A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 535 – Laserblast

Laserblast – August 17th, 2011

As one might have gathered from my previous reviews, I am a die hard MST3K fan. I saw the movie in the theater opening night. I used to stay up until two in the morning to watch episodes when Comedy Central had banished it to super late night (a two hour show that starts at 2:00 ends at 4:00 – keep that in mind). I’m a card carrying fan club member. I attended a minicon to see the final episode before it aired. I’ve got a Tom Servo gumball machine with Joel, Kevin and J. Elvis’ signatures on it. Joel Hodgeson called me a nerd. Fan. Girl. That? Is the sole reason we own this movie. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that is the sole reason anyone owns this movie, including the people involved in making it. It’s that sort of movie.

Granted, I’ve only seen the episode once. Maybe twice. It was the last of the Comedy Central episodes and at the time it was uncertain what would be happening to the show. Resurrection on what was then the Sci Fi Channel was a longshot and the end did feel like it was The End. So we don’t put it in much. Therefore we don’t see this one much. And after watching it tonight without the benefit of snarky commentary from the pros, I have to say I’m glad we have a good reason to avoid putting it in because my goodness, this movie stinks. It’s a horrible movie from top to bottom. I don’t even know how to explain how bad this is. It’s just bad.

Andy has theories about just why this movie was made, but I really don’t know if I buy them. Maybe it was given more money for the reasons he suspects. Maybe it was actually marketed because when it came out there was an interest in sci-fi that hadn’t been there before. I have no idea. All I can say for certain is that this movie is the sort of sci-fi movie most sci-fi fans wish didn’t exist as it gives the genre a bad name. It’s horribly paced, terribly written, full of unlikeable one dimensional characters and the hero gets blown up by aliens and that’s actually a good thing. I feel ashamed on behalf of the person who came up with this story.

We begin the movie with a green alien with shaggy hair getting run down by some turtle-looking aliens who I swear must have inspired the look for E.T. They kill him but oddly don’t bother destroying the giant gun he had with him, instead leaving it in the desert for some poor hapless schmuck to find. And of course one does! Said poor schmuck is Billy, who would be emo had emo been around in the 1970s. As near as I can figure out, he’s a loner and considered an outsider by his peers because his mother frequently abandons him to go on swank vacations with friends. Otherwise there is no real clue as to just why this guy is so reviled. He gets stopped for speeding at one point and the cops – clearly peers from school a few years back – tease him about his mother going away. Is this a thing? Was it a thing? Is it supposed to imply that his mother’s a swinger? A prostitute? Who cares. The movie sure doesn’t.

So to cope with the loneliness he feels when his mother goes off on vacation, Billy tries to hang out with his hot girlfriend. But his hot girlfriend’s wacky grandfather chases him off and so he takes his van out into the desert to dick around for a while. And dick around he does! With the gun from the beginning! Now, for the rest of the movie, I’m merely describing what I assume is going on. The movie is rather vague for most scenes and offers nothing much in the way of plot exposition or details on how or why anything happens. Things just happen, and you’ve got to accept that or turn the movie off or do what I do and pretend it’s not actually playing on my television.

Using the alien gun apparently turns one into an evil alien, which seems like it would be a drawback in marketing but I’m not an alien so what do I know? After Billy picks the damn thing up and bounces around the desert, aiming at sagebrush, he takes the gun home and proceeds to get possessed by it and use it to explode the car of the bullies who sexually assaulted his girlfriend. And either I’d forgotten the sexual assault scene or the MST3K version severely truncated it cause yeah, that was an unpleasant surprise. But I’ll give Billy and the alien gun credit for first taking aim at sexual predators. If the gun was actually like, a weapon that turned a mild mannered human into a superhuman rapist hunter? I’d be down with that. Alas, that’s not the case. He ends up destroying a whole lot more stuff for no particular reason. Just because the gun’s possessing him, I guess. He kills the doctor he goes to because the gun made a little metal thing appear in his chest and the doctor took it out to examine it. Or maybe the necklace the alien was wearing did that? I don’t know. He never put on the necklace but it appears on him whenever he’s possessed.

Eventually, after alien-Billy blows up a whole lot of stuff and causes tons of destruction, the aliens from the beginning show up again and kill him like they killed the other guy with the gun. Maybe he started out as a lonely teen whose mom left him to go have sex in Mexico too? Or whatever the alien equivalent of Mexico is? This time I think the aliens actually manage to destroy the gun, so that’s that. Oh, and there was a government agent hanging around trying to find Billy and the gun and if I had to guess I’d say that the original alien with the gun escaped from the government and they’re tracking him down and the girlfriend’s grandfather might know something about it, but that doesn’t have any bearing on what actually happens on screen.

