Sunday, February 28, 2010

R.O.T.O.R. is C.R.A.P.

Remember seeing that poster on the left in video stores in the 1980s? YOU KNOW YOU DO! It brings back a more innocent time when companies would commission a poster by having an artist (no Photoshop, an actual PAINTER) rip off a more popular movie's poster. Such is the case with R.O.T.O.R. and Mad Max on the right. R.O.T.O.R. didn't look nearly as cool as he does in this image, but at least the picture was faithful to the movie which did indeed feature a robot cop on a motorcycle.

R.O.T.O.R. (1989)

Gosh, but I love THiS TV. First Eliminators, now R.O.T.O.R!

What happens when a cheap looking, poorly animated metal skeleton meets a badly written and directed Robocop rip-off? You get the risible R.O.T.O.R. aka “Let’s throw some shit together and make a movie.”

This movie is beyond stupid. It has the hokey jokey tone of a Troma picture in many placse and several characters are wacky to a fault. Police Captain Doctor B.C. Coldyron (that’s like Sgt. Frank Drebin Det. Lieutenant in Police Squad!) heads the Robotic Officer Tactical Operations Research unit of the Dallas P.D. with the aim of creating a robotic police force to not only rip off Robocop but to make policemen and perhaps mankind obsolete. Yes, this movie is that deep.

Coldyron (it’s pronounced “cold-iron”) shows a home movie of the R.O.T.O.R. skeleton being put through its paces to a group of badly cast actors, which means the herky jerky animation shows it vogue-ing, doing tai chi, and acting like an idiot. It looks exactly like what it is: a bunch of silver straws and plastic tubes glued together with what seems to be clear plastic suction cups on its front to form a foot-tall minature. Jesus but this is such a poorly designed and executed effect; the animation is below the level of the old Saturday morning Land of the Lost.

Coldyron is soon kicked off the project, his life’s dream, by an unscrupulous boss in league with a shady politician, so naturally he goes on a long romantic lunch date with his heavily shoulder-padded secretary. They have several shots of the two at a restaurant while some bland song plays over the whole thing so they don’t have to record any dialogue. Then Coldyron and the woman go back to her place for steaks. I guess they should have eaten at a better restaurant if they go out to eat in Dallas, then have to go home to grill some ratty looking thin pieces of meat. I thought everything was BIG in Texas, especially the beef.

Coldyron is played by Richard Gesswein, a tall lanky dude in Wranglers with a chin to make George Clooney jealous and a penchant for always speaking through clenched teeth. He is also very obviously dubbed.

Meanwhile back at the R.O.T.O.R. labs, the irritating and pseudo-mack daddy Native American technician improbably named “Shoeboogie,” who acts like he’s memorized every clichĂ© ridden music video of the 1980s, shorts the R.O.T.O.R. program when he sticks his Walkman’s headphones on it. This causes R.O.T.O.R., now covered in skin, to get up with his new program: Judge and Execute. One question: why would you create a robot cop with a porn-star quality mustache?

ROTY soon fixates on Sony a woman with a big 80s poofy hairstyle and pants tucked into her white socks after he pulls over her car and kills her douchebag fiancĂ© and she gets away. Coldyron catches up to them and fights ROTY but gets his dubbed ass handed to him. Sony drives away again and Coldyron contacts her over the radio. He says he’s got a plan to stop ROTY but it will take A COUPLE OF HOURS and he wants her to keep running for all that time while he hatches a plan. What kind of moron is he that he goes after ROTY WITHOUT a friggin’ plan? And to add insult to injury the movie keeps flashing the day and time on the screen, so we know how long Coldyron has been farting around. Let’s hope Sony doesn’t have to stop for gas any time soon.

Coldyron has Dr. Steele fly in that night to help with his R.O.T.O.R. problem; she's a lady body builder with a skunk hairstyle and a chin almost as big as Coldyron's. It’s important that while poor Sony is being hounded by a bloodthirsty malfunctioning robotic cop that the movie takes time out to have scenes where Coldyron and Steele not only pull up to the Lincoln Hotel, but also get out of their vehicle, give the bellman her bags, take the escalator to the check-in counter, check-in to her room, walk into her hotel room where over a montage of scenes we’ve already witnessed in the movie she then changes from her nice blue traveling dress and white pumps into a black wife-beater and army pants. (I know this was largely done for product placement purposes but, the word “pacing” has apparently never been heard of, or used, by these filmmakers.) The movie suddenly tries to grow a brain by having Coldyron quote Milton over the montage.

Here’s a Coldyron speculation: “Something in the molecular memory of the chassis alloy is affecting the brain matrix.” Maybe that explains the thin steaks in Texas. And as a counterpoint, Dr. Steele just spouts a whole bunch of Yoda-babble: “To combat pure will, you’ll have to use pure illogic. You will have to allow yourself to fail. Use your failure against him. Your failure is his failure, your weakness is his weakness.”

This inept piece of scrap ends with Dr. Steele alternately shooting and kung fu-ing R.O.T.O.R., while Coldyron tries to get Sony to tie knots. I’m not kidding. These two muscle-bound idiots go to rescue the girl and stop R.O.T.O.R. and Coldyron makes a noose using primacord rope and leaves one end of it for R.O.T.O.R. to step in and he tells Sony to tie the other end to his jeep. Once the dummy steps in the rope and it’s pulled tight the primacord explodes.

The movie ends on a bizarre note with Coldyron getting shot and killed by his old boss, then cuts to Coldyron’s college-going nephew who is bequeathed all of his wacky Police Captain Doctor Uncle’s robo-research. The last image is off Dr. Steele who is now a robot (or perhaps was one)? GAAAAHH!

Bonus - Random observations:

I would like to kill whoever suggested using a drum machine to score movies.

Willard the police robot’s voice reminds me of Cleveland from Family Guy.

Coldyron has a little toy robot on his desk that looks like Wall-E crossed with Peepo from Space Academy.

How many mini-mart customers can spin-kick a thug like this woman does?

Sample of Capt. Coldyron’s riveting phone dialogue: “I’m fine. Absolutely. Me too, Penny. In a few minutes. I know. Sure. See ya.”

Capt. Coldyron is lying in bed in a dimly lit room and I thought he had a poodle in his lap. Turns out it was his girlfriend’s head! Now Det. Sgt. John MANGO is contacting Capt. Coldyron. I wonder if the Mango phone call was tart and refreshing with a fruity after-taste.

R.O.T.O.R.’s “sensor recall” is just a piece of negative film. And why does he have to take off his sunglasses to use this “sensor vision?”

Why does the diner chef have OBVIOUSLY fake buck teeth? And why is it that everyone who wears dirty jeans talks like a redneck idjit?

The girl runs out of the diner and ROTY has to deal with three rednecks, one of whom knows martial arts (Dallas-Fort Worth Fu, I imagine) and one that looks like Danny McBride on steroids. He even has one of those Hulk Hogan t-shirts that you can rip off with your bear hands.

Geez, there is a lot of dubbed in dialogue in scenes where characters have their backs to the camera or are off screen while the camera focuses on some random item, like a desk chotchkie. And it’s all stupid silly stuff.

R.O.T.O.R. and Mad Max posters Copyright their Respective Rights Holders. No infringement is implied with this review.

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