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Umanoide, L'

Umanoide, L' (1979) Movie Poster
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Italy  •    •  100m  •    •  Directed by: Aldo Lado, Enzo G. Castellari.  •  Starring: Richard Kiel, Corinne Cléry, Leonard Mann, Ivan Rassimov, Massimo Serato, Marco Yeh, Arthur Kennedy, Barbara Bach, Venantino Venantini, Vito Fornari, José Quaglio, Attilio Duse, Larry Dolgin.  •  Music by: Ennio Morricone.
        Hoping to overthrow his brother as ruler of the planet Metropolis, the evil Graal enlists the help of the insane Dr.Kraspin, who has invented a chemical capable of turning an ordinary person into a perfect soldier. They test this chemical on the pilot Golob, turning the unsuspecting victim into a mindless but indestructable automaton possessing superhuman strength. The people of Metropolis must somehow outwit Graal before he can create an army of these soldiers, or their planet will be destroyed.

Review:

Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
Image from: Umanoide, L
They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and that is definitely the case with this unassuming rip-off of STAR WARS, one of many similar Italian films spawned in the late '70s in their rush to make a quick buck off an American hit. Characters, subplots, effects, costumes - even the opening scrolling text - are ripped off wholesale in this predictable sci-fi outing, and it's a wonder that George Lucas didn't sue - but then again, I guess this wannabe "epic" wasn't exactly on wide release in the cinemas back in those days.

Aldo Lado - the director previously responsible for such acclaimed gialli as SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS and WHO SAW HER DIE? - is the man helming this puerile trash, and is seemingly unable to invest his scenes with any dynamism or energy whatsoever. However, there is one exception - the all-out action finale, which is basically a huge shoot-em-up between good guys and bad, with plenty of effects and madness going on to make it hugely entertaining. It's a shame it only lasts for ten minutes of the ninety, because if the entire film had been in this over-the-top and action-packed vein then it would have at least got a four - or even five - star rating. As it is, THE HUMANOID is a plodding, paceless, and even lifeless affair with cardboard-quality effects and unremarkable plotting which serves to waste the talents of a well-known cast.

As in STAR WARS, there's a bunch of good guys all teaming up together to fight off the bad, and these include Princess Leia-wannabe Corinne Clery as the female lead and supposed love interest, although this film is definitely lacking in cheesy romance. Clery was a minor Italian actress of the period who later went on to star in Antonio Margheriti's equally tacky YOR - THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE. Here, she's totally unmemorable, apart from the one brief interlude in which she falls in a pool and her white dress suddenly becomes see-through - this, and another brief moment of nudity equal the film's sex content.

Leonard Mann (who he?) is the totally unremarkable Luke Skywalker clone, a square-jawed curly-haired fresh-faced action star who is, quite frankly, pathetic, and the worst member of the cast. Then there's Richard Kiel, fresh from the success of MOONRAKER and taking a major role as a good-guy pilot who gets zapped by evil forces, mysteriously loses his beard, and becomes the old sticky-out-jawed hulking brute we all know and love, throwing people through windows and against walls as he goes on a short-lived rampage. The odd thing is that when he jumps into a pool, he returns to his old lovable self complete with a beard, seemingly grown in the space of only two minutes! Then there are the pair of somewhat respectable actors who really don't deserve to be seen in this mess. The first up is the always-beautiful Barbara Bach, as a big-haired evil spare vampiress who, like Ingrid Pitt in COUNTESS Dracula, is forced to have the blood of young women in order to retain her youth. Then there's Arthur Kennedy as an evil scientist whose diabolical plan is pretty pathetic. Exploitation stalwart Ivan Rassimov (DEEP RIVER SAVAGES) is Graal, a bad guy who costume so resembles that of Darth Vader that you wouldn't be able to spot which was which in an identity parade, but at least Rassimov is hidden behind a mask for the entire film to spare him the embarrassment of being seen - let alone heard, as his dialogue is frankly ridiculous.

The biggest surprise is that the "old sage" role taken by Alec Guinness in STAR WARS has been replaced by Tom-Tom, an obnoxiously twee Chinese boy played by the unknown Marco Yeh! I don't know who thought it would be "clever" to replace the old with the young, but this annoying kid just takes the biscuit as he patronisingly deals out advice to our heroes. Shoot the little git! Finally, we have old-timer Massimo Serato (THE WILD, WILD PLANET) as the "Great Brother", a minor good guy role, and he inexplicably disappears halfway through anyway.

As well as the undistinguished efforts of a familiar cast, there's also a worrying amount of familiar names in the crew of the film as well. Aside from director Aldo Lado, the usually stylish Enzo G. Castellari is credited as the second unit director, Antonio Margheriti contributes miniatures and effects work, goremeister Giannetto De Rossi is on hand with the makeup effects and Ennio Morricone, of all people, contributes the awful synthesiser music which is one of the film's lowest points. It's a shame that the combination of all this raw talent couldn't have been channelled into a beter film, but I guess everybody has their off days and somehow everyone's off day happened to be when making this film! Elsewhere, we have lots of tacky models flying about in a supposed space (they were wise to concentrate on ground-level action for the finale, is all I'll say), plenty of laser beams and shooting which is just about on a level with that in STAR WARS, a rubbishy robot R2D2-wannabe which is so bad it has to be seen to be believed (a scene in which this robot squirts robo-grease over the ground, causing all the bad guys to fall over, is the saddest in the movie), loads of enemy soldiers being decapitated in a row, bows which fire glowing blue arrows instead of light sabers, Rassimov shooting blue lasers out of his hands, too much shoddy back projection and poor blue-screen effects work, and a neck-breaking (I guess those exploitative Italians couldn't resist throwing in just a little violence). Although the last fifteen minutes is hugely entertaining, the rest of the film is sub-par making this a film for bad movie lovers only.


Review by Leofwine_draca from the Internet Movie Database.