BARE BONES: PUPPET MASTER-THE LITTLEST REICH (2018)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

PUPPET MASTER-THE LITTLEST REICH (2018)

After a brief opening that takes place in the 80s, the film jumps to present day where there is a convention being held to commemorate the Toulon puppet murders from three decades previous. There are going to be some replica puppets given away and a tour of Toulon’s mansion. Comic artist Edgar (Thomas Lennon) and his hot girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) are there to attend and soon find the puppets present are the real thing and Toulon (Udo Kier) is not done with his reign of terror, even from beyond the grave.

Reboot is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund who gave us the derivative but entertaining Blood Runs Cold and Wither. They direct from a script by S. Craig Zahler based on the characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall. One would probably have to be a fan of the original series to appreciate this dull reboot. If not, it’s just a series of gruesome murders of various puppet fodder characters, that has only some well executed practical gore effects to hold one’s interest. It’s just a random series of killings with no real plot other than to see toys kill people leading up to a Sharknado-esque finale. The tone of the flick goes from silly to trying to take itself seriously and if puppets, blood and boobs are all you came for, than it does at least deliver that…though still lacks the goofy charm of the original movie. Also stars genre favorites Barbara Crampton, Michael Paré and Matthias Hues.

-MonsterZero NJ

Humerus-Bone1 

bars
Advertisements

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DRACULA’S DOG (1977)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

DRACULA’S DOG (1977)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Also known as Zoltan: Hound of Dracula and based on the book Hounds of Dracula by Ken Johnson, this 1977 horror features the legendary vampire’s mutt trying to recreate his master. After being accidentally revived by Romanian soldiers excavating a tomb, Dracula’s manservant Veidt Smit (Reggie Nalder) and his dog Zoltan, set off to America to find Michael Drake (Michael Pataki) who is the last surviving member of Dracula’s bloodline. Once they find him, they plan to turn him into a bloodsucker and their new master. In hot pursuit is Van Helsing-like Inspector Vaclav Branco (José Ferrer) who plans to stop them and their fiendish plot.

Canine-centric vampire flick is written by Frank Ray Perilli, based on Johnson’s book and directed by Albert Band, father of Full Moon Studio’s Charles Band. It’s a silly movie for sure, though played very straight and if there is anything that actually works here it’s that Zoltan and his pack of vampire dogs are kinda fierce and spooky thanks to trainer Karl Miller. There are some fun goof-ups, along the way, like the opening scene that takes place in Romania, with the Romanian army, where a military jeep clearly says “U.S. Navy” on the hood. It’s low budget is no better illustrated than by the fact that it mostly takes place outdoors during a Drake family camping trip, reducing the need for sets. The make-up and gore FX are by Stan Winston, so at least they are done well and director Band does give the silly proceedings a bit of atmosphere. The fact that it’s a film about Dracula’s dog and is taken as seriously as it is, at the very least gives it’s makers some audacity points.

As for the cast, the doberman playing Zoltan is definitely the standout. He is a spooky pooch. Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot) is creepy as Smit, but Nalder always did nail creepy in his performances. Pataki plays it straight as the clueless last heir to Dracula’s coffin and José Ferrer takes the material very seriously as the valiant Inspector Branco. The supporting players are a mixed bag and the other dogs in the film prove the most effective actors in their roles.

This is a silly flick, though taken very seriously by the cast and crew. It makes it all the more watchable, but it still is about Dracula’s best friend, after all. There is some decent make-up and gore courtesy of a young Stan Winston and it does have some atmosphere to go along with the unintentional chuckles. Worth a look. Only in the 70s, folks!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 hounds of Dracula.

