SAVAGE CINEMA: Death Machines (1976)

The Savage Cinema set has motorcycles. It has stock cars. It has dynamite coffins. And now, it has death machines. The poster for this movie has always fascinated me and now the time has finally come to see if it lives up to the insane promise of the painting that hawked its wares.

Madame Lee has gathered three martial arts masters, now and forever known as White Death Machine (Ron Marchini, who is also in Omega Cop and Karate Cop), Asian Death Match (Michael Chong, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects) and Black Death Machine (Joshua Johnson, The Weapons of Death) after she injects them with a mysterious formula that makes them her commandable karate fighting soldiers.

There’s a green-faced cop named Captain Green. A good guy who loses his hand, gets his ass kicked in a bar fight and still gets the girl. Bikers who bother zombie killers when they just want to eat burgers and talk to old men about God. A mysterious mastermind in the shadows. Dudes getting thrown off buildings. And a distributor — yes, our friends at Crown International Pictures — that wanted a science fiction angle for a movie about evil martial artists shot in Stockton, CA.

I have no idea what was in that zombie juice, but it makes street fighters impervious to bullets. This was all a passion project of Paul Kyriazi, who also made Ninja Busters. There’s also a cop named Lt. Clay Forrester, who is no relation to Gene Barry or Trace Beaulieu.

This movie doesn’t make any sense and you’re either going to be bored into oblivion by it or love it like the lover who broke your sixteen-year-old heart and you never quite got over her. There is no in-between.

If you want to see it for yourself, you can do no better than the blu ray release that Vinegar Syndrome has put out. Freshly restored in 4k from its original Techniscope camera negative and featuring brand new interviews with its director and stars? I never thought I’d see the day. You can also check this out on Amazon Prime.

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