’70s Flashback: Westworld

On this installment of ’70s Flashback, we’ll be focusing on the 1973 classic Westworld. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, the film stars Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as two pals who take a trip to the adult-oriented amusement park Delos. Separated into Westworld, Medieval World and Roman World, the destination allows visitors to stay in one of the three time periods represented at the park. After a brief voyage (via hovercraft, how 70s!), vacationers find themselves interacting with lifelike androids while indulging their every whim. But before you can say “tourist trap,” something goes wrong. Suddenly, Westworld visitors Benjamin and Brolin put aside their plans of sleeping with robot prostitutes and enjoying life on the range to discover how wild the Wild West can be as a relentless robot (Yul Brynner) stalks them. Excitement, chaos, death and Dick Van Patten ensue.

These days, Westworld is remembered mainly because its themes of amusement park mayhem and the bastardization of science were further explored in Crichton’s Jurassic Park.  (Though for my money I’ll take cyborg gunslingers over CGI dinosaurs any day of the week). Westworld’s pop culture impact was far-reaching–not only did it spawn the misguided sequel Futureworld and the short-lived Beyond Westworld TV series, but its influence can also be felt in shows and movies as disparate as The Simpsons (check out the “Itchy and Scratchy Land” episode) and The Terminator (Brynner’s Gunslinger was an obvious precursor for the Connor family tormentor).  So saddle up and let’s take a look at some fun Westworld-themed video randomness.

First up, here’s the trailer for the film. If you haven’t seen the flick and don’t want to have it ruined for you, skip this as it features major spoilers:

Westworld is a film that is in desperate need of a DVD/Blu-ray special edition, on which the following featurette would definitely merit inclusion:

Back in 1982, UK post-punk act Theatre of Hate was inspired by the film to record “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” This is a performance of the song from Top of the Pops that is introduced by legendary DJ (and sci-fi fan) John Peel:

Here’s a fan made music video:

Futureworld was the strange sequel to Westworld. Here’s the trailer:

Beyond Westworld was a terrible attempt to bring the Delos saga to the small screen. It rightfully failed and is largely forgotten today:

Finally, here’s Yul Brynner’s creepy posthumous public service announcement. What a bummer to end on:

Previously on 70′s Flashback:
Logan’s Run

  • Rick20

    Very entertaining review, Chris! I had forgotten about the ill-fated BEYOND WESTWORLD. As for FUTUREWORLD, the chummy robot Clark seems to foreshadow the good ghoul in George Romero’s DAY OF THE DAY. In both instances, “creatures” originally played for frights get a nice-guy makeover.

  • James

    I agree that WESTWORLD is superior to JURASSIC PARK. Thanks for the review!

  • J.Bradley

    Crichton’s cautionary sci-fi stories announce the beginning of an era whether that’s of micro processing/computers or genetics. They end up very dated by the time we get further into them and the advancements reveal the limitations and different directions, but they’re great to look back at and laugh, just like an old high school yearbook.

  • Kenneth Morgan

    Very entertaining movie, featuring, as I understand it, the first movie mention of computer viruses.

  • juneaumac

    One of my all time favorite movies. It was way ahead of it time. I turned my kids and a friend’s kids onto it a few years ago and they thought it was great. Of course I have always like Yul Brynner as an actor.

  • anne

    hi, thanks for the memories! although i have always found futureworld more interesting than westworld..the concept is more scifi.. the body snatchers srongs to mind :) thanks again! anne

  • Jim Crawford

    Westworld was way ahead of it’s time.. No re-make needed here!

  • maxmom15

    I get the creeps just thinking about this movie. It is burned into my brain! A very good movie ahead of its time. A blend of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Stepford Wives.

  • David67

    Chris,
    Great review. An amazing double-bill at some revival cinema would be Westworld with Tourist Trap. I assume you slipped in that reference to TT on purpose! ;-)

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  • jim

    Westworld was a great movie and totally enjoyable through the entire thing.