Cyberpunk Review » Death Machine

August 5, 2006

Death Machine

Movie Review By: SFAM

Year: 1995

Directed by: Stephen Norrington

Written by: Stephen Norrington

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Jack Dante: Brad Dourif
  • Hayden Cale: Ely Pouget
  • Sam Raimi: John Sharian
  • Rating: 3 out of 10

    Death Machine Screen Capture


    Overview: In yet another of the Alien/Terminator copycat movies, Death Machine is a low-budget, poorly thought out shlock-fest that tries to dazzle you with a largely incoherent in-depth plot and over-the-top acting. While another virtually unknown British Director, Richard Stanley, scored big in a similar but far more original copy-cat movie, Hardware, Stephen Norrington’s Death Match just doesn’t cut it. These types of movies live or die on the overall atmosphere and the quality of the fear the creature engenders. While Hardware excelled on both counts, Death Machine falls woefully short. Worse, Death Machine makes a lame attempt at humour by naming all the bit players with the names from the movies Norrington stole plot bits and visuals from (John Carpenter, Scott Ridley, Weyland, and Yutani)


    Death Machine Screen Capture


    The Story: In the near-future, the evil Chaank Armaments corporation has engaged in a number of shady, classified project that have resulted in dissapearances and potential deaths. Public outcry has gotten out of hand, so for damage control, they bring in an upstanding principled new chief executive named Hayden Cole (Ely Pouget), a hot chick with a porn past to inspire trust and confidence amongst the masses. As she delves into things, it’s clear that the board of directors wants nothing to do with providing full disclosure. Why? Because there is an evil genius mad scientist in the basement named Jack (Brad Dourif), who has the dirt on everyone, and is hard at work at making a death machine to keep everyone in line. Additionally, Jack has created a process for transforming humans into killer-cyborgs. Unfortunately, this process is flawed, and all the cyborgs end up dying.


    Death Machine Screen Capture


    Eventually, the hawt chief executive challenges Jack, and all hell breaks loose. She and a few others become trapped in the building with some would-be amateur freedom fighter cyberpunk types who have invaded the corporation in the hopes of destroying it. Now they are all just trying to escape the robot known as the War Beast. Hayden and Sam Raimi (John Sharian), the leader of the amateur terrorists, spend the rest of the movie trying to evade and eventually kill the War Beast. I could go into more of the plot, but truly, its just not worth it.


    Death Machine Screen Capture


    The Robot Monster: OK, so we have this really tough robot thing – virtually indestructible. Anyone wanna tell me why this robot has like a hundred rubber tubs hanging out, and nobody who fights it in hand-to-hand combat thinks of grabbing them? More to the point, why don’t the thousands of rounds of bullets affect the tubes? Bottom line, this robot was more silly than scary. In Hardware, the robot was continually shown moving quickly in low-light situations. This allowed Stanley to get away with a low-tech, but very believable robot. Unfortunately, Death Machine doesn’t take this approach – it shows the robot in detail to make sure you see its faults. Color me not impressed.


    Death Machine Screen Capture

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you can tell this is a cyborg because he’s wearing sunglasses. Also, he has that really big vinyl and plastic whatever-the-fuck-it-is on - DEFINITELY a sure sign of a cyborg warrior!


    Death Machine’s Approach to Cyborgs: In Death Machine, the Chaank Armaments Corporation creates cyborgs by wiping someone’s memory and uploading it with detailed weapon systems training, and simple goals (e.g., protect me, seek out and kill “guy X”). In short, its approach to cyborgs assumes the human mind is synonymous with a hard disk. They even have an instance where a key character’s personality “backed-up” and then wiped from his mind to allow the “warrior personality” to be installed, and then later, they reload the initial personality. Puleeze, Norrington! I’m sure you coulda come up with a marginally believable cyborg warrior rationale. Too bad you didn’t take the time to think of one.


