The Human Duplicators is an independent American color science fiction film released in 1965 by Woolner Brothers Pictures Inc. It was produced and directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (without a credit for Pierce as director). The film stars George Nader, Barbara Nichols, George Macready and Dolores Faith. The narrative follows a very tall space alien (Richard Kiel) who has come to earth at the command of the “Intergalactic Council” to replace select humans with “android doppelgängers.” The goal of human duplication is to take over the earth, but the plan fails when the androids are destroyed by an investigator from the US National Intelligence Agency. The Human Duplicators was shown in the US on a double feature with Mutiny in Outer Space.
The Human Duplicators’ interior shots were filmed at Producers Studio in Hollywood. Exterior locations were Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and a school located at 5210 Clinton Street, which was used as the Space Research Corp. building where the scientists work. The exact dates of filming are unavailable, but Hugo Grimaldi Productions copyrighted the film on October 21, 1964.
In The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction, British film scholar Phil Hardy lists the movie as an American-Italian co-production made by Woolner Brothers and Independenti Regionali. It was one of two such co-productions directed by Grimaldi and released in 1965, the other being its companion film Mutiny in Outer Space.
Why Richard Kiel’s name was not included on the movie poster remains a mystery, although the packaging of a VHS tape of unknown date identifies the film’s stars as “Richard ‘Jaws‘ Kiel and Hugh ‘Ward Cleaver‘ Beaumont.” The film was Beaumont’s final picture before retiring from acting.
The Human Duplicators was the color first feature on a double bill with the black-and-white Mutiny in Outer Space.
The movie was theatrically released in the US by Woolner Brothers Pictures Inc., by International Film Distributors in Canada and by Regal Films International in the UK. Distribution in the US switched to Allied Artists in 1966 and 40 years later, in 2006, the American company Better Television Distribution had acquired the world-wide TV syndication rights. For personal home viewing, VHS tapes of The Human Duplicators were released in the 1980s by Joy Home Video in West Germany and at unknown dates by International Video Entertainment, ThrillerVideo and Star Classics Video in the US. It is the Star Classics VHS that’s titled Jaws of the Alien.
The Human Duplicators has not received particularly good reviews from critics over the years. “Whit” reviewed the film for the 19 May 1965 issue of Variety and called it “an okay entry in its field.” He wrote that there was little new in the plot, but that it “generates enough interest to pass in minor situations” and has “exploitation value” for theater owners. “Whit” was somewhat complimentary about the production crew, noting that “Don Wolf’s editing is fairly fast.”
Phil Hardy, the British film scholar, calls the movie a “confused and over-ambitious offering from Grimaldi.” He says that The Human Duplicators “marks the beginnings of a return to the technical gimmickry of the thirties. Thus, fittingly, it stars Kiel who became one of the more bizarre jokes in the later James Bond films, which were the ultimate in technological gadgetry.”
Current-day British critic Steven Puchalski refers to the film as a “colourful dose of swill” with a “silly plot and comical goofiness going for it.” He makes specific mention of the special effects, sarcastically noting that “The highly technical duplication process involves the victims standing in a circular cage while red and blue lights flash at them,” after which “they sit under clear plastic hair dryers until their brains harden.” He adds that for unknown reasons the androids have heads made of plaster, “so whenever they’re knocked on the noggin, their skulls crack open and Erector Set pieces tumble out. Oops! Design flaw, indeed ….”
Kiel himself seems to have had mixed feelings about the film. He said in an interview with American film scholar Tom Weaver that the film “was a big hit in Chicago,” where it played “in like 27 theaters” simultaneously. Kiel made personal appearances at theaters that were showing the movie in Chicago and said that they were so successful that he was asked to do the same in Toronto. But he told interviewer Maggie Howard in 2009 that “The way the director wanted me to act – kind of robotic – didn’t come off as well as I would have liked.”
from a 16mm print, color, mono, fullscreen, 80 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!