Forgotten Made for Television “Classics”
KILLER DOZER (ABC 1974)
Long before “Maxime Overdrive”, “Christine” or “The Car”, "Killer Dozer" appeared as a Saturday Night Movie of the Week on the ABC Television Network.
Universal Television now known for the production of “The Blacklist”, “Manifest” “Law & Order; Special Victims Unit” back in 1974 produced several made for T.V. movies, one of these was filmed in Indian Dunes, Valencia, California, and became known as “Kill Dozer”
The storyline of the film was a crew of construction workers was sent to a small island to construct an airfield. A large Bulldozer strikes an object and is taken over by an ancient or alien entity. Over the next day, this large, slow-moving, bright yellow-painted, loud piece of equipment will outwit and murder most of a construction crew.
This film will develop a following over time and be mentioned in 1993 on a “Beavis & Butthead” episode and in 2009 on the “TONIGHT SHOW with Conan O'Brien” and appear as the movie on “Svengoolie” in 1997.
Most people familiar with actors from the late 1960s to early 1980s will recognize the construction crew almost at once. A great list of character actors makes up this crew of construction misfits led by Clint Walker.
This film was directed by Jerry London who was well known for his work in numerous television series during this time including “The Rockford Files”, “Police Story” “Six Million Dollar Man” and many others. I can remember reading once that it was said he understood television network budgets and how to get things done on schedule and time. In my opinion a truly remarkable talented director, producer, and writer.
The screenplay came from a novel written by science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon who wrote numerous interesting pieces used in Star Trek novels, The T.V. series “Invaders” and other productions.
The producer of this ABC Movie of the week was Herbert Solow a talented producer, writer, director, and much, much more.
This film was not short of great talent behind the camera and had a solid cast of a well-known supporting cast of performers. Carl Beltz, Neville Brand, James Wainwright, a young Robert Urich, and James Watson Jr. all gave good performances as they were outwitted by a large, very loud, slow-moving, bright yellow killing machine.
The effects for this film were basic but effective, the destruction of the construction camp was simple but interesting. The battle between heavy equipment that occurred during the climax of this film was interesting but if it had been longer, I believe it could have been more memorable.
An important thing to remember about the time of this film, the big three networks of the day ABC, NBC, and CBS were completing sometimes with limited budgets. Movies were often created to fit 120-minute time slots with commercials included. “Killer Dozer” had limited time to create the creature or entity, kill off most of the performers and meet its demise. After all, we had commercial sponsors like “Pledge” “Alka-Seltzer” or your favorite soda of the era.
In 1974 this television film scared many small children; ABC would be amazed about the number of people that would talk about this film in lunchrooms around North America for several days after it first appeared on television. I can remember back in elementary school this being a topic in the classroom the Monday after the film appeared.
RATING THIS MADE FOR TELEVISION “CLASSIC”
Things to consider
- First-rate class of “character” actors
- Large Yellow Killing Machine
- Location of the film
- Effects and the short but epic machine-on-machine battle.
- Scare fact for the time
This film gets a 6 / 10 on television movies
I would like to say that if this film was created in the last ten years, we would have had bloody corpses, shrieks, screams, and at least one person expelling a wave of profanities during the film. Very little would have been left for the imagination to work with.
This was 1974 and due to public opinion, advertisers' values the imagination was very much left in charge of all these things. Children were scared and ran to their parents’ rooms, not always because of what they saw but what their imagination projected.
About the Creator
A Fifty something male that enjoys writing short stories, scripts and poetry. I have had many different types of work over my lifetime and consider myself fairly open minded and able to speak on many topics.