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SUBSPECIES (1991)

MZNJ_New_TONnow playing

subspecies
bars

SUBSPECIES (1991)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

As it was the birthday of the late, great Angus Scrimm recently, I decided to revisit this flick in which he stars in a small role as Vampire King Vladislav. This is one of Charles Band’s Full Moon direct to video productions and actually has a bit of a cult following, spawning three sequels and a spin-off. This first film tells of the approaching of the Festival of Prejmer in which the locals celebrate a time when, as they believe, vampires saved them from the invading Turkish army. The Vampire King (Scrimm) is going to use it to pass his crown and the powerful relic, the Bloodstone, onto his younger son Stefan (Michael Watson). His evil eldest son Radu (Anders Hove) is not happy about this and returns from his banishment to murder his father and take the powerful Bloodstone for himself. Now Stefan must find a way to stop him and help two American college students (Laura Tate and Michelle McBride) and their local friend (Irina Movila), who have been targeted by his bloodthirsty brother.

Flick is an OK vampire yarn elevated by some nice Romanian locations where it was actually filmed. The plot, as per Band and Jackson Barr’s script, plays it safe and doesn’t stray too far from the traditional vampire story. It has it’s fiend pursuing innocents and turning some into his own kind and a Van Helsing  type character, which here is represented in the form of local man Karl (Ivan J. Rado). There is a romance between Stefan and Michelle (Laura Tate) that seems added to satisfy the Anne Rice crowd, but otherwise it’s very old-fashioned. The film does have some atmosphere, though even at only 80 minutes director Ted Nicolaou moves things at a very moderate pace. There is the expected bloodshed and some nudity to appease the intended target audience and some brief stop motion animation from the legendary David Allen, in the portrayal of Radu’s diminutive demon-like minions. Being direct to video, the cinematography is sadly TV-like and the film’s sumptuous Romania locales deserved better. Aside from the always delightful Scrimm and Anders Hove giving his raspy voiced Radu some menace, the cast is fairly wooden all across the board. There is also a bit of a physical resemblance between Watson and Tate, including similar hairdos, that adds an uncomfortableness to their vampire/human romance. Too bad producer Charles Band couldn’t have given this flick a little more effort on a production and creative level, as it had potential to be something with a bit more weight had it not been targeted for direct to video sales.

Not a great movie by any lengths, but it has it’s entertainment value and even filmed unflatteringly, the Romanian locations are atmospheric. The vampire tropes are all paraded out for fans and our lead fiend is memorable and deserved a better film to be in. Angus Scrimm adds class to his pre-credits role as the Vampire King and might have been even more impressive if not for that silly wig they make him wear. Worth a look, but don’t expect too much. Actress Denise Duff would replace Tate as Michelle for the next three flicks.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 fangs.

dracula_satanic rites rating

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DOLLS (1987)

MZNJ_New_TONnow playing

dolls
bars

DOLLS (1987)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Dolls is the third picture directed by Stuart (Re-Animator) Gordon to be produced by Brian Yuzna for release by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures. It tells the story of seven year-old Judy (Carrie Lorraine) who is on vacation in the English countryside with her father, David (Ian Patrick Williams) and her shrew of a step-mother, Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy Gordon). A storm strands them and three other people (Bunty Bailey, Cassie Stuart and Stephen Lee) at an old mansion inhabited by a charming old couple, Gabriel (Guy Rolfe who played Andre Toulon in Band’s Puppet Master series) and Hilary (Hilary Mason) Hartwicke. Gabriel is a toy maker and the house is filled with old dolls he’s made. At night Judy thinks she sees one of the young women dragged off by “little people”. Her parents don’t believe her, but kind-hearted Ralph (Lee) does and the two soon find out, to their horror, that the Hartwicke’s dolls are frighteningly alive and quite homicidal when you piss them off.

Written by Ed Naha (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids) and directed by Gordon, this is an amusing 80s horror flick, though a step down from Re-Animator and The Beyond. What makes the film a little uneven is that Gordon can’t seem to decide whether he wants to make it a dark fairytale or an outright horror film. There are some very violent moments with some graphic gore, then there are sequences that are more darkly whimsical. It’s not totally off-putting, but doesn’t help the overall film that there are tonal shifts. Sometimes it seems this is a spooky tale for kids in the spirit of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, that would premiere five years later, but then there are some very vicious and violent moments. The Hartwicke’s seem like well-meaning folk with some strange powers, yet their dolls do commit some very nasty and cruel acts. So, are these dolls to be viewed as good, as they only harm those with ill-intent, or are they something we should be afraid of, as they can be very violent. It makes things a bit uneven and when we get an explanation, we’re still not sure the kindly old couple are to be completely trusted. There are some spooky moments and the gore and prosthetics are well done, as is some stop-motion animation from the late, great David Allen. It’s an OK horror thriller that could have been something better had it picked a tone and stuck with it. In it’s favor, the 80s nostalgia does help a lot when viewed today.

