Kill or Be Killed (1967)

Article 3078 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-20-2009
Posting Date: 1-17-2010
Directed by William Hale and Herschel Daugherty
Featuring James Darren, Robert Colbert, Whit Bissell
Country: USA
What it is: Time travel movie cobbled together from two episodes of “The Time Tunnel”

Tony and Doug find themselves in Hawaii on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting Tony to find out what happened to his father, who disappeared during the attack. Then they end up on an island near Iwo Jima, where they become the target of a disgraced Japanese kamikaze pilot.

All right, I cheated; I never actually saw this movie (which I couldn’t find), but rather, in lieu of that, I watched the two episodes from “The Time Tunnel” which were used for the movie, and tried to imagine how they would have been edited together. This was easy enough; they most likely came up with different opening and closing credit sequences and lopped off the end part of each episode in which the Time Tunnelers were whisked off to another time period and left in a cliffhanger situation. Rarely have I seen anything more elaborate done for this sort of movie.

The two episodes are “The Day the Sky Fell In”, and “Kill Two by Two”. I did a sort on IMDB of the episodes of “The Time Tunnel” on IMDB in ratings order, and realized that putting these two episodes together was a no-brainer; not only were they the two top-rated episodes of the series, but they both have a World War II theme. It’s easy to see why the Pearl Harbor story is a favorite; fans of a series generally like the episodes where we get personal stories woven into the action, and Tony does get to interact not only with his father, but with himself as a child as well. This episode works well enough, but clumsy writing blunts the effectiveness of the more emotional scenes. I actually like the other episode better, despite the fact that it turns into a rehash of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, with our heroes trying to escape the clutches of the mad pilot intent on hunting them down. What makes this one work is that the hunter/pilot has a more interesting backstory and motivation than is usual for this type of plot, and it was nice to see that the parts involving Whit Bissell’s character (i.e. the scientists trying to retrieve the two men lost in the Time Tunnel) amount to more than the usual hand-wringing about their frustration at their inability to rescue the men; it’s here that the backstory is fleshed out. Edited together it would have been watchable enough, though I doubt anyone would have been fooled into thinking it would have been anything more than two episodes of a TV show edited together. I do wonder if they kept the nifty theme music, though.

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