Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Robot Wars (1993)

Isn’t that a great cover? Anyone familiar with the output of Charles Band will know that the film probably isn’t going to live up to its cover art, but to be honest at least ROBOT WARS gets going pretty quickly, by opening on a stop-motion animated giant metal death scorpion. Apparently it’s one of the giant indestructible mega-robots that were used to fight a 30-year war in the early part of the 21st century. This being a Charles Band production we get to see none of that, but we do get to see the death scorpion being used to carry tourists through the resultant wasteland to the only remaining example of 1993 architecture in existence. 
      Don Michael Paul is Lane Drury, robot pilot, who’s big on hair if not on acting ability. When the death scorpion is hijacked by megalomaniac Wa-Lee and his gang of terrorists, it’s up to Lane to find one of the remaining giant robots beneath the streets of 1993-ville, get it to burst out of the tarmac, and engage in a battle with the death scorpion of Airfix-kits-being-bashed-together-by-unseen-hands proportions. 
ROBOT WARS isn’t so bad, and to a certain generation it will feel very nostalgic indeed. Barbara Crampton is on hand to ensure that at least one of the cast can act and look glamorous, and the movie doesn’t feel as cheap as zero-budget features like SHADOWZONE. Be warned, though - if you’re not used to Charles Band’s direct to video early 1990s productions, ROBOT WARS only runs about 67 minutes, and most of David Allen’s stop motion robot work is limited to very brief shots. There is indeed a stop motion smackdown at the end but it doesn’t last that long and the climax isn’t really much of one. There’s a nice gag about the anticipated success of Band’s own PUPPET MASTER series at the end of the 21st century, and a fun bit where Lane and his sidekick Stumpy (James Staley) play with toy robots that I was very tempted to post a picture of with the caption ROBOT WARS: it's not what you think. 

The PG certificate is entirely reasonable - despite having Crampton in the shower at one point there’s nothing here that’s likely to offend anyone. 88 Films’ transfer feels a bit VHS and it’s in 1.33:1 aspect which is probably what the film was shot in. Extras include a fantastic barrage of ten trailers for some unbelievable-looking Ted V Mikels films, a Videozone segment, and a ROBOT WARS trailer. 

88 Films are releasing ROBOT WARS on DVD on February 17th 2014

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