Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Automaton Tran"snooze"ion

Shot in 9 days on a $30,000 budget and released by Dimension Extreme...sounds like a recipe for a horror movie that I would certainly enjoy. Or maybe not. Automaton Transfusion is a 2006 Zombie film written and directed by Steven C. Miller, and for some odd reason got a little positive buzz from the likes of Fango (having the film in their top 10 of '06!), and Bloody Disgusting. I'm not sure what the reviewers were thinking when watching this film, maybe they were thinking that the movie is good, when compared to diarrhea. I still disagree.

When you make a film in 9 days for 30k, I am looking for something creative and smart, even with their limited means. I'm looking for passion, passion that drives a filmmaker, or group of filmmakers to put out the best product they can with everything going against them. I'm also looking for some type of entertainment in the movie, whether it be of a serious nature, or even if it's straight camp, I want to have a sense of fun. I love low budget horror films and I even cut them a lot of slack knowing that they have immense challenges to face with things like no money and time. However Automechanic Transporter is a failure on many levels that budget and time do not seem to make a factor in. It's poor story is not even worth going over as it is completely pointless and similar to so many Zombie films, Zombie films that are much, much better in other areas, therefore, making up for their uncreative story. I'll give you the quickie...and I will include spoilers too, so be warned my child

Teenagers are in high school, some of them go to this lame concert while a bunch of other kids go to some party or a dance at the school. Blah blah blah...Zombies attack the cool concert kids and they try to survive the attack...and also attempt to make it back to the high school to help out any possible survivors. How noble. There is a reason for all this "Zany Zombie Madness," and it has to do with government testing done during 'Nam, where the government tried to create Zombie soldiers to fight on the battlefields, therefore preserving human lives. Blah blah blah again...guess what? The Zombies got out of control, and started craving human flesh! Good thing they did, or else we wouldn't have Automaton Transfusion now would we?!

Big issue with the poor story is, the story is poor!? Okay, the plot is unoriginal, but that can sometimes be okay when you have a well-written script with good dialogue and things actually make sense. In Automatic Transmission, the first Zombie attack on the high school kids happens and then almost the entire town is infected without the main characters knowledge that anything is going on. There was no bridging the gaps, or connecting scene showing how it could have spread from one person to another. I know there were a budget and time concerns, but this could have been done very easily with a quick scene, or a shot even, of a Zombie walking into a crowd of students or something along those lines. Also, outside of the main couple of characters, any supporting characters are lost in translation and serve to be nothing more than people for me to ask myself..."who the fuck is that again?" Time and distance are not of human proportions either...the main group of guys go to a concert an hour away from home, then from the city where the concert is located, it is a half mile to the high school? Or maybe that was explained when I was sleeping...

That's the worst thing ever by the way...a movie that is a scant 75 minutes long, and I am still so bored that I almost feel asleep twice. Automatinence Transatlantic was so boring that I completely lost all interest by the films half way point and just didn't care anymore. If the movie changed pace and got all badass in the second half, or even the last 10 or so minutes, I would have at least gotten something out of it. It never does though - the movie remains boring throughout...biggest offense for a movie in my book. An even bigger offense...in complete spoiler territory, but warranted for ending on a "To Be Continued" note! Really? To be continued from 2006 to 2010 when Automaton Transfusion: Contingency is set to come out?! Talk about a cliff hanger!
Maybe the biggest problem is something that was apparently a "stylistic" choice in Automatic Coffeemaker. It's shot on digital, but it looks incredibly awful - like worse that many lower budgeted films I have seen. It would seem that they tried to use a style in the vein of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later with the DV looking documentary type shaky-cam. That was Danny Boyle; he is an amazing filmmaker and can pull of such a look and style with his masterful film making skill. This is a $30,000 dollar movie from a first time director. It is very hard to make out any of the action in the film at all, and the entire time it looks like the movie is missing every other frame as it jerks around and looks all blurry. Terrible decision.
"Every generation has a horror film that defines its culture" claims the trailer for Automated Transponder. If your culture is hardcore music, then maybe. I've always been kind of a fan of hardcore music, so I can dig some of the music in the film, but it doesn't fit most of the time and feels like it is put in because it's music that the filmmakers like, not music that fits in with any scene in particular. It is very distracting to say the least...especially when they mix in that hybrid hardcore/emo crap where the vocalist sings all pretty - then screams in retaliation to his previous pussy singing. Really annoying. It's as if they think that what they are into is they way of life that will overcome all ways of life with such an obnoxious blanket statement about culture. I feel like Automaton Transfusion is an excuse to make a movie so they can have friends wearing cool band shirts and play their favorite music instead of focusing on story and film making. "This is our movie, for our generation!" Eat me.

