THE TERMINAL MAN. Warner Brothers, 1974). George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, Michael C. Gwynne, Jill Clayburgh, James Sikking. Based on the book by Michael Crichton. Producer-director-screenwriter: Mike Hodges.

   Adapted from Michael Crichton’s 1971 novel, The Terminal Man is an auteur project the likes of which could never be released by a mainstream film studio today. Written, directed, and produced by Mike Hodges, this offbeat science fiction thriller features George Segal as Harry Benson, a man suffering from a form of psychomotor epilepsy that causes him to occasionally fly into uncontrollable violent rages. A genius computer programmer, Benson was in a car accident that left him with a seizure disorder that has crippled his life. Not only does he experience auras and seizures, he also now has delusions that computers are going rise up and control humanity.

   Benson decides that he wants to volunteer for an experimental medical procedure, one in which electrodes are implanted in his brain. If his disorder makes him violent, he figures he would rather give over what is left of his free will to a computer if that will prevent his violent behavior. The irony of a man afraid of computers rising up against humanity agreeing to such a procedure is not lost on his psychiatrist, Janet Ross (Joan Hackett). A moral, humanist voice, she urges her colleagues not to go through with this procedure. But to no avail. As you might imagine, the surgery doesn’t go quite as planned and it is only a matter of time before Benson escapes from the hospital and begins a murderous rampage.

   That the movie’s plot. But this isn’t really a plot driven film. It’s a visual experience, more arthouse than grindhouse. It’s one in which symbolic imagery and set designs in stark hues of blue and gray are utilized to convey meaning. It is a stark, dehumanizing world. The essence of what it means to be fully human is explored not so much through dialogue, but through shots of bleak, empty hospital hallways, a brightly lit tunnel, and a graveyard.

   For a movie that deals with cerebral topics – both literally and metaphorically — The Terminal Man isn’t a film that was made to make viewers think so much as to feel. Perhaps that was the whole point.