Death Machines (1976) Review

The elderly hitman shows up in his ’70s shit-brown car, wipes the side of the hood because he’s obsessive compulsive, and then he makes his way to the roof to snipe a guy calmly walking below.

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Just as he pulls the trigger, the black Death Machine sneaks up behind him and takes his weapon. Then the hitman pulls out a pistol, shooting the Death Machine three times in the chest.

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Of course, this doesn’t do shit, but now it’s personal, as all three Death Machines throw the man from the roof.

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Just as an officer writes a parking ticket for the hitman’s car, he lands right on top of it. You’d think a hitman might be a bit more cautious about parking his getaway vehicle, but he’s seemingly not the brightest of the bunch.

“No need for that, officer! I'll move it right away!”
“No need for that, officer! I’ll move it right away!”

Mr. G gets a call in the middle of the night about the loss of his man. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing this guy on the phone in most of his scenes at this point.

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“Fell off a building!?” Mr. G says. “What do you mean ‘fell off a building’?”

I’m pretty sure that means he, well, fell off a large structure that people can enter and exit.

“Accident?” he asks, then laughs. “Accident my ass.” He tells his man to try and kill this Adams fellow, and to not screw it up, while his woman gets naked by the pool outside and lets us know that Mr. G doesn’t deserve her.

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“Get your ass back in bed,” the G-man demands. Smooth talker, man.

In the next scene, we see a nice man in an orange coat enjoying a jog in the park.

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This is probably that Nathan Adams target, considering a man gets out of a car and aims a sniper rifle at him right in the middle of the park. Maybe this is a world where hitmen/assassins don’t need to be inconspicuous. Or maybe this is a park where only assassination targets go.

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Oh yeah, he also sticks a pipe in his mouth to maximize that “classic hitman” aesthetic.

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As the man returns to the exact same spot we first saw him jogging at, which is in no way just repeating the footage from before, another car pulls up in the middle of the park behind the hitman.

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Who else should get out of that vehicle but our trio of Death Machines, with a bazooka no less?

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It’s a brief battle of inconspicuous wits as the Death Machines blow the hitman away.

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It’s time for Mr. G to answer the phone again.

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“Blown up!?” Mr. G says. “What do you mean ‘blown up’?”

I’m pretty sure that means, um, that he exploded. Is this guy used to a lot of confusing metaphors in this business, or are basic concepts just that hard for him to grasp? Quite a complex character.

We finally see the guy G’s been talking to in a phone booth, and he is as flustered as G is.

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G asks the guy if he knows who’s been killing his men, and the guy angrily shouts, “How am I supposed to know, goddammit?”

Mr. G, continually perplexed by the simplest of statements, asks, “What do you mean you don’t know?”

The man ignores the question, probably exhausted from explaining the meaning of every fucking thing to the guy, and states that he’s paranoid about the phone lines being tapped, asking facetiously, “You know what I mean?” Come to think of it, he probably asks that a lot before doing anything for Mr. G, just to be sure the guy understands.

The conversation doesn’t last too long, though, as a menacing bulldozer approaches the phone booth, driven by the white Death Machine. Masters of inconspicuousness, aren’t these guys?

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The phone booth must be completely soundproof as the guy doesn’t hear this monster approach until it’s about three feet away. He really sells the horror when he finally sees it.

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To add some slight confusion, we see the front of the bulldozer, followed by this final shot of… something as the guy releases his final cries. Can you tell me what this is?

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Mr. G listens over the phone to the long cry before silence takes over, and he asks, “George? George? What’s going on? Goddammit, can you hear me, George?”

Somehow I don’t think he can. He’s holding the phone way too far away from his ears.

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Of course he has no luck getting George to say any more, and hangs up. But before he can go without his phone for too long, our deadly woman with the voice of a plastered angel gives him a call.

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“Mr. Gee-oh-lah-jee,” she slurs. Geology? Thank fuck I have IMDb to tell me his name is Gioretti. “I am the one who’s been killing your men.”

“Who is this, dammit?” Gioretti shouts.

“All contract killings in this city are under my control. If you want someone killed, I’m afraid you’ll have to deal with me.”

What city is this? Do all cities have a secret monopoly on contract killing? I mean where is it that commonplace?

Anyway, the woman tells Gioretti at a drunken pace that she’s willing to discuss a fee for her services.

So, Gioretti flies in to wherever the hell this place is in a private plane, which lands out in the middle of an airfield that resembles South America.

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His driver there picks him up once we get a few long, absolutely necessary shots of the plane landing and turning around, and it’s off to Madame Lee’s place.

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6 thoughts on “Death Machines (1976) Review

  1. Thanks for that fun, in depth review and especially for the five out of five stars. We all had fun making that movie and took it very seriously to get the most production value for the money we had. This link will take you to a detailed article that I wrote about directing Death Machines:


    • Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. And thank you and everyone else involved for giving us this crazy film.

      Fascinating read there as well.


  2. Death Machines was just released in Blu-ray made from ther original wide-screen techniscope negative and looks great. I did the director’s commentary, the asian killer did a video talk, the afro-american killer did a great audio interview, I did a short video intro at a Japanese temple. The print quailty if fantastic. And Capt. Green is less green than before. I just read through your reveiw again and last at least five times. Thanks.


  3. Great film with film dubbed voices in Chinese theatre traditions.
    Great fight choreography by assassins. (This is too easy style.)
    Assassins injected: probably heroin den babies born to fight in death matches, (probably the hold their den mother had on them) is an old Secret of KungFu !!!
    Awesome soundtrack, where is the sequel.


  4. Egad, this flick was a turkey–It’s the last or next to last flick featured in the 12 disk, 50 movie collection, “Sci-Fi Invasion”. Nothing about this film could really be called “good”, but the music is especially bad. The analog synth background music from “Death Machines” is also used as the menu music for each and every disc in the “Sci-Fi Invasion” collection and I have fallen asleep many nights to bad sci fi movies only to wake up at 4am to the creepy, eerie strains of the noodling theme of “Death Machine”. You can’t put a price on that kind of thing. As for the movie–they had enough cash to film it in technicolor, blow up a Cessna, and drive a truck through a perfectly nice Italian restaurant movie set. They made 70,000 grand on this–doubt it covered costs– doesn’t matter, it was well worth whatever they spent on it. I truly appreciate low budget bad movies–but only if the makers sincerely tried to make a good film at the time. “Death Machines” is right up there with the best/worst of ’em!


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