In the future, a nuclear war has transformed the Earth into a radioactive wasteland where the sea has dried up leaving it as a post-apocalyptic desert. In the desert, A desert scavenger named Nomad discovers a robotic head, arriving in New York City, A space marine named Moses Baxter buys the robotic head from Nomad as a Christmas present for his girlfriend Jill Grakowski, who decides to use it for one of her sculptors. But all hell starts breaking loose, when the robotic head is activated and begins to rebuilt itself. When Alvy, a junkyard dealer discover the robotic head is a Mark 13, a military cyborg of a project that was abandoned. Moses learns Jill's life is in danger, as the Mark 13 cyborg goes on a violent rampage in Jill's apartment as Jill has become the the prime target for extermination.
Directed by: Richard Stanley
. Starring: Carl McCoy
, Iggy Pop
, Dylan McDermott
, John Lynch
, Mark Northover
, Stacey Travis
, Paul McKenzie
, William Hootkins
, Mac McDonald
, Chris McHallem
, Barbara Yu Ling
, Oscar James
. Music by: Simon Boswell
This film is one of my favorite films of all time as well as sci-fi films. This film was the debut of one of my favorite movie directors Richard Stanley, he is one of my favorite directors because this guy just always had grand visions which have translated to the most amazing visuals I've ever seen in any film.
This film truly was an amazing discovery for me, it was a film I honestly never heard about until a lot latter in life around my sophomore year at PLU if you can believe that, I was (and still am) a person that was interested in film as well as the horror genre, and under the radar horror was becoming a thing and this was truly a treasure for me worth discovering because it was one of the inspirations for me in film making.
It's truly a unique film in many ways that it would take more than one watch to uncover more and for your eyes to drink up the details. It was also another one of the partial inspirations for the video game franchise "Fallout" as the cowboy outfit along with the atmosphere and world in the film is a bit similar.
I really love the music; this film has one of the best music soundtracks I've ever heard. One favorite of mine is one of my favorite theme songs of all time "This is what you want, this is what you get." That song is great as it has that techno vibe and the sense of darkness and danger attached to it. On a side note, this song was also on an episode of "Miami Vice" which is cool as that's one of my favorite shows, so a good use of the song on both counts.
Characters are good if not totally deep, they sort of serve their functions. Mo played well by Dylan McDermott, he was an up and coming actor at the time and this film was one of his starts and it was a good one. Really like the cowboy outfit he has on in the film which is awesome and mysteries, the dark color of it and that mask. Even like that cybernetic hand he has which I'll admit looks like the Nintendo Power Glove only it works. He's very much a guy for his time period, he's an ex-soldier that is burnt out and bored, not a person with a big amount of optimism as if there really can be any where he's living, but has only one good which is to make his significant other happy.
Jill played well by Stacy Travis whom I thought was hot and she was also an up and coming actress as this film was somewhat of a debut for her. It's a shame she didn't have a little more afterward because I thought was a capable actress. She is sort of this artist who has a little spunk and energy. And despite where she is, she's a person that does possess optimism, she is an artist after all.
You get a good feel for the relationship between both, there is agreements and disagreements, but both do their best to make things work well, despite bleak circumstances.
The plotline isn't too special as it's your typical cat and mouse premise but in the postapocalyptic landscape and the cat is a killer robot. But it's really the execution that matters and this is a film that is more style overtopping substance and this film has plenty of style and beautiful visuals to eat your eyes whole.
From just the atmosphere, which is all red orange, it really feels almost otherworldly like walking onto another planet. I like the concept of everyone living in these big apartment buildings that are almost a world within themselves. Which reminds me of the mega blocks from the "Judge Dredd" comic series and just seeing this film I can't help but think Richard could possibly direct a sequel to the film "Dredd", I see no reason not to.
Anyway, I really love this post-apocalyptic world because it's unique from most seen. For one thing, despite the amount of ruin from all sides, this place has technology that works. Which I love because that's something different, however this place lives mainly on throwaway technology, the technology that is either found or preserved which makes sense since most natural resources are gone it means they can't really build a lot of new things, so they have to just use what they have.
The technology in this world is highly advanced which makes this more fascinating. For one thing they have computer technology despite the fact they have no internet the film was made in 1990 after all before it actually became a big thing in the mid 90's; however it makes sense when you think about it, it is the post apocalypse after all which means most major cities and countries no longer exist, let alone what the heck are you going to look up in that world it's not like anything new happens there anyway.
The suspense is very good, really like how she must both fight for survival against the M.A.R.K. 13 but also play a game of hide and seek against it. It's an interesting kind of cat and mouse game because her it takes place in a condensed space. Which makes the stakes in this film really do feel high as this is all taking place in her apartment which give her a limited amount of options in running and hiding, she doesn't have the proper weapons to fight against the M.A.R.K. 13, she also can't really go outside as the robot has overridden the door controls and her window is several stories up, so yeah she is trapped between a robot and a hard place.
The M.A.R.K. 13 machine doesn't disappoint, and I think is an underrated monsterslasher in the horror genre. The effects for the robot are great because their all practical, it was all done with puppetry and animatronics. Really like the design of it as it looks like it could be one of the Decepticons from "Transformers". It's really menacing looking with that head that looks like a skull and the red eyes, really like how his head has the American flag look which is ironically fitting as the country now thrives on tech. It's also not easy to kill as the thing can self-repair and even when in pieces parts of it can still move and kill you unless you destroy the central brain of the mechanize which is easier said than done. But what makes it dangerous is how clever it is, as it can override computer technology to turn any machine along with stealth and trickery.
Also, there is also this subvillian whom is really creepy voyeur as you can tell from the guy's nasty behavior his circuits aren't firing at the right places. This subplot is creepy and disturbing because it sort of hits a little too close to home with the issue of Stalkers and Internet predators we have right now. This subplot might not have been completely necessary but it actually did strangely added some depth to the kind of world she lives in but also more to the danger because it's like she not just has do deal with this killer robot but a monster that does exist in reality.
I really have no problems with the film except for the fact that one character in the film I like dies (I won't say who) but I honestly thought it was unneeded. Let alone the character was one of the main protagonists why the heck couldn't the character survive. Then again this is something that sometimes happens in suspense thriller and sci-fi horror so oh well.
Though the only really bad thing is that the proposed sequel was never made, which would have been so cool I would love to see more of the post apocalyptic world and even a few details on it's history, though this could still happen now with today's technology. Or if he decides not to make that sequel into a film at least make a graphic novel adaptation from Dark Horse or any other company, may 'be even do one of the first film so they can go together and it would help people get acquainted with this movie; well their lovely thoughts anyway.
Review by hellraiser7 from the Internet Movie Database.