The Earth has been invaded by a benevolent alien society referred to as the Monitors. The Monitors are a prominent “men in black” style entity that maintains an ever-vigilant presence in the world, ensuring that peace and good will prevails. They encourage humans to repress their emotions and promote harmony. In this placid society there remains an underground faction that is devoted to opposing the Monitors and rebel against them. One of the leaders of the opposition is P.A. Stutz (Larry Storch). Stutz works for an organization called SCRAG or “Secret Counter Retalliatorial Group”. While pretending to be a street preacher he recruits others for the cause.
In his sights is Harry Jordan (Guy Stockwell). Harry is a former Air Force pilot who saw combat in the last world war. Now he has trouble keeping a job. He lost his last job, working on a movie set, when the star of the film, Barbara Cole (Susan Oliver) interfered in an airplane stunt Harry was trying to accomplish. Believing in what the Monitors are trying to do Barbara works with them and agrees to try to recruit Harry for their side.
A skirmish in the street sends the Monitors to break it up by spraying people with a chemical that calms them. When Harry’s brother Max (Avery Schreiber) gets sprayed, Harry grabs the canister and sprays the Monitor. This results in Harry being hunted by the Monitors, to be put in detention. Harry, Max, Barbara and Stutz take off. Harry ends up getting caught and brought to Monitor headquarters and is brought before Tersh Jeterax (Shepperd Strudwick), the head of the Monitors. Here he also meets Mona (Sherry Jackson) who helps him escape. When they finally get to SCRAG headquarters Harry finds out that the leader of the organization, The General (Keenan Wynn), plans on using an implosion bomb to destroy Monitor headquarters, and they want Harry to deliver it.
“The Monitors” was released in 1969 and was directed by Jack Shea. It is a satirical science fiction black comedy produced by the Chicago based branch of the Second City comedy troupe in conjunction with the Bell and Howell Company. The film was loosely based on the 1966 novel by Keith Laumer.
The film didn’t do all that well at the box office, and I can understand why. The basic idea of the film is interesting, but I would have preferred to see it as a straight dramatic cold war style science fiction film instead of a comedy. Especially since it’s not all that funny. The “1984” undertones get lost in the injection of comedic nonsense. The idea that Utopia is actually dystopia is an interesting one and could have made a great science fiction story. Unfortunately, what we get are lame jokes and silly scenarios.
The movie is filled with cameos from a lot of by-gone celebrities such as Jackie Vernon, Xavier Kugat, Stubby Kaye, Republican Senator Everett Dirksen, Peter Boyle, Barbara Dana, Alan Arkin and his son Adam Arkin.
Guy Stockwell is Dean Stockwell’s older brother. Senator Dirksen passed away before the movie was released. Susan Oliver played the green-skinned slave girl in the Star Trek pilot “The Cage” 1966.