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Film / R.O.T.O.R.

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"My objective was pure enough: To make the streets of the city a little safer. Where gangs of punks, dope dealers and the rest of society’s scum could be effectively controlled, and hopefully eradicated. A controlled army of police robots could stop the slaughter of the hundreds of policemen who sacrifice their lives every year in the protection of those they serve. But how do you stop a killing machine gone berserk, with only a go button and no compassion?"
Barrett Coldyron

Robot cop goes berserk. Creator hunts it down. You know the drill.

Barrett Coldyron is a cyberneticist with the Dallas Police Department. To save society from itself, he works to create a perfect robotic lawman, codenamed Robotic Tactical Operations Research. It will be four years before the kinks are worked out,note  but Coldyron is a patient man. Unfortunately, a conniving politician demands that the prototype be released in its current form, and Coldyron resigns in protest. The project is taken over by a couple of bumbling subordinates, who accidentally launch R.O.T.O.R. on a killing spree. It's up to Coldyron to stop it.

R.O.T.O.R. was written, produced, and directed by Cullen Blaine Houghtaling, who had previously worked mainly as a storyboard artist for Saturday morning cartoons. It was released in 1987, quick on the heels of RoboCop. It started getting a reputation as classic trash, making the rounds of bad movie sites such as Jabootu, Bleeding Skull and Monster Shack. In 2013, it was featured in an episode of Best of the Worst, where its cheesy charms were revealed to a new generation of B-movie enthusiasts. In 2014, the film became the subject of a comedic commentary by RiffTrax, with some of the best quotes documented here. After languishing in obscurity for a quarter of a century, R.O.T.O.R. continues to languish, but not in quite as much obscurity as before.


  • 10-Minute Retirement: Coldyron retires from his job after an argument with Bugler. He rejoins the force shortly after R.O.T.O.R. goes berserk.
  • The '80s: Depressingly so. The reason the R.O.T.O.R. project was even able to get funding is because crime is so rampant that even with twenty-five years as a projected completion date, it just sounds like a direly-needed weapon for law-enforcement and thus a sure-fire political move.
  • '80s Hair: Mullets... mullets everywhere.
  • Acronym Confusion: Exactly what R.O.T.O.R. stands for actually changes during the film (the second R is alternately "Research" or "Reserve").
  • Action Survivor: Sonya, who spends most of the second half of the movie running away from the Killer Robot and the only true weapon she has is a car horn (amusingly, it's the only weapon she needs).
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: Coldyron learns a valuable philosophical lesson, albeit at the cost of R.O.T.O.R. killing or maiming several people.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Predictably enough, though it's unclear how much is not having had the years of bug-testing Coldyron projected he'd need, how much is the robot being activated suddenly thanks to the actions of an oblivious janitor, and how much is inherent in the very idea itself:
    Coldyron: I've already wondered if our creation is going to rescue society or destroy it.
    Mike: Wait, you've wondered that?! Meaning it could go either way?
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Due to faulty programing, R.O.T.O.R tries to execute anyone who breaks any law whatsoever. In one scene, he kills a guy for speeding, and, somewhat oddly, spends the rest of the film trying to kill his passenger for what it considers resisting arrest.
  • Almighty Janitor: Definitely averted with Shoeboogie. He fancies himself a ladies' man with a trove of "Indian lore", but in reality, he's an annoying loser whose clumsiness activates the killer robot.
  • Anachronic Order: The film starts with Coldyron emerging from the woods after having destroyed R.O.T.O.R., and the main story is recounted in an extended flashback while Coldyron is being interrogated at police headquarters.
  • Androids and Detectives: Willard and Houghteling have this kind of relationship.
  • Antagonist Title: R.O.T.O.R. is the name for the robot cop.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: "The metal itself can learn, remember, and teach itself. It doesn't need motors, gears, and tubes."note 
  • Asshole Victim: Sonya's fiance is given one scene to establish that he's a dickhead, then he's shot dead by R.O.T.O.R.
