Machined (2006) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Machined is a grunge-horror wannabe that was made with an ultra-low budget, and a strange conception of lighting. Do you remember how indoor home movies were made back in the fifties and sixties? Basically, some very intense track lighting would be directed on the subject.  If the room itself was quite dark, the film would look like a harshly-lit person or persons standing in front of a black background, similar to an actor standing in a bright spotlight on a blacked-out stage. This film cultivates that same look with digital video (I guess it was intentional), using unlit rooms and spotlight-style lighting. Hey, when you have no money, you have to improvise to give a film any unique pizzazz.

The story is about a fat, bald, hairy mechanic who lives in a cluttered garage in a remote desert. His name is Motor Man Dan, and he's a collector of serial murderer memorabilia. Apparently Motor Woman Mom threw out his baseball cards. Having raised the collection to its practical limit, he dreams of the ultimate acquisition  -  an actual serial murderer. Realizing that he can't just obtain one, and being a technophile, he decides to make one instead. He kidnaps an accident victim and "repairs" him with machine parts. More technology turns the victim into Dan's robo-killer. Assuming you buy into that, you can deduce how Dan uses his new toy. Since he collects serial killer memorabilia, and this guy is not yet a serial killer, ergo ...

This is a very unpleasant film in many ways, as you might expect from the description and the zero budget, and yet it accomplishes a lot of what it hopes for. Although the pace sometimes slows to a crawl, it is creepy and disgusting, and might leave you feeling that you have to vomit. And I don't mean in the sense that Glitter makes you want to vomit. Machined is genuinely nas-tay and that is, after all, the effect it was going for. To begin with, the guy who plays Motor Man Dan is a truly gross individual, reminiscent of the once-famous wrestler George "The Animal" Steele.  Dan inhabits a gruesome atmosphere marked by flickering lights in otherwise stygian darkness, clutter, his ominous rusted-out technology, scary music, and the ubiquitous buzzing and crackling of electrical shorts.

Surprisingly, the violence isn't very explicit. You'd think the premise would lead to a gorehound's delight, but basically the victims get bound and then stabbed from behind. There is some messy bleeding, but no exposed internal organs, not much shown on camera. (Budget constraints, I guess.)

While the film is not worth a recommendation, it does show that the auteur has some potential. If writer/director Craig McMahon had had a few bucks at his disposal, he might have created a grungy cult classic like Saw. As is, it's a macabre straight-to-video curiosity.



  • No meaningful features
  • The transfer is in widescreen aspect ratio, but it is letterboxed, and NOT enhanced for 16x9 screens



Nessa Hawkins shows her breasts before being killed.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. There are not enough IMDb votes to be meaningful, and the results (as well as the comments) have been polluted by ballot-stuffing and "plants."
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D+. I can't recommend it for anyone, and it is overpriced at retail, but it is my judgment that the director created a lot of atmosphere for no money at all, and that might be worth checking out if you're a fan of grunge horror. I didn't really like it, but then again it's not my kind of movie. Perhaps it is yours.

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