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.
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.
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
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.
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