May 22, 2008


Hollywood has been defecating out Armageddon and apocalyptic scenario films for decades now. The past couple years have seen an array of these anxiety promoting films. I personally find most of these movies to be complete trash and reflective of America’s (and abroad) apathy towards the continuation of mankind. There seems to be an irrational excitement involved with knowing that the world is about to end. I finally came upon an refreshingly original apocalyptic themed film and it certainly did not come out of Hollywood. The title of this micro-budget film is Automatons.

Automatons is a gritty black and white film that looks like it was actually shot in a bomb shelter after an apocalyptic event with the only available resources the survivors could find. The film has a similar aesthetic to Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: Iron Man. Automatons also features a cyberpunk-like score that you would expect to hear in a Japanese cyberpunk flick. Like Tetsuo, Automatons is also set in a postmodern world of technological equipment overflow. A world where technology has physically and mentally overwhelmed man.

Phantasm tall man Angus Scrimm lends his charismatic linguistic talents to Automatons. Scrimm plays a scientist who has witnessed the dawn of “The Robot War.” He speaks out through a grainy television screen with words of hope for human survival. Scrimm’s wise words appear throughout the film allowing both the viewer and the films female protagonist know that they are not alone. I personally wouldn’t mind having Angus Scrimm’s voice guiding me through such catastrophic times.

Automatons is the kind of film that is a testament to one individuals drive to get their obsessive vision made. Writer, editor, and director James Felix Mckenney can be considered an unconventional individual as Automatons unique feel reflects. I don’t think many filmmakers aspire to make films featuring small metal toy robots fighting, featuring special effects that have a similar look to store bought sparklers (maybe they were?). Automatons is a labor of love of the underground sci-fi geek kind.

Automatons is like The Terminator with a low budget tin mans heart. Don’t expect to be “wowed” with big special effects and nonstop action. Automatons strengths lie in the films somewhat hopeful message and bomb shelter aesthetic. It may be the end of the world, but you won’t be lonely when you have Angus Scrimm guiding you through it.

-Ty E

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