In Space, No One Can Hear You Snore

In the 11 months or so that Horror And Sons has been in existence, we’ve  reviewed our share of dog piles. Be it over-sized psychopaths, possessed nurses, giant buzzards, or balding vampires…. we’ve watched some crap. Hell, we even reviewed a newer Corey Feldman movie. I truly didn’t think that it could get much worse than that. I was wrong. SOOOO wrong.

As we’ve mentioned before, the success of Star Wars in 1976 led to a long string of knock-offs that carried even into the late 80’s. While there are a few titles worth checking out, more often than not, most of the films attempting to cash-in on that success were of vastly inferior quality. Today’s movie, War of the Robots, is no exception. I’d go so far as to say that it fails to even reach the high standards set forth by Plan 9 From Outer Space. In other words…..

War of the Robots might be the worst movie I’ve reviewed. It’s also one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched. (Don’t worry, Rob Zombie. Your “Halloween 2” is still at the top of the list.)

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War of the Robots stars Antonio Sabato Sr., father of Antonio Sabato Jr. (Just in case the connection eluded you.) Junior, by and large, has never been considered a “good” actor. Some people may not even consider what he does “acting”. That said, he looks like George C. Scott when compared to the wooden acting displayed by his father. “Wooden” might be giving him a little too much credit. And it might also be seen as an insult to trees.

FUN FACT: It’s also worth noting that Sabato kind of looks like Ted Bundy. He just doesn’t have Bundy’s charisma. Or bite pattern.

Set sometime in the far future, an alien race of Edgar Winter clones deactivate one of Earth’s defense satellites as a distraction in order to kidnap a moderately unhinged geneticist and his eye-candy assistant, Lois, to help save their planet. The Winters are all dressed in the same armorless, gold lamé track suits and carry flashlights as weapons. They call them “guns”, but it’s still a flashlight.

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The professor has been working on a project to create life on barren planets, and the Winters hope that he will be able to do so on their planet. Mind you, the professor has had no success up to this point, but that doesn’t stop the invaders from taking him and Lois on a “free ride” back to their home planet of Anthor. The duo is “flickered” with a flashlight, which causes them to become submissive. I can think of a few dates where I could have used one of these. Sorry, went all Cosby there.

During the kidnapping, water tanks for an atomic reactor are damaged. Without the water tanks to help cool it down, the reactor will blow, taking out the base with it. The professor has a password that will shut down the reactors until repairs are made, but that password won’t do much good if they can’t retrieve the professor in time for him to enter it. Captain John Boyd (Sabato) and his crew are tasked with finding and rescuing the missing professor and Lois, who also happens to be John’s “space booty”. Lois (Malisa Longo – Salon Kitty, A Cat In the Brain) is quite attractive, so at least that part of the future is looking promising.

Also included in the ranks of John’s crew are Julie (Yanti Somer), a younger crew member who not only has “feelings” towards John, but also looks like a young Stephen Geoffreys. There is also another crew member whose name I never caught, but due to his hairstyle, I will refer to him as Don Sutton. (The man pictured below is NOT him.)

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Despite the impending atomic explosion, the crew investigates the sabotaged satellite first. In order to reach the satellite, John must do a space walk to it from his ship. He steps out of the ship’s sliding doors (airlocks are so passé) and floats through space towards the disabled satellite. Ok, so “floats” may not be the right word as it’s really more along the lines of the actor laying on his stomach and making “snow angels” while an incredibly generic backdrop of stars moves behind him. The music is supposed to convey the sensation of floating in space, but instead sounds more like the intro to The Moody Blues’ “In Your Wildest Dreams” as played by an ice cream truck. John reaches the disabled satellite and accesses its main computer banks by pulling something resembling a AAA battery out of a circuit board. Judging for the apparent budget of the film, it was probably one of those cheapo batteries that you can buy in a pack of like 136 for $5 at the Dollar General. Which explains why it crapped out.

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Back at base, the satellite’s records are analyzed. It is found that when the Winter forces sabotaged the satellite, they only shut off its alarm and did not disable its tracking abilities. Because of this, the Earth forces are able to locate the alien home planet. The base commander orders John and his crew to travel to the Winter’s wonderland in order to rescue the hostages. No way? Is that what they have to do? I thought we were just going to let that shit blow up.

Notice that when John shuts off his communicator screen after receiving his orders from the Commander, it’s literally just someone holding an almost transparent piece of black tinting up to the screen.

