The futuristic story begins in the land of Clonus, a society of young, fit adults who seem endlessly happy. That is, until you see the armed guards that surround them. Everyone on Clonus dreams of being chosen to go to America, where the promise of an even happier, more fulfilling life awaits. These citizens are designated by tags on their ears, and when Richard (Tim Donnelly) and Lena (Paulette Breen) meet, they realize that their tags match. Despite the menacing looks they get from the guards, Richard and Lena become close and soon fall in love.
But Richard is starting to have doubts about this seemingly utopian world. He finds an Old Milwaukee beer can in a river, and when his questions about the strange object are dismissed offhand, Richard begins openly questioning whether the leaders of Clonus are telling them the truth about the outside world. Eventually he uncovers Clonus' dark secret, and his own sinister destiny. Peter Graves
and Dick Sargent round out the cast and take up most of the budget.
Director Robert S. Fiveson brought a copyright infringement suit against the makers of The Island
(2005). The lawsuit cited 89 points of similarity between "Clonus"
and "The Island"
, and the court ruled that Fiveson made a prima facie case for infringement. Before the case could go to trial, Dreamworks
settled with the plaintiffs for an undisclosed amount. It's been rumored that it was a seven-figure sum.
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
version, please go to the episode recap page
Clonus has examples of:
- B-Movie: The budget for this film was $270,000. Most of that went to pay Dick Sargent and Peter Graves.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Once Richard starts suspecting things aren't as they seem he fakes a seizure or heart attack (or something) to find out if they're watching him (and implicitly the other clones) around the clock. They are.
- The Cameo: Inadvertent. The guard Richard punches out when he escapes Clonus is the director Robert S. Fiveson himself. This wasn't planned, but they didn't have any other extras at the time. The knowledge that Richard knocked out the director almost makes this movie all worth it, though.
- Can't Stop The Signal: Jake Noble is murdered, but gets a tape exposing the Clonus project to the media.
- City in a Bottle: The Clonus facility, which looks more like a junior college (and indeed, the scenes set there were filmed in one).
- Cloning Blues: To the movie's somewhat credit it was pretty ahead of the curve when it came to clone fiction.
- Cold Opening: Consisting of frozen clones in body bags and Jeffrey Knight's president-elect speech.
- Cool Old Guy/Retired Badass: Jake Noble.
- Deadly Euphemism: "Going to America."
- Downer Ending: And how.
- Executive Meddling: The film was originally distributed as "Parts: The Clonus Horror" due to this. The DVD of this movie now uses the creator's original title of simply "Clonus".
- Eyepatch of Power: George Walker.
- Eye Scream: Walker wears an eyepatch because he just got a transplant from his clone - Richard's wrestling buddy from the start of the movie.
- Failed a Spot Check: A guard doesn't notice Richard hiding behind the glass-paned door he (the guard) just used.
- Godwin's Law: Old Richard compares Jeff and Clonus to the Nazis almost immediately after learning of his brother's involvement.
- Hollywood Darkness: Check.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: The original Richard knows something's up when he talks to his brother about Clonus — and Jeff asks about a tape completely unprompted.
- Intrepid Reporter: Jake Noble, retired, still acts like one.
- Lobotomy: Described cheerfully (by the Clonus PR department) as a standard way to keep an uncooperative clone in line. At the end of the film, we see a lobotomized Lena with a blank smile.
- Lottery Of Doom: Just an excuse for the clones' sake, the real determining factor is which Clonus client needs a new eye this month.
- No Sex Allowed
- One-Woman Wail: Plays over a scene depicting exactly what happens when the clones "go to America".
- People Farms: With an actual farm for the clones to work on.
- People Jars: Clones are bagged for freshness.
- Product Placement: Huffy Bikes, Adidas clothing, Dr. Pepper, and Old Milwaukee Beer
- The Promised Land: America
- Pyrrhic Victory: Although Clonus is exposed, most people that helped Richard are dead and Lena had a lobotomy. Richard, well he's on ice.
- Released to Elsewhere: To America
- One interviewer asked why Robert S. Fiveson chose to have America be the "Elsewhere". The answer, exact words: "This was post-'60s fuck you-ism."
- Shirtless Scene
- Smoking Hot Sex: Richard and Lena's post-coital cuddle takes place in front of a campfire, the smoke of which seems to be emanating from Richard's nether regions.
- Stock Sound Effect: That alarm in the Clonus facility sounds familiar.
- The Illuminati: You can just barely see the pyramid insignia on the eye-patched Boss's golden ring. If The Illuminati are involved then it explains a lot about Clonus.
- Too Dumb to Live: Most of the clones, but this is by design. Some clones are just unaltered, like Richard.
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: What Clonus appears to be at first, as all the fit and athletic characters run around.