Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spot a trailer for this movie anywhere on the web. So, instead, I’ve extracted the first few minutes of the movie, introducing you to the film’s epic back story. This should give you a good idea of the hell you’re about to subject yourself to. No really. Enjoy that.
So, what happens when you produce a movie and hire cast and crew on the sole promise of a free lunch? A Robot Holocaust!
And I’m not kidding – I’m willing to place a wager on this – out there somewhere in some forgotten Classifieds section of a defunct local newspaper it reads: “WANTED – Broke, desp. people. Want to be in mov. Bring own costume. Free lunch!”
About a dozen or so people responded, most of whom were unemployed Sears catalogue models and aerobics instructors who took an afternoon off. Some clearly aren’t even US citizens, but had the nerve to come here and take away lunches from honest, God-fearing Americans! In remembrance of those tasty Wonder Bread and baloney sandwiches that were ripped away together with patriotic values, I’d like to hold a moment of silence…
Right, so now that you’ve wiped the tears from your eyes – let’s cut to the chase on Robot Holocaust. This isn’t just bad, it’s awful. It’s not just awful, it’s terrible. It’s not just terrible, it’s unimaginably horrific. But it’s wonderful. It’s so wonderful because of all that.
I genuinely believe that this movie, the back story at least, was someone’s life work. This was it, this was supposed to be their masterpiece, their Symphony No. 9. And then they ran out of money. And talent. And effort. And inspiration. Did they even try? I can’t be certain.
This movie is a disaster from every possible angle, it’s the epitome of “What the F?” and has inspired me to open a whole new category on the site just for this film: Bottom of the Barrel.
There should probably be warning signs plastered all over the casing of this movie – “Hardened Cult Fans Only – Proceed At Own Risk”. This movie has some of the worst acting, special FX, plot, cinematics and everything else you will ever have the pleasure of seeing in your life. It’s what cult fans live for, but will give everyone else fatal radiation poisoning. Seriously, you might as well eat a tasty dish of “Fukushima Fugu” with additional tetrodotoxin-soy sauce. And then rinse out your sinuses with Wasabi till it melts out your eyeballs. That’s the level of poisonous contamination you’re wilfully exposing yourself to here. You may grow new extremities with a will of their own.
Are you ready for this? If yes, no crying, no boo hoos – whoever falls or lags behind is on their own. Those of you who can’t handle this – there’s a lollipop at the door, come back another time. This is for the pros. Let’s go!
Do you know what’s “far more deadly than any nuclear warfare”? The Robot Rebellion of ’33, is what! Apparently, for whatever reason, this led to a massive radiation spill and destroyed Earth as we know it. Interestingly, on the few occasions we’ve had massive radiation spills, we found electronic equipment to be massively affected by radiation – which complicated efforts to use robots and other machinery to fix matters. But don’t worry, this is the least of Robot Holocaust’s plot holes.
Anyway – apparently Earth has been renamed “New Terra” either just before or just after said Robot Rebellion. The world has now been enslaved by The Dark One, a permanently disgruntled, disembodied voice of a robot overlord, who has subjected the human survivors of this robot war to a fate known as “Air Slaves”. The Air Slaves are forced to live and work underground, harvesting resources for the Dark One’s power station; in return they get to breathe clean air as opposed to the highly poisonous air of “The Wastelands” in which no man can live. Imagine something like the emissions from all Volkswagen diesels in California and New York State combined with German efficiency.
Said Air Slaves are not very smart, though, I might add. Or very brave. Or very anything. They’re mouth breathers, basically. All of this is told in voice-over, to get us up to speed on this revelling, complex story of Scientific Fiction.
The movie truly begins in the underground city where two Air Slaves are battling it out in a wrestling match under the eyes of “Transbot” Torque and a small number of Air Slave on-lookers.
Part of the crowd are Deeja (Nadine Hartstein) and her father, an inventor by the name of Jorn (Michael Downend), watching on as the two men fight for their lives. Amongst them sneaks a pick-pocketing C-3P0 clone, a “humble Freebot” by the name of Klyton, who steals pocket money to afford repairs to maintain his general robot health. Honestly, I’m pretty sure he’s hooked on WD-40, though.
