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The Radio Mechanics (2005)


Radio Mechanics cover

The Radio Mechanics has no specific connection to The War Of The Worlds, but I'm going to let this short movie slip under the radar, because like the Orson Welles broadcast, it marries radio and science fiction in an original and ominous fashion. The movie is a scant 19 minutes long but packs a lot into the timeframe thanks to an intelligent and meaty script. For those of you used to your science fiction (or indeed just about anything spewed out of Hollywood) with the minimum of depth or intellectual engagement, I suspect those 19 minutes are going to seem like days, but if you want to watch something made with obvious care, commitment and thought, this just might prove of interest.

Early one morning a radio talk show presenter receives a strange message. His caller has an incredible tale to tell, of alternative dimensions and a plot to crash these worlds together in an apocalyptic multi-universe pileup that will rend realities and allow alien invaders to take over the Earth. The talk show host sees no reason to stop this fantastic discourse, but then comes the showstopper. His caller tells him that his radio show signal has been hijacked by the aliens, and that at a precise time that very morning, a radio advert will herald the end of reality as we know it.


Radio Mechanics, a warning call

If I was going to compare Radio Mechanics to anything else, I'd say The Twilight Zone, not so much the original 60's Rod Serling show, but the less well known 1980's remake. Some of those stories ran no longer than this (some shorter) and you really could fit the familiar opening and closing credits round this film and you'd never know the difference. Given that The Radio Mechanics was made for essentially nothing, that has to be considered high praise indeed, and just for the record, I consider the remake of The Twilight Zone to be a much underrated show that cranked out some top notch episodes. I'd go so far in fact to say that The Radio Mechanics would rate highly amongst the very best of those episodes.


Radio Mechanics, in the studio

As I have already hinted, the dialogue is not for the faint hearted. This is a hard science fiction tale and while it comes across a little flat and lifeless at times, the sum total of the experience rewards your perseverance. The feeling at the end is that you have seen something of merit and it surely makes a change to watch something that demands you engage with the material rather than let it all wash over you. The production values are surprisingly high and polished. Don't expect a special effects fest, because the story does not demand alien spacecraft and explosions. What you get instead are cleverly conceived camera angles and beautifully framed scenes. It's weird low-key stuff that really works in explaining the convoluted theories of alternative realities that are pivotal to the plot. The Radio Mechanics is a credit to the small cadre of people behind this film and an auspicious start to their fledging efforts. If they have a few more stories of this calibre up their sleeves, I'd love to see them bundled together into a neat little anthology movie.

See also in:

Radio

1938
The War Of The Worlds by Orson Welles

The War Of The Worlds by Orson Welles. The infamous radio broadcast that panicked America on Halloween night.

1944
War Of The Worlds, Santiago, Chile

The War Of The Worlds. Santiago in Chile suffers a major panic when the Welles broadcast is remade to terrifying effect

1949
War Of The Worlds, Quito, Ecuador

The War Of The Worlds. A third radio inspired panic was triggered in Quito, Ecuador, but this one was deadly.

1950 / 1967
War Of The Worlds Lux, The Lux Radio Theater

The War Of The Worlds. The first BBC adaptation of The War Of The Worlds in 1950 was followed by another in 1967.

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