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Film / Clonus

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A low-budget American Sci-Fi Horror film from 1979, also known as The Clonus Horror and Parts: The Clonus Horror.

The futuristic story begins in the titular 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 in Clonus dreams of being chosen to go to America, where the promise of an even happier, more fulfilling life awaits. The control group among 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, Dick Sargent, and Keenan Wynn round out the film's cast (and take up most of its budget).

In 2005 director and co-producer Robert S. Fiveson brought a copyright infringement suit against the makers of Michael Bay's The Island (2005). The lawsuit cited 89 points of similarity between the two films, and the court ruled that Fiveson had made a prima facie case for infringement. Before the case could go to trial, Dreamworks SKG 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:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Bit of a meta example but the back of the original VHS box (as recounted by Agony Booth) features an excessive example.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The tendency toward a given type of birthmark can run in families, but specific birthmarks themselves are like fingerprints—that is to say, unique to the individual, even among identical twins (or clones).
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Once Richard starts suspecting things aren't as they seem he fakes a seizure or heart attack (or something) while alone in his room, to find out if they're watching him (and implicitly the other clones) around the clock. They are.
  • Creator 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.
  • Character Tics: Altered clones can be identified by their "slow eye movement" — specifically, when they blink, they keep their eyes closed for a full second before reopening them. It's hard to spot unless you're told about it, but once you notice it, it's hard to miss.
  • City in a Bottle: The Clonus facility, which looks more like a junior college (and indeed, the scenes set there were filmed in one).
  • Cold Opening: Consisting of frozen clones in body bags and Jeffrey Knight's president-elect speech.
  • Cool Old Guy/Retired Badass: Jake Noble.
  • Corrupt Politician: Senator Jeffrey Knight, the presidential nominee of an unnamed political party, who is deeply involved with the Clonus project and its backers. Interestingly, it's made clear that despite the fact Knight will likely be elected president, he's still only a small cog in a much bigger machine.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Going to America."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Senator Knight had a clone made of his brother so Old Richard could enjoy a long life. He also tries to warn Old Richard against trying to expose Clonus for his own good. When he and his goons arrive to kill Old Richard and his son, Jeffrey looks genuinely sad.
  • 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: Let's just say making convincing day-for-night was not in the budget.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Not applied consistently, but particularly after Richard's escape from the facility, he is referred to by those hunting him as "it".
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: Jake and his wife are in the middle of one of their bickering sessions when they get blown to smithereens completely out of nowhere.
  • No Control Group: Averted. When Richard finds a tape explaining how the clones are made, it states that some of them are infected with bioengineered viruses in order to restrict their intellectual development while they're still embryos. However, in order to make sure the cloning process works, some are left unaltered as controls. Richard and Lena are part of this control group, which is why their ear tags match.
  • No Sex Allowed: The clones. Most likely this was to keep them from multiplying beyond their handlers' ability to contain (similar to the Israelites in Egypt). Then there's also the fact that pregnancy could lead to a female clone not being useful as an organ donor while bearing a child and the children being of no use to the project at all.
  • Oh, Crap!: The villains have one at the end when a journalist reveals that they have a tape exposing Clonus.
  • 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. Almost certainly coincidental, since the filmmakers obviously weren't being paid by the companies in question.
  • 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.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Richard is killed and put on ice, Lena is lobotomized, and most of the people who helped Richard are murdered. The only upshot is that Clonus is publicly exposed.
  • Released to Elsewhere: To America
  • Shirtless Scene: Since the clones spend most of their time exercising, many of the males run around topless.
  • Single Tear: The finale scene shows the frozen corpse of Richard shedding one already frozen tear on his right cheek.
  • 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.
  • Spoiler Cover: The film's original poster gives away that Clonus breeds clones for their organs.
  • 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.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Jeffrey Knight is shown getting stabbed in the chest when he's in a struggle with his brother, but in the end, he is shown to be alive and well at a press conference. However, given the fact that in the final scene Richard's frozen corpse has an open wound on his chest, it is implied that Jeffery received a heart transfer from 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.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Everyone associated with Clonus considers clones to not count as people, so what they do to them is perfectly ethical; see also "It" Is Dehumanizing.

Alternative Title(s): Parts The Clonus Horror