Death Machine DVD cover.
|Directed by||Stephen Norrington|
|Produced by||Dominic Anciano|
|Written by||Stephen Norrington|
|Music by||Crispin Merrell|
|Cinematography||John de Borman|
|Editing by||Paul Endacott|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Death Machine is set in the near future of 2003. The film opens in a demolished roadside diner, everyone inside has been slaughtered by a malfunctioning secret project codenamed Hardman. It was manufactured by Chaank, a megacorporation that produces military hardware. Public outcry ensues and Cale is introduced as the company's investigating Chief Executive.
Ridley, head of the board of directors, tries to cover things up. Cale demands immediate and full public disclosure. She also wants Dante, who developed Project Hardman, fired. No one seems to care about the situation, besides Dante himself, who takes an eerie interest in Cale. He confronts her on a few occasions with knowledge about her finances, childhood and other personal information.
At the same time a trio of stoner pacifist eco-warriors are planning to infiltrate the company's headquarters in order to destroy its digitally stored assets and put Chaank out of business.
Meanwhile, Cale wants to know what Dante is secretely working on in Vault 10. He never submits progress reports and is far from cooperative. Ridley, who is scared of Dante, refuses to help. He tells Cale that her recently deceased predecessor took interest in Dante's work and soon had a deadly accident at the corporate headquarters. During the conversation she lifts his access card so she can investigate on her own.
Somehow, Dante finds out that Cale has his card and confronts Ridley about it. He later kills Ridley with a mysterious invention.
Carpenter calls Cale after finding Ridley's mutilated body which had an implanted life-sign transmitter. She investigates and finds out that whatever killed him came from the infamous vault 10. Taking matters in her own hands, she terminates Dante's employment and seals the vault. Dante is about to shoot her when the eco-warriors show up and take everyone hostage.
The eco-warriors demand access to the building's secure area in order to destroy the company's digital bonds, but Cale refuses to cooperate. Raimi, the leader of the gang, goes to their alternate plan to cut through the bulkhead leading to the containment area. Dante, sensing his chance, "helps" them by suggesting they cut through one of the vaults surrounding the containment instead, suggesting they start at vault 10.
Once the vault is open, Dante jumps in and activates his invention, called The Warbeast (or Frontline Morale Destroyer), which promptly kills one of the eco-warriors. Raimi flees, meeting up with Yutani and the subdued Cale and Carpenter. Dante broadcasts his demands over the monitor system, demanding that his employment be reinstated, and that Cale will be "interfacing with him on a regular basis".
Raimi and Yutani cancel the operation and attempt to get out of the building, along with Carpenter and Cale.
- Brad Dourif as Jack Dante
- Ely Pouget as Hayden Cale
- William Hootkins as John Carpenter
- John Sharian as Raimi
- Martin McDougall as Yutani
- Andreas Wisniewski as Weyland
- Richard Brake as Scott Ridley
- Rachel Weisz as Junior Executive
Sitges Film Festival
|1995||Best Special Effects||Nominated|
|1995||Best Actor (Brad Dourif)||Nominated|
|1994||Best Special Effects||Won|
Controversy and censorship
Death Machine is considered rather controversial. The director himself was never satisfied with the final cut, leading to four different versions being released; An 85 minute version, the 99 minute version marketed in North America, a 128 minute version, and the 111 minute director's cut. The Board of Film Censors accused the film of excessive violence and drug use, and was banned in several countries, including Iraq, China and Australia. Brad Dourif's character Jack Dante was accused of exhibiting acute violent psychosis, profanity, lewd behavior, and in one scene attempts to rape the protagonist. Some countries also censored a controversial scene involving dead babies.