Comedy/Horror is a tricky formula. For an example of the genre at its best, one need look no further than An American Werewolf in London; a film that managed to sprinkle liberal doses of terror and hilarity into almost every frame. The balance needs to be carefully weighted, as too much comedy leads one into the slapstick Scary Movie territory, while too much horror…well…makes it a horror film, which isn’t such a bad thing. However, what happens when both elements are lacking?
UKM - The Ultimate Killing Machine happens, baby.
Shot in what looks like a high school after dark, UKM is the story of four losers who join the army for various reasons. The recruits are so dismal that they are chosen for a secret experiment in which hopelessly inept soldiers are given an injection of stem cells that somehow make them super soldiers. The problem is, the treatment is far from perfected, and the subjects become ultra-agitated, violent, and (for comedic effect) horny. The four recruits, Waylon, Buddy, Zoe, and Carrie, manage to escape the clutches of the project overseer (played by Michael Madsen), but find themselves trapped in the “base”, and must fight through…err…four other guards, two scientists, as well as the project’s last great failure, the ultimate killing machine that is Sgt. Dodds (Northwood).
UKM starts off promisingly enough, with a bit of 50’s style mad scientist mumbo jumbo, a humorous credits sequence that introduces the main characters (who are sort of a bloody Breakfast Club consisting of a punk, a homeless chick, a nerd, and a basket case), and an attractive cast of newcomers (especially the super hot Victoria Nestorowicz, who plays the aforementioned homeless chick, Zoe). Things quickly go downhill, though, once the film’s bargain basement budget rears its ugly head. There are also precious few scares (ie; none), and, while there’s a decent amount of gore, it all looks rather silly and cheap; something that would be fine were the script consistently funny, but, sadly, this is not the case. Tired sight gags and painfully self-aware “we’re in a horror movie” dialogue intermingle with misguided attempts at gravity and suspense, resulting in a schizophrenic mess.
With UKM we get a Comedy/Horror flick that is neither terribly funny nor terribly scary. Hell, it’s not even terribly terrible (which would at least make it entertaining for bad movie enthusiasts). Instead I was treated to ninety minutes of hysterical people running through dark hallways, cheap special effects, and the sad sight of what little respect I still had for Michael Madsen imploding before my very eyes.
UKM comes to DVD courtesy of Peace Arch/Genius and features a murky 1.85:1 transfer and absolutely nothing by way of supplemental materials, but that’s fine by me as I wouldn’t have bothered with them anyway.