After much cajoling, Rich and Poe and their gaggle of Planchets enter the spooooky ghost ship with the most ship. You better believe it’s real creepy. “Ok, you saw it. Let’s go. We’ll enjoy some brie and wine outside this, how do you say, ghost ship with the most ship,” says a Planchet, pulling at Rich’s arm. Just as he’s about to agree, Rich sees a glimmer in the corner of his eye. “Poe, did you see that glimmer, man?” Poe nods. The Planchets whisper urgently for them to come back, but Rich and Poe aren’t ones to let a glimmer slide. They hear the soft mumbling of super scary Latin phrases coming from the aft cabin. As they open the door they are confused. No one is there, just an intricate puzzle box. “This reminds me of something,” says Poe, but Rich just shrugs. “I remember this,” Poe insists and picks up the puzzle box. Suddenly it solves itself and a portal to hell is opened from which a couple sexy ladies walk out. One is a sultry minx (and also a robot) in a red dress, her smokey eyes turn Poe’s legs to jelly. The other has a book under her arm and is wearing glasses. She’s a total nerd (and also a robot), but suddenly she takes off her glasses and she’s also super sexy! But she was wearing those glasses! Who could have guessed? “Woah, I’m in love, bro,” says Poe. Rich is shocked. “Uh, those are obviously demons (and also robots). We should just close the portal.” But Poe shakes his head, “I can’t decide. There’s only one person who can help me with this… and that’s myself.” And with that he writes Dear Diary… Now this is starting to feel vaguely familiar to Rich. That’s right! We’re getting the classic robot love story Heartbeeps starring Andy Kaufman. Never heard of it? Neither did anyone else. This film was a test to see if Kaufman could carry a film before letting him make a Tony Clifton film and was a remarkable failure. It’s also one of the few BMT qualifying romantic comedies set in the future, so seemed appropriate for this cycle. Let’s go!
Heartbeeps (1981) – BMeTric: 23.9; Notability: 39
(Brutal rating. Which I think makes sense. By all accounts it is just extremely weird and boring. Just an unpleasant watch overall. So no one watches it, and when they do they trash it. The Notability is off the chain though, for a $10 million movie from 1981? That seems crazy, but they had Stan Winston and John Williams on this thing, they really really went for it trying to see if Kaufman could carry a movie. He can’t.)
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Two robots fall for each other in this misfired futuristic comedy. Students of makeup might want to take a peek at Stan Winston’s work.
(My god. It is just “this is a movie … but the makeup is really good.” That’s barely a review!! Incredible. This can’t be anything but brutally boring.)
(Huh. That is not at all what this movie is about. The crimebuster character is part of the film, but is by no means the primary storyline. The primary storyline is about two robots falling in love … really weird advertising idea.)
Directors – Allan Arkush – (Known For: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School; BMT: Caddyshack II; Heartbeeps; Notes: Mostly a producer these days, including Crossing Jordan and Heroes. Tends to cast Mary Woronov in films he directs.)
Writers – John Hill (written by) – (Known For: Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Quigley Down Under; Little Nikita; BMT: Heartbeeps; Notes: Won an Emmy for writing on L.A. Law in 1991. His work on Close Encounters was mostly additional notes.)
Actors – Andy Kaufman – (Known For: God Told Me To; My Breakfast with Blassie; BMT: Heartbeeps; Notes: Famous for his reality blurring performance art which included wrestling and fake late night feuds. Sadly he passed away young, and his life is outlined in the film Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey.)
Bernadette Peters – (Known For: Annie; The Jerk; Anastasia; The Mean Machine; Silent Movie; Pennies from Heaven; Alice; Impromptu; Snow Days; Future BMT: Pink Cadillac; It Runs in the Family; Slaves of New York; BMT: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; Heartbeeps; Notes: won a Golden Globe for Pennies from Heaven. She somewhat retired from motion picture acting in the 80s to focus on Broadway. She has won two Tony awards.)
Randy Quaid – (Known For: Independence Day; Brokeback Mountain; National Lampoon’s Vacation; Kingpin; National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday; Midnight Express; The Last Picture Show; Paper Moon; What’s Up, Doc?; Quick Change; The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle; Home on the Range; The Long Riders; The Last Detail; Freaked; Foxes; The Missouri Breaks; Get on the Bus; The Paper; No Man’s Land; Future BMT: Not Another Teen Movie; Major League II; Days of Thunder; Vegas Vacation; The Wraith; Last Dance; The Slugger’s Wife; Moving; Goya’s Ghosts; Milwaukee, Minnesota; BMT: Pluto Nash; Caddyshack II; Hard Rain; Grind; Heartbeeps; Bye Bye Love; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar in 1974, he is the older brother of Dennis Quaid, and hit it big in Hollywood first. Mostly known for controversy these days, he has been involved in criminal issues between Canada and the US, and according to Twitter he is a huge Trump supporter.)