  • Badass Bystander:
    • An ordinary-looking woman is taken hostage by a thug. After she is freed by Coldyron, another thug appears, and the woman attacks him with martial arts moves. Her skills are so ludicrous, it seems odd that she would have been taken hostage by some petty thug in the first place.
      Mike Nelson: Forget R.O.T.O.R.! I want to see a movie about her!
    • R.O.T.O.R. is not a film with many cowardly people willing to knuckle under. Throughout the film, numerous people come to Sonya's defense and bravely attack R.O.T.O.R. They tend to fail and get severely injured and even killed for their efforts, but, hey, points for trying. Plus, the truck driver even manages to successfully shoot R.O.T.O.R. and (briefly) injure him.
  • The Bait: Sonya, because if she's in police custody, R.O.T.O.R. will start to focus its attentions elsewhere and kill more innocents.
  • Big Eater: In one scene, we see Coldyron and his ladyfriend having lunch in a restaurant. The next time we see them, it is early afternoon of the same day, and they are preparing to cook themselves two steaks the size of toilet seats. Welcome to Texas.
  • Brain Uploading: Apparently part of Coldyron's mind is in R.O.T.O.R. Steele says that it would be a good idea to exploit this ("your [Coldyron] failure is his failure"), but nothing ever comes from it.
  • Brawnhilda: Steele, to the degree that she looks like she's in unconvincing drag when wearing a dress.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A trio of rednecks think that R.O.T.O.R. is merely a human police officer, so naturally they pick a fight with him. Because, you know, threatening just a human police officer is wise.
    Redneck: Hey, faggot city cop!
  • Butt-Monkey: Coldyron's destruction is prearranged by his corrupt superiors. His victory over R.O.T.O.R. only briefly postpones his fate.
  • Calling Card: Conveniently for the investigators, the Asshole Victim somehow managed to grab the “R.O.T.O.R.” nametag off the killer robot after being shot in the head.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the film, we see Coldyron blowing up tree stumps by lassoing them with primacord rope. This is what he ultimately uses to destroy the killer robot.
    • Shoeboogie tells a story about how his ancestors would quarter a condemned man by tying his limbs to four horses and driving them in different directions. A similar technique is employed by Coldyron in restraining R.O.T.O.R. during the climactic scene.
      Mike: Just as the prophet Shoeboogie foretold!
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: Justified, in that Coldyron lives on a ranch.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Sonya's fiancee attempts to wave R.O.T.O.R. off with a $20 bribe. Not that R.O.T.O.R. would ever have accepted any bribe, but still, the attempt is rather pitiful.
  • Conflict Ball: The snarling Commander Bugler seems to exist entirely for this purpose. He orders Coldyron to finish R.O.T.O.R. within sixty days, although the project is not slated to be complete for four years — and has a personality to deal with an assumed societal breakdown in 25-40 years (!). Bugler's unreasonableness and unexplained hostility seem calculated to initiate drama and cast Coldyron in a sympathetic light.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sonya is shown stopping her car at a gas station to call the police, which suggests that she doesn't have any on-board means of communication. In a later scene, she steals a car which happens to have a C.B. radio in it. Nobody finds this strange.
  • Cool Bike: R.O.T.O.R.'s motorcycle is a Yamaha Seca 650 Turbo.
  • Cop and Scientist: Coldyron combines both characters in one.
  • Cop Hater: At the very least the trio of guys at the diner, who are willing to attack what, to their eyes, looks like a regular police officer on Sonya's behalf.
    • Even the cook, who sees Sonya run in through the backdoor, slam it, lock it, and walk into the dining room, and gives it nothing more than a "huh, don't see that every day" kind of response. When ROTOR comes in through the backdoor, though, the cook tries to attack him with a knife!
  • Cop Killer: After destroying R.O.T.O.R., Coldyron is arrested on suspicion of having murdered a cop.
  • Covers Always Lie: Look at the trope image. R.O.T.O.R. doesn't have RoboCop's body armor, and the story doesn't take place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
  • Crapsack World: Everyone takes it for granted that the future will be a hellish dystopia where killer robots are the last hope of humanity.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Villainous version with R.O.T.O.R. Why? Who knows.
