Robot Shox: Suspect Device (1995)

Dave grabs a quick word with screenwriter Alex Simon on his way to compiling a brief analysis of this Showtime-Corman sci-fi.

As the opening picture for the thirteen-part Roger Corman Presents series that aired on Showtime in ’95, SUSPECT DEVICE was the perfect appetizer. The most trusted lieutenants of the movie mogul were in place to kick off this ambitious project (Corman’s New Horizons made all thirteen movies in barely six months), with Rick Jacobson (Full Contact (1993)) directing from a Rob Kerchner (Bloodfist IV (1992)) story and an Alex Simon (Flashpoint (1997)) script. 

All was not well, however, as Simon explains:

“I only visited the set for one day. It was obvious that the director, Rick Jacobson, didn’t want me there and C. Thomas Howell, the lead, was friendly enough, but seemed distracted. So I never visited the set again and didn’t see the film until it premiered on Showtime. Years later, I met Stacey Travis, the female lead, and she told me it was a very difficult shoot, for many reasons I won’t get into”.

Not that any of these issues filtered their way onto the screen, as for the most part Jacobson’s film is a tight and pacey love-child of Three Days of the Condor (1975) and The Terminator (1984), which sees Dan Jericho (C. Thomas Howell) discovering he’s a cyborg with a nuclear device implanted into his body that’s primed to explode. A race against time ensues, with Jericho fending off Government agents and double-crossing colleagues, while the always brilliant Jonathan Fuller plays mad scientist Dr. Charles Flint, who’s giving his all to stop this madness. It starts running out of steam about the hour mark, but, thankfully, Suspect Device gathers a glorious second wind in its final two reels as unhinged cyborg mayhem infiltrates its last act with wild abandon.

USA ● 1995 ● Action, Sci-Fi ● 90mins

C. Thomas Howell, Stacey Travis, John Beck ● Dir. Rick Jacobson Wri. Rob Kerchner (story), Alex Simon (screenplay)

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