Friday Night Flix: Death Machine

Death Machine 1Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

You guys! I’m back! Did you miss me? Given the high quality of my stand-ins, I don’t blame you if you didn’t. Huge thanks to Jay, VPH and the boss man for stepping up while I was making with the wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Huger thanks to Jay for doing double, superhero-themed duty, while managing to avoid Griff the Lifeless Invisible. We have to have a talk about your hatred for big budget comic book adaptations though. I’m worried you may have a tumor or something.

Death Machine 3I’m delighted to finally post about Death Machine (Netflix), a movie I was thiiiiiis close to recommending in February until Netflix yanked it from the streaming menu. For reasons passing understanding, I adore this utterly generic, excruciatingly 90s, anti-corporate sci-fi/horror flick.

Death Machine is so much a product of its decade it makes me want to hacky sack. For example:

  • Punk environmentalists plot to take down an evil megacorporation from the back of a van while puffing comically huge doobies. Fighting for change with the power of jorts!
  • Villainous Brad Dourif threatens to employ the grandaddy of all lazy cyberpunk buzzwords: HACKING. Oh movie hackers, I’ve loved and laughed at your implausible antics since Lex magically navigated a 3D UNIX system in Jurassic Park.
  • The unstoppable, autonomous weapons platform is conveniently housed at Evil Corporate HQ where all the executives work and not, you know, in a secure test facility in the desert.

Death Machine 5And yet, Death Machine is a prime example of how a dash of well-designed tech makes up for a world of flaws. (So is Masters of the Universe. Now give me that key, Gwildor!) For most of the movie whatever escaped from Vault 10 is nothing more than frantic glimpses of slashing claws and chompers. I’m assuming the complete model would look something like a chrome-plated xenomorph but there isn’t ever a real money shot, which is a tsunami level tragedy. Even so, the mechanized monster feels tangible and ferocious. That may be a product of a wisely juxtaposed styrofoam Robocop knockoff who, well, yeah. 90s!

Death Machine 2Added bonus: characters bizarrely named Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi, plus the two hero dudes, Weyland and Yutani. Just in case anyone didn’t realize Death Machine shamelessly rips off every major sci-fi movie of the last 20 years. Awesomely, Yutani is an Asian character played by a bald white guy with a face tattoo. That is some Charlie Chan shit right there.