  • Delaying the Rescue: Coldyron leaves Sonya to continue her flight from R.O.T.O.R., explaining that he needs to use her as bait.
    • While she's doing that, mind, what he's doing is having a colleague fly down from another city, picking her up from the airport, taking her to check into a hotel, change clothes and have some pseudo-philosphical discussion, then finally going after R.O.T.O.R.
  • Didn't Think This Through: R.O.T.O.R has a weakness in the form of a keyhole on his back, allowing one to deactivate him by putting a key in and turning it. The stupid part is this would obviously require getting within striking distance of him, so you have to wonder why the designers didn't make some sort of remote control or whatever to shut him down from a distance. Granted, R.O.T.O.R himself doesn't seem any smarter in this regard, as he never tries just filling the keyhole with cement or the like to make it unusable.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • For R.O.T.O.R., minor traffic violation + $20 bribe = death. justified, as his faulty and incomplete programming makes him think that All Crimes Are Equal.
    • There is also Bugler killing Coldyron with a shotgun at the end. If not for a couple of very quick and very vague moments that imply that he's doing it because Coldyron knows too much about R.O.T.O.R. and thus needs be silenced, you wouldn't be wrong to assume that he's doing it because he hates Coldyron's guts that much.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Coldyron gets killed out of nowhere by Bugler mere moments on a sunset shot after he gets acquitted of R.O.T.O.R.'s rampages and with little foreshadowing and provocation against Bugler.
  • Downer Ending: Bugler kills Coldyron with a shotgun at the end because He Knows Too Much.
  • Dull Surprise: Every character in the film, but Steele tops them all. Her "My God" is so flat you'd think she was reacting to not getting ketchup for her fries and not the murder of an innocent civilian.
  • Establishing Shot: The Movie! Especially during the “Thursday morning” section, where the film dawdles over the picturesque minutiae of Coldyron's ranch house, his mildly zany morning routine, and his commute to work.
    Rich Evans: They had to establish the prairie, so they could establish the farm, so they could establish the farmhouse, so they could establish the kitchen counter.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Especially steaks and shoulder pads.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: R.O.T.O.R.'s Establishing Character Moment includes a moment where it walks through several rows of empty folding chairs to try to present itself as an Implacable Man... unfortunately, it is pretty easy to see the actor had difficulty doing so. All it did convey was that the robot's pathfinding algorithm was unable to identify the unobstructed route one metre to the left.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Coldyron and Steele engage in this in the most stilted, monotone way possible.
    • A sampling:
      Coldyron: A brain without a heart. A conscience without recognition. A will without a soul.
      Steele: If I miss, you'll be fighting your own base instincts. To combat pure will, you'll have to use pure illogic.
      Coldyron: What do you mean?
      Steele: You will have to allow yourself to fail. Use your failure against him! Your failure, is his failure. Your weakness, is his weakness. Then, only then, can you do something.
    • Then you have this gem from Coldyron:
      Coldyron: Remember what I said at R.O.T.O.R.'s christening? First prototype of a future battalion, on the battlefield highways of the future. He’d be the Judge, Jury and Executioner. Now I’ve got to wonder, were we playing God, breathing life into our artificial Adam? Or have we lost sight of Paradise? What was it Milton said? "Did I request Thee, Maker, from my clay to mold me Man? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?" Is it his fault he is what he is, or is it ours?
  • Filming for Easy Dub: A lot of dialogue is dubbed over exterior shots of cars driving. This is also probably the explanation for all the phone call scenes, where an off-camera character delivers a speech as another character sits on camera, listening.
  • Funny Background Event: The climactic battle between R.O.T.O.R. and Steele takes place in the background while Coldyron helps Sonya to safety in the foreground.
    Jay: This is like a Zucker Brothers gag!
  • Genius Bruiser: Steele is introduced as a genius scientist, but all she does is physical fighting.
    • From Bleeding Skull:
      Dr. Steele, will you be my friend? I don't want to push. Who knows where this could go? I know: You are huge. You could pick me up and toss me across the room. And, frankly, I would love every minute of it. Your skunk mullet would draw attention to us at restaurants and people would say "Who are they who believe they can flaunt societal decorum?" and I would tell them to "Cram it!" because you and I should be friends. Good friends. I'm making you a mix tape, downloading it to my MP3 player and sending it, online, to your heart. Call me?
  • Good-Times Montage: Coldyron and his ladyfriend enjoy a leisurely dialogue-free date, set to a smooth eighties ballad.
  • Hand Cannon: Both R.O.T.O.R. and Dr. Barrett Coldyron carry early-production Desert Eagles. The Killer Robot is justified because he is meant to stop crime by any means necessary. Coldyron is probably justified because he's a Texan police scientist, rancher and the Kyle Reese stand-in of the film.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?:
    Shoeboogie: Either I'm an Indian or I'm a sissy!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Steele is killed by R.O.T.O.R. after she rips it open to expose its innards - rather than picking up the de-activation key Coldyron dropped right there. Rather than remote offing the machine, she gets a killer bear hug instead.
  • Herr Doktor: Bugler calls Coldyron this literally, but Coldyron doesn't fit the trope.
  • Hitler Cam: Used on R.O.T.O.R. to make him seem huge and threatening.
    Mike: The poster from John Carpenter's The Thing demands royalties.
    Bill: (exasperated after the shot has been held for twenty seconds) WE. SEE. HIM.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • The cause of the movie's problems begin because Coldyron's benefactor, Senator Douglas, wants to unveil R.O.T.O.R. and ride the publicity to win a Presidential election in six months — or else Douglas will have everyone associated with the project jailed for graft and corruption. Never mind that such a move would likely get Douglas in trouble as wellnote , how would the Senator become one of the major parties’ candidates for President just a few months before an election?
    • And then there's doozie number two that is the R.O.T.O.R. Project core programming ("All Crimes Are EqualLeave No Survivors"). Even with a very generous prediction window of twenty-five years minimum (from the late part of The '80s) before society goes to hell bad enough that such a set of directives will be needed, the thing is pretty much a walking civil liberties lawsuit (which makes the first point even more baffling).
  • Homage: Steele's skunk stripe is an homage to Bride of Frankenstein, which Foreshadows the ending when R.O.T.O.R. II resembles her.
  • Hypocrite: Bugler sends a heartfelt letter to Coldyron's nephew telling him of his uncle's passing, despite being the one who cruelly gunned him down in cold blood, and establishing early that he hated Coldyron's guts.
  • How We Got Here: Almost the entire film is Coldyron being debriefed by Dallas PD and telling them what happened.
  • Idiot Ball: No one ever uses R.O.T.O.R.'s Weaksauce Weakness until the very end of the film. Besides that, we have the instances of people attacking R.O.T.O.R. with little or no provocation, despite that assaulting a cop is a terrible idea even when they aren't a Killer Robot.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: There are a few jarring discrepencies between dialogue and on-screen imagery.
    • During the establishing shots of Dallas, a traffic reporter describes severe traffic congestion, while the viewer can see that the highway is clear.
    • Coldyron claims that R.O.T.O.R. has no 'tubes', precisely as the camera is panning over the robot's... tubes.
    • Coldyron claims to have "crippled" R.O.T.O.R.'s motorcycle. Meanwhile R.O.T.O.R. zips away at full speed, totally unscathed by Coldyron's bullets.
  • Implacable Man: R.O.T.O.R. won't stop until he executes his suspect.
  • Indecisive Parody: Due to the inconsistent tone and the addition of obviously comedic elements, the movie is unable to decide whether it wants to be a parody of RoboCop (1987) or a straight rip-off.
  • Inflation Negation: The gas station advertises gas for 69 cents a gallon.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • R.O.T.O.R. is supposed to be the perfect robot cop that is able to clean up all of the scum in the city. It only kills one person on-screen and spends the rest of the movie failing to kill Sonya, who was just a passenger in a speeding car.
