Director: Albert Band
Screenplay: Jackson Barr, Charles Band (story)
Starring: Don Michael Paul, Barbara Crampton, James Staley, Lisa Rinna, Yuji Okumoto
BBFC Classification: PG
This Full Moon sci-fi quickie is from the studio’s brief stint with giant robot action films, which included other titles such as Crash and Burn and cult favourite, Robot Jox. While not as robot battle heavy as the likes of Robot Jox (Stuart Gordon’s groovy live action giant mecha opus), Robot Wars is a cheap and cheerful adventure that coasts on its B-movie charm (and cheesiness) and while there is only one mega robot vs. mega robot fight, there is still enough cool stop motion mammoth mech animation to make it a fun 70 minutes of sci-fi silliness.
It’s the future, obviously, and the earth has been left scorched by the infamous gas attack of 1993 (!). This means it’s dangerous to travel across the desert land, mainly due to some pesky desert bandits causing all kinds of trouble with their funky lazer rifles. So transportation is provided by giant robots, mainly in the form of a colossal scorpion: cool! This is piloted by ace robot pilot (and all round King douchebag) Drake, who pushes his luck one too many times with “The Company” and finds himself sidelined in favour of pilot Boles (whose name forever sounds like it’s being pronounced as Balls, leading to much unintentional hilarity!). But when a rival company hijacks the colossal scorpio-bot, it’s up to Drake, and his comedy sidekick Stumpy, to resurrect a long lost second gigantic robot (buried underground) to go after the scorpion, leading to a mecha-on-mecha showdown.
If, like this reviewer, you are a fan of B-movies (especially early 90s Full Moon B-movies), stop motion special effects and, well, giant robots then Robot Wars is a megaton of fun. While the title is perhaps a bit misleading as there isn’t a great deal of robot warring action, the flick still has a lot of B-movie charm: a sort of blue collar, giant robot, sci-fi film (if such a thing can exist!). Full Moon certainly push what must have been a limited budget to its best endeavour as there are many purpose built sets and they do cram in a fair amount of cool stop motion effects (courtesy in part by David Allen productions: Puppet Master, Dolls). Plus it has a giant scorpion robot, which is worth a viewing alone.
While it’s all very dated (compared to likes of modern giant robot films such as Pacific Rim and the Tranformers films), Robot Wars gets by on its Full Moon charm (including a funny little Puppet Master in joke), the lovely Barbara Crampton and some awesome giant robots. They sure don’t make them like this anymore.
Review by Andrew Skeates
88 Films, who are (thankfully) becoming specialists at re-releasing forgotten Full Moon gems, have done a nice job with this release. Reversible cover art (featuring the original video cover sleeve: cool) is a nice touch, the picture might be full frame but it is a clean and crisp transfer, there is a wicked collection of exploitation (The Doll Squad, Blood Orgy of the She Devils) and Full Moon (Dr Mordrid, Dollman) trailers and a very cool behind the scenes Full Moon videozine showing the making of Robot Wars: featuring interviews with the cast, crew and some cool footage of how they did the stop motion effects.