Friday, August 13, 2010

Laserblast (1978)

Title: Laserblast (1978)

Director: Michael Rae

Cast: Roddy McDowall, Kim Milford, Eddie Deezen


Charles Band’s Full Moon Features had its peak somewhere around the late 80’s early 90’s when they started to make all those Puppet Master and Subspecies films. The Trancers movies also had a bunch of sequels to them if I remember correctly. The movies they made were extremely low budget films, aimed at the hardcore science fiction/horror fan; the kind of fan that doesn’t mind if the movie is low budget or not, just as long as the film is entertaining. I have to admit, Full Moon Features did entertain me during my teenage years, lets face it, a lot of their movies were fun! Any of you guys seen Terror Vision? That film is 100% pure cheesy goodness. But, Full Moon Features origins go further back than the Puppet Master movies. Before there ever was such a thing as ‘Full Moon’ Charles Band was already producing movies, Laserblast being one of them. This was back when their production company was known as Empire Pictures.

You see, the Bands have were producing films, videogames and music since way back in the 1950’ when Charles Bands father Albert Band was making low budget sci-fi and horror films! The Bands have started and ended many a production company. At one point they had a production company called Moonbeam Entertainment, after that came Empire Pictures which by the produced many films that you might remember if you lived through the 80s’. Films like Troll (1986), Ghoulies (1985) Re-Animator (1985), Dungeonmaster (1985), Eliminators (1986), From Beyond (1986), Rawhead Rex (1986), Terrorvision (1986), Dolls (1987) to name but a few of them. As you can see, the films they produced ranged from freaking awesome, to really awful. But when they hit the mark, they hit the mark. I mean, Terrorvision is a masterpiece of b-movies in my opinion, and hey, From Beyond and Re-animator are amongst some of the best horror movies to come out of the 80’s. Laserblast was one of their earliest efforts.

Laserblast tells the story of Billy, a young man who is getting nothing but crap in life. He wakes up and realizes his mom is abandoning him and taking a trip to Mexico. The cops give him speeding tickets; the bullies at school try to rape his girlfriend. His car doesn’t want to work properly when he is defied to participate in a car race. Basically, poor old Billy is having one crappy day! That is until he decides to get away from it all by wandering aimlessly through the dessert. That’s when things take a turn to the explosive side! You see, Billy stumbles upon an alien weapon! At first he doesn’t know what it is, but soon he picks it up and starts to play with it. Soon he realizes that he can blast things away with it with a powerful laserblast! First thing to go is a can of Soda. Up next: everyone who has ever messed with him! Unfortunately, using this laser gun has a side effect on humans: it turns them into zombies!

That’s right, this is one of those movies where some poor dope is stepped on by everybody in town, and then fate turns around and something happens that turns things on the poor dopes favor. So suddenly you had better not mess with this poor dope! That’s right, this worm has been pushed enough, and even a worm turns if pushed too far! The rest of the film has Billy blasting away everyone and anyone who has ever messed with him. To be completely honest, this movie was way too simple for my taste. It has absolutely no depth to it, no meaning, nothing much to say. But it does one thing very well: it blows things up good!

This is the kind of movie that doesn’t have much of a budget, so when it blows a car up for example, it does it in slow motion, to capture every single moment of the explosion, because you know, that explosion cost a lot of money! And we need to see every second of it on the screen! So the explosions sometimes turn a bit boring if you ask me. The film simply goes over the top having Billy blow up everything in sight. Hey, there’s a mailbox! BLAMO! Billy blows it up! Hey, there’s an outhouse, BOOM! Billy blows the crap out of it. Hey, there’s a newsstand, BOOM! The magazines blow to smithereens! Hey, there is a car, guess what: BOOM again! Billy goes on a destruction rampage through the city and it turns kind of redundant at one point. But hell what can you expect in a movie called LASERBLAST. I guess the movie does live up to its name in that sense.

The real stars of the movie, Shell Less Turtles from Planet Turtle!