    • Also early in the movie there's a radio traffic report saying the highways are packed with people fleeing town for the weekend, which left the Rifftrax boys in shocked disbelief at how empty they were in the footage actually shown.
  • Insane Troll Logic: "The difference between a hero and a villain is the amount of compensation they take for their services. At our pay grade, I'd say we're heroes."
  • Interrogation Flashback: The film is mostly framed by the interrogation of Barret Coldiron by the Houston Police after the apparent death of a police officer at his hand (who really was the titular Killer Robot).
  • Inventional Wisdom: R.O.T.O.R has a weakness in the form of a keyhole on his back, allowing one to deactivate him by putting a key in and turning it. The stupid part is this would obviously require getting within striking distance of him, so you have to wonder why the designers didn't make some sort of remote control or whatever to shut him down from a distance. Granted, R.O.T.O.R himself doesn't seem any smarter in this regard, as he never tries just filling the keyhole with cement or the like to make it unusable.
  • Ironic Echo: The line "Justice delivered. C.O.D." is said twice during the film: when Coldiron is talking to Bugler about how much of a mess they have on their hands with R.O.T.O.R. running around with incomplete, buggy programming that is meant to kill all criminals, and in the film's denouement by Bugler as a Bond One-Liner, after he shoots Coldiron dead to silence himnote .
  • It's All My Fault: Coldyron blames himself completely, except he stated that R.O.T.O.R. was four years from completion, and Shoeboogie was the one who activated it. It's probably his fault for allowing a minor accident to allow the robot to get activated, but basically, it's all Bugler's fault.
    • You really have to ask yourself, though, from this one line during his presentation.
    Coldyron: "I've already wondered if our creation is gonna rescue society, or destroy it."
  • Jerkass:
    • Sonya's fiancee.
      Mike: (as R.O.T.O.R.) You have exceeded all douchebaggery protocols.
    • Also, not many people notice because of his comedy relief, but Shoeboogie is a pretty good example too. He spends most of his screentime harassing a co-worker and accuses her of being racist for not putting out.
  • Jive Turkey: Shoeboogie, a (self-described) Apache who talks like a character from a blaxploitation film. (Ironically, he resembles an East Indian more than a Native American.) RiffTrax compares him to Huggy Bear.
    Shoeboogie: Once you go red, you never get out of bed!note 
  • Karma Houdini: Shoeboogie's janitorial negligence is responsible for activating the killer robot, but he seems to escape any consequences for this. So does Houghtaling, Willard the robot, Commander Bugler, and everybody else who directly contributed to the robot's going berserk (and in Bugler's case, blowing away Coldyron in a police station parking lot). The only people who suffer are innocent bystanders and the two most competent and noble scientists.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "What do you think this is, some low-budget sci-fi flick?"
    Mike: Gah! The movie is becoming self-aware!
  • Leave the Camera Running: The film is padded with long, dialogue-free scenes of Coldyron puttering around his house, having a leisurely dinner with his ladyfriend, and driving to work.
  • Male Gaze: Due to the positioning of the camera, Sonya's rear takes up the whole screen for a moment.
    Kevin: (as Sonya) My butt's not in the shot is it?
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words:
    • A lot of what Dr. Barrett Coldyron supplies as "philosophy":
    "We're all prognosticators of the future. And since our particular purpose of vision belongs to the creed of law enforcement, we open inroads into tomorrow, in ways and means of those who would serve and protect justice and order."
    • The line "Justice delivered, C.O.D." is mentioned twice in the film to highlight R.O.T.O.R.'s indiscriminate rampage of Police Brutality and by Bugler as a Bond One-Liner Ironic Echo after executing Coldyron. Nobody explains what the heck "C.O.D." is supposed to mean in this instance ("certification of death", maybe?), making it sound even more dumb than the writers probably were aiming for. Rifftrax had a field day with this line by applying the most regular use of the acronym, "cash on delivery".
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • Many, but Coldyron's threat to "make more noise than two skeletons making love in a tin coffin" is a masterpiece of confusing analogy.
