11th Apr2013

‘Grindhouse 8: Mandroid’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Brian Cousins, Jane Caldwell, Michael Della Femina, Robert Symonds, Curt Lowens, Patrik Ersgård, Mircea Albulescu | Written by Earl Kenton, Jackson Barr | Directed by Jack Ersgard

Mandroid-screen

Originally planned as an Empire Pictures film back in 1986, Mandroid was lensed in 1993 as the first in a two-part series (the second being Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight) by Swedish director Jack Ersgard based on a script by long-term Full Moon collaborators Jackson Barr, who also wrote Subspecies, Trancers II and Seedpeople amongst many others, and Earl Kenton, who would go on to pen the sequel and a number of movies for Charles Band’s erotica imprint Surrender Cinema.

The film tells the story of the titular Mandroid, a humanoid robot invented by Russian scientist Dr. Karl Zimmer and his partner Drago, which follows the motions of a man in a special control suit. Planning to sell his invention, and the superconn crystal which powers it, to the US, Zimmer has a falling out with Drago who wants to militarise the robot and profit on its abilities. Attempting to steal Mandroid, Drago is intercepted by Zimmer and the two CIA operatives sent to inspect the robot and he, and Zimmer’s assistant Benjamin, become exposed to the highly toxic superconn, disfiguring Drago and changing Ben…

One of a handful of Full Moon film that I hadn’t seen before (although I have seen the sequel Invisible), sitting down to watch this DVD from 88 Films was literally a first time experience for me. And what an experience. Part Terminator, part Robocop, but all Full Moon, Mandroid is a genre bending take on classic sci-fi B-movies, featuring the same tropes as sci-fi films of the 50s: mad scientists, crazy inventions and cheesy dialogue. Shot on a low-budget, when low budgets could still produce great shot-on-film flicks, the movie has – like many of its stable mates of the era – that distinctive Full Moon charm that belies any problems with scripting or story, making Mandroid a fun experience that had me gagging to see the sequel again.

Despite being one of the most-family friendly Full Moon flicks (outside of Charles Band’s family-orientated label Moonbeam Entertainment) there’s a real feel of the Puppet Master franchise to Mandroid. Maybe it’s the disfigured villain who’s very reminiscent of Steve Welles portrayal of Andre Toulon/Eriquee Chaneé in Puppet Master II or perhaps its the fact that the Mandroid is much like a giant version of Toulon’s popular puppets? Whatever it is, the similar tone really helps sell the film and even though the movie is very different story-wise to their horror efforts, it really fits into the “classic” Full Moon feature mould.

Mandroid is out now on DVD from 88 Films.

**** 4/5

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