Lynn Hershman Leeson's quirky 2002 sci-fi spoof, Teknolust, is scheduled for DVD release from Microcinema in October. The film, which met with mixed to poor reviews back in the day—a 28% score on the Rotten Tomatoes meter, has become something of a cult favorite. Its feminist take on such familiar science fiction-horror tropes as the mad scientist, the experiment that gets out of hand, the creature that needs some kind of human substance for continued existence, and the machine that develops human qualities speaks directly to the post modern taste for irony. Vampires, Frankenstein monsters, robots: Teknolust weaves elements of them all into an extravagant send up of the genre.
EssentiallyTeknolust is the story of a frumpy, frustrated female computer scientist who creates a trio of cyborg avatars from her own DNA. The three women need continuing injections of male sperm to stay "alive," so one of the women, symbolically costumed in red and named Ruby, is dispatched into the real world for nightly sperm hunting and gathering. Scenes from classic movies are used to program her with pick up lines and each successful climax is crowned with a cuddle. Things begin to go awry when the cyborgs become dissatisfied with their isolation and begin to exercise minds of their own. When the men who have been seduced by Ruby begin to break out in a strange disease, an investigation turns up some weird results.
If the reception of the movie itself was at first lackluster, the critical reaction to its star, Academy Award winner, Tilda Swinton, who plays all three of the cyborgs as well as their creator, was much better. Her performance was seen by many as an acting tour de force. And clearly, this film is an extraordinary opportunity for a fine actress to show her chops. She gets to play the passionless seductress, the naïf discovering the world of emotions, the repressed introvert, the dissatisfied rebel, the nurturing sister, and probably a few others as well. She is a blond, a redhead, and a brunette. She slinks about in color coordinated costumes, both stylish and sexy, or she wears a curly fright wig and stomps about in a matronly skirt and blouse. It is a role—or rather a set of roles—that any actress would jump at, and Swinton does it full justice.