Normally, playing a game of “hey, it’s That Guy” (or “That Gal”) is fun, when you’re watching something big-budget. However, when you’re watching a sub-sub-bargain-basement film like “Cybernator” and you start to recognise people from “Samurai Cop” and the “Nuke Em High” films, then you might need to start asking yourself some serious questions.
The IMDB summary of this is succinct and perfect. “In the future, an L.A. cop whose girlfriend is a stripper uncovers a conspiracy concerning killer cyborgs.” I’m half tempted to do the film reviewer equivalent of drop my mic and walk off the stage at this point, but there’s plenty of fun stuff to talk about.
Brent McCord is the LA cop, and if you’ve seen literally any film from the 80s, you’ll recognise the basics. Leading political and military figures are being killed and he’s just trying to do his job. Plus, there are cyborgs around! I sort of wondered if they were going for some racial tolerance thing, but the cyborgs are all evil and deserve to get shunned in the street and eventually shot to pieces.
“Cybernator” may put you off going to see strippers for ever. The strip club is incredibly ugly and atmosphere-free, and I think director Robert Rundle should have just hired a couple of real strippers because it’s not like he could have possibly found a worse actress; combine that with stripping that looks like a jazzercise class for people with broken hips, and you’ve got a recipe for a bad time. Talking of ugly locations, the two virtually identical offices used by the police captain and the army Colonel are so nondescript that your eyes fight to stop looking at the screen – although a good spot from my wife was a bar right at the front of the shot in the Army office, which indicates they were filming in the corner of an old-fashioned bank (perhaps one of the cast worked there as a day job and snuck them in to film).
They’ve never met a cop movie cliche they didn’t love, either – we get the big “you’re off this case” speech, and the main guy hands in his badge at one point. We even get the girlfriend giving it the “please don’t go” to McCord as he’s about to go after the androids, even if it’s about half an hour too early for it to really work. But they try! If you’ve seen any of the films we’ve reviewed here, you’ll see the twist coming a mile away, but it’s not a bad twist, just slightly over-used.
It’s not all cliches, though, like when they go to speak to the coroner, and it’s an Asian woman. She’s not there for comic relief or to be an exotic romantic encounter, she’s just a normal, friendly woman doing her job. Noticing it made me realise how rare that sort of character is, even now, and how completely unknown it was back in 1992, especially in American cinema. Good on you, “Cybernator”.
This film also has one of the longest and least erotic love scenes I’ve seen. My wife went in the kitchen to make herself a drink at the beginning of it, and as the lovemaking was accompanied by awful music, she could hear it and kept saying “is that damn scene still going on? Seriously?” I feel like the occasional shot of a breast (while all we see of the man is a bare chest) is like the tenth worst thing about that scene.
I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Now, this is a film with rotten acting (the lead, Lonnie Schuyler, is so bad as to almost defy belief), cliches stacked a mile high, perhaps the worst soundtrack ever, ugly sets and terrible special effects, including but not limited to cyborgs with bits of metal glued to their face, lasers that are sort of near the gun they’re supposed to be coming from, but you know what? I really enjoyed it. It’s a throwback to the days of Ed Wood, when clueless directors, bored / incompetent actors, terrible special effects and awful scripts combined to make real “so bad it’s good” movies. This film definitely belongs in the pantheon of great bad movies, and I definitely recommend it for your next bad movie night.
And it’s available for free on Youtube! I didn’t mention the Troma connection, but they evidently bought the rights to it (they had nothing to do with its production) and as they’ve put up their entire back catalogue on Youtube, knock yourselves out.