Movie and TV Robots in Music Videos

Robot Review: November 25, 2018

“Who’s Johnny?” by El DeBarge (1986)

This track from the Short Circuit soundtrack features robot star Johnny 5 and non-robot star Ally Sheedy. Co-star Steve Guttenberg makes an appearance too, but as only a cardboard cutout in the background.

“My New Boyfriend” by Carly Simon (1985)

Legendary singer-songwriter Carly Simon released this song in the mid-eighties and it definitely showed an 80s influence on her musical style.

She starts as an Egyptian queen on a riverboat, followed by dancing around a fire with a jungle tribe, and then eventually lounging with girlfriends in a hair salon until her new “boyfriend” (Paulie’s robot from Rocky IV) brings her flowers.

“Anaconda (Lyric Video version)” by Nicki Minaj (2014)

Rapper and singer Nicki Minaj showed that she’s a robot fan when she included Tom Servo and Crow from Mystery Science Theater 3000 in this music video.

“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1982)

Tom travels through a desert wasteland and arrives at an outpost. Inside are several televisions, one of which is showing a brief clip of Cylon fighters bombing Earth, from the short-lived early 80s TV series Galactica 1980.

“Loverboy” by Billy Ocean (1984)

Now this video doesn’t feature any actual movie or tv robots, but the setting is very reminiscent of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars Episode IV. In addition to a very diverse cast of alien creatures, you’ll also see a few robots, including the “Bar Bot” mixing drinks for the customers.

“You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses (1991)

From the Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack, Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator wanders through the crowd while Guns N’ Roses jams on stage.

Robot Review: Chopping Mall

Robot Review: October 24, 2018

“I guess I’m just not used to being chased around the mall in the middle of the night by killer robots.”
– Linda (later killed by laser blast)

Chopping Mall is a classic 80’s horror movie, except that instead of an ax wielding psychopath at a summer camp, we get laser wielding security robots at a shopping mall.

It has all of the necessary plot devices of this genre: cool kids, nerdy kids, guys and girls partying in various stages of undress, alcohol, bad dancing, bad hair, exploding body parts, guns, low budget yet believable-within-the-story special effects and a synthesizer-based soundtrack.

And then there are the robots – or the Protectors as they are called. These automated security guards look like a mix between Johnny 5 and Wall·E with the head of a Cylon. They have a variety of weapons at their disposal, including lasers, sleep darts, tasers, plastic explosives and four extendable arms with pincher hands at the end.

Chopping Mall Protector robot

The Park Plaza Mall implements three of the Protectors as their overnight security team, which are linked to a master computer, which is supervised by a lone human in a control room. All mall employees are given security badges that the robots scan after hours to determine whether or not they are an intruder.

But things go wrong very quickly when the mall is struck by lightning and the master computer’s circuits are fried. This malfunction alters the robots’ programming, which turns them into self-activating stone cold killers.

The first to die is the night watchman in the control room. The remainder of the movie follows a group of young adults as they go from partying after hours in a furniture store to fighting for their lives against the murderous mall machines.

Killbots movie poster

The original title of the movie was “Killbots” with the tagline “…shopping will never be the same!” but was changed to “Chopping Mall – Where shopping can cost you and arm and a leg” after a lackluster release under the first name.

Writer Steve Mitchell drew an illustration that became the early blueprint for the robot’s look although the actual remote controlled units were designed and constructed by Robert Short. Director Wynorski told Short that he wanted the Killbots to be an updated version of the 1950’s robot Gog.

The robots’ treads were made from industrial belt material that was used for conveyor belts in restaurants. The small wheels in the treads were taken from roller skates. The robots were able to reach an actual speed of 8 miles per hour.

Chopping Mall was originally going to be shot at the Beverly Center Mall in Los Angeles, CA but was moved to the Sherman Oaks Galleria just outside of town. The robots were designed to fit on the escalators at the Beverly Center, but when they got to Sherman Oaks, they discovered the escalators were narrower. As a result, the Protectors’ escalator shots were done with creative angles to hide the fact that the entire robot body was not there.

Visit our Chopping Mall title page for more information and to watch the trailer.

Robot Review: Runaway

Robot Review: October 23, 2018

Runaway - Tom Selleck as Sgt. Ramsay at Robot Construction Site

The movie Runaway (1984) has two big things going for it – the robots and the people.

The Robots

Set in the not-to-distant future, Runaway takes place in a time where robots have become a trusted part of everyday life. Housekeeper robots, office robots, farming robots, construction robots – all types of robots are everywhere.

