Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Super-Old-School Week: The Mechanical Man (1922)

One last old-school film for the road!  Today's film is a real rarity.  Why?  For one thing, it's almost 90 years old.  Second- the material used for films back in its Era do not hold up well.  Third- this film is also Foreign.  I'm amazed that this film even exists anymore, let alone that it's on DVD.  Well, to be fair, about two-thirds of the film has been lost to time.  Records of the plot are out there, so the DVD makes sure to give you a summary before it shows you what footage is left.  The reason that this movie is notable for its subject matter- a killer robot.  As we've seen, robots got their start earlier than this movie, but never in as much of a focus.  The Master Mystery had a robot in it, but it was not the real focus of the story.  This one is a build up to a robot smackdown, decades before we would really see that on-screen!  Let's not delay any longer before we examine...
* Basically, a gang robs a bank, but the police break it up.  This woman plans her revenge, but first has to escape from the hospital...
* After escaping, she's nice enough to send a note to the Police telling them that she's planning revenge.  You're a Batman villain before there was a Batman!
* Holy shit- that robot has a mustache! Run...or at least get some mustache wax!
* OH YEAH!!!!
* The film has some amazing effects for its time, including this bit where it rips a safe out of a wall.
* Those guns that shoot only smoke clouds don't work on vampires or mummies, so why would they work on this thing?
* In another great effect, the radio-controlled robot chases after a car.  It may be the messed-up film quality, but it's hard to see the transparent nature of the effect that you would usually see.  Kudos!
* In the Main-Event, King Kong Bundy takes on Yokozuna!  Oh wait- it's just the two robots.  Bottom line- they fight, shit explodes and the day is saved.  The End.
What a bizarre rarity!  The plot of this movie is actually kind of neat.  Unfortunately, a good chunk of the footage showing this is lost to time/decay.  What we actually see is pretty formulaic (at least when viewed in a modern context), but quite fun.  It would be great to see the thing whole, but that's pretty much a lost cause.  Then again, we may find the print in the Janitor's Closet of an Insane Asylum in Norway any day now!  It's a great thing that this movie is preserved for history because it's just freaking crazy!  Talk of robots and spaceships was being done before this (see George Melies), but very few times was it after actualized.  While you have to be a purist of cinema to enjoy the film, I highly-recommend it to all of you.  I can't say the same thing for the fully-intact, but shitty version of The Headless Horseman that comes on the Disc with it.  Sorry, Will Rogers- you're no robot fight!
Next up, we celebrate Cinco De Mayo with a Mexican horror film.  It's like First Blood, only it's...well, it's just First Blood.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. LOL looks quite funny :)

    btw: thanks for quasi-recommending the Dr. Phibes flicks. Part 2 wasn't my cup of coffee, but Part 1 totally blew me away!