    Death Machine Screen Capture


    The Bottom Line: Truly, to even have a chance of being watchable, Death Machine would have needed to incorporate a heavy dose of T&A. While Ely Pouget has the looks, this never materializes. This is all the more annoying in that the inclusion of the porn reference flat out portends juicy T&A. Instead, we’re left with a shlock “B” movie, absent of T&A, without the effects, acting, plot or monster to carry the day. Brad Dourif’s character, while mildly amusing is just too over-the-top to stomach, and nobody else other than Pouget even stands out. Even worse, they screw up what should have been a very simple ending (this may be the only original part of the movie - in retrospect, Norrington should have copied this as well), leaving us with a almost complete let down, and no payoff for sticking around for 2 hours. In short, I don’t see much to recommend here.


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    This post has been filed under 3 Star Movies, Dystopic Future Movies, Horror, Man-machine Interface, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999, Android Movies, Movie by SFAM.


    August 5, 2006

    DannyV_El_Acme said:

    Hehehe, I’ve seen this movie late night on Cinemax a bazillion times. It’s crap, but watching it with a few friends and a lot of beer makes up for it ;)

    SFAM said:

    Hi DannyV, I agree that Death Machine would work in that context. Unfortunately I watched it alone. :(

    Case said:

    Yes, this was astronomically awful (but then again, I think everything Norrington has done is). I couldn’t even make it all the way through. I’ll only tolerate utter garbage for so long before grabbing the remote.

    DannyV said:

    Well, you know a movie is in serious trouble when the reviewer actually suggests that adding T&A would actually be an IMPROVEMENT.

    You know, I am sometimes amazed at bad movie makers. I mean, you spend time and energy making a product from which you actually intent to make some profit, you might as well try to shoot for something at least vaguely watchable. Or if you’re going to make a bad movie, make a GOOD bad movie, something so ridiculous you at least can easily and entertainingly make fun of it(like the Tromamovies). But this kind of stuff(Uwe Boll is the most evil example), well, it just defies explanation for me.

    Case said:

    I often wonder if they realize at some point that what they’re making is dreck? If it were me, I’d say “Okay, this is turning out bad, so…at least let’s have some fun with it,” then just make it so ridiculously over-the-top that people will at least know you’re in on the joke. If you’re going to fail, fail big, I say.

    DannyV said:

    It turns out that Uwe Boll uses a legal loophole in Germany to finance his films. If a movie is financed and produced by a German company(which Uwe Boll’s is), all money invested is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Basically, Uwe Boll can make his movies for free, the bastard. The loophole is such that an investor only needs to actually spend money for the film if there is profit involved, paying taxes over the movie’s earnings. However, if the movie’s a bomb(which all of Boll’s movies have been) the investor actually doesn’t risk anything.

    Man, this is filmmaking at its most absolute EVIL, I tell you!

    August 6, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi DannyV & Case, yeah, when I’m bemoaning about the fact there’s no T&A, I’ve already dropped the movie down to a pretty low threshold. And truly, I just don’t understand why Death Machine didn’t do this. It’s rated R, and clearly isn’t trying to impress anyone with quality, so…

    And yeah, Uwe Boll’s movies have already made a profit prior to release. This is how he’s able to keep on making video game recordings with actors in them.

    August 7, 2006

    Adam Doub said:

    It was a sad, sad day that I wasted my time seeking this movie out due to a recommendation, this movie had basically nothing to offer.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Adam, yeah, that does suck. Although everyone certainly has different tastes. Hopefully they can tell you enough about theirs in order to interpret whether that will translate to something you would like. I can’t see myself recommending Death Machine to anyone though.

    August 11, 2006

    David Gentle said:

    saw this years ago on vhs (yes, that many years ago). The steals from Robocop (amazingly both of 1 & 2) were most gratuitous but I kind of liked the ending.

    September 20, 2006

    Savi0r said:

    I guess I must be crazy, I have this on VHS AND DVD. It has great sampling material in it and has alot of cool sound effects and stuff. Also the crazy guy from the machinist is in it. Rachel Weisz makes a cameo, and theres alot of big machine killing.