Little Carrie Lorraine stands out cast-wise. She’s a cute kid and she gives Judy a sense of wonder and she is also very courageous when forced by her jerk of a dad to investigate the mansion’s creepy goings-on with Ralph. The rest of the cast are a bit bland. Stephen Lee is OK as Ralph and gives him sort of a big kid quality. Williams and Gordon are fairly stiff and unlikable as Judy’s selfish father and his bitch of a new wife…though they’re supposed to be unlikable. Rolfe and Mason are adequate as the charming yet slightly spooky old couple and Bailey and Stuart are stereotypical teen delinquents. Aside from Lorraine and some of John Carl Buechler and David Allen’s doll creations, no one else in the cast really stands out to make an impression.

Overall, this is an OK and somewhat amusing horror flick that can’t really decide what it want’s to be. Is it a dark fantasy or outright horror?…that depends on which sequence we’re watching. Gordon does create some spooky scenes and there is some atmosphere, but the tonal indecision doesn’t help keep any steady tension. Aside from our young lead, the cast aren’t overly impressive, though the FX in the portrayal of the dolls and the havoc they create, is pretty decent for a low budget 80s flick. It’s a decent night’s watch from a filmmaker that sadly never hit the same stride he accomplished with Re-Animator, which even today still remains his best flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Mr. Punch’s.

dolls rating

 

 

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE DAY TIME ENDED (1980)

MZNJ_New_TONnow playing

day time ended
bars

THE DAY TIME ENDED (1980)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Day Time Ended is an inept 1980 sci-fi low budgeter from legendary schlockmeister Charles Band. It’s basically a random bunch of special effects scenes strung together by the thinest of plots. Silly flick has a triple super nova causing a “space/time warp”, to quote one of the characters, that seems to center around a single desert house to the annoyance of it’s occupants. They are besieged by various UFOs and stop motion animated aliens and creatures and then the house itself starts to travel in and out of other dimensions. The flick then comes to an abrupt and absurd happy ending that leaves things wide open for a sequel.

Flick is directed with no life or energy by John ‘Bud’ Cardos (Kingdom Of The Spiders, Mutant) from a script by three people, no less. The acting is terrible, as is the dialog, and the characters are prone to making the stupidest decisions. My favorite of these being when searching for a lost little girl, grandpa carries a gun and almost shoots her, but grandpa leaves the gun in the house when going out to investigate noises in the barn. Makes perfect sense! Except for some nice stop motion animation from the late David Allen, the special FX are as cheesy as one can imagine, for a flick like this and it’s tedious even at only 79 minutes long. Actually saw this one in a theater…my favorite grind house, The Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ.

Only bother if you are a David Allen or Charles Band completest or simply enjoy bad cheesy low budget flicks of this era. Also stars Dorothy Malone (Peyton Place), Jim Davis (Dallas) and Chris Mitchum (son of the legendary Robert Mitchum).

MONSTERZERO NJ’S EXTRA TRIVIA: Star Marcy Lafferty was, at the time, William Shatner’s second wife and Shatner himself had starred in John ‘Bud’ Cardos’ Kingdom Of The Spiders three years earlier. Coincidence?…we may never know!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) David Allen critters that deserved a better movie.

day Time Ended rating

 

 

 

 

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER and LASERBLAST

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_TCLM_LB

bars

I know I have covered these two ‘so bad it’s good’ 70s flicks before but, they do make a great pair with their bad acting, awful dialog and delightfully charming stop motion animation FX work by the late, great David Allen and SPFX make-up and prosthetics from Steve Neill. With a few brews, these two cult classics can be a lot of fun even without being mocked by the MST3K gang!

