Written by: George Pacheco on September 22nd, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, March 1st 1978
Director: Michael Rae
Writers: Franne Schacht, Frank Ray Perilli
Cast: Cheryl Smith, Roddy McDowall, Kim Milford, Gianni Russo, Keenan Wynn, Eddie Deezen
DVD Release Date: August 12th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.67:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: 88 Films
Region Encoding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £8.99
Laserblast is a slice of schlocky science fiction which remains enjoyable despite itself; a feature which served up perfect fodder for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, yet stands on its own as a thoroughly watchable “B picture” for those with high constitution for cheese.
The film opens up with a gaunt, menacing looking fellow, brandishing a futuristic laser gun on his arm, on the run from two stop-motion animated aliens who clearly want their weapons technology returned at any cost. The aliens exterminate the laser-thief, but are scared away by government aircraft before they are allowed to reclaim their weapon, which now lies abandoned in the desert, alongside the deceased man’s mysterious chest amulet.
Laserblast then switches its narrative focus to that of exploits of Billy, a restless young man in a small country town with no real goals or desires in mind, other than to drive around shirtless and occasionally court young Kathy Farley, played by drive-in movie starlet Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith. Billy doesn’t feel right around the other youths of his town, ignoring company at parties and possessing a fairly adversarial relationship with most of the other boys his age, particularly those he views as competition for Kathy.
Naturally, it only makes sense in this type of movie that our brooding protagonist with the proverbial chip on his shoulder would just so happen to fall upon the missing laser gun and amulet…so this is exactly what happens to Billy, and before long he’s taking neon potshots at all those who get in his way. The audience is quickly turned on to the fact that both the amulet and laser possess poisonous qualities, and are slowly degenerating Billy to the same, misshapen appearance as the opening alien fugitive, while also amplifying his already negative personality traits into something truly dangerous.
Kathy and Billy turn to the town’s Doctor Mellon (McDowall) for answers, but time is running out, as both the government and alien forces are already hot on the couple’s trail, and desperately want to get their hands on Billy’s stolen technology…dead or alive.
Laserblast is by no means a “good” film, but it’s certainly an enjoyable one, making up for its decided lack of strong, unique characters and compelling story with some well-done make-up, stop motion alien animation and gloriously cheesy special effects. The film’s acting performances are wooden and sub-par on the whole, with MacDowall and Wynn clearly cashing in their glorified cameos here while Smith herself is little more than pretty window dressing for Kim Milford’s bland Billy.
Still, the film’s retro sci-fi vibe and decent electronic score from Full Moon house composer Richard Band and Joel Goldsmith—son of famed maestro Jerry Goldsmith—makes the enduring legacy of Laserblast understandable in the long run, as the film harkens back to the long, but not quite forgotten days of the drive in.
The UK’s 88 Films presents Laserblast in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This 88 Films version doesn’t offer much in the way of picture and sound improvement from previous editions of Laserblast, both in the way of AV quality and extras. The DVD picture possesses the soft focus of a film its age, while the Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is audible, but not of the highest quality, although without any apparent drop outs.
Extras are limited to the film’s original trailer and a collection of other Full Moon release trailers. Overall, Laserblast receives an average, bare bones release from 88 Films.