Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 18th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: France, April 27th,1966
Alternate Title: Cartas boca arriba
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jean-Claude Carrière, Jesus Franco
Cinematograper: Antonio Macasoli
Composer: Paul Misraki
Cast: Eddie Constantine, Françoise Brion, Fernando Rey, Sophie Hardy, Alfredo Mayo, Ricardo Palacios, Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui, Vicente Roca, Gene Reyes, Manuel Vidal, Mara Kelly, Dina Loy, Aida Power, Jesus Franco
Synopsis: A series of assassins by killers’ who all have a rare blood type forces an over the hill spy out of his self imposed retirement.
Attack of the Robots is a Sci-Fi/Spy/Comedy hybrid that was directed by Jess Franco in 1966. Attack of the Robots also marked Jess Franco’s second paring up with actor Eddie Constantine who also starred in the Jess Franco film Residence for Spies also made in 1966. Actor Eddie Constantine is most remembered for his portrayal of as private detective Lemmy Caution, a character he would return to a total of fourteen times over a thirty eight year period. The screenplay for Attack of the Robots was written by Jean-Claude Carrière who also wrote the screenplay for Jess Franco’s The Diabolical Dr. Z.
Attack of the Robots visually and story wise bears many similarities to The Diabolical Dr. Z. Both films feature mad scientists’ who have ambitions of conquering the world through their mind controlled killers’. Being that both films were also made around the same time it does look like they use some of the same props and sets. Jess Franco’s direction and use of black & white photography is reminiscent to style employed for many of Universal’s horror films from the 1930’s. Fans’ of Jess Franco’s later films will be surprised just how far removed some of his earlier films are stylistically.
The plot is very simple even if some of its ideas like killers’ who skin color changes from very dark to pale when they die and how they all have the same rare blood type may seem far fetching. Luckily the plot is approached by Jess Franco in a tongue and cheek way that makes you forget some of its imperfections. Attack of the Robots like most of Jess Franco’s earlier films has an enthusiasm and a lighthearted approach to them making them so accessible unlike his later films.
In the lead role of Al Pereira is Eddie Constantine. Al Pereira is man who has walked away from being spy. He reluctantly comes back when his hand is forced by the various players involved. Pereira is supposed to be a super spy like James Bond. His weapons/gadgets are not as effective and some are even defective. His logic and ability to get out of trouble is not very strong. One has to wonder how he lasted all long as he has. Performance wise Eddie Constantine perfectly captures the essence of the character. Al Pereira has a recurring encounter with a Spanish man who always wants to fight him. This is one of the most memorable parts of the film.
Playing Al Pereira’s nemesis is Spanish actor Fernando Rey as Sir Percy an eccentric scientist. Fernando Rey is convincing and diabolical is his role. Other main players include Françoise Brion as Lady Cecilia Addington Courtney who works for Sir Percy and Sophie Hardy as a spy named Cynthia Lewis. Both women play a part trying to find out what Al Pereira’s mission is and they both are more than willing to sacrifice their bodies to find out what they need to know. Overall the acting is more then satisfactory all around as all the performances and Jess Franco’s direction creates an infectious mood where one can’t help but enjoy themselves.
Ultimately Attack of the Robots is an uneven film that is bolstered by Eddie Constantine’s memorable performance.