Death Machines (1976) Review

Soon after, the cops show up, including Lieutenant Clay Forrester and his partner, nameless black dude.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.09.35 PM

The Lieutenant claims he knows the guy whose hand got cut off as he’s put into the ambulance. Then they go inside, horrified by the scene that greets them.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.11.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.12.07 PM

Emotional music plays as the camera pans over the aftermath, and I’m tearing up as I type this. It truly is a tragic scene. I feel your pain, Lieutenant Clay. I feel it well.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.13.40 PM

Back at the police station in whatever hell hole city this is, it’s revealed by Clay’s presumed boss that the one guy who survived, Frank Thomas, is in the hospital. Clay and his partner are then berated for neglecting to take a human relations class. Clay’s partner then hands Clay the memo for the class, and he just balks at it, exclaiming, “Screw that human relations crap!” Yeah, being a respectful person who wants to help and understand people is bullshit! I like our main hero so far.

Clay and his partner go to the hospital to speak with Frank, who has devolved into a depressing sack of shit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.22.24 PM

Clay introduces himself and his partner, who is apparently named “Jerry Fart.” I’ve replayed that last name several times when Clay says it, and can hear nothing else. Poor guy.

Frank agrees to answer their questions. They ask him if he recognizes the Buddha, which they hold in an evidence bag in front of him. He explains what we saw. He then declares that if they don’t find the men who butchered his class, then he will, and send them to the police “in pieces.” Good luck with that, you one-armed lazy cripple.

After the cops leave, Frank just looks like his whole world has gone down the shitter. I can’t tell if this will be a hero or not at this point. Surely the guy will pick himself up if he is, won’t he?

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.26.20 PM

As the cops leave the hospital the nurse stops Clay and tells him that Frank got a gift. Clay opens it. Could it be a B-B-B-Buddha? Why, yes, it is!

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.52.16 PM

Back at Madame’s house, her assistant gets angry at the Death Machines for not killing every witness, demanding that they kill Frank on the third floor. Will they kill the entire hospital? You know, leaving no witnesses behind can only go so far before you have to kill the entire world.

Right back to the hospital, Frank flirts with the nurse–who’s clearly interested in him—by moping about how pointless life is and calling a possible prosthetic “something that turns me into a freak show.”

The nurse hints that she can give him some company, but he says he’s fine alone and “all he needs is his right hand.” I guess jacking off is better than sex in his book.

She tells him to call her Florence before she leaves, a cute little reference to Nightingale. But somehow I don’t think Frank here gives a shit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.59.18 PM

The guard sits outside Frank’s room to stand guard, but the Death Machines disguise themselves as hospital staff rolling a covered dead body down the hall. When they reach Frank’s room, the “body” sits up to reveal that he’s the white Death Machine.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.01.23 PM

The other two DMs knock the cop down as the white guy stabs Frank’s bed, which has been made to look full. The old pillow-body trick.

As the other two escape, the white guy gets shot by the cop in the hall. He’s hit square in the back, but we know their skin is apparently made of bulletproof metal because of this mystery serum, and he just gets back up.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.05.13 PM

He gets shot again in the chest this time, only to get up with a slightly more impatient face this time.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.06.23 PM

What happens next? He gets shot again, obviously, because this film loves repetition. This time he just looks a tiny bit resentful while getting up.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.06.41 PM

The cop looks a bit shocked, finally,

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.07.56 PM

but then he shoots again. I think he may have shot him in the balls this time, because he seems to have hit a nerve with this one.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.09.07 PM

Oh, I guess he shot him in the head, as he starts bleeding into his hand.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.09.42 PM

Madame’s assistant tells her the bad news about the white DM getting either killed or captured, all while Doom-like evil synth notes play along.

“And the witneth?” Madame asks.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.17.37 PM

They believe Frank’s been killed, but Madame is more concerned with how the DM got captured. The assistant explains that the other two thought he was behind them when they fled.

“Fred?” Madame shouts. I believe she means “fled,” unless Fred is off-camera. Regardless, she slaps her assistant silly,

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.33.54 PM

and then attempts to slap the black DM, who blocks it. She should’ve known better.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.34.50 PM

She tries her best to look like she’s struggling before being let go.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.35.48 PM

Meanwhile, Clay and his partner at the hospital discover Frank’s stabbed bed with no Frank inside.

The cop who shot the white DM is with them too, and casually explains that he thinks the men were wearing “armored vests” and that he “had to shoot him in the head to bring him down.” Before we cut back to Madame’s house, Clay orders his partner Jerry to see how the DMs got through security. Meanwhile, they plan on moving Frank out, so I guess he’s not actually missing.

But I think it’s safe to say our white Death Machine has perished.

What’s Madame up to now, after having failed to bitch slap her Death Machine? Well, she finds him sitting in a chair in her bedroom now, and says he’s forbidden to enter, only to be stonewalled and decide to have sex with him instead.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.47.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.49.13 PM

She turns the light off and I think we know what’s going to happen.

We’re back at the hospital again as it’s plainly revealed that Clay helped Frank plan that whole deception regarding the bed, as the two talk privately. Clay further proposes that Frank hide out and live under an alias, going into witness protection. Clay then mentions something about questioning a suspect they’ve got. Who could that be?

Clay also tells Frank he can work as a bartender again once he’s recovered, and Frank, being Mr. Fucking Sunshine Candyman, frowns and replies, “Sure. A one-handed bartender should be a great draw. Every bar should have at least one.”

“I think I'd like a job in that inevitable pit of eternal, infinite blackness instead.”
“I think I’d like a job in that inevitable pit of eternal, infinite blackness instead.”

Clay doesn’t know what to say to that one.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.57.08 PM

So, he… um… leaves.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 8.58.13 PM

Next Page –>

7 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!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, J. Glad you got into the spirit of the movie. After the first edit, Crown International took over and finished the sound effects and bad music. I did not like that music at all. Also, for the karate school raid they did not put body cuts on the sword hits which bugged me. the 70K you speak of was the budget for the entire movie in techniscope and technicolor. It opened in fifty theaters in southern California and was a good grosser for Crown around the world. (For Crown only). My new 2018 movie Forbidden Power got 14 awards so far from film festivals including Best Picture, Sci-fi picture and screenplay. It’s on Amazon Prime.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s