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RoboCop (1987), Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent cyborg cop movie.

October 9, 2018

MY CALL: If you love really violent, really bloody 80s movies that don’t dote on people’s sensitivities while providing some social commentary, then this is for you. Want cybernetic cops out for revenge? Then this is EVEN MORE for you. MORE MOVIES LIKE RoboCopBoth Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997) capture most of the elements that make me love RoboCop.

Director Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Hollow Man) delivers us to a dangerous Detroit. Known for using media and commercials in his films, Verhoeven stylishly paints his dystopian near-future with news clips of foreign conflict and violence against police, as well as commercials about medical breakthroughs in artificial organs to set his stage for the future in law enforcement.

As we’d later see in Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997), Verhoeven loves co-ed locker rooms and showers and, likewise, is an equal opportunity presenter both male and female nudity. Not only that, Verhoeven is all about tough-as-nails women. Starship Troopers (1997) had Dina Meyer, Total Recall (1990) had Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin, and here we have officer Lewis (Nancy Allen; Carrie, Strange Invaders, Poltergeist III) credibly kicking the crap out of a perp in the police station lobby.

With the development of “Delta City” underway, Dick Jones (Ronny Cox; The Car, Total Recall) has big plans for a privatized police force: ED-209, a menacing stop-motion law enforcement droid. The violence and blood run HEAVY in this movie! ED-209’s first kill is brutal. A fellow suit, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer; DeepStar Six, The Guardian) has his own ideas for a RoboCop program, but it requires… volunteers.

So enters the savage Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith; Amityville: The Awakening, Boxing Helena) and his gang of criminals (including Ray Wise; Chillerama, The Rift, Twin Peaks, Jeepers Creepers 2). When officer Lewis and new Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller; Of Unknown Origin, Leviathan, Screamers) step onto the scene, these criminals destroy poor Murphy—like, literally. When Murphy’s hand is blown off it splatters (explodes really) and leaves a chunky stump. Then they blow off his arm leaving flesh shrapnel and they blow out his brains in a sloppy exit wound. But now Morton has his volunteer!

The RoboCop design is sleek and a bit Vader-esque, his movement is robotically rigid and his vision is a lot like the T-800 (i.e., The Terminator). Watching him work the streets is violent 80s bliss. He shoots a guy in the crotch, punches through walls and throws someone out a second story window.

Despite allegedly having no memory of his life, RoboCop has bad dreams echoing his murder and his family. Eventually he seeks revenge.

The performances in this film were on point. Kurtwood Smith brings his stone-cold, no-nonsense A-game as a criminal who shoots first and sometimes even kills before idle asking questions later. Miguel Ferrer is delectably corporate-slimy down to his habits for snorting coke off bimbos’ cleavage. And Ronny Cox has that OG emotionless game face. Their an admirable line-up of bad guys.

And when these bad guys get theirs, they really get it. I love when the dude’s flesh melts from the toxic waste. The make-up work is great; he looks like an absolute monster. Then he about disgustingly liquefies when hit by a car. LOL. Awesome death scene.

Moreover, despite being an armored cybernetic cop, RoboCop gets the crap kicked out of him much like Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988). By the end, RoboCop is covered in armor-piercing round holes, cracks, black powder scuffs and blood.

My favorite thing about this film (as opposed to the ultra-soft 2014 remake) was how it didn’t try to please everyone. Outside of his memories viewed in first-person, we never see Murphy with his family or try to reconnect with them. They explain why, and it makes perfect sense. And after Murphy exacts his revenge there is no attempt at verbal reconciliation of his catharsis. It’s simply done. He shot the crap outta the guy one minute. RoboCop starts identifying himself as “Murphy” the next minute. The end. It’s a good “tough guy” ending a la Schwarzenegger.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2018 8:59 am

    I remember seeing this movie on HBO or something. The violence of this film was so intense my parents made me turn it off.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 9, 2018 9:06 am

      Yeah, I remember being blown away by it all. This movie really went for it! lol

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 9, 2018 9:24 am

      Oh barf! And PG-13 for the sake of box office. smh
      I didn’t enjoy it either.

  2. October 9, 2018 9:55 am

    Robocop is a brilliant film, brutal, action packed… its got everything, and that guys death via the toxic waste is still one of the best gross out moments ever! Great fight between Robocop and ED209 as well, love that scene!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 9, 2018 9:58 am

      I would keep seeing the GIF of that death scene on social media thinking “what is that from?” Clearly, it had been too long since seeing this last (probably in the 90s, to be honest). It holds up really well!

      • October 9, 2018 10:07 am

        Yeah, the effects in that death scene are great. Its such a horrible way for anyone to go, even the guys mate doesn’t want to know or help him either – the reaction on his face is priceless! Robocop is a great films of its time, always enjoy watching it.

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