Android cast: Klaus Kinski, Don Opper, Brie Howard, Norbert Weisser, and Kendra Kirchner director: Aaron Lipstadt 78 minutes (15) 1982 widescreen ratio 1.85:1 Anchor Bay UK DVD Region 2 retail [released 26 January] RATING: 9/10 reviewed by Steven Hampton

A cheaply made New World production, Android is undoubtedly one of the best movies about humanoid robots. Packed with genre references (not all of a science fictional nature) and some witty in-jokes, its allusions to classics like Metropolis elevate this well above the usual standards for low-budget space opera. Max 404 (Don Opper, who co-wrote the screenplay with James Reigle, and gives a dazzling performance) is the manservant and companion of renegade scientist Dr Daniel (Klaus Kinski) on an outpost station. When escaped convicts arrive, Daniel offers them safe haven – largely because he has designs on Maggie (Brie Howard). The innocent Max, who has never even seen a real woman before, quickly falls in love her, using old fashioned courting techniques learned from Jimmy Stewart movies. Daniel is working on a new female robot, named Cassandra (Kendra Kirchner), designed to replace his faithful assistant, and the mad doctor reprograms Max as a merciless and inhumanly strong killer to dispose of the most troublesome of the criminals. As the cops arrive to search the space lab for said fugitives, Cassandra and Max escape to freedom on 21st century Earth…
Delightfully clever and wonderfully entertaining, Android remains an amusing and richly literate treat for aficionados of low-budget cinema, even 20 years after its original release. A superbly polished example of genuinely thought provoking science fiction, it’s imaginatively directed by Aaron Lipstadt, who was previously a production manager on cut-price sci-fi horrors, such as Bruce Clark’s tolerably trashy Galaxy Of Terror (1981), and Allan Holzman’s macabre and yet energetic Forbidden World (aka: Mutant, 1982). Lipstadt went on to co-write and direct the quirky post-holocaust teens’ adventure City Limits (1985), before enjoying a successful career in television, with episodes of genre shows like Quantum Leap (1989), The Flash (1990), Seven Days (1998), Now And Again (1999) and, more recently, Level 9 (2000) to his credit. As many fans of cult SF flicks should know, the phenomenally talented Don Opper (who also appeared in City Limits) went on to play dual hero and villain roles in four of the Critters movies.
What makes Android so enjoyable is its makers’ deft handling of ‘space opera’ traditions – just compare the sexual awakening of Max, to that of Altaira (played by Anne Francis) in the 1956 classic Forbidden Planet. The filmmakers’ shrewd attitude to reworking familiar genre material into a plot that’s clearly inspired by Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (famously the source of Blade Runner), imbues Android with amazing fairy tale qualities, while still posing some vitally important questions concerning the similarities and the differences between human beings and artificial intelligences – just as in the more widely celebrated (and more expensive) Blade Runner. Noteworthy trivia: watch out for the crew credit of ‘design consultant’ that goes to Jim Cameron!
In addition to the standard Dolby digital 2.0 sound, this DVD release has 5.1 surround and DTS options, and disc extras include a Kinski biography, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, film notes, and a trailer. If you have a DVD-ROM drive on your PC, there’s also the script and another stills gallery available.