Look for Steven Reich making a cameo appearance!
In the near future, the oceans have died, the last tree in the last rainforest has fallen, and the air has become unbreathable. But the ever-adaptable human race has moved underground, into great government-controlled settlements that look roughly like New York City subway stations. The people rely on technology - particularly holograms and electronic mind implants allowing them to use computer chips as mind-altering drugs - to make their existence underground slightly less grim.
Lori (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) is a bodyguard-turned-fashion designer, whose old boss, a loud, butch woman named Juice (Lu Leonard), wants her to come back and work on a job. The task is to transport a shipment of illegal longevity chips from Los Angeles to New York City, by way of "the Maze", an underground network of parking garages.
She is supposed to be escorted by a darkly beautiful, sadistic man known as "Plughead" (Vernon Wells), but she finds his fascination with her slightly creepy and turns to a "pleasure droid" (i.e., an electric gigolo) named Danner (Jim Metzler) for a travelling companion.
Danner, who is far creepier than Plughead, in my opinion, has an interesting story. Juice has programmed him to believe that he has a girlfriend somewhere, and the tasks he performs for Juice are bringing him closer to his lost love.
Anyway, he and Lori set off through the maze, in a car they obtained from a semi-electronic mechanic called Jugs (Garry Goodrow). What they haven't taken into consideration are the giant, deadly subterranean leeches that fall from the ceiling in strings of slime, and while driving along with the top of the convertible down, poor Danner becomes covered in leeches.
Not to worry - they get assistance from a maze dweller appropriately named Leech (Christopher Dennis), who picks the leeches off Danner and throws them into a cauldron. A dirty, shaggy haired individual who chomps on cigars and carries a welder's torch as a security blanket, Leech has got to be one of the coolest movie characters ever. While helping re-wire Danner in his squalid lair in the maze, Leech utters the classic line, "I'm sick. I eat leeches," and takes a bite out of a big, juicy, rubbery leech.
As payment for his help, Danner and Lori agree to take Leech to New York with them. After hitting a dead end, though, they have no choice but to go "topside", for which they need oxygen tanks. Meanwhile, Plughead and a blonde called Yoyo (Barbara Alyn Woods) are following them. I'm not sure why, but Plughead is not happy.
Anyway, during the two groups' travels above ground, Leech deserts them, stealing the car, and Plughead befriends a group of bandits. Plughead and his new friends capture Danner, and Plughead plugs one of his own cords into Danner's brain, allowing Danner to see footage of Juice saying that Danner's lost love doesn't really exist. He really doesn't like Danner, as he considers robots inferior to humans, such as himself. Then, foolishly, Plughead gives him a knife in case he wants to commit suicide.
When they get to New York, there's a showdown between Danner and Plughead. Plughead allows Danner to see into his own mind, a horrible place full of charred corpses and smouldering ruins, where it rains burning ash. In a fury, Danner stabs him with the knife...
This is a truly amazing film, ranking among my top 5 favorites (and I've seen a lot of movies). The cast is wonderful, especially Vernon Wells as the incredibly charming, sexy villain Plughead.
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