Clonus is a lush, top secret community in southern California where its good citizens are raised and trained daily for their deportment to glorious America. Bike riding, jogging, push-ups, educational lectures and cafeteria food are the order of the day, but something is obviously awry here. The inhabitants of Clonus are kept under watch by armed guards masquerading as helpful advisors or aides, while the entire grounds are constantly surveyed by white coat scientists and their keenly placed video cameras and monitors. It’s an odd place for sure, but everyone seems content, most times even downright giddy with anticipation of things to come.
Apparently, going to America is the ultimate goal of these residents, and one by one they merrily leave their friends and loved ones for the promised land, but why is it that they never come back for a visit? Also, despite their overt happiness and willingness to be groomed for utopia, why is it that they all exhibit vapid, vacant stares of plastic happiness and obedience? On the surface it all appears so very perfect, but all is not perfect, and as with most police state societies there are inherent problems. Of course Clonus is no exception to the rule and their troubles began with an empty beer can. An Old Milwaukee beer can.
Clonus dweller Richard discovers this beer can while hiking and figures it to be of great importance as it must’ve come from America. He brings it to the attention of his counselors and his questions and concerns are immediately diverted; or are they? Richard displays a blank stare like the others but we soon learn that he possesses a higher intelligence level than the rest (i.e. he questions and ponders things). Soon Richard meets the like-minded and equally inquisitive Lena and together they begin to investigate Clonus and its intentions. Eventually our sleuths discover that America is really a warehouse containing gigantic zip-locked baggies freshly vaccu-packed with their freeze dried friends; but why?
Upon further investigation, a video tape is found that tells of Clonus and the governmental experiments involving the process of cloning. From this newfound evidence Richard deduces that he is in fact a clone himself and narrowly escapes his homeland in search of civilization and his other half. Does Richard find his counterpart? He sure does, and he is in the form of a brilliant college professor, which explains Richard’s high intellect. Professor Knight is the brother of a prominent politician running for President – who has also been cloned. You see, the United States government is using Clonus and its creations as a spare parts factory for the wealthy and elite.
A ridiculous premise? Hardly. In fact, it is quite likely, with cloning a reality and all, that this kind of thing is actually happening right under our red, white and blue noses. George Orwell tried to tell us about this kind of bureaucratic nonsense in the 40’s but as usual we didn’t listen, learn or heed the warning.
Now, the film itself has been panned by the majority of movie goers because of the bang up job Mystery Science Theater 3000 laid on it, but for the most part it still holds up fairly well. Working against it are the hair styles and clothing that keep it unfairly planted in the 70’s drug-addled, polyester, disco era. Furthermore, I do like Peter Graves and Dick Sargent but their inclusion in “Clonus” lend a “made-for-tv” quality that just won’t quit. All in all it’s a good Sci-Fi / horror thriller that takes some hefty pot-shots at the aristocracy (most notably politicians) and their arrogance, greed and audacity.
Mondo Macabro really got busy with the extras on this one. Not only do you get a full-length running audio commentary by the director but also an on-screen interview as well as the original trailer and more.