Whether you know him from his Werner Herzog collaborations (Fitscarraldo or Nosferatu anyone?) or from starring as pervy bad guys in Spaghetti Westerns and exploitation movies, you've got to love this creepy little Polish born actor. We, of course, are going to dive straight in to the more low budget stuff, to celebrate this weird little fella.
Android was an easy choice, having witnessed this Sci-Fi low budget gem on TV late one night back in the 80s, whereas Creature (or Titan Find as it's also known) was a complete coincidence - I ordered it as a cheesy Alien rip-off and was delighted to find out this kooky Pole was in it. So hey, Klaus Kinski's in both and they're both Sci-Fi, that's all you need for a classy little Zombie Club.
This Zombie Club was bought to you by Jim in association with Polish Actors that get typecast as Germans everywhere.
Plot Eccentric scientist Dr.Daniel and his shy, clumsy assistant Max, lead a quiet life on their space station.
Jim Max is an android and lives on a remote space station with his scientist master Klaus Kinski. He spends his time doing his chores and watching old twentieth century films, listening to twentieth century music and watching sex instruction videos. He is, of course, totally bored until a space ship containing three fugitives stops off for repairs. That would be fine but... one of them is a woman, and Max has never seen a woman before "Can I touch it?"
Max doesn't get a look in though as Klaus is all over the woman, Maggie, like a rash, but what's his motivation? Max, meanwhile, is going through what androids go through at a certain age (hence why they're apparently illegal on Earth), i.e. he's becoming insubordinate, forgetful and sex obsessed. The fugitives however want to get their ship repaired and get out of there, but when the brains of the outfit spots Max flippantly magnetically pull a tray towards his hand (a scene which Zomblee refered to as "very cool"), he puts two and two together and realises Max's worth.
Will they get away? Will Klaus get his wicked way? Will the knew female Android Klaus is working on have sex with him? Will Maggie have sex with Max? Or will Maggie at least put a bra on? ("There's no underwear in space, just ask Carrie Fisher." - Rawshark) Will Max remember to pack all his spare fingers? All relevant questions in what is one of the neatest little Sci-Fi movies I think I've ever seen. Android is practically perfect in what it does. The performance by Don Keith Opper (who only really made a name for himself in the Critters movies, this and the little known City Limits) is outstanding, doing his own script justice. Kinski plays the leachourous scientist with effortless brilliance and even the three fugitives, in very one dimensional support roles, prop the leads up well. The pace whips along, the script is clever and funny and while the ending is a little bit of a cheat it certainly opens the story up and leaves you thinking about what might happen next.
A great start to a Zombie Club - no gratuitous nudity or violence in this flick and yet it kept our attention 100% throughout. That's pretty rare, I think we'll all agree.
"That's the weirdest line for getting into my pants that I've ever heard, and I've heard 'em all. I mean, lunch was good, but it wasn't that good."
Zomblee Just like John Carpenter's student movie Dark Star, Aaron Lipstadt's Android is a sci-fi project that boasts more ideas than budget, and that's just fine by me. Set in an Earth-orbiting space station in 2036, it follows an android called Max, and his creator Dr Daniel who is working on his female android, Cassandra One. Of course, this is all very illegal due to malfunctioning androids on Earth, but who's going to say that to Klaus Kinski? Maybe we could leave that to the three terrorists who pitch up at the station - Keller (the bad one), Mendes (the stupid one), and Maggie (the lady). Out of the three, it is Maggie who garners most attention from Max, who has never seen a real woman before, and Dr Daniel, who looks like he chuffs his load the moment he lays his eyes on her ("Good job he's wearing white trousers!" - Mario).
Perhaps however it is Max who is most horny, as it transpires he is showing signs of 'Munich Syndrome', meaning he becomes insubordinate and sex-obsessed (Munich sounds like an anarchic shagfest!)...and therefore wants to go to Earth with the three criminals rather than stay in space with no-one but Klaus Kinski and some really shit CGI porn for company. Who can blame him?
I've been waiting a long time to see Android, and it surpassed all expectations. Don Keith Opper (who also wrote the screenplay!) is brilliantly believable as the horny android Max - surely one of the most sympathetic sci-fi characters ever committed to celluloid. His desire to see the naked flesh of ladies was echoed by Jim and Rawshark ("I think it's going to be a minimal boobage day today"), as the computer-generated sex education images he had aboard just didn't cut it.
Like Duncan Jones' recent sci-fi Moon, this is brimming with great ideas and the production period of early 80s lends it that lovely retro production design (this may be the first space station to feature carpeted floors!). Kinski's fashion sense is deplorable though - Mario in particular took a real dislike to that horrid shirt he was wearing, but it almost suits someone like Kinski. For a vintage sci-fi, this is also a lot funnier than you might expect, although when Kinski is involved you can never quite tell what is intentional and what isn't. Highlights were Max's packing his spare fingers in a polythene bag and a certain special effects sequence at the end. Thoroughly good fun.
"You didn't say anything about the experiment?"
Rawshark Like Jim, I had once caught Android on a late-night TV screening when I was little and only beginning to learn about movies outside of Star Wars and it left a long-lasting mark on me. Of course, back then, I knew nothing of Klaus Kinski, so I was really looking forward to a repeat viewing and I was not disappointed - Android really is one of those quirky little films with great characterisations and a solid idea at it’s core as opposed to relentless action, insipid heroes and big space explosions.
With a cool stop-motion animation opening credits sequence of two toy metal figurines ‘making out’ (”one of those dolls has breasts!” - Zomblee), Android soon takes us into the world of Dr Daniel (Klaus Kinski) and his assistant Max, two men stranded alone on an space station in 2036. Dr Daniel is obviously sexually frustrated (he’s working on building an android lady), whilst Max seems to be virginal and curious of all matters concerning the female form. However, their untroubled existence is soon put to the test when three refugees from the law arrive at their base, the status quo even more interrupted by the fact that one of three strangers is a woman called Maggie…
You can always rely on Klaus Kinski to play demented characters, and here he hams up his lecherous traits to wonderful effect (”Apparently he’s lecherous in the next movie too” - Jim) as he leers and attempts to pull Maggie upon her arrival. She rejects him though and the scene is set for Max to rebel against his employer and side with the three criminals, which in turn causes more problems for all concerned as the movie plays out, especially as it soon transpires that Max is in reality nothing but an android himself.
Ok, so the set designs may now seem a little dated (”they have carpets in space!” exclaimed Mario, our guest for the night) and the fashions have come straight from the TV series Space 1999, but Android deals with timeless themes revolving around life, love, freedom of choice and the right to existence that it still holds up extremely well. Like a Film Noir / Gothic Horror set in space, Android contains plenty of charm, plot twists and original interesting ideas, resulting in a real human sci-fi story that is far from robotic.
”It’s a woman! Can I touch it?”
Director Aaron Lipstadt
Cast Klaus Kinski
Don Keith Opper
Runtime 80 mins
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Titan Find (Aka Creature) (1985)
Plot There's an thing / alien on the loose on Saturn's moon, Titan.
Rawshark Welcome to the future, welcome to space missions and welcome to Titan, one of Saturn’s (or should that be Jupiter – we couldn’t decide) moons, which may provide the answer to the Earth’s dwindling resources. With two corporations locked in a bitter battle for global supremacy, Richter Dynamics (from West Germany) set out on a mission to explore Titan, but when two of their guys are minced into spacesuit meat by an alien entering them through the back passage in the opening sequence, the US company NTI decided they too must go and investigate.
Featuring a bland group of earnest explorers, the NTI space mission is hindered by having rubbish spacesuits (”I think most of the spacesuit budget went on the helmet” - Jim) and the fact that their ship sinks into Titan’s terrain as soon as they land. Heading out to explore, they soon discover an alien egg, whilst one female crewmember, Susan Delambre, is killed by ”alien vision” (Zomblee), although bizarrely she returns not long after, now with the ability to be able to breath in Titan’s atmosphere without the use of her helmet. So, is she now an alien doppelganger? And will she try and kill the rest of her crew? And do we even really care?
A fairly plodding retread of countless other space / alien horrors, Titan Find’s one major plus point is the addition of Klaus Kinski who appears as Mr Hofner, a Richter Dynamics scientist who has been left stranded on Titan after his mission came under attack. Playing up to his famous eccentricity, Kinski adds interest to the film with his ramblings about butterflies and manic facial tics. He offers to help the American crew, but it soon becomes apparent that the alien threat is more than they can manage, and thus we’re treated to lots of running around, lots of confusion as to who is actually dead or alive and one saving grace gore shot of a head explosion that Zomblee claimed was ”better than Dawn of the Dead”.
Unfortuantely it must be said that Titan Find is not really all that. Stealing from other space / alien horror films with the hungry glee of a group of schoolkids let loose on a Pick’n’Park school trip, the filmmakers even have the cheek to mention The Thing From Outer Space from which they’ve clearly stole most of their ideas. Derivative to say the least, Titan Find is at least saved from a one star review by the appearance of the always engaging Klaus Kinski and that head explosion.
”I saw this movie once about a group of scientists at an ice pole who get attacked by an alien carrot.”
