“Welcome, androids! We have resurrected you for a highly sensitive mission.”
“How much do highly sensitive missions pay these days? We don’t work for free, you know.”
“Your payment will be the knowledge that you have helped usher in a new age of enlightenment and prosperity.”
I have to confess that I have a serious weakness for films that try too hard.
Of course, it is always difficult to know just what it is possible to achieve with what resources you have available – even professionals make that mistake all the time. But to deliberately “swing for the fence” and try to put every last bit of your incredible vision on the screen? That’s incredibly risky and I have nothing but respect for that. No matter how terrible the end product is.
But when someone swings for the fence, then throws in a few spare kitchen sinks they happen to have lying about – and still manages to make a consistently entertaining if crazy film?
Then you must be dealing with something special.
The Killer Robots are in fact a rock group who perform wearing these impressive retro-junk robot suits. They put in five years of work producing this film — mostly on the weekends — and the end result is spectacular.
Using whatever trash they could get their hands on, they created a mechanized universe of living robots, using deliberately clunky looking animation techniques (some have compared this to Terry Gilliam’s work and there certainly is an affinity). Against this intricately detailed background, the band is forced to carry out a secret mission they don’t understand – and have a hard time caring about – while pursued by all sorts of villains and monsters.
One of the things that impressed me in the trailers was a deliberately jerky sequence of the monstrous Trog trying to smash a bigger robot. Despite the relatively low number of frames per second, they still managed to convey the sense of enormous weight behind his punches which is difficult enough to achieve in animation under the best of circumstances (not that they were always as successful – one can see a number of places where some massive machine crashes to the surface it is obviously little more than a plastic toy).
Perhaps the film lacks the non-stop belly laughs the trailer seems to promise, but it makes up for that with a steady stream of chuckles and a wild inventiveness that keeps its inept heroes moving from one absurd adventure to another. It’s one of those films you watch with a constant goofy grin on your face (and it’s worth noting that one of the best laughs comes when Max fails miserably to make a classic bad joke with a stray robot limb).
Oh, and the music is pretty good, too.
It reminds me of a little of Astron 6’s incredible Manborg, or Rob Shrab’s wacky Robot Bastard!, both similarly handmade garage films with a fearless desire to create their own warped and totally unique worlds. The four Killer Robots seem to have done most of the work themselves, with Sam Gaffin (Auto) not only directing, but writing the script, producing, doing the production design, make-up, costumes, animation, special and visual effects and so on. A lot of work, but I guess it is the only way to be sure that you’re the one who gets to say a classic cliched line like “Brace for impact!”
Let’s face it: this is a film which has gone so far over the top that it’s hard to see the top from where it is. If you can accept that, and go with the flow, you’ll have a great time watching this one.
If not, you’ll just be stuck saying “this is totally unrealistic” for the next hundred minutes.
(My thanks to Sam Gaffin for providing a screener.)
Watch on Amazon:
(If you’re looking for the Full Moon movie, my review is here: Crash and Burn (1990))