Sunday, March 6, 2016

Robo Vampire (1988)

I’m going to get straight to the point with this post.  I watched Robo Vampire this week and I have a lot to say about it.  The thing is, what I want to say doesn’t lean into any broad topic.  This post is going to be all about Robo Vampire.  The movie is so crazy that I will have more than enough material to write about.

Robo Vampire is a 1988 movie directed by Godfrey Ho under the pseudonym Joe Livingstone.  There were two stories going on throughout the movie that had little to no connection.  The first story involved a magical martial arts master who controlled vampires, going up against a robot man hybrid created from a dead police officer.  The other story was about a group of mercenaries for hire who were sent on a mission to save a kidnapped drug enforcement agent.  Both plotlines had their own ludicrous beats.

Like many of the other posts in which I focus solely on the movie of the week, this will be a post where I run through the various elements that make the movie wacky and insane.  It will be more than five points that I address.  This movie was too crazy for me to imagine a limit to what I’m going to write.  I’ll just keep going until I have run out of material.  Then I will go a little bit more because I’m not the kind of person to stop when I should.  I can ramble more than need be.

The Poster
I want to start with the artwork for Robo Vampire.  It is the same artwork that I will feature at the top of this post.  The poster features a Robocop like character getting ready to be a part of the action.  That is not the case when you actually watch the movie.  There is no character that comes close to resembling Robocop.  There is a robotic character.  He’ll come up later.  But his look is in no way similar to Robocop. 

This artwork was clearly thrown together to try and get people to pick it up in a video rental store.  Remember, it was 1988 when Robo Vampire came out.  There were stores to rent movies.  It was the primary way to watch movies in your home unless you waited for them to pop up on your favourite television channel.  Or if you had a lot of money and could buy movies.  Maybe if people looking for something to watch saw a Robocop like character on the cover, they would grab the movie expecting a Robocop like movie.  That’s not what they would get.  These movies aren’t even in the same ballpark.

Robo Vampires?
There are no robot vampires in Robo Vampire.  There is a robotic man, as I’ve already mentioned and will mention again later in this post.  There are vampires that I will elaborate on.  There is even a half-naked ghost character.  Yet there is nothing that combines the robot with the vampire.  Those are two separate entities that were only put together for an exciting title.  Do not go into this movie expecting a robot vampire.

The Vampires
It is difficult to explain the vampires in Robo Vampire without clips of the movie, but I will try.  These vampires weren’t typical vampires.  They were martial arts fighting vampires that shot smoke out of their mouths and arms, with one of them shooting fire crackers or bottle rockets or something out of its sleeves as well.  They got some good air but preferred to hop around.  The lead vampire had a gorilla face.

The vampires were still dangerous. They liked to eat flesh.  One of the vampires attacked a man and bit into his neck as the main title appeared.  It had chunks of flesh hanging from its mouth as Robo Vampire flashed onto the screen.  They might have wanted flesh more than blood, but they were supposed to be vampires.

The Relationship
The vampires can’t be brought up without mentioning the half-naked ghost woman that was in love with one of them.  She showed up early in the movie to confront the martial arts master controlling the vampires.  She could no longer be with the man she loved in the afterlife because that man was turned into a vampire.  She appeared in a sheer white sheet and showed off her nipples while fighting the martial arts master and the head vampire.  This was before the vampire recognized the love of his life.  Later in the movie, she resorted to actually getting naked in her fight as some form of distraction that doesn’t work.  Oh well.

The Robot Man
As opposition to the vampires, ghost woman, and the martial arts master with a magic dagger, there was the robot man.  This character was probably inspired by Robocop as the poster for Robo Vampire would have you believe.  The character was a police officer killed in the line of duty by the vampires.  The government decided that a good idea would be to bring him back to life as a half robot half man fighting force.  They sent him after the vampires.

The most notable thing about the robot man was his look.  He looked nothing like Robocop.  He looked like someone wearing tinfoil.  The safety of that material while under gunfire is nonexistent.  If he went into a real battle, it wouldn’t do protect him.  This was especially true in a moment when he was blown up by a grenade launcher and disintegrated.  His torso turned into a hollowed out cardboard box and the government had to rebuild him.

Robot man had the power of super strength.  He could bend guns and tear them apart.  Other than that, he was exactly like any soldier, except noisier.  He made mechanical sounds with every step that he took.  His voice sounded like it was run through a computer.  That all came with him being half robot.  It made him a machine.