    SFAM said:

    Hi Savi0r, sampling, ey? Well at least something good came out of the movie then!

    And yeah, I was pretty darn shocked to see Weisz in this, if even for a short duration. It was pretty early in her career. Again - sadness over the lack of T&A, especially from her. :(

    January 24, 2007

    MiMI said:

    I didn’t really like the movie’s plot or anything, but I just watched it because Brad Dourif is my favorite actor. :-P

    April 8, 2007

    sysscan said:

    This was a cool movie. It’s like shadowrun without the fantasy elements. You should listen to Front Line Assembly while watching it.

    Dyce said:

    thank FUCK Norrington pulled out of the Akira movie (there IS a god!) although i still wanna see one, a trilogy that takes its cues from the comic would be nice…

    Just knowing we won’t have CGI blood and bats and cack robots or massive submarine’s filled with classic literary characters that couldn’t possibly fit in that harbour…

    July 2, 2007

    BradDouriffan said:

    Brad Dourif is my favorite actor. Jack Dante in this movie is incredible!

    Brad Dourif is my favorite actor. Jack Dante in this movie is incredible! The best Brad Dourif movie is Death Machine.

    Rocksteady said:

    I was really impressed when I saw this movie as a teenager! However, watching it today on DVD, I got to admit it doesn’t work for me anymore.

    There are still some things I like about the movie. Like the setting (Cyberpunk, well?), the props and even the Robot design, as “illogical” it may be. The Yutani character is cool aswell.

    July 5, 2007

    Blendwerk said:

    If you playing Shadowrun / Cyberpunk, then this film is fun! A couple of Shadowrunners/Solos crash into a corporation and the hell goes loose! Great. B-Movie at its best. I like that film very much!

    6 from 10 stars.

    July 26, 2007

    Gasmask said:

    Have to say. When I first saw this film I took a serious look at it and hated it then a few years later I was persuaded to watch it again and realised how silly it really is and if you just enjoy it for its stupidity its fantastic. Nothing like getting stoned and whipping out the old death machine quotes, “why are you wearing those glasses.” “because this… is a suprise.. par-tay” Its just so incredibly 90s and the fact that its cheap and nasty only makes it better. I always found Ridley’s over use of cursing funny. I can just imagine the director, “say fuck a few more times!” I dunno which version you saw but theres the american and the brittish version.. the brittish one has jokes cut out of the american one.. when dante gets disarmed they take out like a dozen guns, a huge dagger and a rubber chicken from his coat. Its just gotta be taken for how it is… pure 90s cheese.

    Gasmask said:

    Have to say. When I first saw this film I took a serious look at it and hated it then a few years later I was persuaded to watch it again and realised how silly it really is and if you just enjoy it for its stupidity its fantastic. Nothing like getting stoned and whipping out the old death machine quotes, “why are you wearing those glasses.” “because this… is a suprise.. par-tay” Its just so incredibly 90s and the fact that its cheap and nasty only makes it better. I always found Ridley’s over use of cursing funny. I can just imagine the director, “say fuck a few more times!” I dunno which version you saw but theres the american and the brittish version.. the brittish one has jokes cut out of the american one.. when dante gets disarmed they take out like a dozen guns, a huge dagger and a rubber chicken from his coat. Its just gotta be taken for how it is… pure 90s cheese!

    September 8, 2007

    Grind said:

    I like this move. I liked it when I was a kid and I still like it today. It have the spirit of the 80s and it’s very entertaining. One of the best roles of Brad Dourif.

    Gasmask said:

    Even though it was made in the 90s I agree it has the 80s spirit.

    My favourite part I think is when they’re talking in the van using unnessicarly big words, “The security system is adament that I still work here” :P

    September 20, 2007

    Uashu said:

    wow I was looking for this film during very years. Thanks!!

