• Laserblast

    Released by: Full Moon Entertainment
    Released on: October 10th, 2017.
    Director: Michael Rae
    Cast: Roddy McDowell, Keenan Wynn, Kim Milford, Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, Dennis Burkley
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Laserblast. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

    But first - Billy Duncan (Kim Milford) is an average Joe, kind of a loner, he doesn’t really fit in so well. At any rate, he’s cruising around in his van one day when he discovers a laser gun made of advanced alien technology out in the deserts of southern California. When he finds it, he takes it and a pendent he finds nearby. It’s then that he learns that its rightful owners – a pair of awesome stop motion alien monsters who only just recently killed the man who owned it prior – want it back. Billy, however, has other ideas. He likes this thing. A lot. It gives him the ability to blow shit up! But the more he uses it, the more it starts to seem like the gun is controlling him and not the other way around. His skin turns a sickly shade of green and he becomes increasingly volatile… violent even.

    Of course, this upsets Billy’s girlfriend Kathy Farley (Cheryl ‘Ranbeaux’ Smith) and he was always on the outs with her crazy grandfather, the Colonel (Keenan Wynn), but he seems to really dig the powers he now has. Town bullies Froggy (Eddie Deezen) and Chuck (Mike Bobenko) certainly won’t be messing with him anymore, and they’ll certainly leave Kathy alone. But bad things are happening to Billy, so eventually he turns to Doctor Mellon (Roddy McDowall) for help – but is it too little too late? And what about those aliens… and the government agents that have been chasing them?

    So yeah, let’s count the ways. First off, the stop motion effects used in this movie are awesome. The story is not and the acting is not but the stop motion is. The alien creatures that are responsible for this big ol’ mess are just genuinely cool to watch and any time that they are on screen, the movie is exciting. Thankfully, they get a fair bit of screen time. Also the inside of the alien ship looks like a disco!

    Secondly, Laserblast is the first film to feature a score from Joel Goldsmith (son of the great Jerry Goldsmith) and Richard Band. The music in this picture is surprisingly good and if you’re not really paying attention, it could actually elevate the picture for you. Some might say the score is better than the film deserves, but those people would be wrong. Laserblast deserves the very best.

    Reason number three? The cast. What a weird selection of actors! The late Kim Milford has been good in some things. He’s not really good in this. Oh, he’s watchable and entertaining as he sort of morphs into something more akin to a Morlock than a regular human but his acting is all over the place. Sometimes he might be asleep, other times, he’s on fire! There’s very little middle ground. And hey, check out the beautiful Cheryl ‘Ranbeaux’ Smith – she doesn’t get all that much to do here except feign concern but she looks good doing it. Keenan Wynn is awesome as her batshit crazy grandfather and hey, check out Eddie Deezen in his feature film debut – that alone makes this movie worth seeing. Throw in a completely slumming Roddy McDowell clearly just earning that paycheck and Laserblast score high marks.

    Need more? Well, Laserblast features great makeup work. It’s weird, kind of creepy, but it’s great. Milford looks kind of gross once the laser sort of takes over him, but the makeup by Steve and Ve Neill holds its own.

    Let’s keep going – lasers. The movie has quite a bit of laser action in it, all done the old fashioned way with optical effects rather than CGI. Lasers are awesome at all times, especially when they make their targets explode.

    Lastly, the theme – absolute power corrupts absolutely, right? It’s deep! Billy in Laserblast is a lot like Ricky in Skid Row’s 18 And Life. Both of these young men have hearts of stone and come from the wrong side of the tracks. Ricky fought like a switchblade so no one could take him down, whereas Billy blasted the fuck out of people with his alien laser so no one could take him down. Neither has any money, neither is any good at home – most importantly, both had a courtship with a gun (only Billy’s was a lasergun). This movie deals with issues as timeless as Skid Row’s classic and while it doesn’t necessarily do it well or really resolve it in a way that makes us think anything besides ‘huh, that was neat’ it gets points for trying.

    So yeah, the acting is bad, the story is full of holes and the pacing is all over the place. Michael Rae’s direction is remarkably uneven (he handles action well but shows no flair for drama at all) and the whole thing feels cheap, tacky even – but there are at least six reasons to love Laserblast, and now that it’s on Blu-ray, the physical act of loving Laserblast is better than ever.


    Laserblast appears on Blu-ray for the first time ever in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen “remastered from the original 35mm answer print.” The transfer looks like a decent quality theatrical print. Scratches, scuffs and minor print damage are evident from start to finish, the picture is hardly blemish-free, but it looks pleasingly film-like throughout. Grain appears naturally here, and fine detail isn’t half bad at all. Colors generally look quite good, though there are a few spots where they do look a little faded. Black levels are not consistent, there are moments when they’re a dark grey, but overall they look fine and there are no issues with crush. Edge enhancement and noise reduction don’t factor into the equation at all, while skin tones look just fine. This isn’t the epitome of HD perfection but it’s fine, and a definite step up from the old DVD release.

    English language audio options are offered up in your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. There are no alternate languages or subtitles provided. The 2.0 mix is presumably more true to the film’s roots but the 5.1 mix does add a bit of depth to some of the action scenes. The surround mix here is rudimentary for the most part, there’s only so much that could likely have been done, but to be fair dialogue is clear, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion outside of some minor bits and bobs that are gone before you notice them, and the levels are properly balanced.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary featuring producer Charles and composer Richard Band. Charles does a bit more talking than Richard, but both men have their fair share of contributions to offer. Richard talks about scoring the picture, no surprise there, while Charles talks about the efforts of director Michael Rae and what the various cast members were able to bring to the production. There’s also talk here about when the film was skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000, what has happened to some of the performers that appeared in the picture (a lot of them are dead!), and quite a bit more. They take all of this about as seriously as they need to, which is to say that while this is hardly a joke track they’re clearly having fun reminiscing about the picture.

    Aside from that, look for bonus trailers for Cinderella, Crash!, The Day Time Ended, End Of The World, Fairy Tales, Mansion Of The Doomed and Tourist Trap as well as menus and chapter selection. For some reason (like an authoring problem) the trailers for Cinderella and Tourist Trap don’t play when selected off of the main menu, but if you put the disc into your PC’s Blu-ray drive and poke around, you’ll find that they are on the disc. Weird.

    The Final Word:

    If loving Laserblast is wrong, who in their right mind would want to be right? This movie is a kick, a low budget sci-fi monster mash with a fun cast, some really cool effects and a whole lot of zany nonsense to fill in the gaps. Full Moon’s Blu-ray release isn’t pristine, but it is a nice upgrade over the old DVD release and the commentary definitely adds some value. Lots of entertainment value to be had with this one.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!