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August 15, 2011

Movie Review: Robot Ninja (1989)

by David Hayes

Ok. Now, the staff over here at Cinema Head Cheese have seen some real crapfests in our collective times. The nuances of Mr. Ed Wood, the jiggly soft-core porn from the Stephen Apostolof factory and the crap regularly churned out by Fred Olen Ray among numerous others. Nothing in the world can prepare you for the horror known as J. R. Bookwalter: producer, writer, director and actor without peers, or friends. Before we go into that, let's look and see what the movie was about. Presenting... the "plotline" for Robot Ninja.

Buy Robot Ninja on VHS (Yes, VHS!)

Michael Todd plays a comic book artist (whom nobody here can remember the name of) that draws a popular character called Robot Ninja who is a...ummm, well a robot ninja. This Robot Ninja dispatches bad guys with abnormally long talons and a bevy of weapons like black clothes, slippers and a facemask. The artist is upset at the treatment of his character in a new, hit TV show that is accused of being really campy. The comic book artist wants the show to take on the more violent overtones, grim bloody deaths and general lack of story that is popularized in the comic. The artist promptly complains to his publisher, Burt Ward, who... wait. Burt Ward? Do you mean TV's Boy Wonder, foil to Adam West and all-around 60s hearthrob? Yes, gentle reader, the same Burt Ward who played Robin on television. As usual here at the offices, not a single one of them believed me until they saw it for their own eyes. Moving on. Blah, blah, blah the artist sees a violent rape and has his friend, Dr. Goodknight, makes a Robot Ninja suit that shows off Michael Todd's complete and total lack of superhero muscles or any kind of physique whatsoever. Robot Ninja kills a few people for "justice" gets labeled unfairly as a vigilante by the police and finally blows his own brains out. I cheered.

This sounds bad, right? It gets worse. It looked like it was shot in Bookwalter's backyard. It felt like his friends came over to help him move and he suckered Bob, Ted and Jim from the S-Mart into being in his crappy movie. And to top it all off, he tried to make it really, really gory. In another "guest appearance" Linnea Quigley shows up as Burt Ward's assistant and they both hopelessly over and under act respectively. Good Lord, they must have really needed the money. Since the story spun around the tale of a comic book artist the opening credits and sporadic dramatic moments throughout the film have comic book panels of Robot Ninja in action. The story of the film has the artist as a true talent and very popular comic book guru. The drawings shown remind me of the comics that Tony Pominenti would draw in 8th grade. His Mom worked for the school so he could use the Xerox machine as much as he wanted and we were all treated to the adventures of "Penis Man." Robot Ninja made me wish for Tony to show up at my door with a copy of Penis Man: The Movie just so I could turn off Bookwalter's opus. Good God, the things that people think are a good idea that actually get out of the "maybe we shouldn't" stage are astounding.

I'd now like to relate to you a few moments of the movie that standout, in my humble opinion:
  • Robot Ninja (the totally unathletic Michael Todd) had his arm cut open. He fixes the gash and reattaches his veins with plastic tubing and a metal plate.
  • The Robot Ninja, dressed in costume and covered in blood, stumbles out to his car and takes off. The cop that was following him promptly goes in a different direction to stop him… or something.
  • Dr. Goodknight's 1983 Aptiva suddenly switches to a News Broadcast.

There was an hour and a half of this genius.

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