Nowadays this 1978 film is probably best known as the subject of one of the more popular episodes of MST3K. It was among the first features of schlockmeister Charles Band, who was clearly aping STAR WARS—specifically that film’s laser guns and lead actor Mark Hamill, who closely resembles LASERBLAST’S headliner Kim Milford. As for director Michael Rae, this is his only directorial credit, which based on the quality of the film is entirely understandable.
Look also for uber-nerd Eddie Deezen (GREASE, MIDNIGHT MADNESS, 1941, etc) in his film debut (playing a bully!), cameos by the old pros Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowall, and extensive stop motion effects by the late David Allen. It was Allen’s work on this film (which is said to have been largely executed by an uncredited Jon Berg) that allegedly convinced Band to give him a shot at directing the legendary never-released science fiction epic THE PRIMEVALS.
Anyway: A weird green-faced guy comes staggering out of the desert with an large laser gun strapped to his arm. A spaceship lands nearby and a bunch of aliens step out; the guy fires a laser at them but they shoot back and kill him off.
Billy Fenton is a young jock living in the area. He’s got problems: his mom is running off to Acapulco for the weekend, his girlfriend’s assholish grandfather won’t let Billy near her, he’s ticketed by a pair of goofball cops and, most humiliating of all, he’s bullied by Eddie Deezen! Billy is quite agitated, then, when he stumbles upon the laser gun seen earlier. He takes it back to his house and finds it infecting his mind; in no time he’s become a green-faced freak very much like the guy from the early scenes. In this state he blows up the car belonging to the guys who bullied him with the laser gun.
The following morning Billy visits a local doctor who examines a strange lesion on Billy’s chest. Later Billy lasers the doctor in his car and then takes out the cops who harassed him.
Things come to a head the next day, when Billy’s girlfriend holds a metal object too close to his chest wound. He immediately chases her off, lasers a plane out of the sky and blows up a car driven by those pesky bullies (didn’t he already do that?). From there he’s picked up on the road by a hippie cowboy, who doesn’t appear at all put off by the giant gun Billy has strapped to his arm. After blowing up a billboard for STAR WARS Billy sends the cowboy on his way, and then takes out a phone booth, a mailbox, a newsstand and several cars…until the aliens who put everything into motion turn back up and neutralize Billy for good!
Michael Rae’s direction isn’t as laughably horrible as you might expect…which is about the best I can say for it. The largely amateur performances range from bad to inexcusable, the visuals are frequently underlit and lacking in energy (the camera rarely ever moves), and the low budget special effects (outside the endearingly Ray Harryhausen-esque stop motion aliens who turn up at the beginning and end) are sub-par. Rae and his collaborators also over-rely on slow motion explosions that get old extremely quickly.
As for the script, it’s perilously underdeveloped and misconceived: an entire movie pivoting on a single laser gun simply isn’t a good idea! Further distraction is provided by the most annoying pair of dumb-assed cops this side of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and a wholly gratuitous FBI agent character who turns up periodically but has no direct bearing on the narrative. It seems Rae and his screenwriters were aware of the thinness of their story and so did their best to pad it out. It’s all for naught, however, as LASERBLAST sucks, pure and simple.
Director: Michael Rae
Producer: Charles Band
Screenplay: Franne Schacht, Frank Ray Perilli
Cinematography: Terry Bowen
Editing: Jodie Copelan
Cast: Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Waynn, Roddy McDowall, Rick Walters