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Case Number 10157

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Machined

Lionsgate // 2005 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 12th, 2006

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All Rise...

On his career aptitude test, Judge David Johnson's results recommended he get a job as a part-man, part-machine psychopathic killer.

The Charge

He builds a killer piece by piece.

Opening Statement

What you get when you cross a fat man and a set of Sears tools.

Facts of the Case

Motor Man Dan (David Hayes) is a mechanic who lives in the wastelands of the desert, scratching out a living from repairing hapless motorists' broken-down vehicles. But that desolation can do things to a man, and Dan has become a full-blown psychopath. He's obsessed with collecting serial killer paraphernalia, and derives erotic pleasure (don't ask) from images of murder and death.

When a guy who just got into a car accident comes stumbling into Dan's garage, the fat wacko sees a golden opportunity to enact a sinister plan: using his power tools and random metal pieces, he turns the traveler into a walking, hulking, murderous bastard, trained to kill and delivering glee to its creator.

Dan tries out his beast on a group of three friends who find themselves in a spot of car trouble. Not heeding the signs that Dan's garage is not a place you want to be (fog, pitch blackness, Dan looks like a homicidal creep, etc.), the trio is ambushed by the cyborg killer. Now it falls to Machinehead's family members to find out the truth and put a stop to the craziness.

The Evidence

I liked this movie. Writer/director Craig McMahon has harnessed a lot of disturbing elements and rolled them into an effective little chiller. In fact, the only major complaint I have is the lousy video quality that presents itself more often than not. The night sequences are chock full o' grain and, unfortunately, like 90 percent of this film, take place in the dark. But if you get past that (and the lame non-anamorphic widescreen), Machined is likely to give you something new and weird.

Well, maybe not new, per se, as killer half-machine half-men aren't exactly a novel concept, but McMahon plays with the cyborg idea enough hot give it his own flair. What works here is the low-budget grittiness of the killer. After all, the guy is just a car accident victim soldered together with some spare garage parts. Though we never get a crystal-clear picture of the killer (smartly, in my opinion), his lumbering mass is obviously just a cobbled-together behemoth and lack of stylistic panache works.

Machined is really a film about the villains, because—and this one of my minor complaints—we don't give a sprocket about the protagonists. They're cardboard cutouts from the "horror victim" template, going in willy-nilly to do the stupidest things and get themselves chopped up. I especially liked the one couple who felt being stranded in a dark, foggy garage with a fat weirdo was on opportune time to have sex blindfolded. It's a glaring contrivance to a) insert some female nudity into the film and b) set up an innovative death scene. Then again, those can be considered compliments for low-budget horror films, so, whatever.

Which brings us to Villain #2, Motor Man Dan. David Hayes overdoes it a bit with Dan's idiosyncrasies (a pronounced facial tick, which is the universal sign of "crazy-ass mofo"), but his appearance carries more than enough menace. The producers gave the guy big glasses and overalls and that's it; the rest is bulk and hair and the dude oozes malice. Plus, his whole "aroused-by-death" thing he's got going on…yeah, that's pretty f***ed up. The sum total is an above-average horror film (for its class), featuring two nifty monsters, idiot good guys and pointless nudity.

The 1.78:1 widescreen is fake and, yes, looks pretty bad in most places. The front-loaded 5.1 surround mix doesn't do much either. Trailers are it for extras.

Closing Statement

A crappy presentation by Lionsgate and some moronic characters don't outweigh what is ultimately a fine little horror flick.

The Verdict

Lionsgate is smacked on the head with a jack stand but the accused is free to go.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 75
Extras: 20
Acting: 75
Story: 85
Judgment: 79

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genre:
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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