Tuesday, 19 May 2009

War of the Robots (1978)

War of the Robots is pretty much what you expect from an Alfonso Brescia movie. The story makes little sense, the special effects are ultra-cheap, everything looks hokey, it’s outrageously cheesy, and it’s terrific fun.

An Earth scientist working on a project to create artificial life is kidnapped by alien robots in shiny outfits and bizarre wigs. His beautiful female assistant Lois (this is the kind of movie where you know that the scientist will have a beautiful female assistant) is also kidnapped. Unfortunately they forgot to switch off the atomic reactor before leaving home which turns out to be a lot more serious than forgetting to turn off the stove. Unless the professor can be rescued the entire city (located on a space station) will be destroyed when the reactor goes critical.

An intrepid spaceship commander and his gallant crew set off on a mission to retrieve the missing scientist. As it happens the commander of the ship, Captain John Boyd, is in love with the scientist’s assistant. To further complicate matters one of his crew members, Julie, is hopelessly in love with him. Julie is played by Yanti Somer. She looks a bit like a female David Bowie but I must confess to finding her oddly sexy. And to add yet another romantic complication, the Professor is in love with Lois.

After being damaged in a space battle with the aliens the spaceship stops off at an asteroid for repairs. The inhabitants of the asteroid immediately attack them, mistaking them for their inveterate enemies the men of Antar, and are in their turn attacked by the shiny robot men. The robots zap them and send them into convulsion. The Earth spaceship crew decide that any enemies of the shiny robot men are friends of theirs, and rescue the asteroid dwellers. This wins them the undying devotion of the leader of the asteroid people, who promptly joins their crew.

Captain Boyd and his crew find the missing scientist, but things take several unexpected twists which culminates in his having to choose between the woman he loves and the woman who loves him. One must die, and he must decide.

I’m probably giving the misleading impression that this movie has more of a coherent plot that it actually does. The sets and props were mostly the same ones used in Brescia’s equally crazed and equally entertaining (and equally cheap) Cosmos: War of the Planets. The special effects are embarrassingly inept, the acting is atrocious, the space battles are totally unconvincing. None of which matters, because if you’re going to enjoy this one you’re going to enjoy it entirely for its camp value, and it has camp value in abundance. The English dubbing is of course appalling, which adds to the fun. There are some truly jaw-dropping dialogue moments. I loved it, but then I do tend to like this sort of movie.

The Alpha Video DVD transfer is unbelievably bad, even by Alpha Video’s terrifyingly low standards.

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