At the height of Star Wars mania in late 1977, enterprising American musician Domenico Monardo, using the stage name Meco, released a single titled “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” which set pieces of John Williams’ familiar movie score to a thumping disco beat. The tune was a smash, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart and selling more than two million copies. Musically, however, it was dreadful—and yet it was merely a hint of the awful Star Wars rip-offs yet to come. Released around the same time as the equally terrible European production Starcrash, the Italian atrocity The Humanoid jumbles together assorted visuals copped from Star Wars (a black-helmeted villain, a land speeder, light arrows instead of lightsabers) while telling a nonsensical story that seems like a combination of a childhood fantasy and a drug hallucination.
In the kingdom of Metropolis (formerly Earth), Lord Graal (Ivan Rassimov) works with the loopy Dr. Kraspin (Arthur Kennedy) and the vampiric Lady Agatha (Barbara Bach) to build an army of genetically altered “humanoids” with the goal of seizing a throne. Meanwhile, intrepid heroine Barbara (Corinne Cléry) teams with magical youth Tom Tom (Marco Yeh) to marshal supernatural forces for the side of good. Caught in the middle is outer-space pilot Golob (Richard Kiel), whom Graal’s people transform into a humanoid. If any of this sounds remotely interesting, rest assured it is not. Even with certain visual distractions (of which Bond girl Bach’s cleavage is the most noteworthy), The Humanoid is nearly unwatchable. The characters are insipid, the costumes are ridiculous, the special effects are tacky, and the storyline is unintelligible. Virtually the only element that creates interest is the energetic score by Ennio Morricone, who blends classical and disco elements into a pungent aural stew.
It’s hard to select any single aspect of The Humanoid as being the dumbest, though contenders include Bach’s bizarre hair helmets and the presence of a chirping robot dog. Unsurprisingly, the acting is awful—after all, the big selling point of the movie is the onscreen reunion of Bach and Kiel, the worst actors from the 007 smash The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). That said, The Humanoid has a small measure of kitsch value, as seen in the kinky vignette of Lady Agatha watching a nude lady get impaled by a high-tech iron maiden so she can consume the lady’s blood. Yet the most unintentionally amusing moments in The Humanoid involve dialogue. Consider Lady Agatha’s attempt at sexy patter upon seeing Lord Graal after a long separation: “It is very gratifying to know that I have been in your thoughts all this time—as you can see, you have been in mine as well.” Hot! Even better, consider Barbara’s desperate proclamation: “Out lives are in danger and I can’t find the counter-humanoid notes I took—they’re my only hope!” That’s The Humanoid in a nutshell, shameless and stupid all at once.
The Humanoid: LAME