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Film: Screamers

Screamers is a 1995 Sci-Fi/Horror film based off of the Philip K. Dick story Second Variety.

The film is set on the planet Sirius 6B in the year 2078. Sirius B was the source of energy, however, the hazardous working conditions led to a war between the New Economic Block, and their former employees The Alliance. While on Earth, there was a tense peace between the NEB and Alliance, on Sirius B, the war went nuclear. Eventually, the Alliance introduced "screamers", a series of subterranean killing machines, which replicate themselves ad infinitum in an automated factory. The war eventually ruined the planet, leaving only a handful of Alliance and NEB strongholds intact. As it turns out, Earth had long since abandoned Sirius B, with the soldiers fighting for control of a ruined planet.

As Hendrickson, the Alliance's leader on Sirius 6B, heads out to discuss a peace treaty with the NEB General, it is revealed that the screamers have changed; building newer models. They can pass for human, and soon, no one is safe.

A direct-to-video sequel, Screamers: The Hunting, released in 2009 features a group of Alliance Marines sent from Earth to Sirius 6B to investigate a distress signal. It had been over a decade since last contact from the planet, and hey, the screamers thought to be dormant. What could possibly go wrong?

Not to be confused with the obnoxious Jump Scare Shock Sites you see floating around the internet as Schmuck Bait.

Tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The original short story takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth with an escalated cold war being the backstory. The movie replaces this with a colony world run by Corrupt Corporate Executives. The story itself is largely unchanged. Except for a drastic change to the ending.
  • Adaptation Expansion: a lot more scenes and characters are added.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Screamers were designed to kill humans in the first place, but they weren't supposed to attack Alliance troops, or to develop new forms that resembled humans.
  • Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: This little gem - "Cubic tons of radiation."
  • Becoming the Mask: Jessica is a screamer, but she defends Hendrickson from another Jessica, to allow him to escape to Earth.
  • Catch Phrase: Type III's repeat a single phrase because "they can't think of anything better to say."
  • Creepy Child: The "Can I come with you?" boy who turns out to be a Killer Robot, after this fact is revealed.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The last survivor escapes the planet after a number of horrifying revelations (and gruesome deaths) and falls asleep, safe at last... turns out, the teddy bear he kept as a souvenir is also a Screamer.
  • Cyborg: Type V's. Jessica turns out to be one of the last models, designed to have both biological and mechanical components. It's to the point that she's as empathetic as a human being and saves the hero from another copy of her line.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The film ends with a shot of a doll in the back of the one-man spacecraft used by the protagonist to escape the planet. The doll is the type previously seen carried by the Creepy Child Killer Robot. Just before the movie ends we see the doll start to move of its own accord.
  • Death World: The colony world Sirius B has become a wasteland due to an apocalyptic war between two different factions who completely destroyed each other. Near the end they release armies of self-evolving killer robots which kill indiscriminately, making the entire planet pretty much uninhabitable. Even venturing outside the few remaining bunkers is viewed as a Suicide Mission.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Between two of the same woman no less.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Mostly everyone dies. And the teddy bear is a screamer. Though if one is familiar with the short story in the scene where "David" screamers pour out of the bunker, the teddy bears moved by themselves but got blown to bits before they could get to the main protagonists, the twist does not come as a surprise. And the ending of the short story is even darker.
  • Everybody Smokes: Anti-radiation medication is delivered via red-colored cigarettes. Thus, lots of people smoke.
  • Evil Overlooker: the cover of The Hunting.
  • Forever War: The two sides have all but obliterated each other and forgot to tell the characters in the movie. Made even worse by the fact that the general they've been receiving orders from back on Earth is already dead.
  • Glad He's On Our Side: In reference to the first generation of Screamers, which hunt targets by burrowing through the ground: "I'm glad those things are on our side."
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Screamers were made to kill humans. And they're just getting better and better at it.
  • Gorn: There's a very large amount of blood and gore in The Hunting.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Becker, after getting shot by Hendrickson.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: The protagonists have to report a cease fire proposed by the enemy forces. A pair of doors slide open and their superior walks through and starts talking to them — all appears normal until he suddenly starts to fizz and sputter and the protagonists complain about the unreliability of holographic projection from Earth. The scene hints at The Reveal that the Projected Man is actually dead.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: The protagonist cuts a female soldier to ensure she's not one of the increasingly advanced killer robots. Turns out the latest models can bleed too.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The "tabs" alliance members wear makes them invisible to screamers. Until the screamers start updating themselves...
  • Killer Rabbit: The child screamer. And possibly the teddy bear.
  • Killer Robot: The screamers were designed to be the perfect soldier. They proved to be a little too perfect.
  • Killer Teddy Bear: Killer robots looking like little boys, carrying killer robot teddy bears.
  • Knife Nut: Becker, who also uses it as a throwing weapon to kill a suspected Screamer.
  • Lightning Gun: In the sequel.
  • Lost In Transmission: Played straight.
    There's a new kind of screamer. Do not let it into the perimeter, over.
    I missed that last part, over... (static)
  • Mechanical Evolution: Just as in the original Second Variety. The Screamers were designed as self-evolving killer robots, and newer generations even take on human appearance. Eventually the Type V generation (Jessica) has both a mostly human biology and experiences human emotions, and saves Hendricksen from one of her evil counterparts.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: One character argues that another one is a screamer, and then tosses a knife through his chest. It then turns out Becker was the real imposter, invoking this trope.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Before attacking, the Type IIIs, which resemble young boys, open their mouths to reveal several nested rows of mechanical razor-sharp teeth.
    • The type V's in the sequel have four mandibles that unfold out of their mouths, and a drill on their tongues.
  • Not His Sled: The film, which was based on "Second Variety" by Dick, retains the original surprise ending that the woman the hero met and bonded with is one of the robot decoys, but changes it so she has broken her programming and isn't out to kill humans. It further departs from the original ending by having her "dying" and putting the hero safely on the shuttle to Earth in a happy Hollywood ending...until it reveals that the teddy bear the hero kept as a souvenir is another deadly robot decoy. The direct-to-video sequel briefly mentions the first film's protagonist choosing to destroy his ship rather than allow the teddy bear to get to Earth, although it's difficult to imagine a single killer robot being able to wipe out the human race without the means to make more of itself.
  • Numbered Homeworld: The film is set on a planet called Sirius B.
  • Recursive Creators: The Screamers started building new generations of models themselves after they were originally created by human soldiers.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The latest model of "Swords". One of them falls in love with the hero and fights so that he can escape the planet.
  • Robosexual: At the end, the protagonist Hendricksson realizes that Jessica is also a Killer Robot when an identical Jessica shows up. Earlier he'd tested Jessica by cutting her hand and the copy appears to know this, taunting Hendricksson by saying: "We can bleed, we can cry, we can fuck."
  • Robotic Reveal: Happens to the humanoid Screamers. Exaggerated Trope; there are so many new generations that the protagonist eventually has trouble believing that anyone besides him is even human. In fact, he visits the enemy camp (dwindled down to three remaining soldiers) and the soldier who is killed under suspicion of being a Screamer turns out to be the only one who wasn't a robot.
  • Robot War: For years the war between the New Economic Block and the Alliance has been fought by self-evolving robotic soldiers. The few survivors are holed up in their bunkers because the entire planet has become a death zone.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The sequel has an offscreen mention of the protagonist of the original dying to prevent the screamer from reaching Earth..
  • Smoking Is Cool: The film made smoking a plot point: the drug that helped counter the radiation of the planet was administered via cigarette.
  • They Look Like Us Now: In the original, there were Type IIs and IVs, which pretended to be wounded soldiers, and Type IIIs, which mimicked orphaned children. And Jessica. The sequel adds even more variety.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: The process of mining 'Berynium' releases hazardous radiation, which is the root of the conflict between the Alliance and N.E.B. This has no plot significance beyond the movie's prologue and general setting.
  • Wormsign: The first model of Screamers are a type of subterranean killing machines.

The Scarlet LetterFilms of the 1990sSense and Sensibility
The Running ManScience Fiction FilmsSerenity
Scream Bloody MurderHorror FilmsThe Screaming Skull

alternative title(s): Screamers; Screamers The Hunting
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