Let’s get this out of the way right up front–“Exterminator City” is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of crap (believe it). I was sent a review DVD of this particular film with instructions to write up a short article for UV and maybe get a couple of quotes from the director. All I knew was that this was a low-budget movie about killer robots in the post-apocalyptic future. So far, so good. What I didn’t realize was that this movie would utterly destroy my mind in a way that was worse and more thorough than the time I watched “Achtung! Desert Tigers” and “Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler” in rapid succession.
At its core, “Exterminator City” is a movie for people who really get off on scenes of a robot puppet watching topless, internet-grade fetish models do everyday chores around their apartments. There are thirty-one sequences of a robot puppet watching topless, internet-grade fetish models do everyday chores (tooth-brushing, toenail painting, getting dressed, showering… shall I go on?), in fact, so if that’s your bag, baby, prepare for cinematic bliss. For the rest of us, however, “Exterminator City” rockets right past “disappointment” and heads squarely for “disaster” territory. It’s like watching a porno that is just the cut scenes of people ordering delivery pizzas they can’t pay for, without ever getting around to having any sex.
Nominally, it’s a movie about a robot whose programming has gone haywire and who stalks the city killing beautiful women. A pair of gritty robot cops are tracking him down while the body count continues to rise. There’s some weird Catholic subtext that motivates the rogue robot that I can’t quite figure out. I mean, in a world where the only humans left are internet-grade fetish models, is there really any evidence at all supporting the existence of God…?
This movie has some of the most bogglingly not-so-special effects work I’ve seen, with *puppets* in every non-internet-grade-fetish-model role. Not puppeteer-grade, artistic puppets, but rather talented-ninth-grader class presentation puppets, with flappy jaws and jabby arms. It sounds funny, and it *was* funny, for approximately five minutes. Problematically, “Exterminator City’s” run time is eighty-three minutes. It gets worse from here, because each puppet is given an inexplicable and poorly-realized accent. We have a Texan, a Cockney, and a Russian, all of whom speak only in tired cliches. I’m pretty sure even puppet robot characters would never say “Let’s rock and roll, baby,” “Send him to hell,” or “Take a walk on the wild side” in any conversation. Unless puppet robots were programmed by the “Makin’ Copies” guy from the old “Saturday Night Live” sketches, in which case, I stand corrected. Moving past the puppets and confronting the gore effects, the minds behind this film decided that showing a kitchen knife poking through a wig looks good enough to pass for a stabbing, and that once an internet-grade fetish model dies, her body turns into that of an unconvincing mannequin.
Did I mention that the *entire movie* is shot in close-up (when puppets talk) or mid-shot (when internet-grade fetish models do chores)? Well I did now.
I don’t even want to tell you that there’s a scene with a Hitler-devil puppet or that a dog puppet gets killed in a scene that looked much like the death of Triumph the Insult Comic dog, because you will just want to see how bad this is for yourself. Don’t do it. You’ve been warned. This shit is Dantean, yo.
So, after digesting the film and taking a few days off from human contact to recover, I figured I’d tackle the review and interview process from a lighthearted standpoint. I mean, come on–how could anyone who makes a movie with puppets be *at all serious*? I reached out to the director via email and one of the first questions I posited was regarding the decision to use puppets to stand in for the robots–did the idea to make a puppet movie come first, or did the idea to make a robot movie inspire the production? The response: “I prefer to call them ‘full-sized animatronics.'”
Dude was serious. And I had to stop the correspondence after that, because I had the adage about “not saying anything at all if you haven’t got anything nice to say” drilled into me from an early age.