Moonlaser Reviews – Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

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“It’s high noon at the end of the universe.”

a81964ff521e74f92dbe92d5171e3244This Charles Band (Puppet Master, Trancers) production is similar to a number of others we’ve talked about here. It comes from that classic period of terribly cheesy, sci-fi madness that I had only read about until recently. Spaceships, hover-crafts, blasters, grizzled heroes with just the right amount of facial scruff, all held together by horrific special effects.

But it’s still a fun one.

SYNOPSIS: Dogen, a space ranger, is after a crazed, intergalactic villain known as Jared-Syn. Syn is collecting human souls to power a large crystal that will allow him to…do something. Destroy the world…hold dominion over the galaxy…not sure. In his corner are his son, Baal–a green man with a metal arm that shoots hallucinogenic ooze–and an army of mindless space rabble who believe Syn is the messiah. On his quest to stop Syn, Dogen gathers together a motley team: Dhyana, a miner whose father has been killed by Syn; Hurok, a cyclopean warrior; and Rhodes, the film’s requisite Hans Solo stand-in. Together they set out to put a stop to Jared-Syn’s lunacy before…something happens.

This film has all the trappings of a great piece of schlocky fun. The hover-crafts are in the sky. The cheesy monsters are traveling through dreamscapes to attack the unsuspecting. The laser blasters are hanging on every hip…and yet Metalstorm doesn’t quite deliver the good time you think you should be having.

There’s a pacing problem for starters. Way too many drawn out shots of desert. I stared at a silhouette of our hero walking along the horizon for nearly a minute and wondered if the creators had been worried about the film’s length, fluffing it here and there to make it a feature. We don’t get enough backstory to really care for the characters or, in some cases, understand what they’re even trying to do. This one definitely leans on its source material–Mad Max, Star Wars, Dune–hoping fans already sold by the poster art will be too enwrapped  in the film’s visual similarities to these other, more popular films to notice it lacks an engaging story as well as charismatic or even passable acting performances.

That said, no reasonable person watches a film called Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn with their Judgy Mcjudgerson hats on, am I right? So don’t do it, friends. Just watch the movie and try to have a good time.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – Killdozer

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This one threw me off a little, but not necessarily in a bad way.

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My expectation for this one going in was that it would be good, wholesome, schlocky fun. And by that I of course mean I expected it to be really really bad.

And it kind of was…

But it also kind of…wasn’t?

The film opens with a meteorite falling from outer space. So far, no new ground has been tread. But the meteorite lands on an uninhabited island. The opening shots of the film are actually fairly beautiful. The picture quality, camera work, and editing are pretty clean all the way through. I appreciated the unique setting. Not that islands filled with danger were unfamiliar horror tropes–they did  make a few of those. But there are no mad scientists or giants bugs here (not that there’s anything wrong with those things). Here we have a group of construction workers who are building an airstrip for an oil company. It’s not five teens going to a cabin in the woods, or to “the point” to make out. Though, again, there is nothing wrong with those things. But it’s nice to get a look at a group of people you don’t see every day, doing something you don’t hear about every day.

When a bulldozer blade smashes into the meteorite we saw earlier in the film, a blue, alien energy is transferred from the rock to the dozer, causing it to come to life and go after the workers, killing them off one by one.

There’s a definite, not-as-good The Thing vibe to this movie. You have the alien entity. You have a cast of characters doing a particular, interesting job in a very remote place–their isolation plays a direct role in the plot, adding a great deal of tension to the film. The acting isn’t award-worthy, but it’s passable. The characters are clearly defined, and there is tension between them from the very beginning. This tension is exacerbated by the introduction of the possessed dozer, so that even when the dozer attacks are anticlimactic, suspense is maintained by the character conflicts. You have the overbearing boss, the cold, calculating cowboy, the man on the edge of madness after losing his best friend, and one or two characters constantly working to keep the peace between these more volatile characters. For a made for TV movie from 1974 about a bulldozer possessed by an alien, Killdozer is pretty damn good.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – Moontrap

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What do mechanical alien cephalopods, future boobs, and Bruce Campbell have in common?

Moontrap.

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Astronauts Ray (Bruce Campbell) and Jason (Walter Koenig) happen upon a derelict spacecraft, floating aimlessly through space. Upon investigating it, they uncover an odd metal egg and a dead body, and they transport their finds back to Earth. The body is that of a man who is thousands of years old. The egg is, well, an alien.

They don’t realize the latter until a metal octopus emerges from the egg, fashions itself a metal body, and starts smoking people with lasers.

