Through the transformation of the glorious WTF-Films into the even more glorious Exploder Button and the ensuing server changes, some of my old columns for the site have gone the way of all things internet. I’m going to repost them here in irregular intervals in addition to my usual ramblings.
Please keep in mind these are the old posts without any re-writes or
improvements. Furthermore, many of these pieces were written years ago, so if
you feel offended or need to violently disagree with me in the comments, you can
be pretty sure I won’t know why I wrote what I wrote anymore anyhow.
A merry mercenary group working under the delightful moniker of BAM (as the
film explains, this is an acronym for "Bad-ass motherfuckers"), is hired by
shady government types to go on The Mission for them. Now you might ask
yourself: "What's this mission about?". The film isn't going to tell you. It is
in fact withholding this information for its audience's own good, or at least to
spare you wasting too many brain cells, as The Mission will turn out to be not
what our heroes believe it to be, so there surely is no need to bother your
pretty little heads with it.
All members of BAM have manly codenames like Killzone, Blood, or Diddy
Bopper, alas they very seldom use them when talking to each other. The only
thing that's important about them is that their leader is played by Reb Brown
and that the rest of them might just as well be wearing red shirts instead of
army fatigues. Reb ain't too happy when he learns that the team is going to be
accompanied by a man of the Man who just might be called Asshole or Fuck You
(Mel Davison). But what can a Reb do when he's already somewhere in Central
America and on The Mission with his guys?
After the BAMsters have played around with some random guerrillas and picked
up a gal named Virgin (Catherine Hickland), they finally meet the problem they
were brought in to solve without having been told that they are supposed to
solve it - a big bad government cyborg who is running amuck. And IMDB tells me
it's played by Claudio Fragasso! Kill that monster, people of BAM!
Of course, it won't be that easy for the mercenaries, and in the end, only
Virgin's superior chemistry skills and the fact that Robocop was nearly
as successful a film as Predator will conquer the big bad.
And lo! It came to pass that Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso watched
Predator. And they saw that it was good. So obviously, they needed to
make a terrible, yet glorious version of the material all their own. Dear
Fragasso is only taking the responsibility for the story this time, whatever
that might mean in a film patently without one, while the writing credit goes to
Rossella Drudi, who has certainly fine qualifications in her future work on
Troll 2, her past work on Hell of the Living Dead and being
married to Fragasso. It's quite the script the couple produced, never giving an
explanation when one would probably be a good idea, never having an idea of its
own when it can manhandle someone else's, and never satisfied stealing from just
one source. Why only rip off Predator, when Robocop is also
there, rife for the picking? It's what you expect from real masters of their
I'd love to go deeply into the principles of Mattei's direction, his
meaningful use of the colour green, the way he uses the adventures of the
BAMsters as a metaphor for all human struggle, but unfortunately I'd just be
making it all up. If you have seen any Mattei film, you know how it looks; if
you haven't, words cannot prepare you for the experience, at least not words I
feel comfortable using.
I'd also love to tell you about the acting performances, alas, there aren't
any. There certainly are people on screen who are speaking some perfectly
bizarre dialogue, and they certainly are actors by trade, but that's all I can
tell you about them, at least not without using words I don't feel comfortable
using when talking about people I have never met and who could probably still
kick my ass in a fight.
Furthermore, I'd love to tell you about the action. Let us just say that
there's a lot of shooting and punching on screen, often executed by BAMsters
standing in a single line, shooting and screaming and avoiding cover like their
Civil War ancestors before them, at other times performed while running and
screaming wildly. And yes, of course there are exploding huts.
Finally, I'd love to tell you about the film's awe-inspiring effects, how the
cyborg dude is dressed in an Ultraman Halloween costume someone has painted
black and makes the same chittering noises a toy robot I once owned makes, but I
don't think I'm fit to do it justice.
I'm afraid I can only leave you with questions about Robowar where I
should be giving answers, but that is part of the nature of the films of Mattei
and Fragasso. I am full of questions about their works myself, starting with the
natural - if very unspecific - ones, like "who gave these people money to make
movies?" and "can I meet him?".
There are, however, more pertinent questions to ask about Robowar.
Why did the script only have five pages? Where did the promised appearance of
Alan Collins/Luciano Pigozzi disappear to? Did the authorities of the
Philippines (where the film was shot) know whom they let into their country and
what terrible consequences their lenience would have for the sanity of mankind?
Why is it that Reb Brown screams whenever he shoots his gun? How does the Cyborg
manage to hit anyone with his pew-pew laser gun when his point of view shots
show clearly that he sees the world as a random conglomerate of orange pixels?
What exactly was the government's idea in sending the mercenaries there? Did I
really need to see Reb Brown in a belly top?
So many questions, yet so little answers. And that, my friends, is the point
of the works of Mattei and Fragasso. They help us understand the importance of
asking questions we never even knew we had, and show us that answers about the
world that permitted the insane duo to make more than one movie can only be
found in the tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks while we are watching