Unfortunately for Klyton he is caught red-handed by Neo (Norriss Culf), the rebel-leader of a tribe of nomads who have acclimated to the poisonous air outside of the underground city. Neo instantly de-activates Klyton and then begins to telepathically communicate with the robot. How? I don’t know. Why? I don’t know either. Last time I checked, telepathic communication between living creatures was from mind-to-mind, using our spirit or soul to connect. Robots, for as far as I can tell, do not possess any of those things! But, sure, whatever – we’ll play along.
Neo asks Klyton what’s going on and is informed, telepathically, that the men are being tricked into fighting for a “reward” at the Power Station, but in order to get it they have to kill the other. By doing so, these men – who are the strongest amongst the Air Slaves – take care of each other, ensuring that no leader will ever rise. Not that they could figure such a thing out for themselves. Told you they were mouth breathers.
Either way, the fight escalates when Torque, the evil robot, commands one of the fighters to kill the other. That’s when the onlookers, primarily Deeja, spring into action to avoid a fatal climax. They are punished by The Dark One by being suffocated – which is the Dark One’s main trick, pulling all the oxygen out of certain sections of the city. But, to great surprise, not all fall to the ground overwhelmed. Deeja, her father, and Neo – who is secretly hiding in plain view – do not collapse. As it turns out, Deeja’s ingenious father Jorn has invented some sort of a hair clip that allows any human to breathe the poisonous air. How? Again – I’ve got nothing. Another plot hole. Shocking.
Jorn orders Deeja to pretend to be overwhelmed, too, and she reluctantly does as she is told. All of this takes ages and it is beyond me how Torque – or the Dark One – didn’t notice this going on, but either way it works. The Dark One is intrigued by Jorn and demands to know how he can survive. Jorn trades in his well-being for that of his daughter and demands that the air be released again, to which the Dark One agrees, and all come back to their senses. Sort of.
Jorn is then arrested and Deeja left behind, but robot Klyton immediately inquires about her ability to breathe and what have you – an interesting aspect of this conversation is that Neo refuses to speak to Deeja but only communicates through Klyton because he wants to make sure the small group of people are trustworthy. As soon as a random Air Slave says so, Neo begins to speak. You’d think a telepathic rebel-leader from a post-apocalyptic wasteland would be slightly more suspicious and reserved, but apparently “We’re cool!” will do.
Anywho – Neo offers to help Deeja free her father if she and Jorn will make “oxygen hair clips” for all, so that together they may rise against the machines. The group of Deeja, Klyton and two Air Slaves agree and so begins their treacherous journey into the Wastelands!
Now, before I begin my final descent towards the end of the plot-review, I just want to point out a few other things here. First, fold up your trays, put on your seat belt and try not to puke on your neighbor. Secondly, the Underground City is a terrifying place of enslavement for the Air Slaves, right? But it seems anyone is free to journey in and out of this hell hole. Neo, Deeja, Jorn – basically everyone who feels like it – can just come and go! That’s not enslavement! It’s called flextime work! And it’s keeping you from moving out of your parents’ house! Trust me! I live this nightmare!
Here’s another – we know that Neo has “adapted” to the toxic air, Deeja wears fashionable hair accessories to breathe, Klyton is a robot and so these people are covered against the toxic cloud of Volkswagen emissions. But what about the two other Air Slaves? How do they? I don’t even? I give up.
Anyway, our small group ventures outside into the dangerous world, full of mutants and general weirdos, and soon stumble upon a group of Amazons who abide by the Book of Tumblr. They hate men. But they still have sex. Not because they want to. But they must breed. But they’ll cut out your tongue! Man-boy! And then kill you later. That too. But first sex. Still worth it.
This confrontation happens in the middle of Central Park, in one of the most hilarious settings ever of a neatly maintained stretch of recreational area. Including pristine lantern poles, a clean bike path and trimmed grass. Because that’s how Wastelands look.
Either way – the Amazons have also captured a mute Chippendale. Can you guess why he’s mute? That’s right! They cut out his tongue! You were paying attention, weren’t you? I appreciate that.
Anyway, this dude is bound between some trees, and after the world’s worst “Mano-el-Womano” knife duel, the Amazon leader is overpowered and ordered to join the team, and “Chip” is set free. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, but – if anyone plans on cutting out my tongue, I advise you to kill me altogether because if I live through this whole ordeal, I will find you and I will kill you. And I will kill you horribly. But it seems Chip fosters no ill feelings toward the Amazon-leader and journeys with her and the rest of the team for the further duration of the film without any further incident. The Amazon-leader is a bit of a bitch, though.
