The Killer Spores
A space probe lands in the ocean and Mark (Duffy) and his teammates at the Foundation for Oceanic Research go retrieve it. The probe seems to have brought something alien back with it, invisible to the human eye; and it affects Mark in bizarre ways and, soon after, other people; bringing them to the brink of madness.
The third TV movie leading up to the short lived series; this one, again, suffers from not enough material to stretch to feature length. There’s a bit of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” here as the sci-fi aspect is put front and center but this seems better suited to the hour (i.e. 48 mins) long format of weekly episodes.
I’ll admit that it starts off with a bang. Once Mark returns with the probe to the submarine and shows definite signs of being under the control of some alien entity; the film sets up a creepy mood. Telling his partners only what the entity wants disclosed and pointing out that they’re virtually invisible; the atmosphere is indeed quite eerie.
Then soon after we’re into an astonishingly long period where Mark is in danger…and simply walking around in the desert and we’re waiting for his friends to catch up with him and getting him to the water. All momentum at that point is completely lost.
Then things pick up again for the denouement when the “spores” (the alien entity) start possessing people at random and causing them to do strange things. Rather peculiar; but those scenes are just plain weird, rather than frightening or funny, and Mark continually insists that these spores are not evil…or killers (rendering the title misleading at best).
An OK TV movie; as said, would probably have been a tight episode in the weekly series. The midway “desert-halt” is quite tedious though and undoes a solid build up. Again, things are resolved in a very benign way and it’s obvious here that the show wanted to reach the kiddies.
It’s quite imaginative but “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and probably a lot of cold-war paranoia thrillers of the fifties had a lingering effect on the writers here. It’s not as talky as “Death Scouts” and the overall look is somewhat better but it’s clear the budget here wasn’t through the roof.
Duffy is getting better and better as the leading man, even gets to lose his temper and stand firm on his beliefs; he comes out a winner. Montgomery and Fudge are fine but Kenneth Tigar is really limited when some dramatic touches are needed.