2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 15: The Vindicator (1986)

15. KILLED BY TECHNOLOGY: The gadgets will getcha (<-autocorrect that one, phone).

A modern-day retelling of the classic Frankenstein story set in the 80s — I mean, the movie is also known as Frankenstein 2000 as Frankenstein 80 was already taken and Joe D’Amato didn’t make Frankenstein 2000: Return from Death until 1992 and he wouldn’t care if he stole a movie title — The Vindicator was made in Canada and directed by Jean-Claude Lord (who also directed Visiting Hours as well as Toby McTeague the very same year).

The ARC corporation is trying to make the spacesuit of the future which will have a rage mode that takes over the wearer’s mind when they need to survive a dangerous situation, going pretty much full-on rage mode. Why this would be part of the machine is something that I leave up to you, dear viewer. That’s the same question that scientist Carl Lehman has, particularly after some monkeys die when one of the bosses, Alex Whyte, cranks them monkeys up to eleven and lets God or whatever machine logic that runs our simulation play dice. Dead monkeys lead to dead scientist which leads to Project Frankenstein, which is sort of RoboCop a year early.

I kind of like how filmmakers say they’re doing a modern Frankenstein and instead of being somewhat coy and naming the robot Project Prometheus or Project Shelley, they sledgehammer the point home and just say, “Hey smart guy, it’s just called Project Frankenstein, OK?”

If you wonder, “Will something go wrong, sending monkeys in a rage and burning Carl’s new skin off and him going on a quest to find his wife, who is played by the actress who would be Jill Bennett on Knot’s Landing?,” then the answer is, of course, yes.

But hey — this also has Pam Grier as Hunter, a hitman who needs a challenge and that usually involves liquidating anyone who knows or sees or even thinks about Carl in the suit. He’s never called the Vindicator, but hey I know one other Canadian scientist who got burned alive inside his cyborg suit and that’d be Weapon Alpha or the Guardian or Vindicator from John Byrne’s Alpha Flight and Canadians may be too polite to vindicate but I do not believe they are so polite as not to steal a movie title.

Anyways, there are some cyborg zombie battles and Carl’s colleague Burt trying to cuck him from beyond the grave and umbilical tubes being used to drown people and much like the cover of the VHS, I’m making this all sound way more exciting than it is. But isn’t that what renting movies used to be all about? You see a title like The Vindicator and a flaming cyborg — much less one designed by Stan Winston — and you say, “Gimme that.” Maybe a few hours later you regret your decision, but it was only a 93 minute and $2 investment, so life used to be a lot simpler.

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