Endangered Species (1982)

R | 97 mins | Mystery, Drama, Science fiction | 10 September 1982

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HISTORY

       Referring to the film by its working title, Cows, the 15 Aug 1980 HR announced that writer-director Alan Rudolph, producer Carolyn Pfeiffer, and executive producer Zalman King, who had previously worked together on Roadie (1980, see entry), were reuniting to make the project they had been developing for over a year at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M). Principal photography was scheduled to begin late 1980. A 10 Sep 1982 LAT article revealed that filmmakers had sent a team of journalists to the Western U.S. to investigate the story, which was reportedly based on actual events. In addition, Pfeiffer and Rudolph hired “cattle mutilation expert” George C. Erianne as an uncredited consultant. According to a 9 Jul 1980 DV article, the project, now listed with the “code title” S.W.O.C. to maintain secrecy, was included in M-G-M’s thirty-eight picture lineup, to be released within the following two years. Judson Klinger and Richard Woods were reportedly writing the screenplay at that time, but they are solely credited as being story writers onscreen.
       A 17 Aug 1981 M-G-M press release found in AMPAS production files stated that Nancy Allen had been cast as “Harriet Purdue,” and a 26 Aug 1981 Var brief reported that prior to the new principal photography start date of Sep 1981, the title had been changed to Endangered Species. On 1 Sep 1981, M-G-M announced that JoBeth Williams had replaced Nancy Allen, who was recovering from surgery. Production would begin 11 Sep 1981 in Buffalo, WY, while a 10 Sep 1981 studio press release indicated that filming would take place over ten weeks in WY, ... More Less

