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  ROBO VAMPIRE

What a tremendous piece of SHIT! ROBO VAMPIRE is one of several films by producer Thomas Tang to combine a ROBOCOP inspired personage with Asian vampire lore, and easily the “best” of them.

The Package
     Thomas Tang’s Filmark International rarely gets the notoriety it deserves with bad movie buffs, but it’s turned out some profoundly crappy films. Thomas Tang for the record is an enigmatic figure who may or may not be several different people, the last of whom (according to the imdb) died in 1993.
     ROBO VAMPIRE (1988) is Tang’s best known effort, a shameless ROBOCOP rip-off spiced with elements from the Hong Kong hopping vampire genre (see MR. VAMPIRE and its innumerable follow-ups). Other Filmark atrocities include DEVIL DYNAMITE (1987), the apparent sequel to the present film (never mind that DEVIL DYNAMITE was actually completed a year earlier), DEATH CODE: NINJA (1987), CATMAN IN LETHAL TRACK (1990) and THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE (1989), in which the ridiculous ROBOCOP wannabe of ROBO VAMPIRE and DEVIL DYNAMITE reappears.

The Story
     To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure what happens during ROBO VAMPIRE’S first half hour. It involves drug smuggling, hopping vampires and lots of shoot-outs, martial arts battles and explosions amidst a multi-national assortment of narcotics agents and scumbags. One of the agents is killed and becomes part of an experiment that turns him into a hilarious Robocop clone.
     The latter is called into service when a woman narcotics agent is kidnapped by the scumbags. They try using vampires to fight the Robo-dork, and when this doesn’t work the baddies blow him up. This succeeds in short-circuiting the thing, but his scientist creators put him back together again in an even stronger metal body.
     The Robo-dude once again hits the crime-fighting trail in a temple where the vampires are congregated. He kicks lots of ass…and then disappears while more narcotics agents take center stage for a lot of miscellaneous shooting and fighting. The Robo-guy turns back up, though, for a final showdown with a gorilla vampire(!) who can appear and disappear at will.
     And no, I don’t know what happened to the kidnapped woman!

The Direction
     Some commentators call this the worst movie ever made and others refer to it as a work of psychotic genius. I fail to see how the word genius could possibly enter into any discussion of this film, but do understand the former point.
     If I didn’t know better I’d say ROBO VAMPIRE, at least during its opening half hour, was a particularly crappy product of seventies-era Hong Kong cinema. It has all the hallmarks of bad HK filmmaking: scrappy production values, tacky film stock, inexcusably awful English dubbing and storytelling that might safely be termed incoherent. And the film doesn’t get any better once the ROBOCOP-inspired business gets underway.
     In fact I’d say it gets worse, if that’s possible, playing like two separate films spliced together (which may indeed have been the case: director Godfrey Ho is well known for “cut-and-paste” filmmaking). Characters and subplots are introduced and then suddenly dropped, and the title character has a tendency to unaccountably disappear for long periods of time and then turn back up.
     To be fair, it’s difficult to entirely despise a film that features a gorilla monster, deadly flying umbrellas and hopping vampires that continue to bounce even when they’re lying prone on the ground. In terms of action and pacing Godfrey Ho has the Hong Kong thrill-a-second movie aesthetic down pat. So even though this film is moronic, incoherent, insulting, trashy and schizophrenic, dull is something it most definitely isn’t.
 

Vital Statistics

ROBO VAMPIRE
Filmark International

Director: “Joe Livingston” (Godfrey Ho)
Producer: Thomas Tang
Screenplay: William Palmer
Cinematography: Anthony Mang
Editing: George Lewis
Cast: Robin MaKay, Nian Watts, Alan Drury, Harry Myles, Joe Browne, Nick Norman, George Tripos, David Borg, Diana Byrne

     

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