Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Lucifer Complex (1978)

Film history is rife with stories about producers who had to cut corners because they ran out of money midway through filming, and we tend to remember the enterprising film professionals who responded to hardship with creativity. Understandably lost in the shuffle are embarrassments along the lines of The Lucifer Complex, which likely represents an unsuccessful attempt at stretching footage from an incomplete movie to feature length. Ostensibly, the picture is about a government agent (Robert Vaughn) investigating and trying to defeat a group of Florida-based neo-Nazis who want to build a Fourth Reich around a clone of Adolf Hitler. (Yes, the plot is shamelessly stolen from Ira Levin’s novel The Boys from Brazil, which was adapted into a big-budget feature released around the same time as The Lucifer Complex.) However, the far-fetched thriller featuring Vaughn is really just part of The Lucifer Complex. The movie actually begins on a tropical island, where a mystery man wanders into a cave filled with computers and then watches video recordings of human history until settling into his seat and watching the “historical record” of the storyline featuring Vaughn’s character. The drab business of the mystery man watching videos takes nearly 20 minutes of screen time, meaning that almost a third of the movie is over before the story begins. There’s no point searching for redeeming values in The Lucifer Complex, because the flick is so cheap, disjointed, nonsensical, and tiresome that the producers would have been better off selling their material as stock footage than actually assembling it into a feature. Except that option wouldn’t have been available to them, since most of those interminable first 20 minutes are already composed of stock footage. As for Vaughn, his obvious disinterest makes sense. Same goes for costars Aldo Ray and Keenan Wynn, each of whom sleepwalks through a minor supporting role.

The Lucifer Complex: SQUARE

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