Robo Vampire (1988) — Actually should be Robo vs. Hopping Vampires

“Now that Tom is dead, I want to use his body to create an android-like robot. I’d appreciate you approving my application.”

Justin’s rating: Dead or dead, you’re coming with me

Justin’s review: While everyone who watches movie engages in some suspension of disbelief, there are only a few of us willing to suspend it so far as to shun reality itself. If you, like me, enjoy movies that have only the most tenuous continuity and logic in favor of a conveyor belt of goofiness, then you might want to spend an educational 90 minutes learning at the feet of Robo Vampire.

Let not its name confuse you, for this movie isn’t about a robot who happens to moonlight as the dreaded nosferatu on the weekend. No, it’s actually about an anti-drug task force agent who gets strangled by vampires and subsequently turned into a revenging cyborg of the robotic type. This gives him a second chance to square off against the Jiangshi — Chinese hopping vampires. And no, I didn’t make that up. It’s a big part of vampiric myth over in China, and you can snicker until you see how weirdly unnatural their jumping comes off. I’ve never had corpses bunny-hopping toward me with outstretched arms, but if such a day came to pass, it would most certainly throw me off my game.

RoboCop Jr. ends up grabbing the short shrift in the costume department. He’s got whatever clothes and athletic pads and helmet that the crew could find for $12 and then spray-paint silver. I got all excited about a showdown between these two epic forces, but what I didn’t know is that Robo Vampire has a second movie tucked into it.

I’m not exaggerating, either. The filmmakers spliced together two movies that have nothing to do with each other apart from an anti-drug cartel angle. The second movie features the trials and tribulations of a spunky narcotics agent named Sophie who may be the first person in a martial arts movie I’ve ever seen to fail every martial arts encounter. Someone put her through about two days of training and then sent her out into the field, is all I can guess.

This mix-and-match splicing was a hallmark of director Joe Livingstone and writer Godfrey Ho, who would reuse footage and films to keep budgets down and profits high. Who cares if the scenes lack continuity as long as a hopping vampire and a Z-grade RoboCop knockoff shows up now and then?

While it almost never makes sense, at least Robo Vampire isn’t boring. Every scene contains at least one bizarre quote, horrible dubbing, fireworks-shooting vampires, and a guy desperately trying to remember how Peter Weller acted. There’s also a ghost who shows up to reunite with her former lover, a guy who happens to be one of these prancing bloodsuckers. The movie absolutely demands you mercilessly mock every single moment of its runtime, so you best comply.

If you’ve seen a lot of parodies of schlocky Asian martial arts and horror movies but never actually seen one in the wild, you might as well start with Robo Vampire. You might as well end with it, too, because one of this movie experiences is all you need in your lifetime.

Didja notice?

  • Rifles are not great against snakes
  • Zombies love to hop around like bunnies
  • Drug lords often employ vampires
  • Appease gods by throwing rice in their faces
  • Don’t mind me, stuffing a bunch of drugs into a dead cow’s stomach
  • And now a nagging ghost for some reason
  • He’s got sparking shoes!
  • Aww a vampire and ghost love story!
  • Vampires can shoot fireworks from their sleeves
  • Stop feeling up your hair, Sophie!
  • Sophie breaks under water torture so very easy

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