Automatons is what happens when Eraserhead and Tetsuo the Iron Man bong themselves into oblivion and collaborate on a minimalist avant-garde sci-fi cheapie shot in a toolshed. Making excellent use of “Robo-Monstervision” (a/k/a what looks like some combination of Super 8 and cheap consumer video) underground auteur James Felix McKenney (CanniBallistic!) updates the post-apocalyptic robot-run-amok flick by downgrading the production values to mesmerizing retro effect. The bleary, stroboscopic black-and-white image parts a grungy curtain on the Girl (Christine Spencer), survivor of some vaguely explained war of the worlds, who’s holing up in a low-tech compound with her robot friends (dudes in cardboard suits). When the ‘bots aren’t going bonkers under the influence of a video signal beamed in by the Enemy Leader (Brenda Cooney), the Girl studies the video diary of the Scientist (Angus Scrimm), whose recounting of the global apocalypse doubles as an allegory of the war on terror. Whatever. Robot radness achieved! Budgets are for bitches.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 5, 2006