 

crater-lake-monster-movie-poster-1977-1020435111

THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977)

I’ll start out by saying this isn’t a good movie in the conventional sense, but I love monster movies, especially the old fashioned stop motion animation ones and, as you may know by now, I do love a ‘so bad it’s good’ flick. So I cut this movie a lot of slack. Plus, it does have a bit of personal nostalgia for me as I saw it at the Showboat Cinema in Edgewater N.J. when it first came out in 1977.

Low budget sci-fi/horror begins as a meteor crashes into a California mountain lake by a remote rural town. The lake temperature rises and a long dormant plesiosaur egg hatches and 6 months later we have a giant prehistoric monster on the loose feeding on the local livestock and any inhabitants who get near the water. It’s now up to Sheriff Steven Hanson (Richard Cardella who also co-wrote) to try to find a way to stop the rampaging beast who is making a meal out of locals and tourists alike.

The Crater Lake Monster has a good B-movie plot that is wasted by the totally amateurish handling of the production by director and co-writer William R. Stromberg. If the lame attempts at suspense aren’t enough, the weak dialog, awful acting and ridiculous attempts at comic relief by two good ole boys who rent boats (Mark Siegel and Glen Roberts), put the nail in coffin of this flick’s potential as a serious B-movie horror treat and catapults it into ‘so bad it’s good’ territory…though it’s on thin ice there, too. *Cardella claims the withdrawal of funds and hiring of a terrible editor by Crown International Pictures was the cause of the film’s ruin, but neither of these reasons explain how sub-par everything, other than David Allen’s cool stop motion animated dinosaur, is done. The title creature is a fine bit of FX from the under appreciated Allen, but doesn’t have quite enough screen time to make up for the film’s flaws and even it’s climactic battle with a snow plow is far too short to live up to it’s entertainment potential.

But there is definitely some fun to be had at the incompetent film-making here and there is definitely some 70s nostalgia to enjoy, but how much you enjoy it depends on just how tolerant you are of a bad movie like this. I enjoy them for what they are and I like this flick for all it’s badness and there is a cool beastie. With a couple of brews this can be a good time, if that’s your thing. It definitely is mine. In an era of senseless remakes, this is a title screaming to be turned into a better movie by more talented hands, but they sadly don’t make movies like this anymore, at least not with the kind of charm flicks like this had. And despite all Crater Lake‘s flaws, it still has it’s heart in the right place and plenty of charm. And that goes a long way with a movie geek like me. A guilty pleasure for sure but, a fun one.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: The full size creature head was made by Steve Neill, another unsung hero of movie make-up and prosthetic FX.

*as per Wikipedia

-MonsterZero NJ

3 guilty pleasure plesiosaurs!

crater lake rating

plus

Laserblast

LASERBLAST (1978)

Laserblast is a low budget sci-fi thriller from Charles Band that actually could have been a decent B-movie had it been in more competent hands instead of becoming one of MST3K’s funniest episodes. Even still, it is a guilty pleasure of mine and carries the nostalgia of being one of the flicks seen at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ.

Laserblast opens as an alien outlaw is being pursued on Earth across a desert. After a brief firefight, the reptilian space cops (some cool stop motion FX from the late David Allen with the outlaw’s and alien possessed Billy’s make-up FX by Steve Neill) blast the alien bad guy, but in an effort to avoid detection, are forced to flee and the alien’s weapon is left behind. Enter troubled teen Billy (Kim Milford) who, aside from his girlfriend (70s exploitation queen, Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith), is picked on by almost everyone in town including, the pot smoking cops. Obviously fate puts the alien weapon in Billy’s hands and now he has the power to get back at those who abuse him. With the alien weapon transforming him into something unearthly, can Billy be stopped?

