The increasing mythologising of the grindhouse era of lo-fi has done the world of good in terms of bringing relatively under-appreciated cult classics back for some degree of limelight and posthumous reverence, but the knock-on effect has been a value system inversion that makes saintly virtue of bad acting and dreadful writing, reinventing patently rubbish films as so-bad-they’re-good.
1978’s infamously crappy Laserblast – de-achived by serial offender Charles Band from the Full Moon Pictures’ mass-grave of dreadful B-movies and release on Region 2 under 88 Films’ broad and forgiving ‘Grindhouse Collection’ banner – is merely so bad it’s very, very bad.
In a patch a Mid-Western scrubland, a man in shiny makeup with his arm-wedged up a bit of piping hides from some grumpy turtle neck aliens who quack at each other a bit before obliterating him in a burst fairly endearing stop-motion from David W Allen, whose career would later include FX work and puppetry on Willow, Batteries Not Included, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, The Howling, and Band’s better known offerings such as the Puppetmaster series.
Their spaceship meanwhile was constructed by future Star Trek: The Next Generation miniatures veteran Greg Jein, proving that it’s often only the craftsmen who get out of things like this with the reputation intact.
Leaving behind a medallion and his bazooka, the aliens depart, and the bullied Billy Duncan (Kim Milford) – whose life is one big Luke Skywalker circa-Tosche Station whine – picks them up after sulking around the desert. The medallion/laser cannon combo wreaks havoc on his manly chest (Roddy McDowall, who should know better, pops up as a doctor to try and take it off) and turns him into a sickly-hued laserblasting douchebag as whatever wafer-thin strips of plot remain crumble in the face of a naked revenge fantasy wish-fulfillment turdpile.
That Billy is bullied considering he’s pretty well built, blonde, has a hot girlfriend (Rainbeaux Smith), and wanders around shirtless, while screeching alpha-dork Froggy (Grease’s Eddie Deezen) is doing the bullying probably isn’t a message about the insidious nature of bullying and how bullying only begets people firing laser cannons needlessly at parked cars just to watch them explode.
The aliens, realising their mistake by watching the events unfold through exactly the same camera angles as the audience – perhaps they were checking the dailies? – return to end his reign of terror, landing on a rooftop in such a way as to look about three times bigger than they did when the first appeared.
Girlfriend Kathy cradles Billy’s remains while the credits roll, while off-screen continuity, common-sense, audio/visual quality, and 80 minutes of your life breath their last, waiting for her to shed tears for them too.