    September 21, 2007

    Ben Schofield said:

    THIS FILM ROCKS… You have to watch it with a head full of drugs surrounded by other giggling B-Movie fans. Just look at the pictures at the top that deserves 10/10 not ???3??? The fat fuk gets eaten by DEATH MACHINE, massive guns shoot the DEATH MACHINE and Death MACHINE has a punchup with a dude in a suit called Hardman. Legendary stuff.

    September 26, 2007

    Voodoo Doughnut said:

    Yeah, good review! My arse! Try getting the characters names spelt the same way throughout your ‘review’. And next time, try and get the name of the film right, you muppet!
    This is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, but you obviously missed that point.

    October 1, 2007

    SFAM said:

    Thanks for the tip Voodoo. BTW, I believe I commented that the movie doesn’t take itself seriously. That wasn’t my objection. But thanks for the shitty response all the same.

    October 2, 2007

    Gasmask said:

    Although I think you were abit harsh on it all I really have to say on your latest responce was fuckin’ aye. Even if I think you were abit harsh its a review and review is ones oppinion on something and its not making it bible law. So once again to shitty responces, fuckin’ aye. One should argue why its good not why the reviewer is wrong.

    October 7, 2007

    DEATH MACHINE « Gore Nation said (pingback):


    November 13, 2007

    Sascha said:

    Okay, I know defending this movie is gonna be hard as hell, but I’m gonna just give it a shot anyway. While it’s low-budget and maybe the acting is a little over the top, the movie does put you on the edge of your seat a little. I personally enjoy movies like this where you have machines running amok with little or not control and the only way to avoid death is to fight back or run…either way, someone dies in this flick from doing either of the two.

    The War Beast is a killing machine that just doesn’t kill aggressive targets, it will stalk and pursue anything with it’s ‘Enhanced Pheromone Tracing’ sensors. As Jack puts it ‘the more afraid you are, the sharper its trace. You wanna live, you gotta stop being afraid, how are you gonna manage that wise guy? How’re you gonna avoid being eaten alive?!’ The way Brad delivers this line is chilling and amazing at the same time.

    Basically, all you need to know is that the central characters are in a jam with a machine that preys on fear and thus, begins the dillema of getting out of the building in one piece and trying to keep the War Beast from locking in on them when they’re scared shitless of dying.

    January 5, 2008

    DigitalDemolition said:

    i’d have to agree with Sascha, as the movie isnt that bad if you just look at all the cool things it has to offer. like the warbeast, the fat dude being slaughtered and tossed down the elevator shaft, the crazy super soldier suit and shit. hell i thought it was such a good enough concept that i’m creating a videogame mod based from the movie and based from the unreal II engine. hopefully i can correct where they went wrong with my videogame.

    January 22, 2008

    Craven said:

    I loved it as a kid, saw it about same time as Aliens, Robot Jox and Split Second, and I loved it when I saw it again bout 6 months ago (i’m 23 now). Now it still kicks ass, but now I see it as both fun and great homage to aliens, terminator, die hard and stuff like that. 7,5/10 for me :)
    And music is great :D

    January 23, 2008

    SFAM said:

    Hi guys, obviously some find this movie more fun than I did. I might consider bowing to public pressure and giving this four stars, but 7????? Sorry Craven, I just don’t see that at all.

    Craven said:

    Heheh, it’s your opinion - keep to it :) Don’t care about public pressure!

    April 10, 2008

    gh said:

    Like Gasmask said, this is pure cheese and that’s why it’s awesome. Come on, stone-pacifist-ecowarriors who puff on giant joints, yutani acting like a deadpan samurai quoting street fighter, big scary robot that looks like a giant squirrel and has a videogame pov, dante carrrying a dozen guns and a rubber chicken around, big f@cking guns, homing missile that navigates through a maze in POV, just about all of the dialogue… It’s mindless and awesome at the same time in the same way Evild Dead 2 is, genre difference aside.