Ray manages to kill it with a shotgun blast to the head, and then he and Jason return to the moon for a search and destroy mission.

Bruce Campbell plays a supporting role in this one, and his usual boisterous demeanor is muted to make way for the heavy, doom-laden tone of the film. However, rather than creating an atmosphere of tense dread, this approach renders the film flat and ultimately boring. These long scenes of mounting suspense fizzle out by the payoff, which generally involves an okay-looking robot-alien capping fools with his little laser mouth. Films like this one will often use a psychological approach to add tension, which aids the effect of the slow build. Moontrap doesn’t do that, so the slow build is just slow for no reason.

That said, it’s not terrible. For a site dedicated to films that are so bad they’re good, Moontrap falls closer to the  good-but-could-have-been-great side. It’s worth a watch, but the cheap thrills are surprisingly minimal, and there isn’t much else going on.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – Alien Apocalypse

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Termite aliens from outer space? I don’t know. What? Oh, Bruce Campbell’s in it? Why didn’t you say so? Let’s do this!

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I have not seen every Bruce Campbell movie ever made. Part of the reason for that is many of them are difficult to find. Alien Apocalypse is fairly obscure to the casual moviegoer, and rightfully so–because it’s bad! But bad is our middle name, as you well know. So, gimme some sugar baby…I mean, groovy…huh, is there a Bruce quote that functions as a call to action? Wait, I got it–Come get some.

Ivan (Bruce Campbell) and a small team of astronauts have recently returned to Earth after a forty-year expedition into the depths of space, which they spent in cryo-sleep. Ivan figures he will use his status as a doctor to make his fortune in the futuristic utopia that surely lies just beyond the desert in which they currently find themselves. Only, the desert stretches right up to the decimated ruins of Portland, a city once enshrouded by lush forest and bustling with human activity. Much to their chagrin, our astronauts quickly discover that while they were away a race of computer animated bugs from a bad Pixar movie overtook the planet and enslaved mankind. It turns out wood is a hot commodity back on the home planet of these termite-esque aliens, and they have established a series of sawmills, forcing human slaves to produce lumber, which the aliens ship home for profit. They also eat wood, as well as human fingers and human heads.

Ivan does not like this. Oh, Ivan does not like this one bit. He escapes his confinement with the help of another slave and treks into the mountains in search of the president of the united states, who is supposedly putting together an army to retake Earth. When Campbell finds the president, the man is just hanging out with his senators, huddling in terror. Ivan is undeterred. He decides to lead the rebellion himself, and over the course of the film (eventually with the aid of the pres, who changes his mind), through a series of reasonably lowkey battle sequences (This was a SyFy production), Ivan and a group of survivors liberate the sawmill in their sector and move on to do the same with each until mankind is free again.

This one was okay. Campbell is always good, but he may have been the only good thing about Alien Apocalypse. Every male actor in the movie was wearing a long-hair wig and fake beard, which made everyone look like cavemen. This bothered me. The aliens were uninspired, but that’s not a big deal, as it could have been funny. This one just wasn’t as fun as I wanted it to be. No memorable battle scenes. No memorable one-liners from the king himself. And it wasn’t really funny. They basically tried to tell it straight, as if they weren’t aware they were making a bad movie. I don’t know. Watch it for Bruce. Watch it for the king. Hail to the chin.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – Hell Comes to Frogtown

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I’ve seen this one before, but thought it would be a perfect choice for this page. Not to mention, She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies had not seen it, and I thought that needed to be fixed.

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You may know Roddy Piper as a wrestler, or as the inimitable Nada from John Carpenter’s They Live. But if you know him as Sam Hell from Hell Comes to Frogtown, you’re of a special ilk.

Sam Hell is a rare breed in the brave new world posited by this film in which, following a nuclear war that has wiped out 68% of the male population, two major groups remain to grapple for control of the blasted wasteland: women, who struggle to find fertile men with whom to continue the species; and frog people. That’s right, frog people.

Sam happens to be one of these highly valued, fertile men, and the government, now completely run by women, has called him to serve his country by trekking into the wastes to impregnate…any women he comes across, I think?

Things get slimy when his military escort receives a message saying a group of fertile women have been captured and taken to Frogtown. It becomes Sam’s task to infiltrate the ramshackle city filled with frog people, rescue the women, light some candles, get something romantic going on the stereo, and serve his country.