The Martial Arts Master
The hopping vampires that opposed the robot man were controlled by a martial arts master.  This man had a magical dagger that he waved around in rapid motions to get the vampires to do whatever he wanted.  When the police tried to capture him, he sent his vampires after them.  That caused the robot man’s creation.  The martial arts master has showcased his fighting skills by going one-on-one against the half-naked ghost woman multiple times.  He was an important part of the story.

The Drug Story
Half of Robo Vampire was devoted to the vampires and the robot man, a ludicrous, fantastical story involving wirework martial arts.  The other half was a more grounded story about drugs and mercenaries.  Drug enforcement agents were trying to stop the smuggling of cocaine or heroin or something.  They were discovered by the drug lord, who killed all but one female agent, who he kidnapped.  The government hired a mercenary who put together a team and set out to free her.

This half of Robo Vampire was a standard action movie filled with gunplay.  It was people shooting each other with small bursts of martial arts thrown in.  No wirework was involved.  Instead, the performers jumped around kicking and punching when they weren’t using guns.

Super Strong Guards
The guards around the prisoner cell were unbelievably strong.  In many action movies, the strength of guards, bodyguards, and henchmen is used as a sort of comedic relief for the action that is happening.  That wasn’t the case in Robo Vampire.  The strength of these guys was played straight.  It was about the characters escaping from the strong men.  There were multiple strong guards in the movie.  They were a credible threat and not the muscle thug joke that most movies make them out to be.

Robo Vampire was oozing with bad dialogue.  The first notable line was near the beginning of the movie when a character was thanking the sleeping vampires.  I don’t remember why he was thanking them but he was.  Then there was the initial interaction with the half-naked ghost woman as she talked about her relationship with the lead vampire and how the martial arts master ruined it.  The way she spewed out words was something I had never heard before.  It was astonishing.  Poorly worded, poorly spoken, just poor all around.

The most notable dialogue, however, came from the drug storyline.  When one of the mercenaries stumbled upon the sister of another mercenary bathing in a pond, she was aghast with embarrassment.  His response was to say something along the lines of “You are beautiful. You should bathe more often.”  It was an insane line in an insane movie that makes added to the insanity.

That’s all I have for Robo Vampire.  The movie was a crazy collection of nutty scenes and situations.  I’ve seen few movies like it.  I may have to dip into the filmography of Godfrey Ho again in a later Sunday “Bad” Movies week because, if this movie is any indicator, he has a lot of entertainment value in his movies.  They might not be good, but they seem like fun.

Alas, every good Sunday “Bad” Movies post must come to an end.  There’s no better place to end than with these final few thoughts.  I very rarely find a movie like Robo Vampire.  The fact that it felt like, and likely was, two separate movies crunched into the hour and a half runtime of one made it interesting.  The wacky dialogue and strange story kept it from ever getting stale.  It was a movie made in the worst possible way but magically came out the other side as a one of a kind experience.  You must see Robo Vampire at some point.  You cannot miss out on this opportunity.  It will change your life.
Something else that will change your life is this list of notes:

  • Robo Vampire was suggested to me by @DeusExCinema.
  • Other movies I’ve watched that heavily involve martial arts are Miami Connection, Samurai Cop, Gymkata, Infra-Man, Warriors of Virtue, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Mortal Kombat, Skin Trade, and Chop Kick Panda.
  • Movies I have covered that involve robots or mech suits are Starcrash, Robot Jox, Robot Wars, Metal Man, Steel, Transmorphers, and Batman and Robin.
  • I’ve also covered some vampire movies that include Blacula, and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.
  • Have you seen Robo Vampire?  How did you feel about it?  Are there any movies similar to it that you know?  You can answer these questions and more in the comments section below.
  • The comments section is a fantastic place to leave suggestions for movies to cover in later Sunday “Bad” Movies posts.  Drop the title in the comments and I’ll toss the movie into my list of potential movies.  You could always try me on Twitter as well.
  • I’ve been doing this thing recently where I put clips of the movies (not necessarily good clips, but what are you going to do?) on my snapchat story as I watch them.  You can find me on there under the username jurassicgriffin if you want to see clips of bad movies.
  • Next week’s movie is going to be Fant4stic.  That’s right.  The 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise is going to be in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  That should be fun.  I’ll see you next week with my post for Fant4stic.

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