Sins of the Fleshapoids (1965)

Sins of the Fleshapoids

The movies on display in the bowels of Lovefilms comedy section hardly raise a smile but at only 40 minutes long the title here was enough for me to give it a shot.

Sins of the Fleshapoids is a camp sci-fi comedy(ish) straight from the 1960s New York underground movement courtesy of Mike Kuchar. The synopsis on Lovefilm is slightly inaccurate, missing out on a key theme of the movie.

The survivors of a nuclear war are taken care of by robots called fleshapoids. One day one of them runs wild, kills its ‘mistress’ and hides in the home of a human female for whom it develops feelings.

The film deals with the romantic relationship not between human and machine but machine and machine. The evolution of the two separate species after the near extinction of the human race is the key driving force of the film. Where humanity has embraced Roman style hedonism, using their android servants to fulfil their every desire, the servants themselves are evolving beyond their initial purpose, becoming more human in the process. While there are no explicit robot/human relationships in the film the machines are sexualised in particular in a scene where they help to bathe their master. The awkward questions raised by the mixing of technology and sex is well trodden in science fiction, 8 years later Michael Crichton will treat it as a throwaway inevitability of advancing technology in his script for Westworld. The synthetic evolution here has more in common with Blade Runner, machines evolving beyond their programming to become more like their creators.

This march towards the technological singularity that will be the end of mankind (LINK) is as low budget as can be but is far from ugly. A mash of colours and styles hit the screen from all angles creating a striking visual style that softens some of the rougher edges. Shot on 16mm film with no dialogue the story is told in the manner of a silent film with a voiceover and the occasional on screen speech bubble in the place of intertitles. The film is a clear influence on the early films of John Waters, both directors sharing a skill for working on micro budgets without sacrificing style.

A camp curiosity that is certainly not for everyone but the final scene/visual gag was enough to convince me.

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