Okay, so this is about the end of that – except for one thing. And I realize this is somewhat, if not entirely, out of the chronological timeline of the plot, but I had to make a special section for this. Because for this alone you should watch the movie. Believe me.
The reason is Angelika Jager, AKA “Valeria”, a woman so beautiful she is a delight to the eyes of all men in and outside of New Terra. But she cannot act. In fact, she is such a terrible, terrible actress that there should be a law against it – “Acting with Criminal Intent”. Breaking said law should be punished by death. Because it hurts, it physically hurts, to see her acting. In some of her scenes she’s completely casual, as if she were offering you a drink at home while discussing comfortable sofas, and in the next she’s completely over-the-top “evil”. It’s like dealing with a (not so mildly) schizophrenic, amateur dominatrix. She has matching outfits, though.
Another problem, as you may have guessed from her name, is that Angelika is not exactly anglophone. She has a terrible accent that will spontaneously attract wolves to where wolves don’t roam. My best guess is that she is German, trying for a French accent, but is crippled by both. I’m thinking she’s somewhere from the French-German-Swiss language triangle.
Anyway, her acting skills and language (dis)ability entirely kill her looks. Well, almost. You can always turn off the sound and gawk, right? Go ahead. You know you want to. You deserve it.
I’m sure you’ve already caught on to this but, just in case you haven’t – Lord have mercy, the savagery these people have bestowed upon the noble art of acting. Really, honestly – this is probably the worst acting you will ever see in a movie. I know I say that a lot, how can I not when watching a stream of cult movies, but in this case…this is absolutely the dregs of acting, even for a B-movie. This is about the same level as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” and then perhaps even worse.
Do you know the kind of people that sing so badly that it’s hard to understand how they can’t hear it themselves? That’s how the actors in Robot Holocaust perform. All of them. No exceptions. Period.
In most movies there’s at least one actor or actress that performs reasonably well, but in this movie there are none. If you told these people to just stand up straight and do nothing, they’d still find a way to make it look unconvincing. That in itself is worth something. Not something good, mind you, but something.
Sound(track) & Special FX
The main theme isn’t half bad, but from what I understand it’s been ripped from another B-movie called “Laser Blast” by the same producer and slightly edited. So while it’s still a reasonable theme, it’s not original, which is too bad because I dig it and I would’ve given them some points for it. The rest of the movie has predictable music which, hilariously, is usually more exciting than the scene unfolding before us. It feels a lot like playing the Rocky theme while you’re buttering toasted bread.
But the real kicker is the Special FX – eat your heart out, Industrial Light & Magic! Or, well – to be more accurate – it appears that most of the costumes, creatures and props were made from office cleaning supplies. No, really.
I have a firm belief that the team bribed an airport security guard and robbed clean the janitor’s closet and took with them some leather suitcases with fur suits from the Lost and Found department. From the leather suitcases they crafted the many loincloths, from the fur suits – well, the “fur” – and from the office cleaning supplies they crafted entire robots and various attributes. The problem is, however, that aside from a few scarce subjects, nothing is remotely convincing.
For one, most of the robots don’t look like robots. They look like odd, uncomfortable gladiators. On top of that, they clearly didn’t have enough budget to make a lot of them either, so we only see a scant, few robots in a movie called “Robot Holocaust” and those we do see are absolutely identical. As demonstrated perfectly by the Guardbots – two bodybuilders in robot suits – who are actually semi-convincing looking but so perfectly identical due to their body shape that you can never fool anyone into believing there are more than these two Guardbots.
An absolute height of the movie are the Sewage Worms, vicious creatures that prey on human flesh from their filthy, smelly lairs. Also, they are sock puppets. I’m not even kidding. These are people with their arms up goofy-looking puppets. And when I say goofy, I mean goofy. Like Sesame Street-goofy.
The Sewage Worms even have two big front teeth, which make them almost look like the geeky Asian kid. This coming from a geeky Asian kid with two big front teeth – me.
