment, which will render a battleship invisible to enemy radar. But something goes wrong during the experiment and two sailors, David (Michael Pare) and Jimmy (Bobby DiCicco) are sent forward in time to the year 1984. David and Jimmy are now trapped in a future, which they don’t understand. After a misunderstanding/kidnapping, they enlist the help of Allison (Nancy Allen), who agrees to assist the two lost souls. Meanwhile, another experiment in the present has opened a rift in time and is threatening to absorb reality as we know it. As David attempts to confront his friends from the past, the man responsible for the two experiments, Dr. Longstreet (Eric Christmas), begins to realize that David may be the only person who can save the world.

’The Philadelphia Experiment’ is clearly rooted in B-movie territory with its ensemble cast and overblown story. The film is also a great deal of fun and a reminder of what good, old-fashioned science fiction can be. The movie does a good job of mixing the time travel plot with some nice special effects (for the time) and some corny dramatics. The intriguing story is able to overcome the fact that neither Pare nor Allen are in any danger of being awarded an Oscar for their performances. The film rarely drags, and while the climax is predictable, it is nonetheless well-played. This movie is a throwback to the days of 1950’s sci-fi epics (not surprising, as John Carpenter is the executive producer), where the story and drama is pushed to the forefront. ’The Philadelphia Experiment’ may come across as a bit hokey at times, but it does treat the material seriously and thus, is successful in the end.

The Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD of ’The Philadelphia Experiment’ brings us the film in an anamorphic widescreen, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1. This digital transfer offers an image that is very crisp and clear, but does show a slight bit of noise and some minor defects from the source print. There is a subtle level of grain visible throughout the film, which worsens during certain scenes. The scenes which include an abundance of special effects (mostly the ’vortex’ scenes), appear a bit dark. However, considering the age and original budget of ’The Philadelphia Experiment’, this is a very nice transfer. The visual image shows no apparent complications from compression.

The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix (there is also an alternate Dolby 2-channel Surround mix), which sounds very good. While there isn’t much of a stereo sound field created by the surround sound, the mix does spread the audio around the room, giving the illusion that you are watching a much bigger movie. The only extra on the DVD is the original theatrical trailer for ’The Phildadelphia Experiment’, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1. If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi, then take a trip back in time with this film which features two men going forward in time.