Laserblast is sadly directed in a pedestrian manner by Michael Rae…from a script by Frank Ray Perilli and Franne Schacht…and a little energy would have helped a lot as even Billy’s climactic rampage (if blowing up a few cars and a mailbox is a rampage) is very by-the-numbers and lacks any suspense. Rae’s idea of dramatic intensity is to show the same explosion over and over in slow motion from multiple camera angles and have star Milford overact when under alien influence. And speaking of the acting, the performances range from bland to bad with even cameos from vets Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowell being obvious paycheck grabs.The casting is also odd in the case of Milford who is too good looking and well built to be believable as the ‘picked on kid’ especially, when nerd legend Eddie Deezen (his first flick), is cast as one of the bullies. Love to ask the casting director what the inspiration was for that casting, aside from booze. But the cast isn’t totally to blame as the laughably bad dialog from the weak script isn’t going to help anyone’s performance especially, when the director doesn’t seem to be giving much inspiration. At least David Allen provides some good stop motion effects and FX model making legend Greg Jein gave us a cool alien spacecraft for such a low budget flick, that and things are blown up quite frequently.

Despite all it’s flaws, I still think there is a ‘so bad it’s good’ charm here and a lot of entertainment can be had from the epic fail of it all. And as stated before, the film does have the previously stated nostalgia element for me personally. So I would recommend it to those who love to have a good bad movie along with their six pack or simply enjoy laughing at a cheesy 70s low budget Sci-Fi flick that aims high and fails in entertaining fashion.

-MonsterZero NJ

 A ‘so bad it’s good’ 3 stop motion alien cops.

laserblast rating

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ENEMY TERRITORY (1987)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

enemy-territory

bars

ENEMY TERRITORY (1987)

Enemy Territory is an obscure and currently unavailable 1987 urban action exploitation flick from Charles Band’s defunct Empire Pictures that I was fortunate enough to have seen at the Hyway Theater in Fair Lawn N.J. during it’s release in the late 80s. It was unusual for Band to produce a straight action film without killer dolls, robots or creatures and it’s controversial storyline of a white insurance agent being trapped in an inner city tenement and pursued by a black youth gang, may be one reason the film appears to remain out of print. But it is an exploitation film and it is the nature of the beast with such flicks to present controversial or taboo subjects in an entertainment format and Enemy Territory is no different. I had an opportunity to revisit it, recently and see if it was still the entertaining B-Movie I remembered it to be. It is.

The film takes place in NYC and tells the story of down on his luck insurance agent Barry Rapchick (Gary Frank) who is desperate for cash and goes into the crime-ridden ghetto neighborhood of Lincoln Towers at dusk to get a policy signed that will net him a big commission. But a run-in with a young member of the Vampires gang, a gang that rules the night in Lincoln Towers, leaves the youth (Teddy Abner) and a security guard (Tiger Haynes) dead. This makes Barry a marked man and a man hunted through the embattled tenement by the vicious gang and it’s psychotic leader (Tony Todd) who torment and kill anyone who gets in the way of them catching their prey. Befriended by sympathetic phone repairman and army veteran Will (Ray Parker Jr.) and some good natured tenants, Barry might have a chance to survive. But the Vampires are many and Barry’s allies are few and it’a a long way down to the ground floor and a longer way till dawn when the police would even dare enter the notorious neighborhood.

Low budget thriller is directed by Band regular Peter Manoogian, from a script by Stuart M. Kaminsky and Bobby Liddell and is an entertaining and suspenseful B-Movie, that manages to make good use of the isolated and claustrophobic setting of it’s inner city tenement building location. Manoogian overcomes some cheesy dialog to create some nice atmosphere and tension and give us some effective low budget action scenes to punctuate all the hiding and running around. And the film can be very violent and bloody at times as a result of that action. There are certainly some characters (the gang) that were stereotypical of movies of this era, but there are also some down to earth and very human characters (the tenants) to balance it out. The performances from the principles are better then you might expect in such a low budget flick with Gary Frank being effective as the ‘humbled’ white yuppie, Barry and singer Parker, giving us a noble working class man who believes in doing the right thing, as Will. Frances Foster is solid as Elva, Barry’s client, a good Christian woman who becomes one of his allies against the brutal gang members. Fan favorite Tony Todd is appropriately over-the-top as the psychotic gang leader, “The Count” as is Jan-Michael Vincent as Parker, a well-armed but paranoid and bigoted, wheelchair-bound Viet Nam vet, who lives in a fortified apartment in the tenement building and gets drawn into the conflict. Rounding out is sweet but street-tough Toni, played well by Clueless’ Stacey Dash in her first film. On a technical side, the film uses a lot of location shooting, so it looks solid on a meager budget and the cinematography is by future Spike Lee DOP and established director in his own right, Ernest R. Dickerson.

