UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE
Directed by David Mitchell
Produced by Harvey Glazer, Patrick Cameron, Robert Wilson
Written by Tyler Levine, Tim McGregor
Director of Photograpy Marcus Elliot
Music by Craig McConnell
Cast: Michael Madseon, Mac Fyfe, Steve Arbuckle, Victoria Nestorwicz, Erin Mackinnon
2006/85 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Archetype Films DVD
As someone who watches a lot of low-budget horror movies, I notice trends that reappear throughout these films. A fad that I've recently noticed is that many of these smaller movies are filmed in what appear to be abandoned buildings. Now I know that cost-cutting is the name of the game in the independent film world, but oftentimes, these abandoned buildings are supposed to be a specific location, but they simply look like abandoned buildings. I noticed this yet again in the forthcoming UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE.
As UKM opens, we are introduced to U.S. Army Major Blevins (Michael Madsen), and scientists Dr. Stroheim (John Evans) and Lena (Deanna Dezmari). They are housed in the Millhaven Research Facility, where they are attempting to create super-soldiers. Their experiment on Sergeant Dodds (Simon Northwood) goes awry and the soldier goes berserk.
The movie then shifts gears and we are introduced to Waylon (Mac Fyfe), a petty thief, Buddy (Steve Arbuckle), a high-school drop-out, Zoe (Victoria Nestorowicz), a drug-addict, and Carrie (Erin Mackinnon), a runaway. All four are attempting to join the Army, but unbeknownst to them, they are labeled as unqualified. Instead, they are whisked off to Millhaven, where they will be unwilling guinea pigs. At first, the four youngsters assume that they are at a special boot camp, but as the experiments proceed, they realize that they are being used by the government. To make matters worse, the experiments have unpredictable side-effects which can manifest themselves as explosive bursts of violence or uncontrollable lust. The quartet decides that they must escape from the research facility, but they are, of course, pursued by the soldiers. But, everyone becomes the hunted when the murderous Sergeant Dodds escapes from his confines.
UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE has two things in common with the recently review HEARTSTOPPER. First of all, the director of UKM served as the director of photography on HEARTSTOPPER and one of the writers was the assistant production manager on that film. But, it's the other similarity which is more interesting, as both films have plots both don't really have stories.
As with HEARSTOPPER, UKM starts by introducing us to the main characters and a central idea (the ignorant recruits are being used for an experiment). However, after that there is no story. We simply watch people run up and down corridors for about an hour. The only difference is that in HEARTSTOPPER, the characters were running from an undead (?) serial killer, whereas in UKM, the characters are running from their military captors as well as an insane super-soldier. But, the bottom-line is that if you've seen one person run down a hallway or cower in a room, you've seen them all.
When UKM does try to introduce a story, things just get worse. The whole "super soldier" thing is never elaborated upon -- we never know exactly why the military is conducting the experiments or what they do to the individuals save for shoving a big needle into the backs of their head -- and the audience is presumably just supposed to go with it. We are told that the experiments give some of the subjects increased strength and uncontrolled rage, but it also makes them horny. Really? Is that necessary? That sounds like something which one would find in a 70s drive-in movie. And, for some reason, the process also makes the subject more attractive. I'm not making this up. Halfway through the film, Zoe's hair is suddenly out of her face and her skin has cleared. And the other characters comment on this. That's just odd.
As if all of this weren't bad enough, the movie has an overall cheap feel to it. I've already mentioned the fact that UKM looks as if it were filmed in an abandoned building. Parts of the "set" look like an old high-school and I kept waiting for a bell to ring and the hallways to be flooded with students. The "lab" looks like something from a 1950's mad-scientist movie, as there's miscellaneous scientific equipment everywhere, including random light-bulbs and what looks like a butcher's scale. It's as if the prop department grabbed anything that looked vaguely scientific and put it on any flat surface. It's nice that the movie can boast Michael Madsen as a known star, but he looks just as bored as I felt.
UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE is one of those weird movies which straddles genre lines. The "science gone amok" storyline places it within science-fiction, but the bursting heads and ripped-off faces, pushes the movie into horror territory. But, the movie won't satisfy fans of any genre, as it takes a vague premise and does nothing with it. UKM won't even suffice as "the ultimate time-killing machine."
UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE enlists on DVD courtesy of Genius Products & Archetype Films. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer presents a mixed bag in terms of quality. The image is clear, as it's free from grain or defects from the source material. The colors are fine and the image is never overly dark. But, the picture shows a constant shimmering and at times the amount of video noise on the screen makes the transfer look more like streaming video on a computer rather than a DVD. There is also some notable artifacting. The DVD packaging (and accompanying promotional material) state that the audio on this DVD is Dolby Digital 5.1. In reality, it's a Dolby 2.0 mix that has one of the most unstable dynamic ranges that I've ever heard. The dialogue is kept on a whisper level, while the gunshots, explosions, and musical cues are about three times as loud. I had to watch the entire film with remote in hand as the noise level was constantly changing and I was forced to rewind several times as I missed some of the dialogue.
The only extra on this DVD is a trailer for UKM: THE ULTIMATE KILLING MACHINE.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©