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The Philadelphia Experiment (film)

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Title: The Philadelphia Experiment (film)  
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Subject: Nancy Allen (actress), Philadelphia Experiment, 1984 in film, Stewart Raffill, Eric Christmas
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The Philadelphia Experiment (film)

The Philadelphia Experiment
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stewart Raffill
Produced by Pegi Brotman (assoc)
John Carpenter (exec)
Douglas Curtis
Joel B. Michaels
Written by Wallace C. Bennett
Charles Berlitz (book)
William Gray
Don Jakoby
Michael Janover
William L. Moore (book)
Music by Kenneth Wannberg
Cinematography Dick Bush
Edited by Neil Travis
Cinema Group
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release dates
  • August 3, 1984 (1984-08-03)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Philadelphia Experiment is a 1984 science fiction film. It is directed by Stewart Raffill and stars Michael Paré, Bobby Di Cicco, and Nancy Allen and based on the urban legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. The movie is set in 1943 where two sailors, David Herdeg (Paré) and Jim Parker (Di Cicco), are stationed on a ship used for an experiment to make it invisible to radar. However, the experiment goes horribly wrong and the ship completely disappears and Herdeg and Parker find themselves in the Nevada desert in the year 1984. They find out the program has been revived in 1984, unexpectedly interacting with the experiment in 1943 and putting the entire world in danger.


In 1943 United States Navy sailors David Herdeg and Jim Parker are assigned to the destroyer escort USS Eldridge during a project to make it invisible to radar. The ship is in Philadelphia harbor, filled with equipment from a team led by Dr. James Longstreet. During the experiment the equipment begins malfunctioning. Observers simply see the ship disappear. David and Jim try to shut down the generator but receive severe electric shocks when they touch anything. The two men jump overboard to escape.

Instead of landing in Philadelphia harbor, David and Jim land in the middle of a small town in the Nevada desert in 1984, which immediately disappears. They evade a helicopter and escape the site, and make their way through the desert to a diner.

An energy discharge from Jim destroys an arcade game in the diner, and the upset diner owner grabs a revolver, demanding Jim pay for the damages. David grabs the gun and the men run, taking Allison's car. Since he is unfamiliar with the automatic transmission, he takes Allison as a hostage and driver. They escape the diner and find out from Allison that is it 1984. Jim suffers increasingly severe seizures.

The police catch them and Jim is hospitalized. David and Allison speak with the doctor. David explains their time travel, but the doctor doesn't believe him. Jim eventually disappears in a corona of energy. David and Allison then evade military police, who have arrived to take David into custody.

David locates Jim's family in California and they drive to see them. Jim's girlfriend Pamela recognizes David from 1943. She says Jim and the Eldridge came back and Jim was hospitalized for telling the truth about what happened. David asks about himself and finds out he never came back. A lot of the men on the Eldridge were burned and many died. David sees Jim in the distance riding a horse, but Jim refuses to speak with David. David and Allison see military police approaching, but manage to elude them. From one of their cars, David salvages documents mentioning Dr. Longstreet. Recognizing the name, they head for Longstreet's home. As they spend time together, David and Allison fall in love.

Dr. Longstreet has attempted to use the same technology as was used in 1943 to protect a small town from ICBM attack. The town disappeared into "hyperspace" like the Eldridge did. The scientists are unable to shut down the experiment, despite cutting the power. Worse, the experiment has left a vortex in 1984, which starts sucking matter into it. The vortex causes extremely severe weather, including tornadoes and monstrous bolts of lightning. Longstreet predicts that the vortex will continue to expand until the entire world is consumed. The scientists send a probe in and discover the Eldridge in the vortex - the two experiments have linked together across time. They theorize that the generators on the Eldridge are providing the energy to keep the vortex open.

David captures an assistant at Longstreet's home, which includes a small model of the town he saw when he first arrived. He forces the man to take them onto the base but is captured when they get off the elevator in the control center. Longstreet tells the military police to let David in and shows him the situation. He tells David that, according to eyewitnesses, the Eldridge reappeared when David shut down the generator. Longstreet says that David must go through the vortex to the Eldridge and shut off the generator, or the vortex will destroy the Earth.

Allison urges David not to do it, but he volunteers and is outfitted with an electrically insulated suit to enable him to shut down the generator. He is driven out and catapulted into the vortex. David lands on the deck of the Eldridge, where he finds the crew panicked and injured. He hurries to the generator room and smashes arrays of vacuum tubes using a firefighting axe. The generator shuts down and David looks for Jim. Assured that Jim is fine, David jumps over the side of the ship and disappears. Longstreet and others watch the Eldridge reappear in Philadelphia harbor in 1943, where long range observers note some crewmen are badly burned and others fused alive into the ship's hull.

Likewise, in 1984 the missing town reappears. Allison steals a jeep to drive to it. She finds David, they kiss passionately, and he proclaims "I got it all figured out. The Navy owes me 40 years back pay."



  • 1985, Nancy Allen was nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for the Saturn Award for Best Actress.
  • 1985, Stewart Raffill won the Best Film Award at Fantafestival.

Sequel and remake

  • A sequel called Philadelphia Experiment II, featuring a different cast and crew, was released in 1993.
  • A made-for-television reconception of the original film was released in 2012 on SyFy. Michael Paré also appears in this version, but in a different role.

See also

External links

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