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Film / Laserblast

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Laserblast is a 1978 American low-budget sci-fi movie produced by Charles Band and directed by Michael Rae.

The movie begins with two aliens landing on Earth in pursuit of a third alien.note  After a pathetic attempt to hide behind a bush, the third alien's pursuers unceremoniously disintegrate him and then leave. Short movie, huh?

...Well, not exactly. See, the bad guy alien was carrying a rather large laser cannon with him, which the other aliens neglected to pick up (we get to see their boss flip out at them over this later). Said cannon is later found by Billy Duncan (Kim Milford), a teenager who's perpetually picked on by bullies. Billy then starts using the cannon to gain revenge on those who wronged him. The laser cannon turns out to have an evil influence over its user, because Billy not only grows addicted to the cannon's destructive power, he also starts to undergo some kind of strange mutation. Meanwhile, the aliens have realized their mistake and are heading back to Earth to retrieve the cannon...

This was one of the first film scoring assignments for Joel Goldsmith (Jerry's son), who went on to become the musical voice of Stargate SG-1 and its spinoffs. Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Roddy McDowall, Keenan Wynn, and Eddie Deezen have supporting roles.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, see here.

Laserblast provides examples of:

  • The '70s: This was a time when being fit meant you had to be rail thin. Plenty of 70's music, fashion and cars to go around, too.
  • The Alleged Car: Billy's van. Particularly clear in the scene when he challenges the two nerds/bullies to a race, only to have his van refuse to start.
  • Amulet of Dependency: The alien amulet, which powers the cannon and slowly turns its wearer into a monster.
  • Arm Cannon: The eponymous laser blaster has a plastic tube that slips over the wearer's arm.
  • Asshole Victim: Most of Billy's victims richly deserve getting blown up (emphasis on most — the doctor is an exception, and probably the hippie van driver too).
  • Attempted Rape: The two nerd-bullies do this to Kathy. Billy busts in just in time and beats them up (sort of).
  • BFG: The laser cannon, which is worn around the entire arm.
  • Bizarrchitecture: One scene has a door with its knob placed higher than normal, while another has a window with its drapes placed lower than normal.
  • Body Horror: Well, maybe "horror" is too strong of a word, but some time after finding the laser cannon, Billy starts developing a weird metallic growth on his chest. A local doctor removes it and plans to have it analyzed. It's not clear what it is, but it must be pretty important because the cannon compels Billy to blow the doctor to bits to prevent its discovery.
  • Butt-Monkey: Billy. When even hyperactive nerds pick on you, you're low on the totem pole of teenage status.
  • Central Theme: Addiction. One might notice that every character is motivated by fulfilling their own addictions. It's no surprise the film revolves around being unable to stop random destruction around the addiction to power — and the more they indulge their addition, the more Body Horror they suffer.
  • Dirty Cop: The two cops smoke the weed they confiscate from busts.
  • Downer Ending: Billy is completely corrupted by the cannon's influence and goes on a rampage. The aliens show up, kill him, and forget to take back the cannon. Again. The End.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: The laboratory technician, due to his odd haircut.
    Crow: Goodbye, Mrs. Joe Don Baker...
  • Even Nerds Have Standards: Even the nerds think Billy is a loser.
  • Evil Weapon: The laser cannon, which corrupts its wielders and drives them to go on Axe-Crazy murder sprees.
  • Female Gaze: The film is replete with lingering rearviews of young men in tight-fitting jeans, most of the fit young men are shirtless, and the very first appearance of Billy shows him rolling out of his bed in his underwear before getting dressed.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: After he finds the gun, Billy spends several minutes dancing around with it, trying to figure out how it works.
  • Human Alien: The bad-guy alien vaporized in the prologue (if he is an alien; Billy starts transforming into a similar form as the movie goes on). The other aliens may owe their appearance to Dale Russel's Dinosauroid (see the Human Alien trope page for more on him).
  • Humiliation Conga: Billy, which is basically the reason he's so susceptible to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Informed Attribute: Billy's girlfriend claims to see some sort of darkness in him, so intense that it sometimes scares her. Aside from the whole "blowing people up" thing — which seems to be the fault of the blaster driving him insane and not his own thing — he really doesn't act or speak particularly darkly. In fact, he's pretty much just a normal if overly mellow guy.
  • The Men in Black: Gianni Russo's character vaguely following the trail of the alien gun, although he wears a green seventies casual suit instead of basic black.
  • Nerdy Bully: The character Froggy was played by Eddie Deezen as the platonic ideal of a nerd. Both he and the other geek he is a toady for (get it?) constantly taunt and torment the easygoing slacker protagonist. (The Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the film has the riffers theorize that it takes place in a strange alternate reality where the geeks pick on the cool kids.)
  • Police Are Useless: The Sheriff's Department here makes Roscoe and Enos look like Walker and Trivette.
    • If the boss alien's rant is any indication, the two hunter aliens aren't much better.
  • Pool Scene: One of Billy's friends throws a pool party for her birthday.
  • Product Placement: The protagonist is seen drinking Coca-Cola in a few shots. Mike and the Bots theorize Pepsi paid big bucks for it.
    • A can of Pepsi can be seen at the pool party. An act of revenge by Coke?
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Billy waves the blaster around all over the place, including pointing both ends at himself at various points, while trying to figure out how to make it work.note 
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Billy is always able to find and kill his perceived enemies, even if there's no logical way for him to know where they'll be at the time he decides to attack them.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Kathy's grandpa. He barely seems to be aware of the people around him, and goes on bizarre rants about "Operation Sand Dust."
  • Stealth Pun: Our Nerdy Bully is named Froggy. His buddy is an equally geeky bully whom Froggy follows around as an underling (otherwise known as a toady).
  • The Stoner: Everyone, including the police.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: To the point of becoming an Overly-Long Gag.
  • Take That!: Billy destroys a Star Wars "billboard" with his cannon. Thanks to this movie's budget, it's not even an actual billboard — just a cardboard sign on which someone stenciled the Star Wars logo. Yeah, this movie totally gave Star Wars a run for its money. There's also a throwaway line where a police officer says of a teenager who witnessed Billy's rampage that "he's seen Star Wars five times." This may be one of the reasons why, for a brief time, people took Laserblast seriously, compared it to Star Wars, and discussed which film was better and why. Oddly enough, the actor who played Billy Duncan co-starred with Mark Hamill in the film Corvette Summer, which was released the same year as Laserblast. Hamill considers Summer to be exactly as good as Laserblast.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • When the aliens aren't shooting people they pretty much act that way.
    • Then there's those two stoner cops, as well as Billy's two bullies (perhaps the only time Eddie Deezen was ever a bully!)
  • The Unintelligible: The aliens' dialogue is entirely in untranslated alienese, with only their gestures and facial expressions providing context.
  • Villain Protagonist: Billy. Maybe. Well, definitely when he kills the doctor.
  • Visual Pun: This film blows away Star Wars
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Billy is almost always topless or has his shirt open, at least until he starts developing an odd sore thanks to the laser weapon.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Colonel Farley. In his last scene, he's contacted by Craig and told that the government needs his services for a "special mission." He disappears after that without explanation.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Most of the victims in the movie are people who wronged Billy in some way.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The laser blaster drives its wielder into Axe-Crazy murder sprees, and also turns them green for some reason. The more often the person uses the blaster the more corrupted they become.