Murder, Rape, Arson, Violence
I have seen the future of law enforcement, thank fuck it wasn’t our future!
Captain Barrett Coldyron has worked tirelessly for years in an attempt to create the ultimate artificial intelligence to be dedicated as the world’s first invincible police force. That is the basis of the 1987 film R.O.T.O.R., the incomprehensibly silly love child of The Terminator, Robocop and then Judge Dredd comes in and asks “is there any left for me?”. And then he gets some. Then we get R.O.T.O.R. a late 80’s sci-fi/android film that encompasses all of the genre tropes that came before if based on all of the aforementioned films.
R.O.T.O.R. is a monster gone wild film based around a police scientist’s research toward creating the invincible cop, one that will replace those that fall every year protecting those they serve. Captain Coldyron is trying to do his job, living on his ranch, chilling and trying to iron out the kinks that come up when you make a cop-robot. One day the mayor calls telling him that the Senator of Texas is making a run for the White House and they need to produce something like, yesterday, that the Senator can put his name on to bolster his political aspirations. Coldyron calls bullshit and gets canned. He puts the project in the hands of his assistant who has absolutely no fucking clue what’s going on, even though he’s accompanied by a wisecracking robot akin to the thing from Buck Rogers.
“We wouldn’t want some kind of accident” – Doctor
“Yeah, I have the feeling this is how Terminator started” – Robot
As can be expected, the rush job fails miserably and the unit that has been created for peace begins to run amuck. A jive talking janitor tries to pick up on another co-worker spitting lines like “Once you go red, you’ll never get out of bed” a reference to him being a native American. After being turned down, he goes right for the switchblade comb to straighten out his doo, but accidentally ends up running it through some sort of electric thingy majiggy which causes a power surge and releases “R.O.T.O.R” twenty five years too early. The “unfinished” R.O.T.O.R. looks anything but unfinished – he looks more like a gay biker. So out he goes into the world with his primary objective activated “Judge and Execute”.
A young couple arguing on the side of the road are the first to fall prey to R.O.T.O.R.. A “routine” traffic stop turns into the boyfriend getting an extra hole in the head and the lady taking off hot. That lady is Sony (aka Sonya) who is 80’s hot and scared as shit and is being pursued hot by the A.I. officer turned renegade motorcycle cop.
Coldyron enlists the help of R.O.T.O.R. co-creator Dr. Steele who is an off the chart skunk headed, female body builder type ready to kick some ass and whose lines take over the third act of the film. They pursue Sony and ROTOR to a desolate lake and from there the showdown takes place. As with all of my reviews, I’ll save the Act III bits for you to discover on your own, it’s just that damn good.
R.O.T.O.R. is part rip off, part total charm-fest. It steals from every trope of the genre all while catatonically reciting Milton as well as narrating the action from the backseat of a backseat. Is there anything unique about this movie? Hell yeah, I challenge you to find another film this goofy all while trying to play so straight but at the same time not taking itself too seriously. This is a great monster film set to a late 80’s Dallas backdrop full of leather shouldered jackets and poor over-dubbing.
…and that’s the hardest part of this whole film for me.
Captain Barrett Coldyron is played by by Richard Gesswein and is voiced by someone completely mismatched for the part. As I mentioned, this is a Dallas based story with not one voice carrying with it a drawl – surprise, surprise. Then ultra buff Dr. Steele gets the new voice treatment and the scenes between she and Coldyron are just too much. The dialogue is frigid at best and sounds like two science teachers cold reading from a script one of their special needs students wrote.
This cast is all unknowns, don’t even bother looking them up. R.O.T.O.R. was director Cullen Blaine’s only foray into live action production, his career is comprised almost exclusively with vintage cartoon work – some pretty great stuff, too. To my knowledge, this was a direct to video production with artwork on the cover that is basically Mad Max, just pointing in the opposite direction. The only known DVD release for the film is on a “50 Classic Sci-Fi films” collection that you can pick up from Amazon, otherwise try your damndest to find a copy on VHS somewhere, that’s what I had to do! But in my opinion grab a beer or twelve, sit down with your best movie buddy, and experience the goofiness that is R.O.T.O.R..