I was ten years old when this film was made. So, by the time I saw it, I was still relatively young.
This film struck a chord with me that most sci-fi does and always did, that of alienation. The whole sense of this film is one of being utterly isolated. Not only is one (if it's possible to identify with any of the characters at all - which, being at least human, one should) so very far from home, but the whole environment is one of emotionally devoid, plastic inhumanity.
We as people crave not only varied human contact, but contact with everything else about our world that is tactile and real. Plants, seas, trees, animals, air and skies. In the environment that the characters of this film inhabit, it is pre-eminently (outerspace) sci-fi, and so, devoid of these comforts.
This all goes to giving the viewer the absolute sense of isolation, of inhumanity, of being set apart from all that we know, love and that makes us comfortable and settled. From this point of view, the film achieves it's objective of totally unsettling the viewer. Factor in then the absolute epitomy of that which is inhuman. A robot. Furthermore, a robot that is not only on a crash course of destruction, threatening to steal the human character's very humanity by making them slaves to it's will, but a robot whose 'controller' is himself seemingly as utterly inhuman as his machine. No matter where one looks, there is no escape, there is no mercy, there is no humanity.
For me as a child, and for me as an adult now, the overriding sense of this film far outweighs any lack of quality acting or failings in the script that there *may* be. In fact, for me these things are irrelevant for what the film conveys emotionally. Hence, 4 stars.
One final thing. The sight of a young Harvey Keitel in very tight leather, that surely could only be peeled off, is a true delectation to behold.