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Looker (1981)

Nomination Year: 1993
SYNOPSIS:  A mega-corporation advertising firm has developed technology that can scan a person, put his or her image and voice in a computer, and then make that image do anything. (Okay, I realize that doesn't sound so miraculous, but remember this is from 1981.) For one thing, this eliminates the need for real actors in their commercials. What nobody knows, however, is that they've taken their light-based technology a few steps further and turned it into 1) a mind-control device that can put people into a trance while they watch their commercials, 2) paralyze people and make them unaware of the passage of time, and 3) turn their own agents effectively invisible. Only one man (Albert Finney) and his supermodel friend (Susan Dey) are aware of the corporation's devices and its ultimate goal -- to get their corrupt CEO elected President! Can they keep more models from getting murdered, survive the attempts on their own lives, and stop this evil scenario before it's too late?

"Alas, Poor Yorick"

Cap'n Corpse -- Stays Crispy Even in Blood
The big baddie has set up an automated studio to show off his "actorless" ad technology to rich and powerful people. Simultaneously, the villain and a bunch of henchmen are stalking the hero among the various sets, trying to kill him before he can reveal to the world their fiendish mind-control plans. Our hero is armed only with a L.O.O.K.E.R. gun, which paralyzes people.

In this priceless scene, the prospective buyers are in another room, watching commericals on a giant-screen TV -- commercials in which the actors are completely computer-generated, but the objects and sets are not. Meanwhile the real people-with-guns show up in the commericals, too, unaware of the computer-actors, who are unaware of them. In one spot, the hero hides in a car. When the gorgeous computer-model opens the doors and lifts the trunk, all the while extolling the virtues of the automobile, she reveals a puzzled Albert Finney hiding in there, wondering why things are opening by themselves. He's chased away by a bigger guy brandishing a gun.

The payoff of this scene comes with the death of one of the main goons. The hero gets off a lucky shot with his light-gun and freezes the goon, who in turn gets accidentally shot in the head by one of his own cronies. The body falls back onto a round kitchen table, which automatically rolls into place. When the commercial starts, a quintessential American family appears around the table (on which is this face-up dead guy). One of the kids whines: "Aw, Mom -- the same old thing for breakfast again?"

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Albert Finney Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express; was in Miller's Crossing and Traffic 
James Coburn "Flint;" Bad guy in a lot of Westerns; Hosted TV's Darkroom 
Susan Dey Was clean-cut "Laurie Partridge" on TV, but took her clothes off a lot on film 
Vanna White Ubiquitous letter-turner on Wheel of Fortune 
John Sanderford  
Director Claim to Fame
Michael Crichton writer of such classic films as Congo or Jurassic Park 

Bryan Cassidy

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