ICFIFC: Laserblast (1978)

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ICFIFC: Laserblast (1978)

…and we’re back from the holiday break and I hope Krampus didn’t find you!  I look forward to another year of saying great things about terrible movies with you guys, which by the way we are entering our sixth year of doing this thing we do and maybe if I can get off my butt there may be new things coming up for the MMTV fans.

Tonight we visit with one of the greats and one of his masterpieces…of crap!  In the annuls of B-Movies a few names have earned a place in the pantheon of godhood, Corman, Castle and tonight’s guest.  Not the first time he has been the topic and I’m sure it won’t be the last, Mr. Charles Band.

Laserblast is a 1978 American science fiction film about an unhappy teenage loner who discovers an alien laser cannon and goes on a murderous rampage, seeking revenge against those who he feels have wronged him.  The low-budget film was directed by Michael Rae and produced by Charles Band, who is widely known for producing B movies.  Starring Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, and Gianni Russo, the film features notable cameo appearances by Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowall, and marked the screen debut of actor Eddie Deezen.


Laserblast (1978)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Michael Rae
  • Produced:
    • Charles Band 
    • J. Larry Carroll
  • Written:
    • Franne Schacht 
    • Frank Ray Perilli
  • Starring: Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowall, Rick Walters
  • Music:
    • Richard Band 
    • Joel Goldsmith
  • Cinematography: Terry Bowen
  • Editing: Jodie Copelan
  • Studio: Selected Pictures
  • Distributed:
    • The Irwin Yablans Company 
    • United American Video 
    • Astral Films 
    • Cult Video 
    • Koch Vision 
    • Media Home Entertainment 
    • The Samuel Goldwyn Company 
    • Video Treasures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 1 March 1978 (USA)
  • Running Time: 85 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

A green-skinned man wanders through the desert with a laser cannon attached to his arm.  A spaceship lands and two aliens emerge, one of whom shoots the man, which disintegrates his body.  The aliens depart on their spaceship, leaving behind the laser cannon and a metallic pendant the man was wearing.

Teenager Billy Duncan wakes up in his bed, seemingly disturbed, and learns his mother is leaving for vacation.  He goes to visit his girlfriend Kathy, but her deranged grandfather Colonel Farley makes him leave before he can see her.  As Billy drives around town, he is harassed by bullies Chuck Boran and Froggy, and by two police deputies who give him a speeding ticket.  Billy wanders into the desert and discovers the laser cannon and pendant.  He starts playing with the cannon, pretending to shoot things, then realizes he can fire the weapon while wearing the pendant.  Meanwhile, on the alien spacecraft, the two aliens converse with their leader who shows them footage of Billy using the cannon, prompting the aliens to turn their ship around to head back to Earth.  Context implies that the two aliens, upon departing Earth, left the cannon and pendant behind under the presumption that no other human would able to use them as the green-skinned man had, but they have now learned that they were in error.

Later that night, Billy and Kathy attend a party where Chuck and Froggy attempt to rape Kathy.  When Billy discovers them, a fight breaks out.  Later that night, Billy uses the laser cannon to explode Chuck's car, and Chuck and Froggy barely escape the explosion alive.  Government official Tony Craig arrives to investigate both the explosion and the desert where Billy found the cannon.  Tony informs the local sheriff that the town must be sealed off.

Feeling sick due to an unusual growth on his body, Billy visits Dr. Mellon, who surgically removes a metallic disc from Billy's chest.  Mellon calls the police laboratory technician Mike London to arrange for the disc to be investigated.  A green-skinned Billy opens fire on Mellon's car that evening, killing him in an explosion.  The next day, Tony investigates the wreckage and recovers unusual material, which he brings to Mike London, who concludes it is an alien material that cannot be destroyed.

The next day, Kathy puts the pendant on Billy's chest while they are laying together outside.  Billy immediately wakes up with green skin and deformed teeth and attacks Kathy.  Billy goes on a rampage, shooting random objects with the laser cannon.  Law enforcement officials shoot at Billy from an aircraft, but Billy destroys the aircraft with the cannon, and later kills Chuck and Froggy by blowing up their car.

While Tony questions Colonel Farley and Kathy about Billy, the two aliens land on Earth and begin searching for Billy.  After killing a man and stealing his van, Billy travels into a city where he randomly fires at his surroundings. Kathy and Tony arrive in the city and locate Billy, as the aliens spot Billy from atop a building and shoot him, which kills Billy and destroys the laser cannon.  The aliens depart in their spacecraft and Kathy cries over Billy's corpse.

The reptilian alien creatures in the film were works of stop motion animation by animator David W. Allen, marking the first chapter in a decades-long history of collaboration between Allen and Band.  The alien spacecraft model featured in Laserblast was designed and built by Greg Jein in two weeks, and the musical score was written in five days by Joel Goldsmith and Richard Band, the first film score for both composers.

Laserblast has received overwhelmingly negative reviews and consistently ranks among the Bottom 100 list of films on the Internet Movie Database.  Even many critical reviews, however, cited Allen's stop motion animation as one of the film's only redeeming qualities.  A 1988 sequel was planned, but ultimately abandoned due to financial difficulties.  Laserblast was featured in the seventh season finale of the comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, marking the show's final episode on Comedy Central before the series moved to the Sci-Fi Channel.

A pathetic androgynous blond kid from the California desert finds a ray-gun left by fat-assed aliens in the sagebrush, is harassed by strangely southern, dope-smoking cops, develops a large hole in his chest, kills Roddy McDowall, and eventually dies himself. Meanwhile, nothing happens. The aliens are the best thing in the film: they're cute. Eddie Deezen rounds out the cast as the hurtful geek.

-- The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide


Sources:

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