A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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.

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August 17, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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