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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Reader Review


Posted by: Brunnen-G
Date Submitted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 at 15:13:32
Date Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 at 07:55:33

Often, when a movie is this kind of bad, you can tell everything you need to know about it from the title. It would be so much simpler if this was the case with Robo-Vampire. Although Robo-Vampire contains robots, vampires, flying ghosts, drug dealers, supercops, gratuitous nudity, oppressed villagers, a Chinese wizard, wire-flying martial arts sequences, and guy in a gorilla mask who shoots Roman candles out the ends of his sleeves, it does not contain any robo-vampires. In fact, robo-vampires are pretty much the ONLY thing Robo-Vampire does not have.

Trying to summarise the plot of this movie is like trying to nail jello to the ceiling. There seemed to be several different groups of bad guys and at least two different groups of good guys, most of whom were completely indistinguishable from one another. From what I could gather, it seemed that a drug-smuggling cartel in Hong Kong was smuggling drugs inside the bodies of vampires for safety (!), so that when the camouflage-clad "anti-drug agents" intercept a shipment, the vampires will come to life and kill them. But these aren't just ANY vampires. These are HOPPING vampires. Clad in their vampire uniforms of Chinese robes and cute little hats, they rise from their coffins, form a ring around their victim, and then hop up and down with their arms held straight out in front. That's all they do: they hop evilly at people. I'm not going to comment on this. No comment would come close to what it's like to see a hopping-vampires-vs-special-forces fight.

The wizard who created the hopping vampires has also created a Super Beast, which is basically a hopping vampire, but with a gorilla mask on, plus he can shoot fireworks at people while he hops at them. Like the other vampires, the Super Beast has the ability to disappear and reappear through the power of really bad editing. Unlike the other vampires, he has a girlfriend. Fans of Chinese martial arts/horror movies will recognise the classic Chinese ghost character, a wire-flying woman with long black hair and very long trailing white garments. In good movies (i.e., virtually any movie that isn't Robo-Vampire), these ghost women are ethereal, beautiful, and can be genuinely creepy. In Robo-Vampire, she looks like she just got out of bed to answer the door and forgot to put a bathrobe on. Ghost Girlfriend explains that she was in love with the Super Beast when they were both alive and human, but their parents were against the union of an Asian and a Westerner. As Ghost Girlfriend is played by a white woman made up to look Asian, we are left somewhat perplexed about which one she is. She and the Super Beast have two beautiful love scenes, both of which will melt your sanity like butter under a blowtorch.

The only other part of the plot I could get a grip on was that one of the special forces anti-drug guys gets killed, so they make him into a robot supercop. This scene is priceless. The doctor comes out of the room and tells the guy's friends that there was nothing they could do; he is dead. The friends assume sad faces for all of one second (I mean this literally), then brighten up and start talking about how they can use the pieces of his body to create a "robot-like android." Wow, it must be great having friends like that. They make him into a robot by a complex two-step process: first, they take a hollow metal mannequin and shove what looks like a short-wave radio inside it. Second, they gather up all the old cricket shinguards and asbestos oven mitts they can find, paint them silver, and duct tape them to the guy's body along with what looks like a spray-painted football helmet and a baggy tinfoil blanket. They didn't really need to call this atrocity Robo-Vampire to stop the makers of Robocop from suing them -- the finished product looks as much like Robocop as a six-year-old's homemade Halloween costume.

Having accomplished this miracle of technology, the whole robot/vampire/Super Beast/ghost subplot completely vanishes, and we are treated to what feels like hours of random groups of totally indistinguishable characters chasing each other through the jungle and shooting each other. The numerous scenes in which huge groups of random guys rush out together through a doorway or archway, only to fall over instantly and in unison to the sound of gunfire, are one of the funniest things I've seen in any movie. A blonde woman is captured, presumably by bad people, and tortured by being tied to a chair under a leaky faucet, which gets her hair damp and makes her scream and writhe in agony. Later, two other victims join her, until all three are rescued by some random villager woman.

Then they spend a lot of time being chased by the Randomly Reappearing Guy, an unexplained character sporting baggy pants, a muscular bare chest, and a knee-length braid of hair. At various times he receives wounds to the face or is covered in sticky hot oil but reappears seconds later, clean and undamaged. Mentioning "continuity" and "editing" in this review would give the impression that there IS any of it to comment on, which is not the case.

Another great scene has a couple of guys fighting each other on a jungle path miles from anywhere, when suddenly a woman in street clothes bursts out of the undergrowth and explains her presence by saying, "I'm Wendy -- Andy's sister!" despite the fact that we don't even know who Andy is.

The dubbing also lends something to the movie. All the voices seem to have been dubbed by the same three or four actors, some of whom had a speech impediment and/or didn't speak English very well. The dubbing was very obviously done in one take with no rehearsals beforehand. There are lengthy pauses at random places in the dialogue which just scream "page turn." Words are stumbled over or mispronounced, and I am almost certain I noticed occasions where the same character was voiced by different actors in the course of a single scene.

Eventually we get the robot supercop turning up again, in a climactic sequence involving the wizard and his team of hopping vampires on a beach. The drug dealers, or possibly the wizard, set up a flaming trench in the sand in front of the robot to stop him. As we confidently wait for the robot to do the big Terminator scene of striding out of the flames (which are only about knee-high and could be walked through safely by absolutely anybody), the movie pulls out another surprise. The robot uses his l33t powers to BURROW UNDERNEATH the fire rather than jump over it or walk through it. He blasts back up out of the sand on the other side with painful slowness and difficulty, looking exactly like a pudgy guy in a baggy tinfoil blanket and spray-painted football helmet trying to haul himself out of a hole in the sand. Then the hopping vampires surround him and hop in a circle while he shoots a machine gun in one direction at random for no apparent reason.

I'd like to say justice triumphs in the end, but the fact is, by the time the movie was even halfway through, I had no idea who was on what side, or what they were trying to accomplish. The best I can say is that the robot is still alive at the end of the movie, and we are left with the impression that Drugs Are Bad. Since the only way anybody could make sense of this movie is by watching it under the influence of drugs, I think this moral message is seriously compromised.

Rating: 1.5 turkeys. Pain, pain, pain.

Scene to watch for: The whole thing near the beginning where the vampires come to life because somebody substituted rice powder for the drugs they were smuggling but are put back into suspended animation by sticking a big piece of paper onto their faces.

Best line: "Don't kill us! We love each other." -- Ghost Girlfriend and Super Beast, to the robot.

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