As we roll out our two-day tribute to the martial arts films of Ron Marchini . . . and my being a post-apoc road warrior . . . I had to watch the double-packed adventures of future cop John Travis, again. And when I first reviewed both films on September 18, 2020, for our “Apoc Month” blow out, well, that wasn’t the first time I watched them both, then. Hey, like Andy Warhol said: Another man’s trash is another man’s art. But truth be told: These are the BEST of Ron’s films. And he’s got some good ones. But I hold these two dear.
So, lets roll ’em and take a fresh look at the adventures of John Travis.
Now, Mr.Warhol isn’t the only one with the intellectual quips. We have a saying around the B&S About Movies’ cubicle farm: What David A. Prior movie doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And, because of my Marchini love, I get ribbed around here with: What Ron Marchini movie doesn’t put you into a coma, should.
Ha, ha. Very funny. I am filling out the harassment forms right now, work place bully.
Yes, dear reader. I am very much toasted, with an ingested pharmaceutical side dish chaser, as I write this. So strap in, ye reader, we are going off the rails in Marchini fandom.
So, anyway, as I reflect on this duo of films in 2021, I believe it’s time Ron called up his ol’ directing sidekick (no pun intended, well, yeah) and longtime friend Paul Kyriazi — who directed Ron in Omega Cop, but not in the sequel, Karate Cop — and they devise a continuing-adventures-of John Travis-sequel based on . . . Death Machines, their mutual debut film from 1976. Only — this time — that remake really will have the “death machine” ancient pyramid in the deep Philippine jungles (okay, the woods outside of Stockton, California) teased in the poster of Death Machines.
I can hear that Zardos-cum-Rollerball death monolith bellow:
“The Penis is evil. The Penis shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill, my death machine warriors. Your toothy pyramid god has spoken!“
Too bad Adam West — who stars in Omega Cop, but not Karate Cop — and David Carradine — who stars in Karate Cop, but not Omega Cop — left the terra firma for the celluloid blue above, for they could both be in a film I thee christen: Death Machine Cop. And that sequel would be awesome, because, David Carradine, if you recall, portrayed future post-apoc cop John Tucker in (sadly, the now late) David A. Prior’s two-fer: Future Force and Future Zone.
Think of it: John Travis and John Tucker — with robotic forearm gloves slipped on — inside a forgotten, sentient Mayan-cum-Aztec pyramid, kicking ass. Oh, I don’t know . . . saving some damsel-in-distress (like a Fred Olen Ray warrior queen) and Indiana Jonesin’ some sparkly trinket that can stop the apocalypse. Thus, the “teeth” inside the glistening jungle obelisk chewing and spitting everyone out two and three at a clip.
Yes, Mr. Kyriazi. It is time to film the follow up to your most recent, seventh film from 2018, Forbidden Power. For it is to be called . . . Death Machine Cop. And, if we may suggest a casting choice: Put the call out to our favorite post-apoc warriors of Italian cinema: Michael Sopkiw and Mark Gregory. And any ’70s blaxploitation actor that ended up in Italian and/or Philippines apoc or Rambo-namsploitation movies.
So, what we really need to know: which is the chicken and which is the egg, here?
I swear, I think David A. Prior’s and Ron Machini’s “future cop” romps — which clipped Mad Max, natch — are the same picture. So, who ripped whom? Or is it all just a low-budget cowinkadink? Future Force, 1989. Future Zone, 1990. Then Omega Cop and Karate Cop in 1990 and 1991. If you read our previous reviews to all four of those movies, you know each have souped-up Jeep Cherokees. However, they both do not have robotic forearm gloves. (And Ron is more adept at the kicking than David, but that’s why David got the mech-glove.) But that’s okay: Ron’s getting a robo-glove in Death Machine Cop, right Paul? And lose the jeeps, okay Paul? Give Roger Corman a call and rent out the Calamity Jane from Death Race 2000 that ended up in Interzone. Call Universal and rent out the DeLorean. Call Ridley Scott and rent out the Blade Runner Spinner.
But, please, Paul, no bolo ties. In fact: no neck wares. But yes to the robo-gloves, for everyone.
In Omega Cop, Adam West’s Commander Prescott runs his “Special Police” — 22 years in our “past” of 1999 — from a one-room set that he never leaves (Adam did that often in his late career; see Zombie Nightmare, for one), as he sports a bolo and QWERTYs a couple of Commodore 64s amid some leftover Batcave props from the 60s. Yes, Commodore 64s will protect the Southern California wastelands. So, as you can see, Death Machine Cop will look awesome because of all of the green screen and touch screen and VR-imaging tomfoolery we get in today’s films. For the Tucker and Travis apoc war wagons will kick ass.
Film reviews like this make me sad, as we lost Troy Donahue (the metal epic Shock ‘em Dead) and Stewart Whitman (the alien epic Bermuda Triangle) — both who appear in Omega Cop — so they can’t cameo in Death Machine Cop. But we can call in Sean P. Donahue, he of the awesome “future sport” apoc’er, Ground Rules, as he did the stunts in Omega Cop — and he acts — so there’s that possibility with Sean in front or behind the lens.