We also get to know some of the robots that are used by the villains, such as insect robots that inject acid and then explode (shown below), mini-mobile bomb robots that can drive on freeways at 60 MPH and heat-seeking robot bullets that track their targets based on unique body heat signatures.

Insect robots in the movie Runaway, 1984

The People

In the cast we have some familiar faces.

Tom Selleck, who at the time was already four years into his hit TV show Magnum P.I., plays Sgt. Jack Ramsay, a robot specialist on the police force. All of his cases involve malfunctioning, or runaway, robots.

However Ramsay finds himself on his biggest and most deadly case yet, when he discovers a diabolical plan by evil scientist Dr. Luther to create and mass produce malicious circuit chips that cause everyday robots to kill.

Gene Simmons as Dr. Charles Luther in Runaway, 1984

Gene Simmons, from the rock band K.I.S.S., plays the villain Dr. Charles Luther (shown above). Runaway was his first major acting role, and he would continue to play the bad guy in many of his future film appearances. His next acting job following Runaway was a guest starring part on the TV series Miami Vice in 1985.

Kirstie Alley, who would go on to play Rebecca Howe on the TV show Cheers a few years after Runaway, is Dr. Luther’s sidekick Jackie Rogers. A few years before Runaway she appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as the female Vulcan Saavik.

G.W. Bailey plays Sgt. Ramsay’s boss, the Chief of Police. Bailey also appeared in another popular robot film – Short Circuit. You might also recognize Bailey as Capt. Harris from the Police Academy movies.

One additional recognizable name involved in this film is author and filmmaker Michael Crichton. Written and directed by Crichton, Runaway shares a similar theme to the first feature film he directed – Westworld – which also tells a story of robots-gone-haywire scenario.

Runaway has a lot of other fun things going for it too. The crazy space jazz synthesizer soundtrack gives the movie a futuristic sound. And you can’t beat the awkward father/son dialogue between widower Sgt. Ramsay and his ten year old son.

But the robots are the highlight, specifically because they are old school special effects – real, electro-mechanical models that someone could build in their basement or garage.

These are the kind of robots that you could actually envision existing in the near future, rolling around the house or office and talking in choppy sentences with a digitized voice (or in the case of the insect robots, crawling up your leg and injecting you with acid).

Visit our Runaway title page for more information and to watch the trailer.

The VOID: Battle the Empire in Virtual Reality (Droids Included)

Robot Review: October 21, 2018

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire was released last year as one of the titles at The VOID – a 3D virtual reality experience where you walk through and interact with the story’s environment.

Recently we visited their store at the Glendale Galleria Mall in Glendale, CA to check it out.

Here We Go!

First you’ll suit up in a hefty vest and helmet. Each helmet has a microphone so your team can communicate and the VR visor flips down to cover your eyes.

After watching an introductory video, you move into the Staging Bay where your virtual reality experience begins. What was previously an 8x8ft barren walled room is now a spaceship approaching the Empire facility on Mustafar, a molton lava planet.

Your mission is to access the facility disguised as a squad of stormtroopers. We won’t give away much about the details of the experience, but here’s a few highlights…

You will feel the heat of the burning lava around you.
You will feel afraid of falling off the edge of a platform.
You will frantically try to solve puzzles while ducking enemy fire.
You will probably get shot by a stormtrooper’s laser – it won’t kill you, but you will feel it in your vest.

The Robot Cast has some well-known faces from the Star Wars films:

  • K-2S0: From Rogue One, this Imperial-turned-Rebellion droid will guide your squad through the mission.
  • MSE-6: This little Imperial service robot, nicknamed mouse droid, looks like a black lunchbox and zips around on wheels. You’ll cross paths with it in a hallway, just like Han, Luke and Chewbacca did in Episode IV – A New Hope.
  • Astromech Droid: This chrome R2-D2 style droid also supports your squad and appears at various points in your mission.

You’ll see other random robots such as a Loading droid and a Control Room droid as well.

And there will be stormtroopers. Lots and lots of stormtroopers. Shooting at you. From all directions.

By the time you get home, you’ll receive your Wanted poster via email with a link to view your mission statistics.

VOID Star Wars Email Mission Stats

But Wait There’s More!

The VOID also has a Ghostbusters experience and a fantasy-haunting Chicago World’s Fair experience called Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment.

Robots-in-Film favorite Wreck-It Ralph is coming soon at The VOID. And because of a recent partnership with Lucasfilm and Disney, future experiences will include additional Animation and Marvel film themes.

Wreck It Ralph Coming Soon Widget

For more info and available locations go to thevoid.com.