    • "Look at you! You look like you've got both eyes coming out of the same hole!" comes a close second.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: R.O.T.O.R's most far fetched ability is something called "Sensor Recall" which allows him to see into the past to view events that happened in whatever area he's looking at, which he mainly uses when trying to hunt down someone in order the check if they had been through said area recently. Ignoring the fact that such a power is more like magic than anything vaguely scientific or technological, you would think whatever designer discovered such an ability would use it for more things than just a cop robot, as, to name just one thing, historians could use it to see into the past and find out if some famous historical even really happened the way everyone thinks.
    Coldyron: I don't know what any of that means.
    Mike: (as Coldyron) I'm just some shmoe who taught a robot to see through time.
  • The Mockbuster: Of such films as The Terminator and especially RoboCop (1987), which premiered earlier the same year.
  • Mood Whiplash: The, ahem, "comedy" moments clash with the science fiction, er, "drama". For example, a short order chef for whatever reason has huge fake buck teeth. Why? Because huge fake buck teeth are funny, dammit!
    Bill Corbett: (As said cook gets his face pressed into the grill) Ha ha. It's funny because he's rural.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • This happens a lot with bystanders attacking R.O.T.O.R.
    • The holdup man at the mart had no idea that his Badass Bystander hostage was a martial arts master. He's overwhelmed so quickly the viewer will probably feel sorry for him.
  • Murderous Malfunctioning Machine: The prototype for R.O.T.O.R. was unfinished and flawed when it was released on a rampage.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Steele, with a heavy dollop of Dull Surprise.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Coldyron's nephew is studying at the "science department" of Oxford University.
  • Only Sane Man: Willard, who twice mocks how idiotic the R.O.T.O.R. project is and bails the moment things turn sour.
  • Opening Scroll: And it imparts information that is later repeated in expository dialogue, so... real useful.
  • Phone-In Detective: About half of Coldyron's interactions with other characters take the form of telephone conversations.
    Mike: The movie Phone Booth had fewer phone calls!
  • Plot Hole:
    • A small one in the beginning, but the police officers tell Coldyron sitting in the back seat to "buckle up". Firstly, there doesn't seem to be any seat belts in the rear seat, but more importantly, Coldyron is handcuffed. How was he going to buckle himself up?
    • When trying to run a diagnostic on R.O.T.O.R., Houghtaling tells Willard to go punch in a few codes on a keypad. Jabootu phrases it best: "A more obvious concern, I’d think, would be how Willard intends to 'punch in' the codes, given that his arms are about as functional as fellow mechanoid Tom Servo’s."
    • After the police find the body of Sonya's boyfriend, they call Coldyron to notify him, and obey him when he tells them to take no action. Despite him quitting his job and no longer being part of the police force.
    • Coldyron says that he has never met Dr. Steele, and their dialogue makes it clear that they are meeting for the first time. But at a certain point, Coldyron says, "Remember what I said at R.O.T.O.R.'s christening?" Why would Steele remember, if she and Coldyron had never met before?
    • How did the single length of primacord rope suddenly turn into five lasso ends? Even if Coldyron was able to spend the few seconds lassoing R.O.T.O.R. up in five places, how did the rope suddenly have five ends?
  • Police Are Useless: Sorry, ma'am. If the killer robot is out of our jurisdiction, we can't lift a finger to help you.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: R.O.T.O.R kills Sonya's fiance by shooting him in the head with a Desert Eagle, which should have blown all of his brains out but instead just leaves him with a little red mark on his forehead.
  • Psychic Powers: R.O.T.O.R. has "sensor recall," meaning it can look at a scene and see events from the past. Keep in mind that he can't bend at the waist or tolerate the sound of car horns.
    Mike: So they were years away from having a ready product, but already nailed down recreating the past just by looking at stuff.
  • Punny Name: The two main characters are Coldyron ("cold iron") and Steele.
    YT Comment: That's not Cold Iron. That's Coldy Ron.
  • Purple Prose: Coldyron's "cowboy poetry". Note that he's giving testimony to the police while saying this.