I can see how in today’s easily offended and overly-sensitive times where a lot of this flick’s racial content could make distributors wary of releasing it. I have yet to find definitive proof that the film’s blunt portrayal of racial issues, stereotypes and prejudices is the reason it languishes unreleased on DVD or Blu-Ray, but I do feel it’s a good guess. I don’t get the impression the film was trying to be crass in it’s portrayal of a white man caught in the middle of inner city violence. And despite being an exploitation flick, it never seems to make light of gang violence and though presented in an action film content, I don’t think there is any intent to make light of the negative aspects of inner city life or the unfortunate prejudices between the races, either. As I stated earlier, for every stereotype, there is a more down to earth character to demonstrate that the stereotypes do not represent the community as a whole. Remember, it would be a few years yet before filmmakers like Spike Lee and John Singleton would present to audiences a far more serious look at life in our country’s ghettos for minorities and raise awareness and sensitivity toward the subject. This is an 80s flick and it has a heavy 70s vibe. Even if Enemy Territory‘s grim depiction of urban life is a bit more comicbook-ish, it still has some resonance beyond the over the top gang characters and gunfire. Overall, it is made to entertain and is far from a message film, but in my opinion, if you watch the film objectively, it does ultimately show that there is good and bad in everyone and prejudices are based on exceptions and not the rules, even if the flick’s first concern is telling an entertaining action story…and as low budget action flicks go, Enemy Territory is actually pretty good, if viewed simply as the action/exploitation flick it’s meant to be.

3 bullets.

ex2 rating

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ROBOT JOX (1990)

marquee_TON

now playing

robot_jox

bars

ROBOT JOX (1990)

Robot Jox is another little movie that has developed a bit of a following thought, I can’t fathom why. Produced by schlockmeister Charles Band, whose work also has a cult following, especially his Full Moon killer doll productions, and while I do like some of his stuff, I find most of it badly made and really cheap looking. His productions look far cheaper then they actually cost and Robot Jox is no different. Made for anywhere between $6.5 to $10 million, depending on what you read, this epic of battling robots and their pilots looks like a bad episode of the infamous 80s Buck Rodgers TV show complete with hokey, minimally dressed plastic sets and shiny spandex costumes. Robot Jox is set in a future where differences are now settled by gladitorial combat by giant robots piloted by specially trained and now genetically engineered pilots. The Western Market’s best pilot, naturally born Achilles (Gary Graham) is set to go up against The Confederation’s homicidal pilot Alexander (an awful Paul Koslo) and when the two meet, the battle goes awry.  Alexander cheats and Achilles and his fighting machine land on a stand full of spectators, killing hundreds. Which makes one question why unprotected spectators are in the vicinity of gigantic fighting robots anyway. The match ruled a draw, Achilles refuses to fight Alexander again to determine a winner but, has second thoughts when he is replaced by a beautiful, young, genetically engineered pilot, Athena (Anne-Marie Johnson). Now Achilles must overcome his guilt and trauma from all those unnecessary deaths and stop the woman he’s fallen in love with from fighting an opponent she’s not ready for and face that same opponent again himself. As stated, Robot Jox plays and looks like an episode of some silly 80s Sci-Fi TV show and since it was actually filmed in 1987 but, delayed by Band’s Empire Pictures going bankrupt, the comparison aptly fits. The story is routine and cliche’, the dramatics are TV show level and the acting is bland with only Graham giving it a good try in contrast to the overacting Koslo, who is annoying and awful as Alexander. Even script writer, sci-fi author Joe Haldeman clashed with Director Stuart Gordon over his constant dumbing down of the script. And as for Gordon, the man who brought us the gory and giddy classic, The Re-Animator and the cult classic From Beyond, he directs this with little of the energy or devious fun of either of those movies and we get a flat and very by-the-numbers movie with a ridiculously sappy ending. The film was his idea yet he directs like he doesn’t want to be there. But, we come to a movie like this for the robots and underrated SPFX creator David Allen does provide some nice FX especially with the stop-motion animated robots but, despite the quality of his work, the sequences are few and far between and are far too short and slow paced to wow us or really make up for all the cheesy drama and bad dialog. These robots are big, ponderous and slow and it paces the battles as such. The lackadaisical editing doesn’t help either. The film is slow even at only around 85 minutes and it seems like a lot longer. If you’re a fan of Robot Jox, fine, I respect that everyone has their guilty pleasures and if there is anyone out there who is guilty of having guilty pleasures, it’s me. But, despite enjoying Dave Allen’s FX work, which looks better then anything else on this cheap looking movie, (where did the money go? Roger Corman movies like Galaxy Of Terror cost 1/3 as much and look so much better.) I find very little else to recommend it for other then to Charles Band fans or if you have just seen Pacific Rim (review here) and want to giggle over some of the similarities… and there are a few amusing ones. I was disappointed in 1990 when I saw this and it hasn’t gotten any better with the added nostalgia.

