If ever there was a rainy day rental, it's 1986's The Vindicator. Y'know, just something to take home and watch while eating pizza. Bacon and green pepper. Thin crust. Or hand-tossed. I'll leave it up to you. This is an entertaining flick, but you should know going in that it's a square ripoff of The Terminator. Reading reviews online, I kept seeing Robocop cited as a footnote, and it's plain to see why. The two films share a plot summary. They are both about a man who is fucked by life and subsequently turned into a mandroid against his will. NOTE TO SELF: Check out Full Moon's Mandroid. Carefully.
You can't call this a Robocop ripoff, though. The Vindicator was released a full year earlier. The storyline elements are there, but I see it as Terminator larceny because, for one, The Terminator existed. Also, you have a badass cyborg on the beat, liquidating anyone who impedes his forward momentum. The twist here is that Frankenstein (that's his nickname in the movie) escapes from the "lab" without the panel that allows his creator to control his every move. His control panel! I wonder if it allowed his creator to modify accessibility options and turn on/off StickyKeys. Get it? It's a PC joke. Cool; I'll go tether my noose to the garage door. The creator? Oh, he's the true villain. His name is Alex Whyte, and he heads up the weapons division that gouges funding from Carl's project (Carl = soon-to-be Frankenstein), which leads to poor Carl being defrauded into his death. Ouch.
I used Carl's name a bit much, but look, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Does The Vindicator work? Mostly, yeah. The pacing is prompt, the special effects are convincing (more on them in a hot second) and the cast seemed sober. Yes, I adjusted my standards. So those effects were devised by Stan Winston's team of technicians. How much do you want to bet that he was hired on the strength of his work on The Terminator? I mean, I doubt it was due to his moonlight drudgery on his first genre gig, Zoltan: Hound of Dracula. In any manner, The Vindicator is easy to digest. There are a couple of pieces of business that rubbed my thistle sage the wrong way. Our Frankenstein, as it were, marches and bustles like a clumsy human. Isn't he supposed to be a robotic non-man?
Plus, I would have liked to observe a healthier dose of gore. The death sequences aren't nearly as violent as one would think. You know me; I love it when innocent blood is shed. The climactic fight between Creator and Creation, the moment we've been building up to for roughly 80 minutes, is honestly pitiful. It's a botched slugfest. No fireworks, no flashes of epinephrine, no fancy words for adrenaline...no nuttin'. Still, I recommend The Vindicator to fans of 80's action and science fiction. It's serviceable, and as I said in the opening paragraph, thin crust. Or hand-tossed. This film can be used in a court of law as demonstrative evidence to support the revival of video stores.