Oh boy. THIS one.
Quite the legendary trash film from Godfrey Ho (credited as Thomas Tang, once again), one that definitely lives up to its status as one of the most bonkers heaps of garbage to ever come out of the 80s never ending cauldron of action-xploitation movies.
It’s definitely quite infamous and rightfully so, because even if you’re acquainted with Godfrey Ho, Joseph Lai, their companies like Filmark International and IFD Arts, this is still absolute hokum of majestic proportions, downright unbelievable and baffling.
I can’t even imagine how much cocaine did Ho and his unnamed writers snort up for this one in particular, because it makes their cut n paste ninja flicks look downright sensible and composed.
The main reason it’s because Ho (or Lai, or whoever supervised the scripts, hard to say when Ho is credited for many films he didn’t even direct) didn’t bother to say no to anything proposed, i refuse to believe anything got cut from the script since it’s all a non-sensical demented mish mash.
Before going any further, let’s get the very obvious remarks out of the way here: no, despite the title there is no “robotic vampire” in Robo Vampire, but there is a no-budget DIY Robocop (gotta love how the DVD cover doesn’t give a shit and cribs artwork of the actual Robocop design) and there are vampires.
Not the kind you’d expect, but yes, that’s kinda true, we get the lesser famous chinese version, the jiangshi, a corpse reanimated with magic that absorbs life force (hence “vampire”) and moves by hopping around. They come off as ridiculous, which is why they lend themselves better to comedy horror movies like the famous Mr. Vampire series… but here are mostly played “straight”. Kinda.
Regardless, they come in a very Shaman King-esque fashion, as the jiangshis are equipped with weapons going from firecrackers to full blown rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Or maybe it’s just me, but i immediatly think of the jiangshis owned by the Tao family in the series.
Still doesn’t explain why the fuck one of them it’s a gorilla (as in, a gorilla mask wearing man), why it’s called Peter, and why the fuck there’s a subplot between the “gorilla jiangshi” and a ghost lady, whom will obey the command of the Taoist priest already controlling “Peter” if he marries the two.
And yes, there’s a lovey-dovey comedy scene of the ghost lady and “Peter the chinese vampire gorilla” chasing each other with sax music implying some kind of “coitus phantasmagoricus”, but they get robo clockbocked by the alominium foil robed “not-Robocop”, which keeps getting destroyed and put back together. Makes sense, since its costume it’s also made of entire alluminium pizza plates, plenty of those lying around the set, alongside whatever junk they used for the “suit”.
I’m not making shit up, if i could i’ve would have likely written crap like Robo Vampire.
If nothing else, trying to make any sense of the actual plot of Robo Vampire it’s an incredible exercise in patience and observation, as in random shit keeps happening, you’re often not sure why you’re watching whatever you end up witnessing, as the scenes often abruptly cut to something else, not much a surprise since it pulls the usual stunt Ho movies do, as in lifting footage from an older and/or unknown asian movie, this time the quite obscure 1984 Thai action flick “Paa Lohgan”.
This is one of those movies where you might as well described entire scenes or acts, as they’re absurd, senseless and seem tailor made to be made fun on, or ripped off in paragraph of extensive pisstaking that also try to connect the dots because the writers clearly didn’t.
For completition sake, i also watched the full length 90 minutes version, instead of the more common, shorter version of the movie you often find around the web (even the Rifftrax version).
OK, so trying to make some sense of the story, there’s a narcotics agent called Tom Wilde getting killed and resurrected as “Android Robot Cop”, sent into a mission to rescue a girl named Sophie from the hands of the evil drug lord Mr. Young, in turn following the orders of the real evil mob boss, whom also employs a Dao master that uses chinese vampire to do his bidding. But there are also mercenaries running around the jungle opposing Mr. Young also somewhat contributing to the rescue mission….as far as they can, hailing from stock footage of a completely different film, moving in what the movie would like you to think it’s the same jungle where the caucasian actors Ho hired roam and shoot other people, or talk about events from the other spliced movie.
Or that these people are in the same jail cell thanks to the magic of crappy editing, being treated by asshats that didn’t quite get the concept of waterboarding but also took a bit too much literally the old “chinese water drop torture” method, so they just have droplets fall on their torture victims.
Even for a Ho joint, it’s near impossible to follow whatever the ramshackled, stock footage fed plot does, as there’s way too many characters to keep track of, and i can say that bothering to see the full 90 minutes version of the movie…makes it very slightly easier to follow, so yeah, i can see why the cut version is easier to find, still makes no sense at all, most scenes are summed up in a few lines by the original footage, you just have more context for stuff that still defies logic.
Even the final showdown between “RoboWarriorCop” and Peter the jiangshi gorilla (as usual the plot of the lifted film-made-subplot concludes earlier) just has more footage of them chase-walking each other for minutes over a walkway and not much else, but there is more cheesy trashy action between a man of foil and a hopping chinese vampire that shoots firecrackers from its sleeves.
So, whetever you should bother with the 70 minutes or the full 90 minutes of gigatrash depends on your level of tolerance (or love) of utter unabashed cocaine fueled cinema trash blend from the 80s.
Watch out for some random ass nudity and real dead animal carcasses being cut open to smuggle packets of coke inside, all of sudden there’s stuff like that, in this case thanks to the repurposed footage from the aforementioned Thai action movie.
Get together some friends, some popcorn (and some hard liquor, if you’re so inclined), and get ready to laugh your ass off at the insane batshit trash hodgepotche of Robo Vampire, but beware that it deliver a lethal dose of pure, uncut Ho, complete with hilariously bad english dubbing, editing via billhook and random people shooting other people shielded by coming from a completely different movie, isekai’d here from further obscurity with the old spell of “stock footage”.
At least this one has an ending and doesn’t have to explain what happen with text over a freezeframe of someone getting blasted to oblivion by Richard Harrison secret mini-gun/pocket flare/rocket launcher.