Saturday, January 23, 2010

Creation of the Humanoids

Guy's post about Creation of the Humanoids the other day got me thinking again about this movie and how much I liked it.

It's a low-budget, crappy-looking science fiction movie from 1962. One of my personal heroes, Andy Warhol, liked to say that Creation of the Humanoids was his favorite movie of all time. I guess, coming from him, I didn't take that statement too seriously at first. It seemed like the kind of smart-assed thing that Andy liked to say but not really mean (like when he wrote in his diary about feeling star-struck when he met "the Fonz" at a dinner party).

But once I saw the movie, I thought, "Wow! I think he actually meant it!" It's the kind of movie that creeps up on you. When you first start watching it, all you notice is the stiff, stylized acting and low-budget special effects. But as the movie builds, and explores some really interesting and complex philosophical ideas, it starts taking on a life of its own. By the end of the movie, I felt emotionally moved, and like I had experienced something of true substance.

Some movies are less than the sum of their parts. You know how you can watch a big-budget movie, where everything looks right, starring great actors, with a perfectly fine script...but somehow it doesn't add up to anything? Maybe it lacks some X factor that makes everything come to life.

Creation of the Humanoids is the opposite of that; somehow it adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Even though the costumes are cheap and the acting is weirdly self-conscious and the pacing is oddly theatrical and slow, it has that magical X factor that brings it all together.

If you're curious to check it out, Guy strangely posted the entire movie on his blog yesterday. Or you could probably rent it from Netflix or buy it cheap online.

Here is a summary of the plot of the film:

"The Earth is suffering the after-effects of nuclear war; the human birthrate has fallen so much that the population is declining. The "humanoids" of the title are advanced robots created to serve human beings. A human scientist, Dr. Raven (Doolittle), has developed a technique called the "Thalamic Transplant," which transfers the memories and personality of a recently-deceased human to a robotic replica of that person. The human-humanoid hybrids that result awake from the process unaware of their own transformation.

"A quasi-racist human organization called the "Order of Flesh and Blood" opposes the robots, whom the order disparagingly refers to as "clickers." One of the leaders of the Order, Capt. Kenneth Cragis (Megowan), discovers clues that lead him to fall in love, and discover the secret not only of the robot's human "replacement" program, but also of the future of himself, his new love, and the human race as a whole."

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