What is hilariously noticeable is the fact that, unlike real worms or snakes, the creatures have no ability to twist or turn in the typical slithering, serpentine fashion we are used to – because we’re talking sock puppets. Only the heads are flexible, and the bodies are straight as a board because of the bones in the forearms of their puppeteer overlords. So not only do the worms look silly, they also move silly. And they don’t seem very difficult to avoid, either.
Other goofs include, but are not limited to, prop malfunctions such as steel bars bending and springing back into their original shape instantaneously, and “pretend buttons”, by which I mean pushing a button or device that isn’t actually there. They’re just pressing the glass of a panel or randomly on the panelling. The cringe is hard on this one.
The last fantastic example is “The Pleasure Machine”, which is best described as a kinky disco box – or, if you’re familiar with Dr. Who, an extremely lame, soft-porn variant of the TARDIS. And then less exciting than it sounds. This strange structure has the function of rewarding The Dark One’s most loyal servants – or mostly Velaria, I’m guessing – by sending pleasurable energy through them. All this is somehow done by the intricate use of a novelty plasma ball, and two half-naked dancers in jeans performing a sultry, erotic dance for all your sensual needs. Odd music accompanies the process. It’s a bit like “Saturday Night Fever” on LSD. On the upside, if you have the right version of the movie, you get to see Angelika Jager’s breasts. No regrets.
Have you ever wandered around a demolition site? Congratulations, you’ve been to The Wastelands! Seriously.
That’s what they used for the movie – the sites of some decrepit buildings being torn down were good enough. In the background we also get a great view of the post-apocalyptic “New Terra”, AKA New York City in pristine condition. Not a single window, roof or antenna on any of the skyscrapers that loom in the distance are even remotely damaged or dirty. It seems that the Robot Holocaust and ensuing radiation spill were very gentle on these manmade structures, and the cleaning robots took it upon themselves to maintain them in excellent condition afterwards. That’s my best explanation.
As described earlier, the fight scene in Central Park is overwhelming, not in the least because you can tell it’s been recorded at like half-past-six in the morning, when it was still quiet, and almost certainly without the right permits to do so. Whatever joggers or cyclists were there were probably shooed away by the crew or by the weirdos in loincloths and plastic swords. Also known as the cast.
There are some decent robots, the Guardbots, mostly, and a “Drone”, who seem to have been designed fairly well. Other than that, it’s a mess. As I said earlier, it all appears to have been made out of household items – with some effort you could film your own Robot Holocaust after buying strategically at a Staples or a Walmart. There’s no design to most of the sets, the characters or anything. Not even effort.
The way everything looks is inconsistent, the locations are a joke, and everyone and everything seems semi-uncomfortable in whatever they are wearing or doing. I can’t blame them.
Mad props to the design team for the final scene, though. When The Dark One is finally revealed, you will never be able to look at a bag of Brussels sprouts the same way again.
9/10 – Yes, really. A nine out of ten for one of the worst movies I have seen in my life. Why? Because screw everything, that’s why! We’re cult-movie enthusiasts! We’re rebels without a cause! Or taste!
Let me put it like this: Why do we like cult movies? Especially B-movies? Because there’s something wrong with them. And everything – everything – is wrong with Robot Holocaust! From the title down to the cast – it is all one miserable effort at, well, nothing. Because when the movie ends, you’re not even sure what really happened. Basically we just followed some cosplaying people around as they fight sock puppets, picnic at Central Park, wrestle incompetent robots and kill a sack of breathing, people-absorbing Brussels sprouts. Then that’s pretty much it. There’s not even a proper conclusion. And I can’t even fault them – I’ve done script doctoring, and I honestly wouldn’t know how to end this either. I’d probably ‘end it all’ in despair.
There’s no way not to laugh at this film at several points – hysterically and desperately. It’s a flurry of failure, an ongoing train wreck of incompetence that strikes harder than a cruise missile full of democracy on a motorcade of terrorists.
That’s why as a cult movie it deserves an incredible score – because it deserves a following and an understanding amongst cult enthusiasts. We understand why we put ourselves through this, but we expect nothing other than total, fantastic failure.
1/10 – Nothing, nothing, nothing serves as a better example of how not to make a film than Robot Holocaust. There is not a single thing about this movie worth a single point. Not even the reasonable theme song that they ripped from a different movie. Everything is a complete disaster, no one should – or could – ever watch this movie and feel inspired. Or get anything good out of it for as far as cinema goes. It’s impossible.
