(spoiler in third paragraph)
After a near decade-long layoff, the Grade Z genius David L. Hewitt (WIZARD OF MARS, THE MIGHTY GORGA) once again blesses us with his cinematic charms with this dreary espionage flick whose history is almost as obscure as the film itself. Apparently someone had made a no-budget "Man From UNCLE" wannabe featuring none other than Robert Vaughn, and either the film was not completed, or simply too short to warrant theatrical release. Therefore, the film is padded with a wraparound story of a man on an island (presumably the last survivor of this planet) who watches footage of previous exploits of mankind-- hence, the inclusion of this twisted spy fable.
I'm not sure at which point Hewitt (one of the two directors) was hired for this film. It is unclear whether he directed the underlit spy movie or the cold wraparound post-apocalyptic stuff which was meant to "rescue" the movie. In either case, this is classic Dave Hewitt material-- namely, futile attempts at trying to make something out of nothing. Plus, with the tacked-on footage of the sole man watching the other film (abetted with impossibly unenthused voiceover), the ending is thus anticlimactic. It adds nothing to the other story.
Because this is a Gold Key release (remember those late-night fillers like FOES, CAPTIVE and TARGET EARTH?), this is also impossibly lethargic. Its attempts at suspense are so dismal (so many meaningless POV shots going through reeds during a chase scene), that even such ingredients as a sudden last-reel change to womens-prison-genre conventions fail to light any sparks. Its sole novelty is the revelation that the mastermind behind the cloning which Vaughn is sent to investigate, is none other than Adolf Hitler! Otherwise the only other memorable moment is the inevitable dramatically ironic moment when Vaughn faces his own clone. In an inspired bit of bad filmmaking, the two Vaughns fight... in a shot that is so underexposed that you can't see either one of them!!
Whew. What an ordeal it is to survive this film. I haven't seen this in over fifteen years (and the late-night movie programmers paired this with INVASION FROM INNER EARTH to make for one unforgettable evening of Grade Z badness; I had to watch them both twice), and now that the late show has been overrun with infomercials that cost even less to program than drivel like this, I doubt it will rear its head again. However, THE LUCIFER COMPLEX is another of those strange dichotomies of our youthful memories-- even though it is an unpleasant experience, for some reason we want to relive it, simply because it reflects a crucial time in our lives. That is the perplexing behavioural pattern of those like myself who have a strange attraction-repulsion to bad movies. They outrage and bemuse us at the same time. And now because there is so little in today's watershed of cinema to have such audacity to confound us, perhaps that is why we pine for these films all over again. At least they make us feel something. If anything, you'll probably find this film way, way in the back of some independent video store, with a now-yellowing box with enticing cover art and foisting the names of Robert Vaughn, Aldo Ray and Keenan Wynn to make one think it's better than it is. Ah, the days of the video age-- when any no-buck releasing company would try to transcend the dreck they were trying to put on the shelves. Enter if you dare.
Review by madsagittarian from the Internet Movie Database.