Zomblee At one point during Titan Find we were all convinced that each character had not one, but two names. Were they doppelgangers? No. Maybe it’s because they all look alike, all these really bland actors, playing dull characters who you won’t really care about too much. But when you’re reduced to trying to remember characters’ names instead at the expense of following what is actually going on with the plot, don’t get too depressed. We didn’t. Instead, Rawshark noticed how one of the buildings had “really nice tiling”, Jim was a big fan of the “modestly designed planetary adventure suit”, while our good pal Mario was convinced one of the female characters once appeared in Knight Rider. And you know what? We checked. And she did.
If you want the lowdown on Titan Find, you may not get it here, but I will try my best. A badly shot / edited Alien rip-off style movie from William Malone, the man behind the similarly forgettable Feardotcom, it follows a team of US astronauts who embark on a highfalutin scientific mission to Titan - the largest moon of Saturn - but find a lot of dead Germans instead. One remains alive however, and guess what, it's Klaus Kinski, for once his German accent making sense! Soon whatever destroyed the Germans will hunt down the Americans, and will do so in supremely gory fashion.
Kinski obviously out-acts the remainder of the cast here. Personally I can't stand the sight of the guy, but there is something frustratingly magnetic about him, even when spouting gibberish lines like, "It's like a child's butterfly collection, except these butterflies aren't so friendly". Butterflies? What? Klaus, you are talking shit again.
And the alien monster? Well, it's 80s rubber suit time but I don't think that matters too much. There's a quite awesome head explosion somewhere here, so good in fact it rivals Savini's legendary demise in Lustig's Maniac, and in general the gore is top draw stuff, elevating Titan Find into the 'not a complete waste of time' sci-fi category.
"Do you think we're going to die?
Jim Titan Find (or Creature, as the copy we watched was called) opens with a couple of German Astronauts finding a capsule thing on some planet somewhere. One tells the other one to sit on the capsule while he takes a photograph with his big space camera, but just then the creature stirs and breaks through the capsule surface. "Does it crawl up his arse?" asked Mario quite innocently, and judging by the gore going on inside the sitting spaceman's helmet, yes. This prompted Mario to dub this alien an "Arse Hugger". Thus began Titan Find.
From here there was the usual confusion over the plot, mixed with the usual who's-who guessing game as we try to put names to the characters (where's the Aliens style canteen scene when you need one), with the added confusion that the characters are referred to by the surnames and sometimes their first names with no kind of discerning rule governing that. Is that allowed? ("Have we ever been tested at ZC like this before?" - Zomblee.) It shouldn't be at Zombie Club. Even trying to read the names on the spacesuits was a nightmare ("Del Amitri?", "Del Monte?" No - Delambre, apparently). But it doesn't matter really as they have not one ounce of charisma between them ("I think they might all be in Street Hawk." - Zomblee) - even the lady who looked like the girl from Superman II ("Nah, I don't want to see her tits. - Zomblee, really?)
But the plot, which was remarkably close to Planet of the Vampires if you remember that, had the US space ship landing to see what happened to the German rescue ship which landed to see what happened to the two German astronauts from the intro. And guess who's the only survivor of the German ship? ("This is the German ship where they're going to find Klaus Kinski, who's actually Polish." - Mario) Ah yes, thank goodness for Mario, who, with more self control when it comes to the ol' vino, was always on hand to explain what was happening.
So, a standard 80s sci-fi Alien / Planet of the Vampires rip off, prompting comments like "It's a shame people in the 80s couldn't make computer graphics look like they thought they should do in the future." (Rawshark) and "Those flashing lights do fuck all." (Zomblee). It's saved by some cool gore, but I missed the pigging head explosion. ("That can't be the first time a 'can't find my pen, missed the fucking death' thing has happened at Zombie Club." - Zomblee), no I don't think it is.
"Make love to me, please?"
Director William Malone
Cast Stan Ivar
Runtime 97 mins
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Well that's that then. Android was the stand out hit we thought it would be, and Creature provided enough low-budget cheese-gore Kinski inspired fun to keep us going to the end of the night. It'll also be remembered as the film that bought us the arse-hugger and had more names going on than it had characters. And, of course, for Klaus Kinski, who's been to Zombie Club before and will definitely be coming to Zombie Club again (Commando Leopard did you say?)
Tune in next week for some not so inspiring Ozzie kung-fu, even if friend of the site Brian Trenchard-Smith is involved. In the mean time let me leave you with a little known fact about Klaus. Did you know that his sex crazed autobiography Kinski: All I Need Is Love was largely fabricated to boost sales? That's according to his friend Werner Herzog, who made these revelations in his 1999 retrospective piece on Kinski, My Best Friend. Still, I bet All I Need is Love is a cracking read, although an expensive one - at the time of going to press the cheapest copy available online was £75 on Amazon. Go figure.