Along with that lack of focus, comes the over focus of being all to horror movie hip. There is an eye gouge scene (that is well done) that is clearly inspired by Fulci, there is also a scene where the kids gear up for battle, ala, "tool shed" from Evil Dead II. They even go as far to have a character pick up a chainsaw and mutter the line "Ash would be proud!" No, he wouldn't. This is something that can be fun in a movie occasionally, but those homage’s in particular are way over done and are not so cute and fun anymore.

There were a few okay things about Automobile Traction, the acting wasn't too bad for a an independent/no-budge. horror movie, and while the dialogue wasn't very good, there were a few fun lines. One being when a character punches a Zombie in the head and knocks him out, he then calls the Zombie an asshole. It's funny to me at least. Rick Gonzalez does the make up which was a major stand out in this otherwise pile of crap movie. One scene, a girl gets her jaw ripped clean off her face. It looks great and very realistic...and it's a complete waste of an awesome gag - I think it should be inserted into Dance of the Dead or something that is actually decent. The only other cool thing that happened was when a pregnant girl gets her baby pulled right from out of her belly by a Zombie, who then, in true Chuck Norris fashion, takes a few bites out of it - the mom replies with "Oh my god...my baby!" How about your stomach?! Outside of those scenes and a few others, the blood and grue are wasted due to the Parkinson's style of camera work.

One other stand out in a movie that is shot in 9 days is the multiple locations and how good they all look. They did a smart job filming this movie so quickly in so many different places, and I applaud that time management aspect. However, maybe more time could have been spent on a more personal movie with time spent to develop a better plot and story instead of cramming in all of this epic Zombie Apocalypse stuff. I still have to give it props either way as it is impressive, but it doesn't help the movie for me at all.

So, Automaton Transpooper is a complete waste of time, and I can't even suggest it to hardcore fans of Zombie films and low budget horror movies. There's potential, sure, but it is wasted on the wrong things. Filmmakers that are too concerned with the music and trying play hip and cool, instead of focusing on a decent story and originality. I have no desire to ever see this movie again, however, I do have the slightest of interest in the sequel just to see if anything was learned form the downfalls of the first film. I will add one more thing before I go, and it is positive. If you are a budding Independent filmmaker, Automatic Carwash does have a decent behind the scenes doc and commentary that will prove to be a helpful tool for those looking to learn a little somethin'-somethin'. Though, you have to skip over the two music videos that are included on the disc...


  1. I caught this at Toronto After Dark a few years back. Even some fun splatter couldn't save this piss-poor film.
    i am an unrepentant gore-hound and am willing to forgive a lot in a piece of shit film if the gore is solid. but even the,admittedly well executed, gore gags weren't enough to over come terrible storytelling & lack of any editing skill.

  2. Meh, I liked it for the sheer mindeless fun factor (although I was pissed by the ending). But WTF do I know? I like Barry Manilow.

  3. I've stopped blind renting/buying indie zombie films for this very reason. There's just too much crap out there. I'll let Brother D. at Mail Order Zombie sort it out and try what he recommends.

    As far as those allusions to genre cinema goes, I find that anything near obvious is just annoying. Even something like The Dead Next Store having characters named "Romero" just seems too easy. If you're making nods to genre films, trust that the part of the audience that will get the jokes don't need everything spelled out for them. It's something Shawn of the Dead does extremely well.