The acting is just shy of abysmal, which is bizarre considering it has a few actors with known names, like Roddy McDowell and Keenan Wynn. Oh, and Eddie Deezen. The writing is obviously poor since the movie doesn’t bother telling the audience anything. It doesn’t even really imply. It just puts stuff out there and leaves it for later and then later never comes. The claymation turtle aliens aren’t bad, but they feel bizarrely out of place in this movie. Like, someone spent all the money for this movie on two named actors, a shitload of explosives and the claymation and hoped a movie would come of it all. I guess it did, because this exists, but really, I don’t know if that counts.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | 2 Comments

Laserblast

August 17, 2011

Laserblast

Amanda and I had plans to watch the Rifftrax live presentation of Jack the Giant Killer in the theater this Wednesday. Sadly it appears that it is not playing in our local theater, or they’re sold out already, so we found ourselves denied our little dose of Mike, Kevin and Bill making fun of a cheesy movie. Instead we chose to watch yet another movie that would not be in our collection were it not for our love of MST3K.

I blame Amanda for this movie. She snatched it up when she was working at TLA because it was famously the last movie riffed by Mike and the bots on Comedy Central. However, we have only watched that episode once before because it was so sad and upsetting to have our favorite television show come to a close like that. (Of course the show came back on the Sci Fi channel, but there was a long and uncomfortable period of uncertainty before that.) Our recollections of this movie were fuzzy.

I remembered the stop-motion turtle aliens. I remembered the necklace that gave the hero in the movie a rash. I remembered the irritating presence of Eddie Deezen. I did not remember Keenan Wynn as the crazy vet with an obsession about alien invasions. I didn’t remember the pot-smoking policeman. I had generally forgotten how poorly put together and aimless this film is.

Some of the movies that showed up on MST3K over the years actually had some redeeming qualities, but this is not one of those movies. It’s a sad collection of disconnected scenes masquerading as a movie. The plot revolves around an alien weapon found by a nihilist country hick in the desert after a rampaging green gunman is killed by a pair of turtles. The turtles in question are the coolest thing in the movie – all stop motion, and they deliver some of the best performances. By comparison their human counterparts are surprisingly wooden.

There’s Billy Duncan, who is depicted as somewhat of an anti-social rebel, who finds the abandoned alien firearm. There’s his girlfriend Kathy who just wants him to get along with other people and drags him off to a friend’s birthday party. There’s Eddie Deezen as a slimy, whining rival of Billy’s who challenges him to drag races and tries with one of his slimy friends to molest Kathy. There’s an annoying pair of comic relief patrol officers who pull Billy over for speeding. There’s a secret government organization that is seeking something in the desert and suspects that Billy has something to do with it.

The alien gun only works, you see, when used in conjunction with an amulet that Billy wears around his neck. This amulet corrupts him, however, turning him into a sort of emaciated incredible hulk who is green with high cheekbones and white contact lenses. This monster goes about killing all the hateful and annoying people in Billy’s life – mostly by blowing up cars with his laser gun. Of course Billy has no recollection of these episodes and can’t understand why everybody seems to be against him.

In the end he converts completely into the green monster and somehow ends up on a Hollywood backlot street set where he proceeds to blow everything up until the aliens from the beginning show up and kill him, saving us from the movie and providing blessed relief.

What’s peculiar about this movie is that it clearly has some kind of a budget. The aliens look cool. There are a LOT of explosions, with cars igniting all over the place. There are even some recognisable actors, most notably Roddy McDowall, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. My suspicion is that the creators of this film used the excitement about Star Wars, which came out the same year as this, to raise funds for their film saying that they were making a sci-fi epic of some kind. I feel bad for any backers duped by the promise of easy money from a Star Wars style film when this movie is what their money bought. (My theory is based on the fact that Star Wars is mentioned in the dialog at one point and the rampaging monster Billy blows up a Star Wars billboard – probably a sign in the minds of the film makers that their masterpiece was going to blow Star Wars out of the water.

Let us be clear. This movie is no Star Wars. It is an unappealing mess of a movie filled with pasty seventies backwood country hicks. No that we’ve watched it for the project I expect that I probably will never watch it again. Oh, and Leonard Maltin gave it two and a half stars.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment