’70s Flashback: Westworld

On this installment of ’70s Flashback, we’ll be focusing on the 1973 classic Westworld (which is currently in the headlines again thanks to a big budget TV version that currently is airing on HBO). 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 (and rather unnecessary) 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: