Lava LampLava LampLava Lamp
Our rating: three lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

The giant robot Kronos.
Back in the fifties, the heroes of science fiction movies were all virile scientists. We don't see much of that anymore, except in comedies where we are asked to believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a multiple doctorate. Today, the heroes of science fiction films are all action types, while the scientists are nerding it up away from the explosions. As a matter of fact, movies like Armageddon seem to suggest that being a scientist can actually be a liability when dealing with an unusual threat.

All of that brings us to Kronos. Kronos does have a nerdy scientist, played by George O'Hanlon. This guy, Dr. Arnold Culver, is so nerdy he looks like Orville Redenbacher's boring cousin. He spends most of his time taking care of a super computer named S.U.S.I.E., which is a wonderful example of 1950's technology. S.U.S.I.E. is about the size of the football field, but has no discernible functions or means of output -- although it can beep and squeal in a decidedly R2D2-like fashion. Like many other pieces of 1950's science, S.U.S.I.E. appears to be science for science's sake, and nary a thought was expended on what S.U.S.I.E. might actually do. Another great example of fifties technology is the "alpha room" which has walls 4 feet thick to repel all known kinds of radio activity. However, the hatch to the room is only 4 inches thick. Apparently these scientists are counting on radioactive rays to be too stupid to use the door.

"Les, I know we're both men, but...
I think I love you!"
The main character, Dr. Leslie "Les" Gaskill (Jeff Morrow) is a studly kind of scientist. He's smart, of course, but he's also manly enough to hit on the beautiful woman who works at the same observatory he does. She's Vera Hunter (Barbara Lawrence), and of course she isn't a scientist -- she works in the observatory's basement dark room. She's being kept in her place, apparently.

The observatory where Gaskill, Culver, and Hunter work is a pretty busy place, mainly because an alien intelligence has taken over the observatory's head scientist, and a mysterious meteor is heading towards Earth. After surviving a nuclear barrage (courtesy the U.S. military), the meteor (which looks an awful lot like a flying saucer -- didn't they notice?) lands off the coast of Mexico, and our heroes go to Mexico to investigate.

Meanwhile, the alien-possessed Dr. Hubbell Eliot is sent to a mental asylum, where a bout of shock treatment (oy!) quickly brings the patient back to his senses. However, the poor guy now suffers delusions that some other intelligence is inside him, threatening to take over his body, and then the world -- by means of a giant robot which just landed off the coast of Mexico. All of the alien's plans come pouring out of this pathetic man, and the doctor thinks it's mere delusion. A clever exposition device, that.

The headline that says it all.
Sure enough, the robot shows up, and the alien in Eliot's body escapes the hospital before he is exposed. The Pentagon has few qualms with the doctor's credibility after his stay in a mental institution, and so the alien is free to pull the necessary strings that keep Kronos in action, sucking the energy from Mexican power plants. It is then left up to the virile Les (motto: "Les is more") and his crew to stop Kronos once and for all.

Kronos is a terrific example of the 1950's science fiction movies that have been featured on UHF channels on many a Saturday afternoon. One can plainly see the roots of modern science fiction in these cheesy productions, right down to the technobabble. Where a Star Trek engineer might complain about the calibration of the warp coils, the pasty Arnie Culver proclaims that "the interlace in the diode loop went right out of sync for no reason!"

Kronos also features the familiar traits that marked budget entertainment in those days -- stock footage montages, miniature models shot in wonky scales, and the use of spinning newspaper titles to convey important information. Unfortunately, Kronos was shot in "Regalscope," which means that in today's pan-
"Computers in the future may weigh no more
than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, 1949.
and-scan era, most of the headlines on those papers were cut off, rendering them all but unreadable. As you can see in the picture we've included, one of those headlines merely says "LUR." We have no idea what LUR could mean, except "This picture needs to be letterboxed!" We're so curious about this that we'll give a free previewed VHS copy of From Dusk Till Dawn to the first person who comes up with a plausible guess at what headline might contain the letters LUR. (No, Dr. FreeX, you can't participate.) (This contest is over. The word was "failure." Thanks to those who wrote in!)

Our favorite feature of Kronos, by far, is the casting of George O'Hanlon as the aforementioned nerd, Arnie Culver. We knew he was familiar for some reason, but the reason escaped us until Scott finally placed O'Hanlon's voice: George O'Hanlon is also known as George Jetson. No wonder all those scenes where Arnie fretted over a computer seemed to trigger something deep in our reptilian brains. We also discovered O'Hanlon's earlier clame to fame -- his role as Joe McDoakes in a series of comedy shorts called So you want to.... We haven't seen any of these, but they look pretty amusing, especially judging from the titles of the later shorts, including So You Want to Be a Bachelor, So You Don't Trust Your Wife, So You Want to Be an Heir, and So Your Wife Wants to Work.

The movie ends with Les coming up with some plan to destroy Kronos. We're not sure what that plan was, even after seeing it in action. It seemed to involve stock footage of a military plane, a weather vane, and a bunch of white guys reading off numbers. We're pretty sure it all boiled down to reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, or something. Weren't the fifties grand?

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 11/24/98

This review is © copyright 1998 Chris Holland & Scott Hamilton. Blah blah blah. Please don't claim that it's yours blah blah, but feel free to e-mail it to friends, or better yet, send them the URL. To reproduce this review in another form, please contact us at Blah blah blah blah.