Swimming to Cambodia became an arthouse hit as Spaulding Gray gave a monologue on his time in Southeast Asia while making the Oscar winning The Killing Fields. Gray created hit so many points as he searched for a perfect moment while reflecting on the monumental film that covered such a horrific time in Cambodia. Years later Scott Thompson would also reflect on his small role in a movie as part of a monologue for a different response. His character Buddy Cole reflected about the experience with less than Gray’s fondness on an episode of The Kids In the Hall. “One day, some American thought, “Hey, I want to make a terrible movie in Canada. Everybody else has!” Why bother summing up how Scott was able to create his own Swimming to Canada when you can enjoy the four minutes of genius:
Thompson’s monologue about playing the best friend to the timekeeper was so amazing that it didn’t seem like the movie could exist. But this outlandish story about a big budget film starring Cheryl Ladd was all true. And now Millennium is coming to Blu-ray double featured with R.O.T.O.R..
Millennium (1989 – 106 minutes) opens with a massive airline wreck in Minnesota (because that’s as close as you can get to Canada without admitting your film is made in Canada). Except right before the 747 crashes, a crew member enters the cabin to discover something unsettling about the passengers. The viewers don’t get a clue since the plane hits the ground. It’s up to FAA investigator Kris Kristofferson (Heaven’s Gate) to puzzle piece the plane parts together to find out what caused this aviation disaster. Among those helping out is Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues) as a famous physicist who seems to be a tourist picking through torched metal. Also lurking around Kristofferson’s supposedly secured scene is Cheryl Ladd (Charlie’s Angels). She’s a very nervous and flirty stewardess hanging out at the hanger and serving up coffee to the FAA crew. Naturally Kris falls quickly for the quirky blonde. In near record time he leaves the devastation behind for a hot night at his hotel room with her. She tries to get him to quit the investigation and run off with her. But when he refuses, she just vanishes. Where has she gone? Into the future. Turns out she’s part of a post-apocalyptic era where they can only repopulate by going back into time and hijacking passengers off doomed airliners. It’s weird. And yes, Scott Thompson has a minor role in the control room. The film is a captivating plane wreck on many levels as it attempts to be a mystery science fiction time travelling romance at the end of humanity.
R.O.T.O.R. (1989 – 90 minutes) is an indie version of Robocop. Society is falling apart and the only chance at law and order is found inside Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. They are making the policeman of tomorrow who can perform his work without being compromised. Naturally there’s trouble in the lab which leads to this low grade robotic cop to go on a rampage for justice. He’s out to shorten the legal system by being cop, judge and executioner on minor crimes. Can Dallas survive this new form of law? The film seemed to be part of the straight to video trend of the late ’80s. The movie could easily appeal to viewers that were all about robotic cops on VHS. If the film feels a little bit cartoonish, that can be because director Cullen Blaine worked on Superfriends and co-writer Budd Lewis made his mark on The Smurfs. R.O.T.O.R. is not Saturday morning fun. But pure exploitation cinema from those who must have said, “We can make our own Robocop at 1/10th of the price!” They even brought in Michael Hunter from Robocop to link their film properly to the bigger property. Sadly Hunter has never done a monologue about dealing with robotic cops.
Millennium & R.O.T.O.R. are a fine double feature about people who dared to make movies outside the confines of Hollywood. Millennium attempts to go beyond a normal Hollywood film. R.O.T.O.R. wants to duplicate the success of a hit. Neither quite does what their creators intended. Yet both are fun to watch in a “what were they thinking” way.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfers look much better than their previous VHS fate. The special effects on Millennium looks rather good with the extra resolutions. The audio is DTS-HD Mono for R.O.T.O.R. and DTS-HD Stereo for Millennium. You’ll hear Cheryl Ladd bouncing through time. Both films are subtitled.
Millennium Trailer (1:42) really gets you eager for time travel weirdness of . Amazing to think 20th Century Fox is putting this out.
Alternate Ending (5:55) has a few extra moments from Millennium. It’s a strange ending shot that seems more romantic.
R.O.T.O.R.Trailer (1:53) sells us the concept of a robot cop will go “through a busload of nuns to get to a jaywalker.”
Scream Factory presents Millennium & R.O.T.O.R.. Directed by: Michael Anderson & Cullen Blaine. Starring: Kris Kristopherson, Cheryl Ladd, Michael Hunter and Scott Thompson. Rated: R & Unrated. Boxset Contents: 2 films on 1 Blu-ray disc. Released: February 23, 2016.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.