If you like Band’s stuff, check out Laserblast, a far more fun flick (for all the wrong reasons) with more of David Allen’s underrated stop-motion animation!

2 crashing and burning robot gladiators!

robot jox rating

 
bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: LASERBLAST (1978)

MZNJ_New_TON

Laserblast

bars

LASERBLAST (1978)

Laserblast is a low budget sci-fi thriller from Charles Band that actually could have been a decent B-movie had it been in more competent hands instead of becoming one of MST3K’s funniest episodes. Even still, it is a guilty pleasure of mine and carries the nostalgia of being one of the flicks seen at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ.

Laserblast opens as an alien outlaw is being pursued on Earth across a desert. After a brief firefight, the reptilian space cops (some cool stop motion FX from the late David Allen) blast the alien bad guy, but in an effort to avoid detection, are forced to flee and the alien’s weapon is left behind. Enter troubled teen Billy (Kim Milford) who, aside from his girlfriend (70s exploitation queen, Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith), is picked on by almost everyone in town including, the pot smoking cops. Obviously fate puts the alien weapon in Billy’s hands and now he has the power to get back at those who abuse him. With the alien weapon transforming him into something unearthly, can Billy be stopped?

Laserblast is sadly directed in a pedestrian manner by Michael Rae and a little energy would have helped a lot as even Billy’s climactic rampage (if blowing up a few cars and a mailbox is a rampage) is very by the numbers and lacks any suspense. Rae’s idea of dramatic intensity is to show the same explosion over and over in slow motion from multiple camera angles and have star Milford overact when under alien influence. And speaking of the acting, the performances range from bland to bad with even cameos from vets Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowell being obvious paycheck grabs. The casting is also odd in the case of Milford who is too good looking and well built to be believable as the picked on kid especially, when nerd legend Eddie Deezen (his first flick), is cast as one of the bullies. Love to ask the casting director what the inspiration was for that casting aside from booze. But the cast isn’t totally to blame as the laughably bad dialog from the weak script isn’t going to help anyone’s performance especially, when the director doesn’t seem to be giving much inspiration. At least David Allen provides some good effects for such a low budget flick and things are blown up quite frequently.

Despite all it’s flaws, I still think there is a ‘so bad it’s good’ charm here and a lot of entertainment can be had from the epic fail of it all. And as stated before, the film does have the previously stated nostalgia element for me personally. So, I would recommend it to those who love to have a good bad movie along with their six pack or simply enjoy laughing at a cheesy 70s low budget sci-fi flick that aims high and fails in entertaining fashion.

-MonsterZeroNJ

 A ‘so bad it’s good’ 3 stop motion alien cops.

laserblast rating

bars