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Wednesday, Jun 24 1998
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A Town Has Turned to Dust
What happens when hard-boiled East Bay filmmaker Rob Nilsson (Heat and Sunlight, Chalk) meets long-departed Twilight Zone maestro Rod Serling? A genuine small-screen curiosity, that's what. A Town Has Turned to Dust, an original made-for-TV movie based on a decades-old Serling script, reimagines the 1955 Mississippi mob murder of innocent black youngster Emmett Till some 300 years in the future on a barren post-apocalyptic Earth where the only cash crop is scrap metal. Unfortunately, the racism allegory is gradually buried beneath a rock-slide of talky scenes between grizzled tough guys; A Town Has Turned to Dust plays more like a '50s western than a sci-fi flick or a social-issues drama. The tale is carried in large part by a sly, villainous performance by Ron Perlman (The City of Lost Children) cribbed from the Lee Marvin-Burt Lancaster playbook, while the women fret and weep on the sidelines. S.F. editor Michael Angelo, of Pacific Video Resources, gave the sky a deathly, demented glow that's palpable; you can almost smell the world gone to rot.

-- Michael Fox

A Town Has Turned to Dust premieres Saturday, June 27, at 6 and 10 p.m. (with an additional showing at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 28) on the Sci-Fi Channel.

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Michael Fox

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