Hump Day Horribleness: ‘R.O.T.O.R.’

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One of the great features over at the Internet Movie Database is the Bottom 100. Based on ratings viewers of the site give to various films, the worst of the worst films get put on this list. Some of them are on and off in a matter of days. Others stick around for the long haul, showing just how much suckage they truly emit.

It’s time to look at these movies and determine where they stand. Do they deserve to be on the Bottom 100 list? Are they not as bad as everyone says? Will they be off the list any time soon?

Here’s the breakdown for this week’s film:


Title: ‘R.O.T.O.R.’

Release Date: 1989

Ranking on Bottom 100 (as of 8/26/2009): #15 (based on 1,053 votes)

Why it’s Here: From the moment you start watching R.O.T.O.R. it’s becomes pretty clear why it’s on IMDB’s Bottom 100 list. One of the first shots on screen is an aerial shot from a traffic chopper depicting a highway in Dallas with the ideal “good” traffic scenarion, yet the voice over describes unbearable traffic jams and a virtual parking lot. Hmm, must be talking about a different highway… This sets the viewer’s expectations for the rest of the film fairly well.

The story follows Captain Coldyron (Richard Gesswein), a tough-as-nails police officer, and I guess scientist [?] as he’s the head of the police research lab developing a robotic police force. When Coldyron and his boss have a falling out, Coldyron is relieved of his position and he gets revenge by becoming a vigilante, intent on making life for the police difficult. Meanwhile, one of the robotic cops escapes and malfunctions, going on a misguided law-enforcement killing spree.

In the robot cop’s first appearance, he stops a guy and his girl speeding, blows away the dude and then goes after the chick, but she manages to escape the “unstoppable” robot cop by laying on her car horn, which apparently immobilizes the robot cop by giving it a massive robo-headache. Coldyron finds out soon after that the robot cop has escaped and makes it his mission to stop the carnage.

Definition: R.O.T.O.R. = “Robotic Officer Tactical Operations Research”

Virtually everything in this movie is laughable. The acting could have been more sophisticated from trained apes, but even a seasoned award-winning thespian couldn’t have done much with this dialogue. Here’s a taste…

Coldyron: “Let me tell you something, mister. You fire me and I’ll make more noise than two skeletons making love in a tin coffin, brother.”

R.O.T.O.R. is a sci-fi/crime/action movie that’s one half WALKER: TEXAS RANGER, one half DIRTY HARRY and one half JUDGE DREDD, with a Robbie the Robot knock-off thrown in, just for comic relief. [However, the comic relief comes off more as comic torture.] Chronologically, R.O.T.O.R. precedes both, but it’s clear the idea was at least partially inspired by THE TERMINATOR (1984) which was a landmark accomplishment at the time. Robbie the Rip-Off Robot even makes a snide remark at one point, saying this “must have been how The Terminator got his start,” referring to his being forced to do something against his will.

For some unimaginable reason, R.O.T.O.R. has yet to be released on DVD. So, I was forced to watch this movie on good ole VHS. Part of me enjoyed this ancient ritual as nostalgic, breaking out the VCR and blowing the dust off. The other part of me wondered why I was going to so much trouble to watch a movie guaranteed to disappoint. If ever there was a movie that needed the attention of Mystery Science Theater 3000, this was it!

Lowest of the Low Moments: This is one of those movies with so much bad, it’s difficult to choose one part that is the worst. However, I have am 99 certain the worst part is the ending. Despite all that sucks about R.O.T.O.R., the filmmaker had the nerve to end the film by teasing a sequel. Yeah, as if this wasn’t painful enough, there was at least the intention of a second dose, setting us up to believe Coldyron’s nephew would take his place fighting an updated model called R.O.T.O.R. II, this time based off of Dr. Steele’s mind and body, whereas the first was based on Captain Coldyron.

The fact that this film has so much voice-over narration makes that a low moment all on it’s own. Combine this with the excessive amount of explanatory dialogue written into the script, it’s like watching play-by-play commentary of the film as it plays. This is both a truly odd and excruciatingly bad movie. Captain Coldyron spouts the following answer to an inquiry regarding whether creating the robotic police force made them heroes or villains… “The only difference between heroes and villains is the amount of money they take for compensation. At our pay scale, I’d say we’re heroes.”

The second-in-command police scientist who takes over on the robotic police project has a conversation with his robot assitant, mocking the movie by asking “What do you think this is, some low-budget sci-fi flick?” YES! It is! Need more proof of wrong-doing? In another scene, Coldyron stops a thug at a convenient store. The Caucasian thug takes a woman hostage at gunpoint and calls Coldyron (a white guy) a “white boy”… yeah, that’s obvious!

My favorite character is Dr. Steele, a Rambo-like female character who is also a scientist. She wears combat fatigue pants and a black muscle shirt. Dr. Steele is actually about as ripped as Coldyron, and she sports a skunk hairdo. No kidding! Dr. Steele is played by Jayne Smith, whose only other cinematic role was a character named Mary Turd in another 1989 movie called FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS (aka FLESH GORDON 2). Now, that’s what I call high-class talent!

There’s another scientist character who happens to be a Native American. This character is putting the moves on a blonde female scientist, speaking the most stereotypical, poorly-written jive I’ve ever heard, ending his attempt when the lady walks away by saying “Once you go red, you never get out of bed.” What? C’mon, was this movie EVER taken seriously. “ARRGH!” As the R.O.T.O.R. cop would clench his fists and say whenever someone gets away, I suppose not.

Will it Ever Get Off the List: God, I hope not! R.O.T.O.R. should be a lifetime member of the IMDB Bottom 100 List. In fact, with the movie currently being at #15 on a list of 100, if this ever drops off the list I will have had lost all hope in humankind. My only concern is that the movie ISN’T available on DVD. Why is this a bad thing? No DVD, the number of people subjected to this film continues to diminish until by mathematics alone, it drops off the list. So, this is my official call for R.O.T.O.R. to be released on DVD, so that enough poor, unsuspecting movie watchers will continue to see the film in the future and rate it poorly on IMDB. Ah, HA HA HA HA… this, be my perfectly evil master plan!

Hopeless film enthusiast; reborn comic book geek; artist; collector; cookie connoisseur; curious to no end


  1. Tyrone

    August 28, 2009 at 4:24 am

    So when you gonna get around to (YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE), (LIQUID SKY), (DOLAMITE) and (ADIOS, AMIGOS)?

  2. Gary Bowden

    May 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    You can buy this at revok dot com.Look for it in the sci-fi section..So bad it’s good!

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