Last night a couple friends and I watched Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla, which if nothing else boasts the single greatest movie title I have ever heard in my life. It actually surprised me a lot - the basic premise is that an old WWII killer cyborg comes to life and escapes from an old laboratory hidden in the parking garage beneath a nightclub, and it starts killing anyone in sight. I was expecting Friday the 13th meets The Terminator, and there definitely is that, but it also has a lot of really restrained, somber moments. The two leads independently have this lonely, inner turmoil going on when they’re introduced that you can more or less work out through context clues, and the movie trusts you to just make do with that and never makes you sit through a big, cathartic monologue about their past.
There’s some fun, inventive kills mined for really striking shots that stick with you, like when the cyborg shoots up a teen on a skateboard and his friends just hear the shots in the distance, then see him rolling straight toward them out of the shadows, riddled with bullet holes, still standing dead on his board. And there’s another one involving a mural on the wall of the garage that I don’t want to spoil. And once the action moves into the old lab beneath the garage, there’s some great grimy old sets and miniatures, and some honestly pretty ambitious composite shots for what I understand was a direct-to-video production. I love discovering weird, cheap old Japanese exploitation films where the director clearly went way harder than they had to.
There’s also some fun cameos from veteran tokusatsu actors, including Sandayu Dokumamushi from the Ultra series, and there’s a dwarf extra featured prominently in an early scene who I later found out was none other than Masao Fukazawa, the suit actor for Minilla in the classic Godzilla films!