The 1978 science fiction movie Laserblast is best known by most people as a 1996 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- the last episode the show aired on Comedy Central, actually. That means its reputation has been cemented as a "bad" movie, one to be enjoyed only ironically and hopefully with robots cracking jokes throughout. Much as I can enjoy MST3K and recognize just how important it has been in shaping the taste and humor of a lot of people I like, this is one of issues with the show: it has created a canon of supposedly terrible movies by virtue of them having appeared on an episode. That means that even to those who have never seen it, Laserblast must be terrible. It was on MST3K!
Puppet Master II. Band announced at Chicago's Flashback Weekend a few years back that Allen's dream project The Primevals, unfinished for 20 years after Allen passed away in 1999, is now being completed and should be out sometime "soon." (According to Band's recently-released memoir Puppet Master, the plan is now sometime in 2022.) He even showed some of Allen's footage, and it looks incredible. Laserblast is the movie that brings much of the band (pun intended) together for the first time.
As the movie opens, a strange, mutant-looking man is wandering through the desert when an alien craft appears and disintegrates him, leaving behind the laser cannon attached to his arm. The gun is found by Billy Duncan (Kim Milford), a brooding teenager who is neglected by his mother, disliked by his girlfriend's family, and bullied by some of the locals. An alien laser gun is exactly what he needs to get revenge on his enemies! Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowall have supporting roles, and Eddie Deezen makes his screen debut.
But the highs are high. Dave Allen's stop motion alien effects are terrific, because stop motion rules. The pyrotechnics are spectacular, coming from a time when physical effects were the only game in town and real cars really got blown up and started on real fire. At a certain point, the explosions basically become the plot, as Billy running around and shooting at things with his newfound weapon is all that's happening -- the movie's reason for being. Remember that scene at the end of UHF when Weird Al is imagining himself as Rambo and just flies around in a helicopter screaming and blowing things up? That's the climax of Laserblast, minus the screaming and the helicopter.
These days, Laserblast is probably best remembered as the last episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to air on Comedy Central before it moved to The Sci Fi Channel at the start of its eighth season. I would venture to guess that just many (if not more) people have seen it this way as saw it theatrically or as a cult item on VHS, though I may be grossly overestimating the audience for MST3K. Outside of that episode, it exists mostly as a curiosity for Full Moon fans such as myself who want to see the company's modest beginnings (you know, before its modest middle and modest present). I enjoy it as more than a historical document, though even I recognize that's probably the best context in which to view it. Or if you just want to see a lot of shit blow up. Either way.