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Puzzlehead (2005)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sci-Fi | 21 April 2005 (USA)
Post apocalyptic Frankenstein-ish fantasy


James Bai


James Bai
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Galaida Stephen Galaida ... Puzzlehead / Walter
Robbie Shapiro ... Julia
Mark Janis Mark Janis ... Carjacker
Mark Lampert Mark Lampert ... Dead Man / Victim
Jon Bavier Jon Bavier ... Landlord
Paul Schulz Paul Schulz ... Dreggy Guy
Elise Abrams Elise Abrams ... Dreggy Girl
Ramon Moraldo Ramon Moraldo ... Homeless Man
Ray Montanez Ray Montanez ... Mugger
Chuck Ardezzone ... Robber
John El Manahi ... Thug #1 (as John Elmanahi)
Kevin McCormack Kevin McCormack ... Thug #2
Richard Craven Richard Craven ... Paramedic #1
Edward J. Harrigan Edward J. Harrigan ... Paramedic #2
Amy Lotven Amy Lotven ... Patient


Post apocalyptic Frankenstein-ish fantasy

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


So this is what it is to be human...


Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Puzzlehead: The Anti-Federalists and the Luddites forced the closure of all biomechanical laboratories and began replacing them with fertility clinics. Funding ceased for everything not directly related to re-population. Quite ironic now that I think about it. Walter managed to salvage most of the equipment that wasn't nailed down. The most important of which was D-I-amdac, a brain scanner, which he used to scan his own brain to provide the blueprint for the neuro-net map of my artificially ...
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User Reviews

Man Vs. His Machine Up Close and Intensely Personal
3 May 2005 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Puzzlehead" is much like an extended "Twilight Zone" episode warning about man creating artificial life in his own flawed image.

It draws on myths from the doppelganger to the golem to Pygmalion and their psychological counterpart in "Fight Club," to sci fi from Asimov's Robot Rules to "Star Trek"'s "Data" character to darkly answering Philip Dick's question "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the basis for "Blade Runner"). But this film makes battles about the Rise of the Machines more intensely personal than in "The Matrix" trilogy and even more intimate than in the new "Battlestar Galactica" series.

Several elements raise it up beyond other robot genre films - the look, sound and, to a lesser extent, the role of woman and procreation in this nihilistic future.

While filmed all in Brooklyn, the film looks like it is set in a violent, post-apocalyptic vaguely Eastern European dictatorship, both through the settings and the gritty and changing point-of-view cinematography and editing.

The sound design very effectively adds to the creepy mood. According to Q & A with the director and crew at the Tribeca Film Festival, problems with the original ambient sound necessitated a re-recording of the entire soundtrack, including the actors' voices. Capitalizing on the look, the actors' original voices were replaced by other voice-overs with added accents so that all the speaking has the slightly disconnected feel of dubbed over foreign films, adding to the uneasy theme of relations between man and machine.

The superior music selections, mostly heard Dogme style played in situ, add to the tense atmosphere, from the Yiddish folk song "Dona Dona" (its chorus here is eerily ironic, usually translated as "But whoever treasures freedom/Like the swallow has learned to fly."), to Bach and Scarlatti played on a harpsichord as if it's an automatic player piano.

A unique element to the Frankenstein aspects of the story is the viewer's shifting sympathies between the creator and robot, usually based on how each relates to the woman, even as toward the end we scarily lose track of which one is the human.

Writer/director James Bai, in the Q & A, cited Daniel Keyes' ironic story/novel "Flowers for Algernon" (the basis for the movie "Charly") as an influence, but I was struck more by the warning of human creators transmitting their intrinsically violent and emotional flaws.

This film deals with some of the same issues as "Artificial Intelligence," but is to that film as the recent version of "Time Machine" is to "Primer." It is being showcased by the Alfred Sloan Foundation as the latter film was, for creatively showing science in society.

"Puzzlehead" can definitely be marketed to adult fans of robot movies, sci fi and "The Twilight Zone," but I doubt it will appeal more widely.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

21 April 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Android See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Zero Sum Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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