Directed by: Cullen Blaine
Starring: Margaret Trigg, Richard Gesswein, Jayne Smith, James Cole, and Willard The Robot as himself
A lot has been written about R.O.T.O.R., and with good cause. We thought we would throw our hats into the R.O.T.O.R. ring with our own take.
In the grand tradition of acronym movies such as C.H.U.D. and C.H.O.M.P.S, but more accurately a regional take on Robocop (1987) and The Terminator (1984), ROTOR is mesmerizingly inept but provides fun for those in a forgiving, receptive mood. Starting with "Today's Headlines" written on the screen, in a sort of written take on the verbal version from Cobra (1986) (every five seconds, someone gets shot, etc.) we then learn the coveted secret of the ROTOR acronym: Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. Apparently we are at some point in the future where crime is rampant. So naturally Dr. Coldyron (Gesswein) develops the ROTOR, a robotic police officer. In a very long scene, he argues with the official Earl Bugler (Michael Hunter) about the future of the ROTOR program. So, ROTOR isn't quite finished and is in storage for the time being. But the ultra-smooth janitor Shoeboogie accidentally unleashes it on the world. Now ROTOR is on the loose and chasing innocent civilians around. So now Coldyron must stop his own creation. So he teams up with muscular transsexual Dr. C.D. Steele (Smith) to chase it down before it causes too much havoc. Back at the base, Willard the Robot holds down the fort. Can they stop ROTOR?
Clearly the most obvious question that arises in the wake of viewing ROTOR (out of the many you will inevitably have) is...if ROTOR is a robot that is created by Coldyron, why does he have a mustache? Why would you BUILD a mustache on a robot? Secondly, why does he look so much like Tackleberry from the Police Academy series? I guess he really wanted to scare scofflaws.
By far the best character in the film is Willard, a "happy birthday Paulie"-style robot who wears a hat, answers the phone (not seen) and is even sassy. He dances with Shoeboogie and even hits on chicks ("hey baby, hit me with your digits"). ROTOR is amateurish, disjointed, and at times painful to watch, but we mean this in the best way possible. The idea of a rogue robot could have been executed better, but you can't blame the low budget for the strange pacing and plot flaws. What you can blame it for - or should we say celebrate it for - is the scene where Coldyron is demonstrating his robot technology at a board meeting, and a Terminator/Geoff Peterson-like robot, with the magic of stop-motion KRUMPS! Yes, watch out Rize (2005), you haven't lived until you've seen a krumping robot. It is hilarious, and, like the Wall-E toy, ahead of its time. It will never get the credit it deserves I tell ya.
Sporting some killer box art that probably lured in quite a few suckers back in the video store days who assumed they were not going to get something this silly, and filmed in Texas, ROTOR has funny voice overdubbing, silly character names (Detective Mango?), and some Dan Rather-style pseudo-clever down-home sayings in the utterly ridiculous dialogue. It also predates fellow killer-cyborg-on-the-loose-dressed-in-leather movie American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993). But another question arises: who did the filmmakers think would truly care about such a wacky sci-fi action exercise? A film like this pleases neither hardcore fans nor is it appropriate for children, it's true proper audience. So it falls somewhere into silly no man's land. But it has some good music, especially the signature tune, the inexplicable ballad "Hideaway" by Randy & Smith.
This is a movie that should have been released by Troma or AIP, and you can tell the filmmakers put a lot of work and effort into their creation. The end product is laughable, both intentionally and unintentionally.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty