-- Billy Duncan (as played by Kim Milford)
Though rules are made to be broken, I don't suppose anyone ever etched in stone the commandment that every movie should be good -- or, at least, worthwhile -- but Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror certainly have had their fair share of stinkers. I've always maintained that -- unlike other types of films -- genre entertainment tends to more often than not celebrate those features that go so gloriously, gloriously wrong. While there are exceptions to every rule (hello, Showgirls), genre fans have long shown a willingness to embrace the weird, the wacky, and the wildest failures of record. Hell, we've even had a little something something called Mystery Science Theater 3000 evolve as a consequence of our collective delight at poking fun at some of cinema's boldest oddities. That says something, and I'll leave it at that.
Indeed, one of the flicks forever lampooned by the yucksters at MST3K was 1978's Laserblast. And -- might I add -- it was deserved so lampooned.
Directed by Michael Rae from a script by Franne Schacht and Frank Ray Perilli, the film starred Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, and some curious Claymation aliens. According to IMDB.com, the picture had its theatrical premiere on this day all the way back in 1978 in -- jointly -- Sweden and the United States. (Why there? Why Sweden? We may never know.) Here's the plot summary as provided by the site:
"A teenager stumbles upon an alien weapon, which transforms him into a grotesque killer."
Interestingly enough, Perilli's is a name I've come across before. (Actually, I think it may be the only one in the entirety of this project that I've seen on more than a single occasion.) I'd read a bit of his background in a handful of places, and I'm aware that he's worked on scripts for such projects as Mansion Of The Doomed (1976), Dracula's Dog (1977), End Of The World (1977), and Alligator (1980), so it isn't as if Laserblast came about from the entirely uninitiated. The man had some modest credentials, so it is curious how this particular film evolved (or is that devolved?) into its legendary state.
But there's another name associated with Laserblast that perhaps explains just how and why it did reasonably well back then and continues to resonate with cult audiences today: producer Charles Band.
Band is a bit of a Hollywood legend -- especially in parts of the Information Superhighway where fans of mildly off-center projects propagate -- and he's a known commodity for connoisseurs of quality B-Movies. All one need do is check out the man's incredible resume on IMDB.com (here), and you'll see that he's been associated with well over three hundred different projects and well on his way to four hundred! About as prolific as they come in the world of genre properties, his name is attached to such franchises as Trancers, Puppet Master, and Josh Kirby: Time Warrior. You don't last as long in the entertainment business as Band has done without knowing a thing or two about both money and success, and I can't help but wonder how much of Laserblast's longevity is truly owed to having that underdog/maverick working behind-the-scences.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!