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Arts & Culture

Rants and Raves: The Power of Geek

"Robo Vampire:" What was promised... what was delivered.
"Robo Vampire:" What was promised... what was delivered.

How A Group of Pop Culture Geeks Got Robo Vampire Trending

So I got to see the power of the Internet and social media when my friend decided to do live Tweeting and ended up making "Robo Vampire" a trending topic on Twitter.

Miguel Rodriguez is a guest blogger for Cinema Junkie as well as a podcaster (Monster Island Resort Podcast) and a festival programmer (Horrible Imaginings). He's also a total movie nut who partakes in live Tweeting with people around the country and sometimes the globe as they all watch the same movie on TCM, Netflix, or YouTube. This fosters a fun community of people who all love movies, and many of whom write their own blogs or run their own podcasts -- in other words people who know their sh-t.

Here's the story -- courtesy of Rodriguez -- of how a group of pop culture geeks made an obscure Hong Kong horror film trend worldwide.


Who is M.O.S.S.?

If there is one thing the world-shrinking power of the internet has made possible, it’s the ability for admirers of extremely niched arts and pop culture artifacts to find one another and proclaim their love for the unlovable to the entire online globe to see and hear. Such is the mission of one international group of bloggers and podcasters who call themselves The Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit (MOSS). I am pleased to have my own work counted among this number because, in my opinion, the members represent some of the most clever and thoughtful work I have seen.

What is "Robo Vampire"?

This past weekend, I, along with my fellow MOSS agents, organized a world-wide tweetalong of a 1988 Z-grade Hong Kong film from Filmark International called "Robo Vampire." The story behind the production of this film is as muddied as its multiple incongruous storylines. Reportedly, the director Joe Livingston is none other than the “Ed Wood of Hong Kong” Godfrey Ho, who has gone by more names than Lucifer himself. Made to cash in on the popularity of Paul Verheoven’s "Robocop," the classic Chinese Hopping Vampire myths, violent gangster films, and romance films, Robo Vampire is a prime example of a film that is so extraordinarily inept as to transcend cinematic badness—transcend even the so-bad-it’s-good concept—and exist on a plane or dimension all its own. To witness such strangeness is to venture into a land completely alien and removed. Notoriously, the cover features a blatant plagiarism of the actual Robocop strangling a hopping vampire. What "Robo Vampire" delivers is a man in silver hockey pads.

What's a 'tweetalong" or "livetweet"?


So now that you have some idea of what the film in question was, I will briefly talk about what a tweetalong or a livetweet is. The social networking site Twitter is basically on online conversation platform. For years, I dismissed its viability, but ever since last summer my tune has changed. That’s when I started livetweeting films with groups like The Drive-In Mob and TCM Party. Essentially, everyone watches a predetermined film simultaneously and discuss it via Twitter. It’s like watching and discussing a film with a huge group of people in various different places. It is quite addicting, has made me a number of friends, and is at least partly responsible for nearly tripling my podcast’s subscriber base over the last several months.

What was remarkable about this activity was that we managed to get the hashtag #RoboVampire trending on Twitter worldwide. Twitter calculates the most popular topics and places them on their homepage with regular updates. We got #RoboVampire trending so high that it beat out #Spain on the very day that they won the European Championship final against Italy. Robo Vampire stayed trending for 48 hours. We were second only to “Happy Canada Day” on Sunday and “Anderson Cooper” on Monday.

How could this be? This tremendously obscure, ridiculous movie was listed as one of the most talked about subjects on the largest conversation platform for two days. We had participants all over the world: The US, Germany, Australia, India—our Indian tweeters actually had to watch the film before breakfast because of the time difference, yet there they were! I attribute total engagement and world-wide participation to this little phenomenon. Of course, this led to other people on Twitter asking “What is 'Robo Vampire,' and why is it trending?” They got their due replies from us. Some tweets were even made from the Warner Brothers Archive, who joked that they wished they had gotten the rights to the DVD release. If the mission of MOSS is to increase the attention to and appreciation for disreputable, hard-to-love pop culture, then I would chalk this one up as a major victory. A complete transcript of the tweet along is available on the MOSS website here.

How can you partake?

Activities like this are another way people can interact with and communicate about arts and culture. Theater attendance may be down, but the audience can be bigger than ever before. Anyone who wants to join along with these can look for b-movie calendars at the Drive-In Mob site and for classic film calendars at the TCM Party site. Hope to see you there!