This is obviously a ridiculous movie. I don’t know what anyone involved could have possibly been thinking. It does manage to be funny, with the inclusion of such one liners as, “Eat lead, froggies!” The movie has a sense of humor about itself, which is the only reason the frog people work. The special effects in that regard consist of actors covered in layers of tacky clothing like hobos to hide the seams of their frog masks and green rubber gloves. As I said, I have seen this one before, and I chose to watch it again. It’s worth a watch.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – 1990: The Bronx Warriors

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“In the year 1990 the Bronx is officially declared No Man’s Land. The authorities give up all attempts to restore law and order. From then on the area is ruled by the Riders”.

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This 1982 release, directed by Enzo G. Castellari, is one of numerous Italian rip-offs of popular films. The New Barbarians and Escape the Bronx are two others filmed with the same goal as this one — to cash in on the craze over Escape from New York, Mad Max 2, and The Warriors. This film shares some of the themes and first-glance, superficial trappings of these other, more popular productions; but it is, overall, pretty bad. However, pretty bad is what we love here at MoonLaser, so let’s stop whining and get into it!

Anne is the heir to The Manhattan Corporation, a morally bankrupt business entity. Unwilling to take the helm of such a diabolical enterprise, she runs away to the Bronx, where hoods have separated into vicious gangs and fight every day for survival. She is immediately attacked by a roller skating gang called the Zombies, rescued by Trash, the leader of the Riders, and taken under the protection of the Riders when she refuses to return home. The Manhattan Corporation hires a mercenary to infiltrate the Bronx and turn the various gangs against each other, hoping to force her out.

The run of the film is a series of road stunts and long shots of men riding motorcycles. Like many 80s Italian films, it looks and feels like it was produced in the 70s. That said, the action sequences are decent, and the plot is simple and clear enough that the movie can focus mostly on keeping the pace up, as one battle scene unfolds after another. Unlike some schlocky films in a similar vein to this one, nothing about the story is really held back until later. The stakes are laid out up front, so you aren’t left questioning characters’ motivations. In other words, there’s not much head scratching going on with this one.

If you want to see a movie set in this sort of world, but done well, you’d be better off re-watching Mad Max or Escape from New York (Or even Escape from LA, which we love here at MoonLaser!). But if you were one to refrain from watching cheesy rip-offs and general exploitative dumpster puke, you wouldn’t be here, now would you? Oh hell, give credit where it’s due. After all, the three films in this theme-related series did take a combined six months to write, prepare, and film…

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell

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A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell – that’s a title. This 1990 Troma production is MV5BMTYzOTA4MjY0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzIxOTA3NjE@._V1_short on dialogue and plot. But it still manages to entertain.

Our nymphoid (yes, that word is made up) barbarian is the last woman on earth after a devastating nuclear war. As the opening narration tells us, she is a bit of a nympho, but this is irrelevant, as it doesn’t really come into play throughout the course of the film. The meat of the film consists of our nymphoid and a male barbarian running away from mutated reptiles, mutated ape/cave people, and run-of-the-mill scavengers. There is a loose plotline about an evil man wearing a skull-helmet, but the minimal dialogue and story development makes it difficult to discern what exactly is going on.

That said, the creature effects are kind of cool in a nostalgic way. They go less for realism in the monster designs, and more for a sort of stripped down, less imaginative Jim Henson effect. The stop-motion is fun and, honestly, it works, considering this is the film company at the forefront of the schlock film world.

Another plus for the film is that it is surprisingly well-paced–even if it goes nowhere. Often, these sorts of low budget movies get bogged down in bad dialogue, attempting to fill in story, where the budget may be too low to allow aspects of the story to play out on screen. The problem with this approach is that the dialogue is usually terrible. In this case, they go straight for action. As with any Troma production, the creators know they are not creating A-list blockbusters. They know what they’re going for–outrageous fun at the complete and total expense of integrity, artistic value, and taste.

And I love every bit of it.

 

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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MoonLaser Reviews – Manborg

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manborg-edmiston-poster-thumb-630xauto-34392Manborg is one of those movies I’ll watch because I’m curious to see how the creators could have possibly pulled it off. I go in with a healthy skepticism; but, deep down, I’m hoping they did it right.

How do you do right by a movie that posits an alternate history in which there was a war between mankind and an army of vampires led by count Dracula (Sorry–Draculon) himself? I’m no authority on the subject–no one is–but I would say director, Stephen Kostansky, and writer, Jeremy Gillespie, came pretty close with this one.

The plot goes like this: a soldier is killed during a world war with Draculon and his army of vampires. He is brought back to life as a cyborg long after the war has ended, the vampires having won, and the world is a dystopian wasteland. Only one man can overthrow the Nazi-esque vampire regime and restore some semblance of peace on Earth…Manborg. He’ll team up with a motley crew of adventurers and save the millennium.

