How do you “stop a killing machine that goes berserk?”
Well, for starters, you could get its creator, who blows up tree stumps on his ranch with improvised explosives, feeds his horse coffee from a “Texas Sized” mug and spouts off one-liners like “You want product, you got product!” on the case.
The “killing machine” in question is R.O.T.O.R., an engineered cop that’s part of the secretive Dallas Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research lab, whose scientists are “prognosticators for the future?” (are there any other kind?) and make portentous pronouncements about playing god yet change hotel room numbers because of superstition.
Their intrepid leader is Captain Coldyron, a robotics engineer slash police captain, who is pressed by a local corrupt politician to develop his super-cop, ahead of schedule. He protests by saying “if you fire me, I’ll make more noise than two skeletons making love in a tin coffin.” In addition to being a hard-nosed cop and a cutting-edge scientist, he can quote lengthy passages from Paradise Lost verbatim!
The laboratory project was supposed to be a quarter century in the making but at the 60-day mark, the super cop in question, who has a combat chassis-issued prime directive (we’re not sure what that is either) escapes from the lab through a very flimsy plastic cover.
Suddenly the “first prototype of a battalion of the future” is hell-bent on both:
a) remorseless killing and
b) ripping off Terminator (which the film actually name-checks) as well as Robocop.
Robocop was undoubtedly ahead of its time, a sharp-shooting satirical presaging of an unconstrained surveillance state.
R.O.T.O.R. on the other hand, features a super-cop with the robust physical stature of George Costanza and a mustache.
One of its numerous design flaws is (putting aside shooting people indiscriminately for a moment), is that it is de-activated with a key and that car horns are its kryptonite.
Coldyron flies to Houston and enlists the help of R.O.T.O.R. co-creator, one Dr. Steele (“oh god, the brain matrix, it’s modelled after your lower brain function without the higher functions to control it!”) who doffs her clothing at the drop of a hat to reveal a physique that looks like it was honed on a pommel horse.
All the while, the rogue super cop manhandles gas station attendants, shoots people for minor traffic violations, plants a hash slinger’s face down on a barbecue grill and takes out a few bar toughs, one of whom rips off his muscle-T Hulk Hogan style and urges R.O.T.O.R to try “taking on a real man.”
R.O.T.O.R. has it all; and by all we mean impenetrable science-y jargon, dismal special effects, telegraphed fights, forced humor, a hard-bitten tough-guy cop and something that truly makes it a stand-out: a jive-talking Native American lab tech, certainly a cinema first. Simply hilarious.
*** (out of 5)
3 thoughts on “R.O.T.O.R.”
Despite my love of bad movies, I’ve never even heard of this one. I MIGHT go watch it at some point
It’s available in all its craptacular glory on YouTube