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  Laserblast The Zap Gun
Year: 1978
Director: Michael Rae
Stars: Kim Milford, Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowall, Rick Walters, Simmy Bow, Joanna Lipari, Wendy Wernli, Michael Bryar
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Out in the California desert a drama is unfolding as an alien wielding a hugely destructive weapon is being hunted down by two other beings of a different race. The fugitive tries to take refuge from where he can aim his gun, but the other two policing beings soar overhead in their craft and destroy him with their own weaponry. However, satisfied that the danger is over, they make the mistake of leaving the criminal's gun behind, where anybody could find it - that anybody being the much put-upon Billy (Kim Milford) who happens to be driving by in his van...

One of the things about Star Wars that many audiences found the coolest was not the light sabers, but the blasters and bursts of laser fire: there must be a million people out there who imitated Han Solo shooting away with his space pistol as kids. Maybe as adults, too. Back in the fifties, they were called rayguns, but come the seventies, the more up to date "laser guns" was the preferred term, because, you know, laser sounds so much more futuristic, doesn't it? And so it was an idea was born in the mind of scriptwriters Frank Ray Perilli and Franne Schacht...

The result being this, from the kings of the low budget science fiction movie of the next two decades, the Bands. Charles Band was the producer here, and the same kind of limited imagination that afflicted many of their productions blighted Laserblast; this was the only film directed by Michael Rae, whose style could best be described as slack, and the plot was really the same kind of revenge against the bullies wish fulfilment that Brian De Palma's Carrie was, which coincidentally was released the same year. Must have been something in the air.

Except, of course, Carrie is a classic of its type, whereas Laserblast is roundly lampooned for being one of the worst science fiction movies of the day. With a lot of setting up of the characters, which when you see how two-dimensional they are makes you wonder why they bothered, the film takes care to make clear the antagonism that Billy suffers: basically, everyone except his girlfriend Kathy (Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith) is a potential victim. So his fortunes change when he finds the weapon in the desert, tries it on and discovers that when he wears an amulet with it he can fire off great big, er, blasts of laser.

What this means, in effect, is that we get a lot of dull stretches interspersed with things blowing up real good (including a Star Wars billboard - no hard feelings, eh?). As well as an aversion to shirts, Billy apparently has an aversion to cars, as they are usually his target when he puts on the contraption - not the most streamlined of sci-fi's creations - and lets fly with a few energy bolts. Among those turning up for a day's work is Roddy McDowall (whose name is misspelled in the credits), playing a doctor who takes an interest in the metal patch, a side effect, growing on Billy's chest and is, yes, blown up for his trouble. Also of interest is Eddie Deezen, playing a weird nerd-bully hybrid - can you guess what happens to him? The end of Laserblast is something like a low budget version of Zabriskie Point, with explosions littering the screen, and with the stop motion aliens the sole half-decent effect, it's easy to see why this distinctly unengrossing adventure has received the, er, blasting it has. Music by Richard Band and Joel Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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