Which reminds me: Please, Paul: no post-apoc hockey gear. And no hats with “COPS” or “SPECIAL POLICE” patches on them. And everyone gets a robo-battle glove. Even Nick Kimaz rented the baddie “black stormtroopers” costumes of Skeletor’s forces from Masters of the Universe from Cannon Pictures, as well as the props and sets from Battlestar Galactica from Universal for his direct-to-video space opera, Space Chase (1990). And Roger Corman made Battle Beyond the Stars, then recycled the sets, the models, the costumers, and the effects shots into Galaxy of Terror, Forbidden World, and Space Raiders — then lent it all out to Fred Olen Ray to make his women-in-space prison flick Star Slammer (1986). So, let’s rent out what we can to save money and up the production values, right, Paul?
Anyway, for Death Machine Cop, the storyline from Omega Cop that’s set up by Adam West’s voiceover narration, will continue, you know, about us screwin’ up the the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect babble, and the rain forests, and the solar flares that plagued the world, and that “half the world didn’t give a shit.” We’ll also continue the illegal slave action angle, which, whomever replaces West, will run. Well, it’s a bad ass named Wraith — decked out in a Nazi SS uniform. But we’ll retrofit that character into bringing back Madame Lee from Death Machines . . . but she will deck out in full Ilsa She Wolf regalia to evoke (again, sad, as we lost her just last year) Dyanne Thorne. Now, Mari Honjo, who played Madame Lee, is still with us. She hasn’t done a film since Death Machines, so that’s an epic returning role, right there. Oh, man. Mari Honjo . . . Ron Marchini . . . Micheal Sopkiw and Mark Gregory?
Give me some Coco Butter and a roll of Charmin.
And we will keep the John Travis quest with two freed slave women trekking to the utopia of clean air and water in Montana. But we lose the women . . . and put in Sopkiw and Gregory . . . as Madame Lee’s freed slave warriors. And nix Montana: this needs to go full Philippines. Or at least drive from Stockton, California, and get into a Mexican/Central American jungle, you know, like our Marchini war flicks of old.
Okay, so, how are we working the sequel of Karate Cop into Death Machine Cop?
Well, we have Paul “John Travis” Marchini, and whomever we get to doppelganger David Caradine’s John Tucker, with freed slave warriors Sopkiw and Gregory, on their quest to . . . well, Madam Lee — in a fit of anger over Travis and Tucker scuttling her master plan and freeing her two top warriors, Sopkiw and Gregory — has unleashed a MacGufffin that will destroy the world . . . thus our quest to get a trinket from the death machine pyramid that Ron, faux-Carradine, Michael, and Mark will battle. (Subplot: Spokiw and Gregory, under Madame Lee’s thumb, were mortal enemies in combat, but joined forces with the double-Johns’ encouragement and are now warriors-in-arms.) And . . . so, there’s a slave civilization inside the jungle obelisk . . . and the slaves: all they do is fight in games of gladiatorial combat — but the pyramid keeps chewin’ them up and the civilization needs “new meat.”
Now, in case you’re wondering: That was — sort of — the plot of Karate Cop: instead of the female slave ring of Omega Cop, Karate Cop had males enslaved by street gangs, forced into gladiatorial street combat. You know, like Max in the Thunderdome and Snake in the Manhattan square circle. Only this time, unlike Karate Cop, the Death Machine Cop playing field will have THUNDER and will be uber cool and not “square.” And no dopey ’80s theme songs by Tina Turner. Nope, sorry Lady Gaga. We do not need another one of your oddball songs about a pyramid. Go make another movie with Bradley Cooper. Wait, hey? Brad, you lookin’ for a new project? We’re casting, you know. I’ll have Paul give you a ring.
Now, I was going to suggest that Paul also put a call into sexploitation purveyor Alan Roberts of Young Lady Chatterley (1977) and The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood (1980) fame (the later starred Adam West, by the way) but, celluloid melancholy, again: we lost Roberts in 2016. Why, because Alan — and not Paul — directed Karate Cop.
So, anyway . . . that’s my outline for Death Machine Cop. Will it be as much fun — at least they are for moi — as Omega Cop and Karate Cop and Future Zone and Future Force? If it doesn’t put you into a coma or kill you, Death Machine Cop will make you stronger.
As we mentioned: Director Paul Kyriazi, who made his debut with the aforementioned Death Machines, then vanished from the film world after Omega Cop, which served as his fifth and final film, recently returned to the writing and director’s chair with the 2018 sci-fi movie, Forbidden Power. You can learn more about Kyriazi’s return and his new film courtesy of a favorable review at HorrorGeekLife and his personal website, paulkyriazi.com.
Ron. Paul. I love ya, my VHS brothermen. Respect.
* “Death Machine Cop” faux-theatrical one-sheet based on alternate Stargate artwork. Image material use falls under the U.S. Copyright rules of Fair Use in non-profit educational, transformative purposes such as exhibition, criticism, comment, parody, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. All rights and trademarks are the property of their respective owners MGM/UA. Flame overlay and typefaces courtesy of Lunapic and PicFont, respectively.