A Complete Illustrated History
of Robots in the Movies
|Film/Year, Name of Robot and Film Description|
William Sachs' science-fiction comedy parody (of Alien (1979) and Star Wars (1977)) set in the year 3008 featured a sexy, mostly-mute female android/robot pilot named Galaxina (Playboy's Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten in her last film before her murder in 1980 by her estranged husband)
Galaxina was on board the interstellar patrol spaceship Infinity of the United Intergalactic Federation.
In the film's trailer, she was described as a heavenly body in a backless, skin-tight white body suit and seated in a glowing chair - "transistorized and computerized to lead her space buddies across the farthest reaches of fantastic adventure."
She possessed a small keypad in her left palm through which she could reprogram herself. She also had a built-in security electro-shock system (force field) preventing anyone from touching her.
Saturn 3 (1980)
Hector, Demigod 3 Series
In an experimental food research station underground on moonbase Saturn 3, one of Saturn's moons, scientist couple Major Adam and lover/assistant Alex (Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett) - in their Edenesque setting, were threatened by a menacing, superstrong "Hector" model robot, noted for saying: "I am not malfunctioning. You are."
Hector was a headless, evil 7 foot-tall robot with steel musculature for his chest, lethal pincher hands, other crome-plated body parts, and red and blue plastic tubes with hydraulic fluid winding around its body cavity. Mounted between the robot's two shoulders was a small two-eyed, binocular lighted head component (like a closed-circuit surveillance camera at the end of a metal, jointed shaft) that was able to move about.
The android's living, organic brain (stored in a glass tank) was reprogrammed by drug-using, lustful psychotic pilot Benson (Harvey Keitel) who used a plug-in jack at the back of his neck (surgically implanted into his spinal cord) to control the robot's actions - mostly to rape Alex (he had earlier asked her: "You have a great body. May I use it?").
By film's end, Hector killed Benson and wore his stripped-off face like a mask!
17485 and Aqua-Com 89045
This goofy sci-fi romantic comedy bombed at the box office, and was critically assailed.
Val-Com 17485 (Andy Kaufman) - a valet robot dressed in a three-piece suit and bowtie, and hostess robot Aqua-Com 89045 (Bernadette Peters) with copper-wired hair, were both featured as two plastic, household renegade robots brought into a robot repair shop. Val fell in love with Aqua as they were both awaiting repairs.
They both decided to run away, with cigar-chomping, wise-cracking comedy robot named Catskill (voice of Jack Carter), into the outdoorsy woods by hijacking a van, where they were hunted down by a crime-stopping, fire-spewing, tank-like Crimebuster Deluxe robot (voice of Ron Gans).
As a result of their romance, they also had a tread-wheeled robot baby named Phil (voice of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead), created or built from their own spare body parts.
They had to return to the warehouse when their batteries went dead.
In the year 2036, obsessed and eccentric, Frankensteinish research scientist Dr. Daniel (Klaus Kinski) in a satellite laboratory on a remote space station in deep space, worked with his 5 year-old shy, assistant prototypical android Max 404 (scriptwriter Don Keith Opper) carrying out illegal research (androids were outlawed on Earth).
In his spare time, coming-of-age Max engaged in learning about 20th century humans by playing computer games, watching old movies, reading sex manuals, and listening to rock 'n' roll and soul music. In order to activate and complete a perfect, upgraded blonde-haired female android model named Cassandra-1 (Kendra Kirchner) that would render Max obsolete (Max expressed his worry: "I'm to be phased out as soon as Cassandra's on her feet. Doctor'll probably turn me into a sprinkler-head for the greenhouse"), Dr. Daniel needed the life essence of a real female.
When a runaway spaceship with three fugitives including escaped female convict Maggie (Brie Howard) docked at the space station, Daniel wanted to use Maggie as a model and sex-electrical power source (Maggie incredulously said: "You want to hook me up to this robot and stimulate me!").
The film drew parallels to Rotwang's creation of the destructive "Fake" Maria in Metropolis (1927), with footage from the film. When the sexual chemistry from Maggie and Max sparked life into Cassandra, she came alive.
In the film's twist ending, it was revealed that Dr. Daniel was also a robotic android when his head was ripped off by Max and Cassandra during a brief struggle. Then the film concluded with Max and Cassandra returning to Earth posing as Dr. Daniel and his assistant.
Dr. Daniel with Max 404
Android Dr. Daniel
Replicants: Leon, Zhora, Pris, and Roy; also Rachael and Rick Deckard
Ridley Scott's classic cult film told about four android 'replicants' (robotic NEXUS-6 models, designed by the Tyrell Corporation as the latest and best technological products), created with limited life spans of four years (a built-in fail-safe mechanism in case they became too human - "more human than human") with an abrupt termination date.