A few things stood out for me about this one. The apparent lack of a budget forced the producers to get creative with the battle sequences and the development of the dystopian world. This makes for an aesthetic that’s more interesting than overwrought. The world Manborg moves through is an almost impressionistic representation of a future dystopia. The cinematography is thick with smoke and fire, shadows and rent metal. The film’s actually kind of beautiful in that way, I think.

I also appreciated Manborg’s gradual realization of his abilities. He doesn’t wake up and begin kicking ass right off the bat. He slowly learns the various functionalities of his new body, and he grapples, lightly, with the existential questions that come from waking up decades into the future as a half robot half man. He’s not overly confident or cool, either. He’s actually fairly dorky, which lends him a certain vulnerability. He’s clumsy, uncertain, and despairing, which leaves him room to grow over the course of the film.

Those were the aspects of the film I liked. One problem I had with the film was the overly ironic treatment of some, if not all, of the characters. It’s obvious from the start the creators are aware they’re not making a grade-a blockbuster here. This movie is meant to be cheesy fun, and they pull it off. But Manborg’s friends in the film are caricatures of various staple character types, which is fine in itself; but they never stray far from their established molds. You have a poorly dubbed martial arts master, a greaser, and the tough chick. While Manborg comes across as vulnerable and possibly inept at first, only to rise to the occasion over the course of the film, his friends pretty much stay the same, and seem to serve no purpose other than to spew clichés and poke fun at the archetypes they represent.

However, these complaints are small for a movie called Manborg. This is worth a watch if you enjoy genre-benders, or if you simply want to see a wacky movie.

She Who Wears the Flesh of Her Enemies has made her decree:

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New 4 Star Review for Stone Wall

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“With Stone Wall, Dominic Stabile has created another fine pulpy cyberpunk romp through a dystopian future, filled with memorable action scenes and some solid characters. It’s what I like to call popcorn fiction. Just leave your brain at the first page, buckle up for some high-octane thrills and strap on your biggest plasma cannon. Turbulent times lie ahead, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Thanks to Adrian Shotbolt over at Beavisthebookhead.com for the awesome review of the second book in the Stone series, Stone Wall. I’m glad people are enjoying this series. I’m nearly done with book 3, Stone Dead, and have plans for a fourth. There’s no end in sight when it comes to the misadventures of Stone and Megan. If you haven’t checked these out yet, please consider doing so. You won’t regret it!

You can check out Adrian’s full review here.

SYNOPSIS:

The Wall is the only thing standing between the people of City and the horrors of The Wastes. The prisoners who inhabit The Wall follow two simple rules: do whatever you have to do to survive, and when you are called for patrol, do your part to clear The Wastes of City’s enemies.

Stone is a ruthless mercenary, hired to break into The Wall and rescue a young boy who may very well be dead already. Stone knows what’s waiting for him out there. He was a prisoner years ago, and he earned his scars fighting for City. He has heard whispers regarding a “New Enemy” beyond The Wall. A war has broken out, and more and more of the prisoner patrols are going out into the desert never to be heard from again.

But five-hundred grand’s nothing to roll your eyes at, and Stone hasn’t had a decent payday since his techie, Megan, split on him six months ago. In desperate need of a number-two man to fill Megan’s spot, Stone reluctantly reunites with Kendrick, his old partner and current disco fanatic. Together, yet constantly at each other’s throats, they’ll break into The Wall and make their way through its deadly streets, doing their best to avoid unimaginable dangers. Stone broke out once. The question is, can he do it again?

 

Purchase the series here!

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(REVIEW) BLUE DEMON by David Bernstein

Great new review from Glenn Rolfe for David Bernstein’ s BLUE DEMON

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BDFrontCoverWhen the meek need defending, they call on Blue Demon, a guardian of bloodshed and retribution. Its loyalty is forever, as long as you remain righteous. For those that oppress the demon’s flock, life grows short. It kills in the most brutal fashion, and maims those it most despises. It has no feelings, only loyalty and devotion for the ones it protects.

Of course, this is all from the Blue Demon television show and Cal Langston, Blue Demon’s biggest fan, knows such things can’t be real, at least not until the people who messed with him start dying in the most horrific of ways.

Frightened and not sure what to believe, he sets out to discover what is truly going on, and if Blue Demon is for real, does he want it watching over him?

First off, look at that freaking cover! Beautiful!

Here’s my review:

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