Still Watching the Skies: Episode 116 “Heartbeeps”

Nat, Cody, and Robert take a look back at the film that basically ended Andy Kaufman’s film career before it could launch with 1981’s HEARTBEEPS. And for some reason, the film apparently affected the first 25 minutes of recording, so apologies folks for the subpar audio.

HEARTBEEPS was ostensibly Universal’s way of testing the waters for an Andy Kaufman movie about Tony Clifton. Opening during the Christmas season of 1981, it opened at #7 on the chart, 4th among new releases, and petered out quickly grossing less than half of its $12 million budget.


And honestly, it’s not like critics were kinder on the film. Siskel and Ebert took out the knives on SNEAK PREVIEWS and they were far from alone. About the only positive for HEARTBEEPS was the praise for the makeup by Stan Winston which ended up being one of the first nominees for that award when it became an official category at the Oscars. (It ended up losing to Rick Baker and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON.)

The plot finds two robots, ValCom-17485 (Andy Kaufman) and AquaCom-89045 (Bernadette Peters), in the factory for repairs fall in love. Rather than stay there, they escape to the countryside with fellow robot Catskil-55602 and attempt to elude the factory workers trying to round them up and an out of control “Crimebuster” unit, shades of ED-209. They also try to figure out the ways of wild animals and build a childlike robot to accompany them. Supposedly whacky hijinks ensue.

So, the question is, has HEARTBEEPS earned a reappraisal or did the 1981’s audience and critics see it right the first time? Are there positives to be gleaned? Talented people worked on the film, John Williams did the score even, so there must be something here, right?

And, heck, here’s a weird spinoff. The Duracell family.

No need to build a custom robot to listen to this episode. You can give us a play below or Download the episode. Also, feel free to let us know what you think by commenting on our page at Facebook or you can Email Us at as we appreciate feedback.

Time tracks:
0:00:00- HEARTBEEPS Discussion
49:48 – Next Movie and Outro

Next month, we bring you the 1936 blockbuster THINGS TO COME. We hope you’ll join us.

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