    "The day started like any other day. The fresh October morning breeze blew across the ranch, the cattle were coming in for the morning feeding, and a buttery morning sunlight painted a golden glow through the ranch house windows."
  • Reckless Gun Usage: At the mart hold-up scene, Coldyron sticks a Desert Eagle gun in his pants. For those of you not familiar with the model, the thing weighs 4 pounds. It's a good thing the gun Coldyron has is a plastic movie prop.
  • Red Herring: Steele tells Coldyron that since apparently part of Coldyon's mind was used in R.O.T.O.R.'s brain he will have "to use his own failure" to defeat it. That never happens, and comes off as just a Rule of Cool statement. Instead, Steele just tries to pound R.O.T.O.R. into submission.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot:
    • Willard, at least personality-wise. He sighs, moans, and even asks for his co-worker's fries. It's almost as if the role was written for a human character.
    • R.O.T.O.R. himself sports a potbelly and a Porn Stache. Ah, The '80s.
  • Robo Cam: R.O.T.O.R.'s POV is represented by a handheld camera shot with inverted colors and crosshairs in the middle of the frame.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Coldyron has a little robot and a small metal griffin on his desk. The camera loves small metal griffin, but why?
  • Same Language Dub: The actors who play Coldyron and Steele are dubbed by other actors.
  • Scare Chord: A big sting is heard when Shoeboogie jostles some random piece of equipment in the robotics lab. It turns out that disturbing this item is what causes the killer robot to awaken.
  • Scene Shift Caption: After every cut to a new time or location, the screen displays the day of the week and the time of day, for example FRIDAY 7:30 P.M. This information is by no means required to follow the rather simple and straightforward plot.
    Bill: Are we going to be tested on the specific times everything is happening?
    • Jabootu helpfully laid out each time stamp chronologically as it related to the film.
  • Science Hero: Both Barrett Coldyron and Steele. Allegedly.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Coldyron informs Willard, aka Robot Cop, that R.O.T.O.R. has escaped, he immediately announces his resignation. Over the phone. Coldyron hangs up on him mid-resignation speech.
  • Sequel Hook: After Coldyron is shot, his papers are sent to his nephew, an aspiring roboticist who seems intrigued by his uncle's research and willing to continue his work. R.O.T.O.R. II resembles Steele.
  • Shirtless Scene: The last of the rednecks to attack R.O.T.O.R. in the diner dramatically removes his suspenders and tears off his t-shirt to reveal a buff chest, pronouncing, "Let's see you deal with a real man now." The moment comes off as extremely homoerotic, but the whole thing is undercut by the fact R.O.T.O.R. takes him out easily.
  • Shoehorned Acronym: R.O.T.O.R is the robot's "name", and stands for "Robotic Officer Tactical Operational Research", which sounds more like the name of the program to create such a robot than the robot itself (one scene claims the second R stands for "reserve" instead, which makes even less sense.) It's especially Egregious considering the word "rotor" doesn't even have anything to do with the robot, meaning they could have just picked a better name and built a less forced acronym around it.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After his story is over, Coldyron is unceremoniously gunned down in a parking lot by Bugler.
  • Shout-Out:
    • For whatever reason, there are a ton of The Beach Boys references during Coldyron's briefing with scientists, including lines like "Good Vibrations", "God Only Knows", "I Get Around", "Heroes and Villains", "Rock and Roll", and so on. Then there's the Wilson Institute, Jardine University at Malibu, etc.
    • At one point Willard decries how stupid the R.O.T.O.R. Project idea is by snarking "I think this is how Terminator got started". The irony being that Willard is a robot himself.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Willard the non-killer robot.
  • Standard Police Motto: R.O.T.O.R.'s motto is "To Judge and Execute." Nope, nothing wrong with that at all...
  • Stock Phrase: One hick actually says, "Feet don't fail me now!" when fleeing.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Statum is playing Pitfall! on work time, but the sound effects coming from the monitor is from the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Coldyron wears his sunglasses the whole time he's in a darkened room, making his presentation on R.O.T.O.R.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: R.O.T.O.R. spends the entire film chasing down a woman who's at best guilty of resisting arrest. It's trying to kill her, without ever even calling for backup (which would be ludicrous), but why wouldn't it if it felt the crime was serious enough to warrant the death penalty.
