Runaway, Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons – great sci-fi moments number five

A STORY in the New Scientist says that sinister government scientists are on the verge of producing radio controlled bullets that can be programmed to explode when they are a certain distance from the rifle.

Leaving aside the obvious reaction (Whoa!! That’s so fricking cool!!) it brought back a sci-fi memory buried in the deeper recesses of my brain, which I never thought would surface again.

Runaway, starring Tom Selleck, and his moustache.

And Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons. And written by Michael Crichton. If you’re thinking it soulds like a mad film experiment gone tragically wrong, you’d be pretty much spot on. Or so I thought – because the reaction to this post tells me this film should be filed in the guilty pleasures folder.

Get all that? The basic premise is Selleck – still battling against that lack of big screen presence back in 1984 that would have sunk Indiana Jones if he’d got the role – is a police man dealing with robots, now an every day part of life (in a boxy, useless kind of way), that have gone rogue.

But Gene Simmons (actually not that bad) is an evil scientist who is turning all the Toilet Cleaner droids and Orgasmatrons into merciless steel-coated killing machines.

The reason the film came to mind is Simmons has a gun that fires bullets which lock on to a body’s heat signature and can change direction, meaning they never miss. Except when they are fired at Tom Selleck, who is protected by his moustache.

He also has killer spider robots that shoot acid and inject poison (which sound like they were dreamed up by a 12-year-old fanboy) and jerk around the screen unconvincingly before exploding. Despite this, anyone threatened by them seems to lose all locomotive skills, simply standing still and waiting to die when even a gentle jog would be enough to reach safety.

I’m not sure if I’d like to watch it again now because – let’s be honest – it looks shit, but back in 1984, 12-year-old me suspended his disbelief sufficiently to enjoy it alot. It does have some good scenes in it though – not least a car chase with a difference (hovering robot bombs that zoom under cars before blowing up) – so I will probably give it a chance, if only for the IT IS THE FUTURE line in the trailer.

And a word to the wise for the government scientists working on the remote control bullet now. If one of your number has slicked back black hair, mutters to himself all the time and is putting in alot of overtime on his own, don’t leave the keys to the gun cupboard lying around.

And watch out for spiders.

P.S Watching the trailer again, did you see GW Bailey as – in a foreshadowing of the role that would define his later life – the chief of police? That Police Academy audition (also released in 1984) must have been a piece of piss after this!

4 thoughts on “Runaway, Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons – great sci-fi moments number five

  • Barry Saunders


    Personally I think it is a great film,full of suspense

  • Live for films


    I love this film. SHould have been so much bigger than it was.

    Heat seeking bullets were fantastic

  • Robin Brown


    Yeah I also loved Runaway and saw it at probably the right age. I remember Gene and the spiders being fairly frightening, but as you say that could be blown apart by a repeat viewing.

    I also remember a topless Kirsty Alley, or is the memory cheating?

  • Craig Grobler


    I loved Runaway.

    "Protected by his moustache" Frikking hillarious. A mention of High Road to China for completeness would have been good. 😉

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