Philadelphia Experiment [1984]

The Philadelphia Experiment takes as its jumping-off point an incident that is now paranormal legend, the U.S. Navy's supposed 1943 induction of an extremely powerful electromagnetic field around a destroyer in Philadelphia, causing its crew to become transparent, go insane, burst into flames, and so forth. The movie takes the tack that this was to render the ship invisible to radar, because of the war that was on. The test goes awry, however, and two of the crew leap forward in time to the filmmakers' present tense, 1984, where a similar experiment has caused a vortex that has trapped the 1943 ship and its crew along with a small Nevada town. The key to unbollixing this sad time-fracture lies in our heroes, the two time-travelling crew members, David Herdeg (Michael Paré) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), whose electromagnetic instability keeps drawing them painfully back to the vortex to set things straight. This is silly stuff, but it's very fun silly stuff. One might cavil at gaps in plot logic, such as when Michael Paré seeks out the '80s version of his partner and finds more or less a trauma patient, while subsequent action contradicts this characterization. Still, there are plenty of still-worthy special effects, creating the requisite sense of awe and wonder. And for romantic interest, there's Nancy Allen's '80s girl paired with Michael Paré, affording plenty of amusing occasions for culture comparisons, most notably when Paré sees Ronald Reagan on TV, says, "Hey, I know that guy!" and refuses to believe he's president. --Jim Gay

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