The best thing about the movie is the stop motion animation, which is crude and very very old school, but in my opinion it was very well achieved, I mean for a low budget b-movie anyways. David Allen has done the animation for many of Charles Bands productions; I guess this was one of his earliest works. These aliens look like giant turtles, but without their shell, and they sport ray guns. Funny thing about these aliens is that apparently they are a pair of forgetful idiots! Maybe they have some sort of alien equivalent for weed? Let’s analyze the Turtle Aliens behavior! First, they leave powerful weapons stranded on the dessert when they come visit earth. The do this not only once, but twice! You see the movie starts out with yet another teenager that became a slave to the weapon. Billy is actually the second kid that this happens to. Anyways, the aliens finally manage to catch the first kid who found the weapon. He is a raving zombie, blasting everything away with the weapon. So in order to regain control of the weapon, they disintegrate his body with a ray gun. But they leave the weapon stranded in the dessert once again! This is why Billy then finds it. Once they disintegrate the first kid, the turtle aliens leave earth, headed for Turtle Planet. Once they are half way down the galaxy their Turtle Commander calls their attention about their mistake of leaving the weapon stranded on earth. He lets them know that their mistake has caused quite a ruckus down there. So Turtle Commander actually makes the two forgetful Alien Turtles turn their spaceship around and head back to earth in order to collect the bazooka/laser thing that they left behind. It’s all extremely hilarious, and done without subtitles or anything, which means you have to try and figure out what the space turtles are saying simply by deduction. The aliens’ language is a freaky sounding collection of squeaks and sounds, it kind of unnerved me in a strange way.

The turtle aliens are about as intelligent/competent as the two bumbling cops that appear in the film. This was the late 70’s, when The Dukes of Hazard was the biggest show on earth, so I guess that’s why they have these two idiot cops in the film. And same as on that show, they make the cops look like incompetent dweebs. Together, these two cops smoke weed while patrolling the streets, pig out on junk food whenever they can and make Billy’s life a living hell. One cop is skinny, one is super fat, and together they are both a super idiots. You almost feel sorry for them when Billy blasts them away with his laser gun. Then we have Billy, who gets pushed around by everyone in town. His mother abandons him to party in Mexico with her friends. Now normally, any teenager would be ecstatic that his parents are going to leave him home alone, but not Billy. Billy is depressed that his mom is leaving. Another thing that’s kind of funny about this movie, for some reason, Billy has to walk around without a shirt, or with an unbuttoned shirt through out the whole film! I guess someone thought this would attract more girls to the film, or whatever, but I thought it was kind of funny. The actor probably thought he looked cool doing the whole damn movie that way. Billy uses the gun, and as a result gets this horrible freaking sore on his chest, yet he doesn’t seem to mind, he keeps using the damn thing! And his girlfriend thinks its kind of a weird sore, but not enough to stop her from making out with the guy!

Another funny thing about this movie: Roddy McDowall plays a character called Doctor Mellon. That’s right! Dr. Mellon! Now if that name isn’t funny enough, McDowall’s performance is so brief, so wasted, that you have to wonder why he even agreed to be on this movie! He probably got paid for a whole days worth of acting or something then quickly grabbed his check and ran! In the film, he inspects Billy’s chest sore which apparently is growing, by the way, this growth is one of many plot points that go nowhere, along with the “man in black” that is investigating everything that’s happening. So anyways, Dr. Mellon is on his way to a lab, so he can get Billy’s sore analyzed. Unfortunately, he never makes it because guess what: Billy blows him away with his space bazooka! Gotta hand it to McDowall for supporting low budget independent productions like this one, my hats down to you sir wherever you maybe!

Well, my friends, I’ve gone on long enough about this movie. But it is kind of hilarious in its badness. My only true problem with it is that it has some scenes that are simply there to fill time up. It has a lot of filler to it, and at its core, it’s an extremely simple film. At times, it feels kind of pointless and boring. I mean, some people might argue that the film speaks about how violence turns humans into monsters or something, but that would be stretching it. One question did pop in my head while watching this flick: What’s more dangerous than a flesh hungry zombie? A flesh hungry zombie with a space bazooka that’s what!

