110. Robot Holocaust (1987)

They wanted color. They got it. Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Terminator (1984). The Greatest Hits of Hollywood Fantasy ooze out of Robot Holocaust (1987). C-3PO, Mad Max, sword fighting, H.R. Giger, a T-800, the only thing missing is talking apes. The Blues, Nitro Burning Funny Pipe, Stocking Mask Of The Future, We Zone, Cambot’s Sitcom Simulator, Servo Goes It Alone, Avocado Guy. “It really is in color too. Look.”, “Hey look it’s Aaron Spelling’s house”, “A parking ramp in Cincinnati.” “Looks like the sad future of the WWF” or “I bet those guys are fighting over the last Corn Dog in existence”?

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Invention Exchange. Nitro Burning Funny Pipe and Stocking Mask of the Future.

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No Winner.

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Best of 110.

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Trailer to Robot Holocaust (1987).

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Stranger In Paradise.

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Beast of the Web.

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A postapocalyptic fantasy adventure with a knockoff C-3PO and sock puppets and an avocado man and possibly Worwilf Natalie’s sister. LARPing around New York and filming it! It’s such an oddball film and prime riffing material, strong for a season 1 episode but another one that might have been even stronger if it was a few seasons later. I find the pacing a bit weird and always spend the last twenty minutes thinking “it’s still going?!”, but not quite to the point that I’m yelling at the movie to end.

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One of my all-time favorite episodes! Not just of season one but of the entire 10-season original run. The host segments aren’t much, but the movie is pure gold. Something I’d expect to have found on Cinemax at 3:00am back in the 80s. It’s an almost perfect example of the type of movie that makes for great riffing: limited talent on both sides of the camera and no budget, but an earnest endeavor, filled with imaginative concepts. Shooting for the moon but not quite clearing the treetops.

It feels cut from the same cloth as Future War, but with a little more naiveté/sincerity.

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This was my very first episode way back in 1989. I was flipping through the cable channels one Saturday afternoon (I still don’t know why our modest city was one of the first to get the Comedy Channel) and instead of endless clips and Tommy Sledge, there were these silhouettes watching an abandoned overpass. The human said it was “Six Flags over Armageddon” (my first riff!) and the rest was history.

Long live Carl.

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In retrospect, it was inevitable that Radar Men from the Moon would be cut short. As Josh Weinstein noted in an interview on the subject, each chapter featured the exact same beats (the flying scene, the fistfight, etc.) and it got a bit tedious. Had they tackled it later in the show’s run, it might have been achievable. The RiffTrax skewering of the 1949 Batman and Robin serial showed that it could be done. But their inexperience at the time made it too great a challenge.

Probably the best way to sum up the feature is that it looks like someone mixed together notes for a Terminator fanfic and a Conan the Barbarian fanfic. It was then padded out with results from a Dungeons & Dragons random encounter chart. Matters aren’t helped by the presence of that crutch of inept screenwriters everywhere, the exposition narrator. He’s always popping in at random, offering worldbuilding details that don’t add much to the narrative. The hero party is a bland collection of archetypes. The one distinctive character is a robot that is like someone decided to cross C-3PO with Fagin. Judging from the athletic builds and mediocre acting talents of the cast (as well as the obvious use of Central Park for location shooting), it’s a safe bet they were predominantly dancers from Broadway chorus lines. Production work is bad as well, with literal sock puppets being used for monsters at one point.

It’s the conflict resolution where matters get truly absurd. The defeat of the Skynet analogue called the Dark One comes about from the human slaves miming the work of loading fuel into its power generators. I don’t think even the most hackish Doctor Who writer (as much as I love that show, some of the methods they used to defeat antagonists could be quite inane) would have dared to employ something so idiotic. The reveal of the Dark One’s hench-vixen Valeria being an android doesn’t serve much of a purpose either.

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It really does feel like that in this one.

“You rolled a… 34. That’s a tribe of Amazons!”

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Wait, what? I thought the robotic elements appearing on her face meant she was being turned into a robot/android. You’re saying she was one all along and those shots are meant to imply pieces being removed from her? How did I miss a detail like this? :crazy_face:

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Perhaps owing to the movie not being that good? This raises another question. Why did Valeria want to go into the Pleasure Chamber? Skynet Diaries?

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Lots of talk about this movie’s influences, but you missed one. The hero’s called Neo and he’s battling against a machine tyranny.

‘The Matrix’, in other words.

I think the Wachowskis and Keanu Reeves have a couple of questions to answer.

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Like you said. Robot Holocaust (1987) predates The Matrix (1999). This episode of MST3K premiered in January 1990. Either The Wachowskis saw Robot Holocaust or both movies were aware of Neo being a Greek word for “new.”

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I had thought of The Matrix (1999) when laying out Robot Holocaust’s (1987) influences. The name Neo ran me over when I heard it. That said, Robot Holocaust possibly inspired The Matrix not the other way round. I didn’t want to overcomplicate my intro on its impact or the impact of Japanese culture on the both of them.

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This one is such a bad movie you’d think it’d be better riffing material but for some reason it just didn’t quite hit it like some similar shows like Cave Dwellers … though it is definitely better than City Limits.

And the the daughter/cleric of the party … grrrrrrr!

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Another candidate for a Sumuru (1967) style re-riff?

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Dude looks like he’s from one of the many 90s MK knockoffs.

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