    October 21, 2008

    WierdSharianFan said:

    I just put this movie on my Netflix Queue regardless of the bad review. If John Sharian is in it I’m sure it’s worth watching. I need to admit to the world that I have a disgusting obsession with this big bear and would like to see him in a movie while he still had hair.

    November 11, 2008

    Simon Burfield said:

    I cant believe you rated this 3, jesus I seen quite a few of the films listed on your lists and you rated this the same as robocop 3?. It was a fun good robotic film with a interesting humour. Even IMDB (who’s ratings can be a little low) rated it 5.5

    Love this film!

    Mr No 1 said:

    I was reading the first comments you people left…
    I’ll be honest, I was not familiarised with this Boll guy you talked about up there and I don’t believe I watched any of his films, but the anti-Boll petition is the funniest thing ever, I could spend days reading people’s comments asking for the pope to excommunicate him and stuff like that LOL

    June 13, 2009

    Sonne said:

    But then again I am notorious for my bad taste in movies, my 10 = crap to the rest of the world! Hehehhehe ;-)
    Completely disagree in the review!
    This is a 10 out of 10!
    The metal obviously Giger alien completely directly stolen is PERFECT it is scary as hell!
    The sound EFX of stomping and teethclattering is awesome!
    The cast is incredible! Ely Pouget does it top fueled kick a**!
    The fat corporate that gets it in the elevator is spot on!
    AND Brad D is at his absolute best EVER! Now that is one scary sociopath with a meanstreak and a logic that defies all goodie two shoe Hollywood toned down amorals and no happy ending and no easy to kill stereotype bad guy gets his in a humane bullet to the head!
    To me it has all the elements, from humor to chills to fantastic scenography and SFX!
    Has the Ozploytation effect and quallity! Ozzies rule!

    January 1, 2010

    zombienoid said:

    I love this kind of movies. Huge monsters with mechanical parts ripping people apart. My all time favourie is Mark 13. Wow that’s a real mean killing machine.

    January 10, 2010

    Alias said:

    No, no, no …
    Mark 13 or BladeRunner is crap - but Death Machine …

    Simon burfield said:

    Hi again, watched mark 13/ hardware and it was ok but nothing on death machine. Blade runner I good to but over hyped. Anyone else no of good robot films

    January 3, 2011

    Sick_Spazmoid said:

    Awesome movie, made from fans for fans, I give 7/10. Sadly, most people here never saw a movie older than Matrix. And many didn’t saw any other movie!

    January 9, 2011

    David D. Davidson said:

    I saw this movie in a private screening back in 94/95. Interesting concept horribly executed. Is this movie any good? No. But a bottle of Jameson makes anything better.

    Also…Am I the only one that noticed he was so out of ideas for names that there are characters named John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi?

    January 17, 2011

    anonymous said:

    tHE reviewer is a sad, sad man suffering from unwarranted self importance and a lack of basic understanding of punk as well as a basic sense of humour.

    October 28, 2011

    warbeast lovers pride said:

    i hope someone builds a real warbeast and programs it to go for the reviewer. he deserves it for it’s lack of contextualisation when talking about this cult scifi flick that only pretends and excels at celebrating the genre. i hope that when the beast finds him his last thought will be the realization that the hydraulic tubes are so resistant because of the articulated kevlar armor! this movie was done before internet and at that time it was excusable to don’t have the ability to appreciate this film. now days with the popularization of the geek culture its offensive. (please don’t take this too seriously ;-P).

    February 3, 2012

    aean.ominae said:

    I thought that the concept of the Warbeast was excellent, as was the idea of the Hardman but neither of them were really fleshed out in the kind of detail that would have made this movie great.

    I like Brad Dourif in most things, this included. The borrowing of names… yech. You can pay tribute without being stupidly blatant about it.

    As for sampling, I’ve grabbed several of Mr Dourif’s lines as intro dialogue for a track I’ve written (see my website link) based on the Warbeast.

    Worthy time-waster but hardly the greatest movie ever.

    April 7, 2012

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