  4. Vishnu: I feel the same way, fun well done gore can go a long way and can take my focus off of a films not-so-good qaulities, but there wasnt enough to save A.T. for me.

    I already have an idea to review another movie that is probably of a lower budget to do a comparison of how a indie/low budge film should be done. I won't name it, but the other movies that these guys do, while not being great or anything, are at least fun, and have some passion behind them.

    Thanks for dropping by Vish!

    POT: Barry Manilow is mad tight son!

    I just couldnt get over the numerous problems with the movie...if the filming style was because of budgetary reasons, maybe I would have been okay with that aspect...but they did that shit on purpose?! It drove me nuts. And the ending was a slap on the cock, which normally I would enjoy, but not when the pain doesn't get rubbed away immediately after!

    Emily: This is one of the very few times I blind bought a movie that I didn't know anything about, but Dimension Extreme has a pretty good track record, and I can see why they picked this one up when Fango and BD blew loads all over it. Still, I got beat for however much I spent on it and now I'm stuck with it.

    And what you said about genre nodes is spot on...I would much rather have a character named Hugo Stiglitz where a few may get it, or get it down their movie watching road, than naming your character Jason Voorhees!

  5. Wow, I totally forgot about this movie! And it looks like I should go back to forgetting about it! Thanks for taking the hit on this one - I'll be sure to avoid it in the future. To be honest, I had a hard time believing the hype on this in the first place just because if there's one sub-genre that seems to attact more than it's fair share of garbage, it's low budget zombie movies. There's not much middle ground - either it's going to be a classic or it's going to be unwatchable.

  6. That sure does seem to be the case with Zombie movies, for every Shaun and REC, you have a million Automaton Transfusions to go along and fuck up my week! This is definitely one you should forget about forever, Jeff. You would hate it as much as I did!

  7. I think they tried really hard to make this awesome, and I have to applaud the filmmakers for giving the nothing budget film a much larger feel, but even I cant overlook the inherent flaws. For my money, Plaga Zombie succeeded in every way that AT failed, and is a far greater $0 budget zombie gorefest

  8. They definitely tried to make it awesome, and the epic scale was pulled off with the limited funds, but still, it failed miserably. I think that they think that they did make something awesome, and that kinda irks me a little...the behind the scenes stuff gave me the vibe of over-cockiness from the filmmakers. could just be me possibly.

    I will have to check out Plaga Zombie though...it sounds very familiar, but I can't place where I know it from. I shall google it now! Your comments are always welcome with open legs...err, arms, Carl!

  9. Plaga Zombie is great. Silly story, daft gore but some how, no budget but a million times more heart and soul than AT.
    To be fair though, Plaga Zombie does not attempt to take it self seriously.

  10. Aaron: I think I may change the title of this post to, Automaton Assfusion! The no-budget zombie movie is a genre unto itself, and it is too bad that more first time filmmakers didn't try and do something else...like with a smart plot and decent story.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Vishnu: Well, that seals the deal. Two votes for Plaga Zombie! It was heart and soul that was lacking in AT, and without that, and without anything else to draw you in, you have a failure.

  11. Matt PZ is a must buy, it comes with the superior sequel, its a cant miss!! Smart, witty, and awesomely gory

  12. I am probably going to pick it up used off Amazon, with shipping, it is only link $10...good price for two movies! If they suck, I will be upset with you...then we will have to have make up whoopee.

  13. Matt, YOU were a key player in the making of a $30,000 film shot over 14 days., so you know what you're talking about!

  14. This is true, Marty! Automaton is exactly what should not be done with those means...buying herpes would be a better way to spend that cash! Magdalena and Automaton are so opposite that it almost boggles the mind.

  15. great detailed review to a shitty movie,it didn't even deserve a review..lol
    Every generation has a horror film that defines its culture

  16. Thanks! That was the worst part of the film was the fact that the filmmakers so thought they were doing something so great, when in reality, they were making shit. Hate that movie!


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