Shitty Movie Sundays: Droid Gunner, aka Cyberzone

His name isn’t in the credits, but Roger Corman was an executive producer on this piece of shit, which means a viewer can expect a masterful showcase of parsimonious filmmaking. Director Fred Olen Ray wasn’t given two pennies to rub together to make this flick, and it shows. Just about anything of consequence in the entire film was shot in the same three locations: an industrial basement, a dive bar, and an alley. That’s it. And, despite this being made in the mid-1990s, Corman and company didn’t spring for anything remotely resembling contemporary special effects, instead relying on work that belonged in cheap sci-fi from twenty years earlier. Hell, it could even be cribbed from a different Corman movie. He did that all the time.

Droid Gunner, also released as Cyberzone, or Cyber Zone, follows Marc Singer as Jack Ford, robot hunter.  Ford goes all around a dystopian future earth killing rogue androids and selling them for scrap. His performance is very much in a Clint Eastwood mold, emphasis on the mold. He carries a big gun, wears a duster, speaks with a throat full of gravel, and never, ever, smiles. And he’s got a huge chip on his shoulder due to past trauma, like all clichéd film antiheroes should. I love it.

Ford takes on a new contract to retrieve four pleasure droids that have been stolen by freelance tough guy Hawks (Matthias Hues). Hues is a wonderful counter to Singer. They’re both more than capable b-movie tough guys, and where Singer goes for old west/noir, Hues opts for mere physical intimidation. The man is huge. Not Dwayne Johnson huge, but he towers over everyone in this film. And his hair is pretty.

The pleasure droids are pure Corman. They aren’t Pris from Blade Runner. Rather, they’re more bachelor party stripper. Big hair and fake boobs abound, and they’re insatiable sluts. It’s exactly the type of gratuitous nudity Corman required of films in his stable, and just as unerotic as ever. But, all the boobs are a useful anthropological record of Southern California cosmetic surgery standards of the era. So, there’s that.

Hawks has been hired to deliver the pleasure droids to New Angeles, a puritan underwater community run by the self-righteous, and corruptible, Humberstone (Robin Clarke). Ford is hot on Hawks’s trail, and he’s joined by Beth (Rochelle Swanson), a corporate exec who is getting her first look at what life is like in the urban hellholes of 2077.

Usually for a film of this quality, I would have run out of plot to write about around now in the review, but there are actually a couple twists and turns waiting for the adventurous viewer in the final act. This film has a plot that fills its entire 90-minute running time. I’ve seen piles of flicks that barely break the hour mark have long sequences of filler to make up for a thin plot, but not this film.

It wasn’t the story, or even the acting, that failed this flick. It was Roger Corman’s tight ass. But even with the budget chicanery, Droid Gunner is a film that will entertain the shitty movie fan. There’s just about nothing to recommend it to those who can’t stomach low-grade cinema, but it has qualities that the enthusiasts will appreciate. The film is lit poorly, which doesn’t really matter since the film stock is just as poor; a few sets were repurposed as different locations with minimal redressing; and the cinematography consisted of lots of closeups to keep shots simple and inexpensive.

Boobs, guns, space dogfights, more boobs, violence but not a lot of death, and, finally, more boobs. It’s shit-tastic but it could have been better. Droid Gunner settles into #83 in the Index, bumping The Colony.

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