I could ramble on, but I think I’ve made my point. I don’t think I have to make it again. This is bad. And the score reflects it.
If you want to put yourself to the test of just how much of a Cult/B-Movie lover you are, this is it. This is what you came for, this is what you asked for, this is what you are going to get served. A bucket of lard that’s turned cold with melted Limburger cheese all over it. This is extreme sports. Smelly, stinky extreme sports.
I said it at the beginning of this review, but let me repeat this one last time. This isn’t for the newbies or the amateurs. This is for the pros. The Cult Pros. And you’re invited, dare you accept?
How to Watch & After Thoughts
If you’re a guy, you probably have a plastic sword from your youth stored somewhere in a box. If not in your own home, then your parent’s garage. Go find it.
If you’re a girl, you probably have something that’s fake fur from when you were between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Go get it.
Other attributes that work great are a blankie to drape over the shoulder, fur bikinis, leather underwear and a can of WD-40 in case your robot sidekick needs to be greased up. Oh, and as mentioned earlier, turning on some lava lamps or a plasma ball in the room won’t hurt – before you know it you’ll have your own evil Power Station and will begin turning into a mutant vegetable!
Speaking of vegetables, did you eat yours? If not – good! You can’t trust vegetables, they may command an army of robots. Instead, let’s focus on some of the food you may still find in a post-apocalyptic world.
Think candy bars! That’s right! Those nasty little things will practically stay good forever, so surely some could be found in The Wastelands. Another advantage is that if you’re on a bit of a diet, mix in some granola bars! That way everyone gets to enjoy the post-apocalyptic delicacy of their choosing while being health conscious – just what you need in a radioactive hell!
You know what else will pull you through a life full of robot atrocities? Beef jerky! Especially the spicier ones will last a long time – and they’re actually pretty tasty and nutritional. Plus, you can pretend it’s made out of dried Sewage Worms – I dare you to eat them while watching the scene! First one to gag loses! You may eat with open mouth and show off the dried worm-pulp as a tactic to win!
So now you obviously need to drink, too. Air Slave or not, you need your hydration! I’m guessing that all the usual water is radioactive – so no tap water for you! At the very least, drink bottled!
For starters, make sure you’ve got carbonated bottled water – easy to take with you and no matter how you drink it, there’s always something festive about it. Maybe it’s the excessive burping, I don’t know. But for one thing, you can mix it with just about any strong liquor! Scotch? Sure. Bourbon? Why not. Vodka? Hell yeah!
If you’re looting the ruins of New Terra you’ll probably bump into Bourbon and vodka most often, and few things beat a Vodka Tonic – the bubbles go straight to your head!
Oh, and if you – insist – on eating robot vegetables in a radioactive world, mix them with alcohol to be sure they get drunk and can’t kill you. A Bloody Mary with a piece of celery should be safe.
If you’re going for non-alcoholic, drink that soda water straight or go for canned sodas like a refreshing Coke or a Fanta. They last forever in their tin containers, are fresh to the tongue and lose little taste over time.
Or, you can go with those baloney and Wonder Bread sandwiches I talked about. No way that stuff ever spoils. I heard it’s made from leftover robot parts.
So, the acting in this movie is a lot like that shown in vintage porn movies. That’s not as surprising as you might think because, as it turns out, the director Tim Kincaid is also a porn director. Yes, for real.
Mr. Kincaid also goes by the name of “Joe Gage” and directs hardcore gay porn. From what I understand he’s a lot more successful in that genre than in his “feature films” – there are even songs written about his – apparently – inspiring and creative man-on-man action films. So if that’s your deal, power to you, and go check that out – Joe Gage may just be your new favorite thing!
Also, I found this little gem while researching on iMDB. Michael Downend – who plays scientist and father-to-Deeja “Jorn” – apparently wrote his own profile and added this in the trivia: “He played the role of Jorn in Robot Holocaust (1986) at the request of his friend, the writer and director of the film Tim Kincaid, who did intend it as a parody.” Don’t you love it when stuff gets trashed and it’s always suddenly “intended parody”? So convenient. So convincing. So cringe.