FREAKSHOW Android

Join us every Monday, as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time concerns an android who wishes he could be more human…

1982
Director:
Aaron Lipstadt
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Don Opper, Brie Howard
Available on region one and region two DVD

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Mr Data might find this cult item rather familiar. Its title character, Max 404, is a lonely android; the only one of his kind. When he should be working he spends his time listening to old soul songs, watching Jimmy Stewart movies, and checking out the computer’s animated tutorials on love-making. More than anything, he wants to be more human. Remind you of anyone?

The plot blends the Pinocchio story with The Bride Of Frankenstein. Max lives on a remote space station, assisting mad scientist Dr Daniel (Klaus Kinski, in a typically boggle-eyed performance) as he tries to build a female android; the perfect woman. Then along come three escaped convicts, one of whom is the first woman that Max has ever seen. It’s time for him to find out more about human sexuality, first hand…

Android is a very low-budget film, shot on left-over sets from fellow Roger Corman production Battle Beyond The Stars, with a principal cast of only six actors. It’s slight, short and at times, a little contrived. However, there’s a neat twist ending, and despite its many failings, the film has an undeniable quirky charm, chiefly due to the character of Max. The credits mischievously bill Max 404 as played by “Himself”, but Don Opper – who also co-wrote the script – is actually the man responsible. He does a good job of portraying both Max’s gangly vulnerability and the confused, dark side of his need, that leads him to kill for love. Throughout, Max remains endearing and likeable.

Compare this to another film from 1982 that ponders similar themes – Blade Runner – and it looks pretty second-rate. But in a line-up of all of Roger Corman’s New World productions – many crappy Star Wars knock-offs – Android stands out for its sensitivity and gentle humour.

Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Jess Franco’s Female Vampire four or five times, but never seen Casablanca. The nutter.

Click here to see our other cult movie write-ups. And if you like oddball movies, check out Total Film’s weekly Trash Talk feature.