Sorry, Hollywood suits, but Charles Band > Michael Bay.
For this two-for-one release, Shout! Factory has paired a couple of Full Moon Entertainment flicks that have nothing to do with each other except being awesomely bad and somehow involving giant, fighting robots: 1990’s “Crash and Burn” and 1993’s “Robot Wars.” (What, no “Robot Jox”?)
“Crash and Burn” is a movie that does just that, but its numerous faults make it perfectly watchable. In July 2030, the world economy has collapsed. UV rays singe the skin of humans, everything runs on kerosene, freon is like gold, robots are outlawed, and the government-esque Unicom quashes uprisings by the rebels known as the Independent Liberty Union.
None of that’s really important. But this is: A few people are trapped in an industrial-style TV station, being killed by a robot. They even swap a scene from John Carpenter’s “The Thing” to make sure the culprit is not among them. If you look at the cast list, it’s not hard to figure out, because he/she is the only who always plays B-movie crazies. That excludes Megan Ward (TV’s “Dark Skies”) right off the bat, making her film debut as a tough, tomboy-ish teen who wishes she had boobs like the other girls.
Speaking of breasts, you see far more of those than you do robots, which really don’t show up until the final few minutes.
Don’t worry, though: You’ll get your fill with “Robot Wars.” Barely over an hour, it’s set in 2041, when robots are like the new choo-choo trains for mass transit, although they move very slowly. This is because they’re animated in stop-motion. The first robot we see is shaped like a scorpion, complete with laser-blast tail. Your kids will dig it, but so will you. I much prefer stop-motion to CGI, because you can tell someone cared.
A post-“Re-Animator” Barbara Crampton and a pre-trout-pout Lisa Rinna give the macho proceedings a touch of estrogen as an archaeologist and journalist, respectively, who inadvertently get involved in the robot wars — hence the title — caused by an evil Asian man who says things like “Washington types — what a lovely bunch of coconuts!” and “Peekaboo, I kill you!”
The real star — at least in terms of order determined by the credits — is Don Michael Paul (“Half Past Dead”), who has to be one of the worst actors in the history of the dramatic arts. Judging by his performance presence, I’m guessing the screenplay reads “(barking through gritting teeth)” at each point of his dialogue.
The disc has no extras — not even a trailer — which is a shame, considering how producer Band used to plaster these direct-to-VHS releases with bonus material, making him somewhat of a forefather to the DVD/Blu-ray experience. But two cheesy movies on one disc? Now that’s a party. —Rod Lott