The Philadelphia Experiment

Year: 1984

Production: New World / Cinema Group / New Pictures

Director: Stewart Raffill

Starring: Michael Pare, Nancy Allen, Bobby Du Cucci, Eric Christmas

Screenwriter: William Gray, Michael Janover

Based on a story by Wallace Bennett and Don Jakoby, based in turn on the purportedly nonfictional The Bermuda Triangle (1979) by Williams I. Moore and Charles Berlitz

101 minutes; Color


In 1943 a device to render warships invisible to radar is tested, but instead it throws an entire destroyer and crew temporarily forward in time, where two crew members falls through a vortex into the 1984 Nevada desert. One of them (whose electromagnetic instability has been creating havoc) is later drawn back to 1943. The second, joined by a paradigmatic 1980s woman (Allen), undergoes the culture shock obligatory in all visiting-alien and time-travel films, refuses to believe that Reagan is president, looks up his buddy (now elderly), finds the time vortex is getting worse, and winds up - after a breif detour to 1943 during which he saves the world - back in 1984. The Philadelphia Experiment is silly as sf (having undergone many rewrites, including a script by John Carpenter) but fun. While not as amusing as Raffill's earlier The Ice Pirates (1984), it is better than his appallingly sentimental Mac and Me (1988), a film about cute aliens that appears to be an unacknowledged advertising campaign for Coca-Cola and MacDonalds. The sequel is The Philadelphia Experiment II (1993).

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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