Friday, August 31, 2007

Hold on to your dicks, 'cause this one's a doozy.

Mikadroid (1991)

Despite a box cover claiming “Available for the first time in North America”, we all know that this Mikadroid has been around the block, only under a different name: Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla. One that Discotek has decided to tag on, you know, for ghetto nostalgia. A feeling I’m starting to get.

“The cyborg slashes away her clothes while viciously slicing her body”. Yep, that’s what got thirteen year-old me to scrawl that glorious title onto the lime green order form. Weeks later it arrived, via Miami, a fresh batch of yellow labeled tapes which may or may not have contained traces of Florida snow. I was ready for the Robokill.

What I wasn’t ready for was the unimaginably graphic contortionist porn I got instead. Phone calls were made to my friends, viewings were held. All that was missing was a circle jerk… and Robokill. More weeks pass, this time the real thing arrives.

While it didn’t make me as popular as The Twister, it still brings back memories, and not just ones of a blond with her ankles pulled behind her head. It represents early Japanese movie watching that didn’t involve Street Fighters or Baby Carts, but Evil Dead Traps and Sweet Homes. Late night video romps in the basement, where any thing with a cool box cover, or a lurid description, shot through my VCR faster than a thin-crust through my colon. Nowadays, while I lay off the Domino’s, a lurid synopsis can still do the trick. Kinda like this:

Showa year 20, the Japanese army is undergoing construction on a new breed of indestructible super soldier, the project’s codename: Jin’ra. Men turned into humanoids, one turned into 100% killing machine, the Mikadroid. The plans are halted, and the project buried deep underground, until…. 1991, the disco club Layla, where the preferred dress code for boogieing down is a large medallion, sports coat, and no shirt. Its dance magic gets the sparks flying down below, to the resting place of the ultimate killing machine; bringing it to life in the neon land of Mister Donut. When the club lets out, all paths lead to the underground garage. At midnight, the gates are locked, leaving those inside trapped with the Mikadroid.

It’s nice to be wrong. At thirteen, while I liked the Robokills of the faux-title, it just wasn’t all that impressive after seeing Ron Jeremy lick his own penis while exclaiming “Look what I can do!” No, it was worse than that: it was boring. I didn’t pay to see boring. Then again, I did pay to see Van Damme and Dennis Rodman in Double Team. Eight times.

This time I had fun, not viewing number three of Double Team fun, but fun all the same. Director Tomoo Haraguchi and his crew know their horror; as they visually quote everything from Deep Red to Maniac. Even blaxploitation-actioner Hell Up In Harlem gets a shout out. Though initially wanting to make a zombie epic titled Mikado Zombie, Haraguchi still delivers the goods with this Red Sun Tin-Man slasher, which boasts killer work from modern SFX ace Shinji Higuchi, and, like any hack n‘ slash worth it‘s weight in karyo syrup, loads of inventive kills. While the pacing issues are still present, it doesn’t diminish its position as a true relic of the rough and ready V-cinema days.

So maybe I’m a big nostalgic push over, or maybe I just like crap, but I say dance your heart out in that disco club called Layla; dance all night, then make your way underground to that dark, dank garage, and see what you find. Who knows, maybe ten years down the road it’ll give you some memories.

Wes Black

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