Wednesday, August 21, 2019

ROBOWAR (1988) Blu-ray Review

Robowar (1988) d. Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn) (Italy) (92 min)

After a platoon goes missing, Major Murphy Black’s (Reb Brown) elite team of mercenaries is sent into the bush to learn what happened and rescue any survivors, with company man Mascher (Mel Davidson) in tow. What they discover is a slaughterhouse of carnage, carried out by a high-tech android whose mission is to search and destroy all human targets with extreme prejudice. After locating a single survivor (Catherine Hickland) from a humanitarian group, Black’s team is slowly picked off one by one, their every move anticipated by the advanced cyber-warrior. Ultimately, it will be Man vs. Machine in a Mano a Mano of Mayhem!

Shot in the same locations as Platoon and Apocalypse Now, this kabloom-kablam mixmaster of three parts Predator, one part Robocop, and served over a Philippines-war-movie base arrives courtesy of Mattei (The Other Hell) and screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi (Troll 2) and, like most of their output, it’s energetic and silly and derivative as hell.

With musclebound high-pitched macho screamer Brown (Yor: Hunter from the Future, Howling II) standing in for Ah-nold and doling out some seriously cryptic military hand signals, other members of the red-blooded cast will be familiar to fans of Italian genre flicks. Massimo Vanni (Rats: Night of Terror) and Jim Gaines (Island of the Living Dead) carry the heavy artillery (with Vanni serving as stunt coordinator), while soap opera veteran Hickland (Ghost Town, Witchery) does a fine job of screaming and carrying on before pulling it together in the final reel to assist Brown for the final showdown.

Al Festa (Fatal Frames) provides the hopping electronic/rock and roll soundtrack, although who is responsible for “The Hunter’s” videogame computer voice remains a mystery. Hats off the special effects team of Francesco Paolocci, Gaetano Paolocci, and Rodolfo Torrente for blowing things up real good.

Screenwriter Fragasso is rumored to have been one of the actors in the Hunter suit at least part of the time.

More (Semi-Spoiler) Trivia:
At the 48:18 mark, both Jim Gaines and Massimo Vanni show up on screen marching through the jungle… despite the fact that both their characters have already been killed off at this point.


“Robo Predator” with co-director/co-writer Claudio Fragasso (23 min)

“Italian Rip Off” with co-writer Rossella Drudi (9 min)

“Violence She Wrote” with screenwriter Rossella Drudi (career retrospective) (22 min)

“Robo-Lady” with actress Catherine Hickland (12 min)

“Papa Doc’s War” with actor John P. Dulaney (13 min)

“The Robowarrior” with actor Jim Gaines Jr. (9 min)

“War in the Philippines” with actor/stuntman Massimo Vanni (17 min)

Catherine Hickland’s behind the scenes home movies (15 min)


Robowar is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:


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