Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens, and a billion other scream queens, glamour models, and porn starlets
Written & directed by Clive Cohen
I don’t know what kind of drugs this Clive Cohen does, but they must be some seriously powerful stuff. I can only imagine that if I had viewed Exterminator City while high on God knows what then I can only imagine I would have either thought it was the greatest motion picture ever filmed, or been so freaked out that someone would have found me curled up in the fetal position and rocking back and forth in a corner several days later.
Watching Exterminator City is like watching some sort of Jess Franco meets Philip K. Dick meets Russ Meyer acid trip. It’s an ultra low budget, cyberpunk, slasher flick with very big breasted women and robot puppets. When I say puppets I’m talking about the kind of puppetry used to bring Crow T. Robot to life on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. We’re talking the stick puppet heads with articulated mouths on top of clothed mannequin bodies with poseable arms sort of puppets.
The year is 2027. The place is the fictional Atro City. Neither of these facts are important. What matters is that robots now serve as everything from police officers to psychiatrists to televangelists to pest exterminators. It’s probably a good thing the pest control officers are robotic because the pests they exterminate are all abnormally large – a few are outright mutants – but most are just really big toy bugs you could probably from the local zoo’s gift shop.
There is a human population in this dark future but we never see any of them other than incredibly well endowed females. See those two guys on the box art right next to the title? I don’t know where York Entertainment found them but I assure you that they aren’t in this movie.
Now just as in Blade Runner, everyone zips around the dark cityscape in flying cars. Unlike Blade Runner, but much like “Thunderbirds Are Go!”, these flying cars are clearly models on strings flying in front of faux buildings. Actually, they tend to quickly “whoosh” past the camera so fast you usually don’t get the opportunity to marvel at the toy-like nature of the prop. You’ll see them “whoosh” past the camera a lot – constantly – often serving as a buffer between scenes. By the end of the first half hour alone you may very well begin to experience motion sickness from all these split second flying car zipping past the camera buffers. I know I never want to see a model of a flying car whiz past a night time model cityscape ever again.
One particular pest exterminator robot (a skull-faced nightmare that looks like the head of a Terminator endoskeleton that’s just a top hat away from being put behind the wheel of a hot rod) has gone haywire becoming a schizophrenic serial killer. It goes on a non-stop killing spree, zipping around the city in one of those flying cars on a string in search of victims. All of the victims share the common trait of being extremely buxom females that aren’t the least bit shy.
Folks, I cannot recall the last time I saw this much gratuitous nudity in a non-Cinemax After Dark film. The human side of the cast reads like a roll call of scream queens, porn starlets, and nude models. A few of the names include Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens, Teresa May, Cathy Barry, Zenova Braedon, Fembomb, Rhiannon, Lilith Stabbs, Jill Kelly, Syn Devil, Amy Lynn Best, Katarina Nikita, Lana Cox, Penny Lynn, Taylor Wayne, Persephone, Jacklyn Lick…I think there may have been more. I’ve never heard of most of them but the closing credits individually lists about 20 some odd personal websites where you can see more of the various women on display in yet further stages of undress. I believe there may have been three that didn’t actually get naked. And naked they do get! None of these ladies were hired for their acting talents, that’s for damn sure. Most of them can’t even convincingly do as little as look momentarily scared and scream their heads off without looking like the worst actresses in the world. Heck, one of the film’s jokes is Julie Strain’s character getting impaled with an Oscar. You know that had to be someone’s idea of a joke. These women exist solely to show off their very top heavy talents, and they do so whether by exercising in the nude or admiring their naked body in the mirror or listening to their walkman topless or reading a book in bed topless or, in one instance, walking in the front door and immediately stripping of her clothes and fondling herself. And then a psychopathic robot puppet savagely kills them (the actual slaying usually happens off-camera) leaving behind unrecognizable mounds of quivering meat corpses.
A hardboiled robot cop with a head that consists of little more than a disturbing set of bright red eyes, and dressed in a brown suit and tie like the most clichéd hard nosed cop, is in hot pursuit of the killing machine. It’s partnered with a shady robot psychologist that knows more about what’s might be behind the slaughter than its willing to admit. Making matters worse, as the tough talking cop tries to profile the serial killing cyborg, he begins going so far deep into the schizobot’s damaged psyche that it too begins to drift into madness.
I use the term schizbot because all the while the serial killer robot is zipping around the city mutilating D-cups, it’s also experiencing surreal (let’s face it, nonsensical is the opportune word) hallucinations involving religious imagery, metaphysical conversations involving human-robot consciousness, and demonic puppets.
I know the concept of a serial killer that experiences religious themed hallucinations and a detective on the case that gets so far into the killer’s head that their very own dark side begins to emerge may sound cliché, but I bet you’ve never seen it done with robot stick puppets before. I know a lot of that is done to be intentionally poking fun at this sort of film but it ends up being less laugh out loud funny and more outright bizarre.
In the end, Exterminator City is about three things: naked women getting killed by a robot serial killer experiencing strange delusions in between slayings, a robot cop and a robot psychologist on the case, and lots and lots of split second shots of a model car zipping past the camera.
Exterminator City is an uniquely morbid trainwreck of a movie and yet it’s hard to find fault with that since the movie was obviously designed to be such. Is it a good movie? Is it a well made movie? Was I entertained? Even now I really could not tell you for certain. All I know is that I couldn’t stop watching because despite the repetitive nature of the killings – brace yourself for the third act when they suddenly go into a overdrive – I was definitely curious to see where this film was going, or if it was going anywhere at all, and if it actually did get somewhere would it be somewhere I’d like to go, or, at the very least, someplace that made sitting through this film worthwhile. I’m still not sure since the finale just goes off the charts into weirdness. I can’t say for certain if there really was any method to Clive Cohen’s madness but there was definitely enough madness to keep me watching.
This is less a case of watching a movie as it is experiencing it. Just don’t write me any angry emails later on if you check the film out and hate it. I’ve given you sufficient warning.
3 out of 5
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