Thursday, October 13, 2011

Attack of the Robots (1966)

Here's a fine little movie, Attack of the Robots, directed in 1966 by maestro Uncle Jess Franco and starring the one and only Eddie Constantine (and a cameo from his son, Lemmy Constantine also). Made during the big spy-craze during the sixties when every company wanted their own Bond-style movie. Attack of the Robots makes references to Bond and is well aware of what it's suppose to be, but it's not only a fun Bondish action movie, it's a seriously good movie who should be seen by much more people out there, not only fans of Franco.

Eddie Constantine is Al Pereira, a secret agent and an ex-alcoholic who lives a nice life pretending not to be a secret agent any more. Until a dangerous crime organization led by Sir Percy (Fernando Rey) sends out robot-esque assassins to kill the worlds most important leaders in politics, religion and other unnecessary bastards. They aren't really robots, but controlled with an electronic device in their glasses and it's all connected to their blood type. So Al Pereira is sent to Spain to investigate, and is directly contacted - a bit brutal - by a Chinese crime organization who also wants to get the technology to control people. Soon Al is hunted by the Chinese, the Spaniards and his own bosses wanting him to close the case once and for all!

Witty and charming are two of the words I could use to describe this movie. Other words are "great looking", "funny" and "tongue-in-cheek". This is, much like The Girl from Rio, a movie that spoofs the spy-genre and do both with respect and with comedic perfection. Franco and his co-writer, Jean-Claude Carrière, plays with every cliché in the book and do it so well. My favourite scene is when Pereira is presented the gadgets, an exploding umbrella, electric gloves, exploding cigar, a flute that could crush glass with it's sound and he just looks scared, because every gadget is so damn dangerous for him also! Another fine scene is a send-up on the typical "arriving to a new country with postcard-stock footage on the beautiful city" which here ends in Pereira only finding an packed tourist-bus with extremely dirty windows, which shows us nothing for the beautiful scenery outside. It's like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie!

But Attack of the Robots it's not just fun and games, there's a lot of nice fistfights, and some more advanced fighting from the "robots", especially when they meet the Chinese in Pereira's hotel room where both gangs are set to kill or kidnap him. This also ends in a scene where our hero needs to hide dead bodies from a sexy woman trying to seduce him.

And yes, of course Uncle Jess makes a cameo as a jazz-pianist. Important detail!

The movie was shot on a low budget but looks great and has a lot of action, stunts, comedy and fun actors and it never gets boring. A very competent movie and another proof of Franco's skills as a storyteller. The only way to see Attack of the Robots, except old video tapes, is the DVD-R from Sinister Cinema. It's taken from a 16 mm print and looks good, but is heavily cropped on the sides - but it almost seems like Franco have that in mind because it still looks good even if some of the shots are a bit cramped. This is clearly visible in the credits, but except that it's a good way to see the movie.


WKrikken said...

Fun flick.
It's out on a good quality dvd in France as "Cartes sur table". French only, but might be worth mentioning for Franco-completists.

Ninja Dixon said...

Wow, thanks for the link! I need to get this to be able to see it in widescreen! :)