With Star Wars Episode Seven coming out soon I figured I would examine the notoriously bad Italian ripoff of Star Wars. I know many people consider Star Crash to be the worst of the Italo-Ripoffs but I’ve always gotten more laughs out of The Humanoid.
The many, many ways this movie steals from Star Wars will become clear as we go along. Let’s deal with first things first:
Richard Kiel plays the title figure. His real name is Golob but the Darth Vaderish bad guy arranges for Golob to be the guinea pig for a treatment that transforms ordinary people into powerful “Humanoids”. As a Humanoid Golob loses his beard for some reason but – even more comically – the beard suddenly reappears when he is returned to normal late in the movie.
Golob in his amped-up Humanoid form has super-strength, is invulnerable to harm and can deflect energy blasts that the Rebel Alliance-style good guys shoot at him. The bad guys plan to use a warhead to expose every man, woman and child on Earth to the bio-treatment, thus creating an instant army of billions of super-powered Humanoids like Richard Kiel. (Good luck controlling them since the treatment will reduce them to mindless animals like Golob.)
Corinne Clery portrays Barbara Gibson, the spunky Princess Leia pastiche. Barbara is a prominent scientist of Metropolis, which is what the entire Earth has been renamed now that it is just one big planet-wide city in the far future setting of The Humanoid. Barbara studies a gifted Asian lad who controls
the Force uh, I mean some kind of psychic or magical energy field.
Ivan Rassimov plays the main villain Lord Graal, whose entire army dresses exactly like Darth Vader. He does, too, but to stand out from his underlings HIS black helmet and mask have cutouts that let his eyes, mouth and cheeks show. Lord Graal wants to create the aforementioned Humanoid army so he can conquer the entire Milky Way galaxy. He has magical powers like the Asian boy.
Barbara Bach co-stars as Lady Agatha, the sexy villainess who wants to woo Lord Graal into a romantic and political alliance with her. And who can resist a woman whose breasts are in parentheses like in the photo to the left?
Lady Agatha is actually very, VERY old but her beauty is preserved through daily sacrifices of beautiful young women whose life essence (or something) is then transferred into her, leaving the unfortunate young ladies dead.
Arthur Kennedy is on an all-scenery diet as Dr Kraspin, the sadistic mad scientist who used to tutor Barbara Gibson. (“Kraspin was a good friend.”) Dr Kraspin invented the process that keeps Lady Agatha young and also devised the treatment that turns people into super-powered Humanoids.
Marco Yeh portrays Tom-Tom, the little Asian child whose
Force Powers magical gobbledy- goop permits him to do anything the plot requires but only when it will have dramatic impact and not before.
Tom-Tom is sometimes helped by
Jedi Knights “Brothers of Light” who don’t use light sabers – they shoot “light arrows” with a bow. (No, I don’t know how they can fit the laser arrows to their bows without slicing their own fingers off.)
Massimo Serato plays the Great Brother, the goody-two- shoes ruler of Metropolis/Earth. He is the literal brother of Lord Graal, who wants him dead but Dr Kraspin’s insane obsession with revenge against Barbara Gibson keeps getting in the way. The Great Brother is very wise and calm and gives off kind of an Obi Wan Kenobi vibe.
Leonard Mann plays Nick, the valiant Space Pilot and head of the Great Brother’s armed forces. In scenes with Corinne Clery he acts like a Luke Skywalker-ish lovesick dork but in all his other scenes he channels Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Nick even expresses Solo-esque skepticism about
the Force the magical energies controlled by Tom-Tom and Lord Graal.
There’s also a very annoying robot sidekick who is like a cross between R2D2 and Doctor Who’s robot dog K-9.
This robot is so cloyingly cutesy you’ll be rooting for its complete and total destruction about five minutes into its very first scene.
Believe it or not Ennio Morricone himself did the music for this laughable mess. The director was Aldo Lado, who showed such commitment to ripping off Star Wars that he used the pseudonym “George Lewis”. No, not George Lucas, George LEWIS. There’s a big difference. (?)
Descriptions of this movie can’t help but make it seem much more interesting than it really is. The Humanoid‘s only real entertainment value is as a Texas 27 Film Vault/ MST3K object of riffing.
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