24 user 16 critic

Death Machines (1976)

An evil Oriental Dragon Lady injects three martial arts fighters with a serum that turns them into zombie-like assassins, and she sends them out against her enemies.


Paul Kyriazi


Joe Walders (screenplay), Paul Kyriazi (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Credited cast:
Ronald L. Marchini ... White Death Machine (as Ron Marchini)
Michael Chong ... Asian Death Machine
Joshua Johnson Joshua Johnson ... Black Death Machine
Mari Honjo ... Madame Lee
Ron Ackerman Ron Ackerman ... Lt. Clay Forrester
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Edward Blair Edward Blair ... Jerry
Bob Cori Bob Cori ... Mike
Philip DeAngelo Philip DeAngelo ... Rossi
Mary Carole Frederickson Mary Carole Frederickson ... Nurse
Chuck Katzakian Chuck Katzakian ... Mr. Gioletti - Crime Boss
Colleen Kinsley Colleen Kinsley ... Adams' Daughter
John Lowe John Lowe ... Frank Thomas
Felix McGill Felix McGill ... Capt. Green
George Neal George Neal ... Doyle
Ray Rustigian Ray Rustigian ... Tony - Italian Restaurant Owner


An evil Oriental Dragon Lady injects three martial arts fighters with a serum that turns them into zombie-like assassins, and she sends them out against her enemies.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A She-Devil and her 3 Super-Killers...take a big city by the throat and rip it wide open! See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

June 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Death Machine See more »

Filming Locations:

Stockton, California, USA


Box Office


$70,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The mysterious mastermind man was kept in the shadows in case there was a sequel so that another actor could fill the role if required. See more »


On the clock movement on the Buddha bomb in the bank president's office the stamped in lettering says "120 V 60 Hz", but the bomb was never seen being plugged into an electrical outlet. See more »


[first lines]
[three martial arts fighters kill their respective opponents]
Madame Lee: They will do nicely.
See more »


Featured in Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 4 (1997) See more »


Devil by the Door
Music by Don Hulette (uncredited)
Lyrics by Terry Chambers
Sung by Denny Brooks
See more »

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User Reviews

A Crazy, Fun Martial Arts Mess of a Movie
10 April 2016 | by brando647See all my reviews

We live in a cruel world where DEATH MACHINES never got to live to its franchise potential. I can't be the only one who would love to see the continued karate-kicking adventures of the three unnamed, ethnically diverse zombified ninjas of writer/director Paul Kyriazi's 1976 action jewel. Of the dozens of B-movies (and worse) that I've subjected myself to recently, DEATH MACHINES is one of the best. Madame Lee (Mari Honjo), a minor boss in a vague Asian crime syndicate, has got a new weapon to make a splash on the world of organized crime: her three mind-controlled ninjas (Ronald Marchini, Michael Chong, and Joshua Johnson). When her shadowy boss orders her to eliminate rival hit-men and establish business dealings with mob boss Gioretti (Chuck Katzakian), the ninjas are more than effective. When they're assigned to eliminate a local karate teacher (for reasons unknown thanks to bad audio mixing), the "death machines" attract the attention of law enforcement, particularly hot-shot detective Lieutenant Forrester (Ron Ackerman), and earn the ire of overzealous karate student Frank (John Lowe). Frank is the sole survivor of the machines' vicious attack on the karate school and he's determined to seek vengeance for the murder of his teacher and fellow students and for the loss of his right arm. Will Frank rise to the challenge of Madame Lee's three unstoppable death machines? Will Lt. Forrester succeed in his mission to capture the mystery ninjas? More importantly, will he ever get around to that human resources class so his captain will get off his back?

DEATH MACHINES is a perfect blend of semi-competence, incompetence, and martial arts action with just a hint of insanity. The filmmakers set the tone from the very start. The movie opens on the ninjas' final test, where each of them battle another martial artist of the same ethnicity (out of….symmetry? fairness?). Just in case anyone was worried this would just be a bunch of sword-swinging and high kicks, the white ninja eliminates his competition with a pistol he pulls from an ankle holster. So right away, we're shown that rules are for suckers. When assigned to knock off the competition, we're treated to three separate murders in the first fifteen minutes; of those three, zero involve any sort of martial arts action. One involves a freakin' bazooka. Who needs subtlety when you're a seemingly invulnerable death machine? Man, this movie's a blast. Far from perfect, DEATH MACHINES suffers from its share of problems. For starters, the movie's obnoxious synth score and the audio mixing that frequently drowns out dialogue in favor of it. Most of Madame Lee's dialogue in the film is near unintelligible. But, it's just intelligible enough for us to hear that poor Mari Honjo isn't much of an actress. It's fine. I'm not here for the performances. The movie also has the unfortunate problem of being unsure how to tell a proper story, what with the protagonist and the story arc and whatnot. DEATH MACHINES, and the audience, isn't really sure whom we're rooting for to win.

Detective Forrester seems an obvious choice, being a police officer and all. And he's a pretty cool guy, standing up to his griping captain and putting his overly smug rival in his place. But Forrester doesn't show up for the first half hour and then disappears again until the end of the film for a little bit of deus ex machina. Then there's Frank, the newly one-armed karate student. But Frank disappears for large chunks of the movie and then proceeds to get his butt handed to him by an ornery old man in a barfight, so he's hard to get behind. At one point about halfway through the film, there's even a brief moment when it appears the white ninja might shift allegiances and become our hero when he stands up to a rowdy band of bikers that terrorize a Ma & Pa diner/fueling station. But nope, once he finds his ninja buddies again he's back to work as usual, making the previous twenty minutes or so where we followed his capture and escape from the police (and said diner brawl) completely pointless. Fortunately for this movie, I'm willing to forgive all these problems because it's all so much fun. It sets itself up perfectly at the end for a sequel but I guess it was never meant to be. DEATH MACHINES, while certainly not a "good movie", ranks high on the spectrum against its peers. Do yourself a favor; I know the movie is available online…find it and watch at least the first 15 minutes. You won't regret it and you just might be tempted to see it through to the end.

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