Laserblast (1978)

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A teen finds a laser cannon and soon becomes a deadly weapon himself in this sci-fi cult classic.

Two aliens have arrived on Earth to stop a green-skinned man from causing havoc with a laser cannon. Successfully destroying the man, they leave the laser cannon and a mysterious pendant in the desert before heading back home. Meanwhile, teenager Billy Duncan is living a rough life. His mother is always leaving for vacations. He finds himself bullied by locals Chuck and Froggy as well as bumbling police officers Ungar and Jeep constantly harassing him. His only outlet for relief is his girlfriend Kathy Farley.

Deciding to walk around the desert to take a break from his hard reality, he finds the laser cannon. He starts to pretend shooting things around. When he finds the pendant, he learns the pendant powers up the laser. An excited Billy decides to keep the pendant and laser. When the aliens learn of Billy’s discovery, they decide to head back to Earth. Meanwhile, Billy begins to suddenly go through changes. As he uses the laser, he temporarily becomes a green skinned man with white eyes and deformed teeth as he uses the laser to exact revenge on the bullies. A government agent hunts him down as well as the aliens as they make their way back to Earth.

From the creative mind of Charles Band, the man behind Full Moon Pictures, comes this science fiction cult classic that definitely has some MST3K value. In fact, it was on the hit show. The story of a teenager who finds a laser cannon and turns into some green skinned monster-man hybrid shooting his weapon at his attackers may seem farfetched, but it’s definitely worthy of its cult value.

The late Kim Milford, in his first major film role, plays Billy as a guy who is going through a lot. His introduction just shows what he goes through as we learn his mother is going on another trip and it brings a strain on their relationship. After the scenes introducing the bullies, we finally see Billy crack a big smile when he finds the laser cannon and pendant. It is when he learns the two works together that he thrives on finding something that makes him very happy. At the same time, when we see Billy’s transformed look, it looks like something you would expect from The Incredible Hulk TV series.

While Cheryl Smith plays the concerned girlfriend, it is Gianni Russo’s Tony Craig who brings a sense of mystery. He knows the actions that have occurred, but the question is how does he know about the laser cannon? Dennis Burkley and Barry Cutler are the two bumbling cops who tend to harass Billy for the most ridiculous things. It is as if they just like to pick on him. Perhaps the biggest miscasting is that of Eddie Deezen as Froggy, who is to Mike Bobenko’s Chuck like Grover Dill is to Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. Froggy is pretty much the toadie to Chuck’s bully. The legendary Roddy McDowell makes an extended room as Dr. Mellon, a surgeon who removes a metal disc formed from the pendant on Billy’s chest.

The use of stop-motion characters is used for the alien beings, who are first seen in the film’s opening scene where they stopped the previous wearer of the cannon. Then we see them sporadically when they find out about Billy and his discovery. Kudos goes to Steve Neill and the late Harry Wolman for their visual effects on the film with their Ray Harryhausen-inspired work with the aliens and the makeup on Kim Milford’s transformed version of Billy.

Laserblast is definitely a cult classic thanks to the VFX and Kim Milford’s performance of a bullied teen who finds revenge in the form of using a laser cannon. There was a sequel set for the 1980’s that would eventually become more of a remake, Deadly Weapon, released in 1989 minus the aliens and transformation.

WFG RATING: B-

A production of the Irwin Yablans Company. Director: Michael Rae. Producer: Charles Band. Writers: Franne Schacht and Frank Ray Perilli. Cinematography: Terry Bowen. Editing: Jodie Copelan.

Cast: Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Keenan Wynn, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Ron Masak, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Roddy McDowall.

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