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By Steve Anderson | January 3, 2008

There are times, you understand, when my charming two-bedroom house in the country feels as if it were holographically generated, and I am in fact stuck on the Satellite of Love, but without bots.

There are days when I begin to wonder if illustrious Film Threat editor Mark Bell is just hiding behind a pseudonym. You ARE Dr. Clayton Forrester, aren’t you? Aren’t you?! Confess! Confess I say!!

At any rate, I, much like Joel or Mike (depending on which season you came in on) have a sacred duty to dispatch, and all without the help of comic robots designed from gumball machines and whatever else I had lying around. And I had better get on with it before Doc Forrester–uhh…that is, MARK–shuts off my oxygen.

Those of you who missed the Mystery Science Theatre references back there, I feel very, very sorry for you.

At any rate, this time around, I’ve got the Japanese biomechanical monstrousity “Meatball Machine” jammed in my DVD player, and man, this sucker’s a doozy. Alien parasites have invaded the earth, and, somehow, possess the ability to turn human flesh into horrible melee weapons. Apparently the process does some horrible things to the human psyche, because anyone turned into a melee machine by the alien parasites just can’t resist the chance to use said weaponry and goes out to hunt up anyone he or she can possibly find and kill. And, for no clear reason and against all logic and good common sense, in the midst of all this hunting and killing and oozy alien goo flying about, a couple of people have found each other and are falling in love. Oh, and by the end of the movie, they’ll be brawling with their own versions of alien smackdown technology.

Leave it to the Japanese cinema to cut a person’s head in half one minute and have the characters fall in love the next. And then, of course, have the two lovers spend twenty minutes trying to carve each other to little bitty pieces.

The interesting part is that this invasion of biomechanically adept aliens really hasn’t slowed down Japanese life very much. They still eat lunch and hang laundry and go to work and play baseball like nothing ever happened, except that every so often, big humanoid monsters pop up out of nowhere and start killing people or get run over in a big syrupy splat.

And when you find out, in the end, just why all this was going on in the first place, you can’t help but drop your jaw a bit in horrified
wonder at the callous nature of the alien invaders that did all this to humanity.

All in all, “Meatball Machine” is a real out-of-left-field surprise. Largely unlike anything ever seen before, and only possibly the start of something truly big, “Meatball Machine” may not be long on thrills until the last half hour or so, but man, the concept alone is worth the price of admission.

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