The big downside of rarely drinking alcohol is that you have to accept everything on its own terms. You can’t have the excuse of “I don’t know, I was pretty drunk at the time” to fall back on.
Usually I’m OK with this. But heavy drinking might have helped out when I watched Laserblast. I’d seen this on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where it was a laugh riot, and thought I’d see the movie straight up. Unfortunately, what was amusing with Mike and the ‘bots and might have been endearingly bad when seen through booze-colored glasses, ended up being rather dull and pathetic.
The movie opens on a relatively promising note. A green-faced guy staggers through the desert, only to be zapped by a laser and reduced to a black silhouette on the ground, leaving behind a pendant and his giant laser weapon. The shooters, two aliens who look like lumpy dinosaurs and who speak in the “Meh! Mah!” dialect familiar to anyone who saw Mars Attacks, congratulate themselves on their accuracy, but then get spooked by a passing Cessna and hop into their spaceship, leaving behind the pendant and the weapon to be found by some unlucky bastard.
Our unlucky bastard is the vaguely reptilian Billy (Kim Milford). Billy’s life sucks, not to put too fine a point on it. In the very first scene, Billy’s mother goes gadding off to Acapulco, presumably leaving Billy to fend for himself and live off ramen noodles. (Adding a whole new level to the patheticness of Billy’s existence, he appears to be checking out his mom’s ass in this scene. Eww.) Billy also has a very lame van, with silly Bigfoot decals on the side; enraged by its décor, the van betrays him by refusing to start when Billy challenges local stud Chuck (Mike Bobenko) and Chuck’s bitch, um, I mean, sycophant, Froggy (Eddie Deezen). I’m sorry, but when a character played by Eddie Deezen can successfully mock you, it may be time to begin reassessing your life. Billy is also hassled by the cops and by his girlfriend’s wacko grandfather (Keenan Wynn in a glorified cameo). The only bright spot in Billy’s existence is his girlfriend Kathy (Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith), which unfortunately means we get to watch the two of them suck face a lot. Eww. Billy also spends almost the entire movie with his shirt off or open. Eww.
Fortunately, after this opening wallow in the misery that is Billy’s existence, Billy discovers the pendant and the laser weapon. This scene is unintentionally hilarious; when Billy first finds the weapon he makes “Pa-pa-pow!” sounds. Really. Soon he discovers that if he fires the weapon while wearing the pendant, he can blow up stuff real good. Unfortunately, the pendant gives him an ooky sore on his chest. Eww. He also starts turning into a green-faced ghoul. Nothing ever works out well for Billy, does it?
So Billy spends the rest of the movie laserblasting those who’ve done him wrong, and it soon becomes clear that the movie’s raison d'etre is to blow up stuff real good. Which is fine, except that a plot would be nice, as well as some characters we can be interested in instead of merely having contempt for. Vague attempts at a plot are made, resulting in another glorified cameo, this time by Roddy McDowall, who appears as a doctor who examines the ooky sore on Billy’s chest. And there’s a government guy named Mr. Craig (Gianni Russo) who adds absolutely nothing to the movie.
Laserblast is like something the AV geeks at high school might have put together. Unfortunately I’m not in high school any more and Laserblast ends up being dull, with occasional ventures into sad and lame. The plot is nonexistent. The characters are pitiable at best and obnoxious at worst – it’s clear we’re supposed to rally behind Billy, but Michael Rae is no Brian De Palma, and Billy is no Carrie White.
The only bright spots are the things blowing up real good (although there are some real head-scratchers here – the pinball machine? The Star Wars billboard? And why doesn’t anyone notice all these explosions?). Also of note are the stop-motion aliens, created by Dave Allen, who worked on many genre movies ranging from Flesh Gordon to Ghostbusters 2. The aliens made me smile every time I saw them. Also provoking a giggle was a stoned van driver who gives Billy a lift and has a nonsensical, profoundly stupid speech.
Learn from my example, dear readers. If you must watch Laserblast, do so with a bunch of good friends. Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker, Sam Adams… you get the idea.