Rating: 1 1/2
I have the poweeeeer!

Laserblast The Charles Band DVD Collection, Vol. 1


Will said...

I'm not going to lie. . .I've only ever seen this film in the MST3K cut and I don't know I could do it WITHOUT Mike and the bots BUT, I actually have a soft spot for some of what I saw.

First off, I LOVE the Joel Goldsmith score. Joel is kind of this lovable pseudo-hack who probably just did music to follow in his superior father's footsteps. But I love the opening credits theme. Very cool. Joel also did Kull the Conqueror (think heavy metal meets Lord of the Rings).

I also love Laserblast's bold statement of 'blowing away' Star Wars by destroying a Star Wars sign with confidence. And I also find a film charming when it decides to add characters like the 'man in black', 'turtle aliens', and even the first Laserblast kid and explain NOTHING of their presence.

Great review! Glad you could suck it up and watch it on your own!

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, the movie does bash on STAR WARS on more than one ocassion, at one point the geeky guy says that he thinks what blew up his car was an alien and the bumbling cop says "he's seen STAR WARS 15 times!"

And then they blow up that STAR WARS billboard pretty good! I guess that was the filmmakers way of saying "screw big budget hollywood! We can do it better! We're the real rebels!"

Yeah, I was like, whatever happened to the man in black? Where did that first laserblast guy come from? And what about that growth they took out of Billy's chest that was growing? Ha! Who the heck knows, this movie is more concerned with blowing stuff up!

Thanks for commenting Will!

Anonymous said...

I just saw this again recently, and it was as deliciously cheesy as I remember it being. One of the highlights of my personal collection is the original theatrical poster of this movie!

And I loved Terrorvision too! (my review) I recorded it off of Turner Classic Movies a while back, fully meaning to record over it once I had seen it again, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do so.

Nice review!

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks Johnny! If I had a copy of Terrorvision on DVD, I would freaking treasure it like gold, but apparently Charles Band doesn't want to make money off of one of the best movies in his library! Ill be checking out your review for it!

Laserblast was cheesy fun, I had a good time with it, at least making fun of it. My only problem with it is how sometimes it just draaaags forever, but the parts with Billy going crazy with his gun, and the aliens, I loved that stuff!

Thanks for commenting Johnny!

I Like Horror Movies said...

The only thing I found worth watching for in Laserblast was the impressive stop-motion work. Everything else just stunk of awful and boring =D

Neil Fulwood said...

I remember coming across this in a video rental store in the early 90s, considering it for a couple of seconds, then renting 'Animal Instincts' with Shannon Whirry instead. I think I might have made the right decision.

Franco Macabro said...

Carl: Yeah, Dave Allen's stop motion animation is pretty decent, not mind blowing mind you, but it made the film a bit more interesting. As it is, without the alien angle, the film is too redundant and boring.

Neil: You did, but for a night of cheesy MSTK3 fun, its not a bad option, I mean, if your in the mood for that sort of thing! Im gonna look for the MSTK3 episode of this one on YOUTUBE, its probably hilarious.

Thanks for your comments!

venoms5 said...

I haven't seen this since catching it on Shock Theater, but remember digging it for the most part. Passed over the DVD several times but will likely pick it up since it's so cheap.

One of the only other Band movies I can honestly say I like is that 3D monster gore movie with Demi Moore called PARASITE from '82.

Franco Macabro said...

Wow, Parasite! I saw that one in 3-D waaay back in the early 80's was it? In theaters! It was one of the first few horror films that truly scared me, as a kid anyways. After that one, I was seeing slugs moving about my house I was so scared! Ha, it was my first 3-D movie in theaters, and one of my first few truly terrafying films.

Now its not so scary of course, but it was back then!

The creatures in that movie were one of Stan Winston's first make up effects jobs ever. Again, Corman making it happen for filmmakers who would later on go on to become legendary!


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