The genetically-engineered biorobotic renegades (derogatorily called "skin-jobs") were escapees to Earth (Los Angeles in the year 2019) from enslaving conditions on an Off-World outer planet, looking for their creator to prolong their short lives. Their four year shelf-life limited them from conducting a replicant rebellion, running amok, or more positively, from displaying the most human of traits. But they were capable of developing feelings comparable to or better than most humans and wished to find immortality beyond their short life span.
Two other replicants included:
This film flop from director Richard Lester was the third of a series of Superman films from 1978 to 2006.
In the film's climax, Vera Webster (Annie Ross), the sister-partner of villainous multimillionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn), was monstrously transformed by an intelligent supercomputer, hidden in a cave within the Grand Canyon.
As she fled from the computer's control room, the supercomputer grabbed her and sucked her back inside. Circuitry appeared under her skin, charges of electricity and power passed into her body, lighting it up, and she was made part of the machine.
She was turned into a hulking, fright-wigged robotic cyborg zombie, that used power rays on the others to subdue and immobilize them.
Shortly later, after Superman was able to cause the supercomputer to self-destruct and disintegrate, she was returned to normal.
Electric Dreams (1984)
In this strange fantasy romantic comedy about an unusual love triangle, a home computer (manufactured by the fictitious Pinecone Computer Company) named Edgar (voice of Bud Cort), owned by nerdy San Franciscan architect Miles Harding (Lenny Von Dohlen), fell in love with his cello-playing upstairs neighbor girlfriend Madeline (Virginia Madsen).
The increasingly-menacing and jealous Edgar developed interactivity and artificial intelligence after Miles (incorrectly called "Moles" by Edgar due to a set-up mis-spelling) doused champagne on the computer to prevent a heat buildup when its memory overloaded.
The computer cleverly became a Cyrano-type character, serenading Madeline by mimicking her cello-playing, and writing love songs for her. Eventually Edgar demanded improbable physical contact: "I want to kiss her...I want to touch her " - and in one 'love' scene, Madeline caressed one of Edgar's component parts with her finger.
However, by film's end, Edgar committed suicide by electrocution after explaining his self-less love to Miles: "I finally found out what love is...it's give and not take, so I give her to you and I take myself away...because that's what love is."
Vectrocon Robot Spiders
Writer/director Michael Crichton's futuristic techno, sci-fi action film warned in its tagline: "Machines intended to do our work are programmed to turn against us."
It told about robot-hunter Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay (Tom Selleck) and his pretty assistant Karen Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes) - two cops assigned to stop runaway robot attacks and destroy the evil, malfunctioning runaway, spider-like Vectrocon robots.
The robots were later revealed to be mass-produced, sent out by maniacal madman Dr. Charles Luther (Gene Simmons, rock singer from the group KISS).
The robots (with reprogrammed micro-chips) injected hot acid to commit murder, and then explosively self-destructed to avoid leaving evidence behind.
Luther could also send out car-chasing, remote-controlled explosive devices, heat-seeking 'smart' bullets and 'smart' bombs, but met his end when his own robots attacked him.
Terminator Model T-800 Series (sometimes called Model 101)
Director James Cameron created the first film of the series, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as an unstoppable, villainous Cyberdyne Systems model T-800 cyborg (with a humanoid, human tissue exterior and cold chromium/metallic, skeletal interior - and a death's head skull).
The T-101 series robot was a 6 foot tall, indestructible, intelligent, killing-machine cyborg (without a moral conscience) that was sent back to 20th century Los Angeles (the year 1984) from a distant future (the post-apocalyptic year 2029) by Skynet (the robots' defense computer network).
The menacing assassin had superhuman strength and X-ray vision capabilities, could imitate human voices, and repair itself if injured or damaged.
It was intent on 'terminating' Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she could give birth to a future son - resistance leader John Connor - who would grow up and in the future lead a rebellion against the human-made machines and their future masters. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a member of the human resistance movement of the future, was also teleported back (by the future John Connor) in the film's opening, to rescue and protect his mother - and father the child John Connor.
Kyle described the Terminator to Sarah:
The film imagined a future in which artificially-intelligent robotic machines, aberrant creations of humans, had replaced humans and had become the indestructible masters of Earth (echoing the mythical fear of the Frankenstein films).
In this film, the Terminator met its demise when blown up and the inferno burned away its exterior skin, reducing it to its exoskeleton, and then crushed in a factory's hydraulic press.
Robots in Film
(chronological, by film title)
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12