Budget/Gross – $10 million / Domestic: $2,154,696 (Worldwide: $2,154,696)
(Oooooof disastrous. That budget makes a ton of sense, the makeup itself is pretty insane (nominated for an Oscar even). And if it wasn’t a weirdo art film then making $20 million is reasonable one would think.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/6)
(Wow, we haven’t had a 0% in forever. I’ll have to make a consensus as well: A truly unpleasant viewing experience, I would rather physically harm myself than sit through this film again. This about sums that up. I cannot find a major critic who had a review of this film.)
Poster – Love Machines
(What in God’s name is that? That is horrific. I find almost no redeeming qualities to that other than the fact that it doesn’t seem like it was made by a monkey at a typewriter. F.)
Tagline(s) – WANTED – Be on the lookout for this gang of misfit robots (D)
(What is happening? Is this supposed to intrigue me? Everything about this movie seems so weird? No mention of the fact that this is about robots falling in love? It seems like they decided that KOOKY ESCAPED ROBOTS was their best chance at getting some butts in seats… didn’t work.)
Keyword – robot
Top 10: Interstellar (2014), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Jurassic Park (1993), Ready Player One (2018), The Matrix (1999), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Alita: Battle Angel (2019), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Future BMT: 84.5 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 83.1 Inspector Gadget (1999), 70.5 Zoom (2006), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 65.0 Max Steel (2016), 63.0 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 59.6 Virus (1999), 58.1 Toys (1992), 57.9 Supernova (2000), 57.1 Flubber (1997);
BMT: Sucker Punch (2011), Replicas (2018), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Pixels (2015), Masters of the Universe (1987), RoboCop 2 (1990), Judge Dredd (1995), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), The Benchwarmers (2006), Superman III (1983), Lost in Space (1998), RoboCop 3 (1993), Jason X (2001), The Avengers (1998), Meet the Spartans (2008), Old Dogs (2009), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996), Pluto Nash (2002), Deadly Friend (1986)
(That dip in the mid-2000s seems real, but I lack any coherent explanation as to why people would be souring on robot films at the time … Anyhoo, I cannot wait to watch Max Steel, it is going to be so bad. And Toys is a great film from a nostalgia perspective.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Randy Quaid is No. 3 billed in Heartbeeps and No. 2 billed in Bye Bye Love, which also stars Amy Brenneman (No. 5 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 4 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 2 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 18. If we were to watch Last Dance, Intersection, Nights in Rodanthe, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 17.
Notes – Because this movie was so poorly received at the box office, Andy Kaufman’s “The Tony Clifton Story,” a movie about the life and times of his alter-ego Tony Clifton, was scrapped by the movie studios. (Oh nooooo, that would have been terrible, but would have been kind of a fun time capsule of a film)
Universal executives were horrified by the cut Allan Arkush presented them with. Their final cut was 79 minutes with credits.
Sigourney Weaver was offered the role of Aqua, and was interested in being in the film. Her agent talked her out of taking the part. (Smart agents)
Because of the weather at the Colorado shooting location, Stan Winston’s elaborate robot makeup, which took several hours to apply, gradually wilted in the heat, limiting how much footage could be shot in a day.
Allan Arkush, who had never helmed a big-budget project, staged scenes at a glacial pace that frustrated everyone but him. (Haha)
Universal Pictures gave Andy Kaufman a blank check to make this film after focus group testing indicated that children liked robots, apparently in the wake of R2-D2 and C-3PO. (Ooooof)
In a 1982 newspaper interview, Andy Kaufman said his voice for Val-Com was based on a combination of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. (Huh)
The characters Susan and Calvin, who appear in the junkyard scenes, are named after Susan Calvin, a frequently recurring character from Isaac Asimov’s Positronic Robot short stories.
Andy Kaufman grew increasingly bored with the proceedings. His friend/co-conspirator Bob Zmuda was specifically prohibited from the shoot, so Kaufman began acting out onset. (Not a good look)
Composer John Williams was hired to provide the music for the film through his association with producer Michael Phillips. The two had worked together previously on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977). (Ah that explains the writer who also gave notes on Close Encounters)
Universal executives were concerned that Andy Kaufman hadn’t acted in films, except for a small role. They arranged for him to star in this film to see if he could carry a movie. (And he couldn’t)
Crimebuster 00719 is a redress of the Death Probe from The Six Million Dollar Man. (Wow, that’s a cool note)
The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society’s 4th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1981.
To achieve the desired artificiality and to produce a new look for the makeup, Winston’s innovation was to use gelatin instead of painting on foam. “There was a translucency to gelatin appliances that was very nice, and it would also give me the smooth finish I was looking for,” said Winston. “So I decided to take a chance and use gelatin to create these full-face, multi-layered prosthetic makeups for the robot characters, mixing metallic colors right into the gelatin itself. This had never been done before.” The final appliances, which included foreheads, chins, cheeks, necks, noses, and ears, had just the translucent, metallic look Winston had sought; but the fragility of the gelatin resulted in their requiring constant maintenance on the set, nearly driving him to a nervous breakdown.
It was while nervously attending to Bernadette Peters’ makeup application one morning that Winston received a piece of advice he would take with him into every subsequent job. “I was in a stressed-out state,” he recalled, “which was fairly typical of me at that time, and Bernadette Peters said to me, ‘Relax, Stan. It’s just a movie.’”
Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Makeup (Stan Winston, 1982)