Reviews

Droid (1988)

Droid begins with a shot of stars zooming in space, which can only mean one thing: an opening text crawl à la Star Wars:

“In the beginning, the Dominants left Earth, leaving behind a depraved, violent society, to be policed by leather clad maniacal androids called REFORMERS. When the theft of a SYSTEM decoder occured [sic], an ELIMINATOR was brought in, a cop they called TAYLOR. No more than a hired assassin,”

And that’s it. It cuts off right there and ends with a comma because fuck English and its arcane rules. It’s a shame the prologue is cut short because it’s the only clue about what goes on in this movie. We need all the help we can get.

It’s Los Angeles, 2020 A.D. The future looks exactly like 1988: gold lamé skirts, big hair, obvious eyeshadow, and pleather jackets with too many zippers (meaning more than one). Taylor, a grizzled cop with a light-to-moderate mullet, walks into a nightclub called the Pleasure Dome. The patrons are a ragtag bunch: there’s a geisha, a white dude dressed up like a samurai, and a little man with a Pee Wee Herman dummy on his shoulder. Everyone wears sunglasses indoors because this is 2020 A.D. At some point, a stripper in an Egyptian headdress emerges from a sarcophagus and flashes some beaver. In other words, this is the greatest bar in the galaxy—better than that bullshit cantina in Star Wars.

The Reformers are androids with black helmets and black masks with flashing lights for eyes. It’s unclear what Reformers do exactly, but it does involves stage fog. One Reformer steals something. I’m guessing it’s the “system decoder” as discussed in the prologue? I don’t know and I don’t care because there’s only one thing you need to know about this movie: Taylor has a personal android named Rochester. He’s a flagrant C-3PO knockoff, meaning that he’s uptight and prissy. He wears a red jumpsuit and a beanie.

Taylor is on the case to get back the system decoder. This is done by hanging out in a bar and watching topless women dance. This is also done by looking sadly at a photograph and hassling a guy in a sparkly turban. This is also done by voiceover. Taylor narrates the movie occasionally, in a faux noir style: “There I go getting all emotional, just when I thought I had forgotten about her.” It’s not nearly as goofy as the narration in Blood Hunger, but it’s still welcome. (Wouldn’t you know it, Even Steven Productions distributed both movies.)

Director Philip O’Toole (who is credited as Peter Williams) has written and edited a long string of adult films—Droid is actually a porno called Cabaret Sin and the sexy times were cut out just so it could be sold to sci-fi fans. This fact simultaneously explains a lot and very little. While the plot is incoherent and at times repetitive, the entire concept is magnetic. Like Cards of Death, it’s a vortex of ideas, ambition, disassociating visuals, and New Wave costumes. Droid has so much to offer, from boobs to lasers, from trashy lingerie to Asian news footage. The stripper interludes are lengthy and plentiful, and there’s even a flash of peen. Also, there’s a spaceship. Droid is what happens when a porn director gets inspired by Star Wars and Blade Runner, but only has $5. If you love Star Wars, then you’ll love Droid!

The soundtrack is just as good as the movie. It’s impossibly great—a cannibalization of The Normal, Billy Ocean, and Annie Lennox. All your favorites. Whenever there’s an Asian on screen, there’s “oriental” music, or what I call “ching-chong music.” There’s also an abuse of orchestra hits that does not go unnoticed. The music is by a band called Cinema Symphony’s [sic].

When you boil it down, Droid is really about four things:

-A mullet nursing a broken heart
-A girl smoking a cigarette
-A neon sign that says “pleasure”
-A disco ball

In other words, it has everything you need.

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