       Referring to the film by its working title, Cows, the 15 Aug 1980 HR announced that writer-director Alan Rudolph, producer Carolyn Pfeiffer, and executive producer Zalman King, who had previously worked together on Roadie (1980, see entry), were reuniting to make the project they had been developing for over a year at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M). Principal photography was scheduled to begin late 1980. A 10 Sep 1982 LAT article revealed that filmmakers had sent a team of journalists to the Western U.S. to investigate the story, which was reportedly based on actual events. In addition, Pfeiffer and Rudolph hired “cattle mutilation expert” George C. Erianne as an uncredited consultant. According to a 9 Jul 1980 DV article, the project, now listed with the “code title” S.W.O.C. to maintain secrecy, was included in M-G-M’s thirty-eight picture lineup, to be released within the following two years. Judson Klinger and Richard Woods were reportedly writing the screenplay at that time, but they are solely credited as being story writers onscreen.
       A 17 Aug 1981 M-G-M press release found in AMPAS production files stated that Nancy Allen had been cast as “Harriet Purdue,” and a 26 Aug 1981 Var brief reported that prior to the new principal photography start date of Sep 1981, the title had been changed to Endangered Species. On 1 Sep 1981, M-G-M announced that JoBeth Williams had replaced Nancy Allen, who was recovering from surgery. Production would begin 11 Sep 1981 in Buffalo, WY, while a 10 Sep 1981 studio press release indicated that filming would take place over ten weeks in WY, CO, and at M-G-M studios in Culver City, CA. Production notes also included the town of Sheridan, WY, among the locations, before the 24 Nov 1981 DV indicated that production was scheduled to move from WY to Denver, CO. HR announced on 2 Dec 1981 that Harry Carey, Jr., and Gene Evans had been added to the cast, although Evans is not credited onscreen and his participation in the film remains undetermined. In a 23 Nov 1982 Village Voice article, actor Robert Urich claimed that Rudolph removed a subplot featuring Harriet’s workplace struggle against sexism from the final film.
       The 23 Sep 1982 LAHExam stated that the picture was expected to screen at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in Washington, D.C., the following evening. In addition, a 22 Oct 1982 HR news brief announced the film’s release at the New York City Festival Theater 5 Nov 1982, following its recent opening at the Telluride Film Festival in CO. Village Voice claimed that M-G-M head Freddie Fields was reportedly less supportive of the project than his predecessor, David Begelman. When Fields replaced Begelman midway through production, M-G-M declined to hire a “project manager to work on publicity” and waited five months to release the picture nationally, staggered over a two-week period. Endangered Species received moderately favorable reviews.
      Opening credits are prefaced with the following prologue: “In 1969 the United States Congress banned any further testing of chemical and germ warfare. This is a dramatization based upon available facts and evidence.” The film closes with the statement: “Since the 1969 Congressional ban on chemical and germ warfare testing, there have been an estimated 10,000 recorded cattle mutilations.” End credits note that the picture was photographed on location in WY, CO and NY.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1980
p. 1, 22.
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1981.
---
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1982
p. 2, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1982.
---
LAHExam
23 Sep 1982
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
10 Sep 1982
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
10 Sep 1982
Section VI, p. 1, 8.
M-G-M
17 Aug 1981.
---
M-G-M
1 Sep 1981.
---
M-G-M
10 Sep 1981.
---
New York Times
5 Nov 1982
p. 8.
Variety
26 Aug 1981.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1982
p. 16.
Village Voice
23 Nov 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
An Alive Enterprises Production
An Alan Rudolph Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Key grip
Gaffer
Still photog
Still photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
Elec
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Prop master
Prop master
Set dec
Const supv
Const coord
Const foreman
Labor foreman
Paint foreman
Const gang boss
Const gang boss
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's ward
Men`s ward
MUSIC
Orig score comp and cond by
Keyboard soloist
Asst synthesiser programming
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd asst
Sd asst
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Graphic eff by
Titles and opticals
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Asst unit prod mgr
Helicopter pilot
Wrangler
Prod assoc
Asst to the prod
Asst to Mr. Rudolph
Unit pub
Addl casting
Loc casting
Prod auditor
Loc secy
Laser equip by
Paymaster
Transportation capt
Transportation cocaptain
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Craft service
Caterer
Caterer
Caterer
DGA trainee
SPCA representative
Casting asst
First aid
Projectionist
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Boozers Are Losers," composed and performed by Hoyt Axton, courtesy of Jeremiah Records.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Cows
S.W.O.C.
Release Date:
10 September 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 September 1982
New York opening: 5 November 1982
Production Date:
began 11 September 1981 in Buffalo, WY
Copyright Claimant:
MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Copyright Date:
20 September 1982
Copyright Number:
PA149146
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®; Prints in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, former detective Ruben Castle sits with two journalists in an alcohol rehabilitation center, discussing his violent history working for the police. Meanwhile, a cow lies dead in a field as other cows run away, and Harriet Purdue is sworn in as the new sheriff of Bannon County, Colorado. Back in New York City, Ruben leaves the hospital and picks up his sixteen-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, from a correctional facility, announcing his plans to buy a trailer and move to Colorado. Elsewhere, Harriet and a group of men inspect the dead cow to determine that the animal had been operated on, not attacked. At the police station, Harriet tells the city council that she believes the organs disappeared from the carcass without surgery, and the mayor gives her permission to continue her investigation. She flies to the Denver, Colorado, capitol and meets with a man named Burnside, who dismisses her ideas. That night, a laser beam mysteriously emitted from the sky strikes a cow. Meanwhile, the Castles drive to Colorado, and Ruben’s trailer gets a flat tire. Mackenzie drives to the nearest gas station for help, but she crashes into Harriet’s police car. As Ruben repairs the tire, two large semi-trucks speed past, nearly striking him. Harriet returns Mackenzie to her father and directs him to the nearest trailer park. Later, the Castles eat dinner at a bar. When a fight breaks out, Ruben and Harriet intervene. Meanwhile, a cow carcass is dropped from the sky and lands in a pond. The next morning, at the baseball field, Deputy Wayne attempts to introduce himself to Mackenzie, but she walks away. Ruben has lunch with his friend, newspaper ... +