John and his crew finally set off to the planet of Anthor to rescue their fellow Earthlings. Their ship is soon approached by 2 Anthoran (is that what they’d be called?)  fighter ships. The film proudly puts the “special” in special effects as the vessels each resemble 2 hub caps glued together, top to bottom. Despite their technology being advanced enough to develop ships capable of interstellar flight, they’ve not harnessed the ability to fly in anything other than a straight line. At least the ships leave minimal debris when they explode, which really cuts down on the amount of space trash just floating around out there.

What the film does feature plenty of, and what I miss dearly, are the ubiquitous consoles of multicolored blinking lights that were prominently featured in every low-budget space movie made until recent years. It really didn’t matter what the lights and or/buttons did. They could be hyperdrive, tractor beams, or maybe even a dimmer switch. It always looked futuristic and scientific, and it would probably kill you if didn’t have a user’s manual.

During the battle, John’s ship is damaged. This causes them to not only lose contact with their base back on Earth, but also to drift off-course. It’s also causes them to lose precious time before that reactor explodes, but John’s not worried. He’s in space. What the hell does he care?

They drift towards a nearby planet and decide to deploy an away team to seek assistance. As they approach the planet, their ship comes to a dead halt, yet no one is hurt by the sudden stop. John and most of the crew take a lander to the surface, while Don Sutton and few extras stay behind. They reach the surface and deploy, attired in some very unflattering lycra bodysuits. After wandering for just a few seconds, they are accosted by a group of helmeted men, built-in visors covering their eyes. The crew is subdued, while John manages to fight most of them off by himself. He knocks the helmet off of one, revealing the bulging, sealed eyes underneath.

The alien “leader”, Kuba, appears. He’s built and bald, but has normal eyes unlike the others. He accuses the Earthlings of being spies for the Anthorans, who are using his people as slaves. Suddenly, the aliens start convulsing and screaming, as if some unseen force is tazing them. John and his crew prove their peaceful intentions by taking this opportunity to flee. More Winter soldiers show up and start to escort off Kuba and his clan.

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John radios back to ship and is informed that the ship is repaired and ready for departure. They first head back for Kuba, killing an entire Winter battalion without taking a single hit. Seriously, the shots aren’t even close. After being freed, Kuba explains that his race develop a cartilage-like covering over their eyes that helps protect them from the planet’s radiation. He was given an operation to remove his as the Winters needed some of his race to be able to see in order to perform certain jobs. Without this covering, he will soon go blind from the radiation. Kuba is taken back with them to the ship and immediately becomes a member of the crew.

They finally land on Anthor and quickly find the professor sitting in front of what I assume is a 1970’s conceptualization of what computers would look like in the future. The thing is huge, like some sort of gigantic church organ.  The Professor, dressed in a cape that looks like curtains from a cheap motel, confesses to staging the kidnapping. His motive will be revealed later, but first he calls in another squad of Edgars, all still wearing the same gold track suits.

John and his crew blast their way through countless clone, once again never taking anything close to a hit. The Winters are resigned to their fate as cannon fodder, steadily emerging from cover to allow themselves to be shot. More than one walk into open lines of fire and stop, standing still as they wait for a sweet release from their mundane existence. It’s okay to murder a Winter because Winters have no souls.

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The Professor presses a button on the console, disabling their light blasters. See? Told you those things were awesome. This, however, has no effect on the light swords that the Winters try to fight our heroes with. Kuba does a flying kick and knocks a sword free, which he tosses to John. This somehow means that everyone involved now gets a sword. The battle ends when Don Sutton & one of the superfluous blonde female crew member “extras” (who were on the ship) are brought out at gunpoint. Lightpoint? Whatever. The Professor threatens to kill them unless the fighting stops. This threat may have been more effective had the fighting not already stopped.

They are led to a throne room where Lois awaits them, dressed in gowns and veils, and perched in the royal throne. Lois has become the new Anthoran Empress. Under her reign, the Professor will now continue his experiments in an attempt to save this alien planet, using the Earthling explorers as test subjects.

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There are a few more twists before the ending, and that whole “exploding reactor” thing is largely ignored. It’s a 100 minutes film. The reactor should have blown up long before the ending. I wish it had. It would have saved me a world of boredom.

War of the Robots is definitely worthy of quite a few laughs…. for about 20 minutes. After that, it’s pretty much a stress test in tedium and monotony. Wave after wave of Winters are mowed down without ever presenting much of a threat to the crew. Yeah, one of them does finally get shot, but the character is the equivalent of a “red shirt”. Not important in any way.

Look, I can’t think of one single thing that I’d recommend about this one. It’s far too long for its own good. Characters are dull and poorly developed. Special effects are laughably pathetic, but are also too sparse to be a selling point. Turn this on and take 2 Benadryl and have a great night of sleep. That’s as “positive” as it gets.