  • Super-Reflexes: Averted with R.O.T.O.R., as his reflexes are super slow. In the climax of the movie, he threatens Coldyron with his gun, Coldyron ducks away, about two or three seconds later (which is much longer than it sounds) R.O.T.O.R. unfazedly and spectacularly fires a shot into emptiness, completely missing Coldyron.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: When Sonya calls the police for help, she doesn't give them much to work with.
    Kevin: She's alerted a cop that can't help her that she'll be driving south away from the murderer or maybe toward him in some kind of vehicle.
  • Techno Babble: There's lots of it, and it's all worse than you can imagine. "Is there some good vibration to its molecular tonality that you can utilize?" and "I can’t run a sequential circuitry test without the impulse feed chain." are just two examples.
  • Tempting Fate: Invoked by Steele when she changes her hotel room number because it's identical to R.O.T.O.R.'s badge number. Tempting fate how is never revealed, and "tempting reality" is just a nonsense phrase.
  • Terminator Impersonator: R.O.T.O.R. is a Terminator wanna-be with his killing spree justified as a zero-tolerance crime prevention protocol going haywire. It also makes some of the design choices baffling (why the mustache?). His rampage is even directly (and snarkily) compared to The Terminator In-Universe by another character (a fellow robot, to boot).
  • Theme Naming: Coldyron (Cold iron) and Steele. We get it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sonya. After R.O.T.O.R. kills her fiancé, she flees with her car and R.O.T.O.R. follows her with the intent to kill her. She shakes him off, then stops on the open road and is looking for her purse (!) when she sees a police officer in the rearview mirror although she knows R.O.T.O.R. (looking like a police officer) is still following her. She only survives because R.O.T.O.R. somehow forgets to use his gun and lets her escape quickly. Perhaps even worse, she learns right away that R.O.T.O.R is really vulnerable to loud noises, which she discovers by accident when she leans on her horn. Instead of just continuing to press on her horn until he breaks altogether, she just keeps trying to outrun him.
  • The Unintelligible: R.O.T.O.R., who mumbles its lines and has a robotic reverb added.
  • Vague Age: Steele's skunk stripe and initial outfit seem to imply that she's meant to be several years older than her actress, but her general appearance is just so bizarre that it's difficult to tell just what the filmmakers were going for.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Largely averted. Coldyron's computer uses an ultra-minimalist command-line system. However, font size fluctuates wildly depending on the importance of the text.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: The plot is set in motion when a villainous unseen politician decides to sabotage the R.O.T.O.R. project as part of some elaborate scheme to get himself elected president. Coldyron spends the entire film reacting to the resulting disaster.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: When R.O.T.O.R. swats away the cop who was trying to sign him up for the policemen's ball, a cartoony 'boink' is heard.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Although he was designed to patrol the highways, R.O.T.O.R. is incapacitated by the sound of car horns and loud noise in general (one scene has it stunned by a boom box playing country music). Even more bizarrely, although Sonya repeatedly exploits this weakness, she apparently does so unwittingly, and never realizes that she can disable R.O.T.O.R. indefinitely just by leaning on the horn. Instead, she honks the horn a few times and then stops, allowing the killer robot to recover and continue chasing her.
    Mike: It's like if Lex Luthor had Superman cornered with a kryptonite gun, then decided to trade it for beans.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite being featured in several early scenes, Coldyron's girlfriend vanishes from the film at the halfway point and is never mentioned again. Likewise, Sonya isn't mentioned again after R.O.T.O.R. is defeated.
  • Zombie Gait: R.O.T.O.R. sometimes walks normally, but whenever he is pursuing someone on foot, he shifts to a slow, stiff-limbed shuffle, as if to remind the audience that he is a robot. However, at another point, R.O.T.O.R. runs, which makes one wonder why he didn't before.
    Kevin: He's in casual attack mode.