In New York City, former detective Ruben Castle sits with two journalists in an alcohol rehabilitation center, discussing his violent history working for the police. Meanwhile, a cow lies dead in a field as other cows run away, and Harriet Purdue is sworn in as the new sheriff of Bannon County, Colorado. Back in New York City, Ruben leaves the hospital and picks up his sixteen-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, from a correctional facility, announcing his plans to buy a trailer and move to Colorado. Elsewhere, Harriet and a group of men inspect the dead cow to determine that the animal had been operated on, not attacked. At the police station, Harriet tells the city council that she believes the organs disappeared from the carcass without surgery, and the mayor gives her permission to continue her investigation. She flies to the Denver, Colorado, capitol and meets with a man named Burnside, who dismisses her ideas. That night, a laser beam mysteriously emitted from the sky strikes a cow. Meanwhile, the Castles drive to Colorado, and Ruben’s trailer gets a flat tire. Mackenzie drives to the nearest gas station for help, but she crashes into Harriet’s police car. As Ruben repairs the tire, two large semi-trucks speed past, nearly striking him. Harriet returns Mackenzie to her father and directs him to the nearest trailer park. Later, the Castles eat dinner at a bar. When a fight breaks out, Ruben and Harriet intervene. Meanwhile, a cow carcass is dropped from the sky and lands in a pond. The next morning, at the baseball field, Deputy Wayne attempts to introduce himself to Mackenzie, but she walks away. Ruben has lunch with his friend, newspaper publisher Joe Hiatt, who introduces him to Ben Morgan, head of the Cattleman’s Association. While Mackenzie goes on a date with Deputy Wayne, Ruben jogs through town, and Harriet offers him a ride. Just then, she receives a radio transmission reporting a barn fire, and they drive to the scene. Mackenzie and Deputy Wayne see the fire and follow a truck driving away from the flames as Harriet and Ruben enter the burning barn to save a trapped cow. When the animal catches fire, Ruben pulls the sheriff to safety. Mackenzie and Deputy Wayne arrest the two passengers in the truck and bring them to the station, where Ruben questions them. A lawyer, Mr. Isaacs, arrives and posts bail for the captured men, and Ruben finds him suspicious. That night, probing metal claws grab the ankles of a dead cow. After having dinner with Joe and his wife, Judy Hiatt, Ruben gets drunk at the bar and shows up at Harriet’s house. There, he takes a shower and forces himself on her, but she punches him and commands him to leave. On his way home, he sees the two speeding semi-trucks, and follows them to a secluded, high-security facility. The next morning, Ben chastises Joe for publishing outlandish speculation about the cow killings. When another cow appears outside the police station, Harriet orders an autopsy. Ruben tells Joe that he plans to leave town, claiming that he does not want to get involved with Harriet’s investigation. However, he mentions the trucks from the previous night, and Joe reveals that the facility is the site of an abandoned U.S. Air Force missile silo. Frustrated by Joe’s investigative stories, Ben offers to buy the newspaper from Joe, but Joe refuses. Later, Harriet asks Ruben for the contact information of a pathologist to whom she can secretly send cow tissue samples. Ruben drunkenly apologizes for attacking her before leaving town. After dark, Joe approaches the missile facility and watches a mysterious light inside the fence. His secretary finds him dead at his desk the next morning. Upon hearing the news, Ruben returns to town, believing that Ben killed him. The pathologist telephones Harriet to inform her that he discovered a strain of genetically modified, poisonous bacteria, which has not been seen since government germ warfare testing in the 1960s. Ruben follows Ben as he meets with a uniformed man in a helicopter named Steele. Due to the recent deaths and rising suspicions of the townspeople, Ben orders Steele to finish his biological weapons experiments and leave within five days. In Washington, D.C., Dan Vosburgh receives a telephone call from Steele, who expresses his concern about Ben. Inside the facility, workers prepare cows to be tested with a human toxin, while a man breaks into Ben’s bedroom and injects him with a substance while he sleeps. At Harriet’s house, Ruben tells the sheriff that he does not believe the government is involved. Later, they make love in the shower. During the night, Ruben sneaks away to the military facility and shoots the security camera. When his car does not start, Ruben runs away, dodging gunfire from a silent helicopter overhead. He hides in a cow pasture until morning, then finds a farmhouse and steals the truck parked outside. After his escape, Ruben puts Mackenzie on a flight back to New York City, but after he drives away, she gets off the plane. As Ruben confronts Ben about his meeting with Steele, Ben’s mouth begins to bleed. Ruben forces the injured man to drive him toward the facility, but Ben veers off the road and his abdomen bursts open. Sometime later, Harriet arrests Ruben, and presents her conspiracy theory to a still-dubious city council. Mr. Isaacs visits Ruben in his holding cell to tell him that Steele’s men have abducted Mackenzie, but claims they will not harm her if Ruben promises to stay away for twenty-four hours. Learning of Mackenzie’s kidnapping, Harriet agrees to help Ruben, and that night, they hop on the back of a semi-truck and ride into the facility. Ruben points a gun at Steele, demanding his daughter back, while Harriet finds Mackenzie’s cell. Steele leads them to a hangar, where workers load trucks with equipment, and a guard stabs Ruben in the shoulder. As the trucks speed away, the townspeople gather outside the fence. An unidentified flying object drops a cow into the crowd and disappears into the night sky. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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