Monday, May 01, 2006


'Laserblast' is an important episode in the MST3K ouvre. Besides being the last show made for Comedy Central, and also being the final program for lead villain Dr Clayton Forrester, it's one of the few movies in which the title accurately reflects the contents (unlike Future War, Pod People, The Cave Dwellers etc). The laser blasts don't exactly come thick and fast, but they are there, and 'Laserblast' is a punchier title than 'Idiot Slackers Versus the Lumpy-Assed Turtle People', which is the only other title that successfully encapsulates the story.

The movie opens with aliens who look like de-shelled turtles taking out a homicidal green-skinned guy in the middle of the desert. However, these aliens subscribe to a strict philosophy of never finshing what they start, so after they vapourise their attacker, they leave his laser weapon and a mysterious related necklace just lying in the sand.

Enter our sorry excuse for a hero. Billy can best be described as every cliche of blow-dried, infantilised, shiftless, whiny, dim-witted 1970s teenagerhood bundled up into one body; sort of like Luke Skywalker, without the latter's dynamic charisma and winning personality. Buttoning his shirt is apparently beyond him, and he drives a van with Hang Ten feet hand-painted on the side. He is, in short, vile. And he's the protagonist. Saints preserve us all.

Billy finds the laser blaster and the necklace, and when he uses them in conjunction he develops the power to make harmless bits of shubbery explode. Unfortunately he also starts to turn green, develop a stony plate in the middle of his chest, and go all kill-crazy, just like his predecessor. He sets out to murder everyone who ever thwarted him... which is difficult, as he's basically a lazy, self-absorbed brat who's never been significant enough to warrant thwarting. Still, he manages to blow up a high school bully and his nerdy sidekick, a couple of venal pigs (in the police rather than porcine sense), his family doctor, a hippie who gave him a lift in his pickup, innumerable shrubs, and so on and so forth.

Eventually he goes too far, and turns against his anorexic blonde girlfriend, who is one of those dippy 70s codependent chicks who misidentify worthlessness as sensitivity in their men. She's with a mysterious guy who's been appearing thoughout the movie in a huge black Lincoln towncar and a series of horrifying polyester suits. His role is never explained, but he apparently Knows Stuff. Nothing useful, of course - Billy could melt him into a rayon-infused pool of goo and he couldn't do a thing to stop him - but he has a secret briefcase, and that's always a sign of wisdom.

But just as it looks like curtains for the girlfriend and Mr Mysterious, the turtle aliens turn up again and blast Billy into oblivion.

Then they bugger off, once more without collecting either the laser or the necklace. Idiots.

'Laserblast' didn't have a lot going for it. But the episode was a good one, full of killer riffs and some... er... unique host segments. Some people may argue that a TV show about grown men with puppets making fun of bad movies isn't the stuff of quality television, but they're just not seeing the bigger picture. I mean, can any of the 'Law & Order' or 'CSI' franchises boast of having featured Michael J Nelson dressed as Katherine Janeway (complete with a pert and efficient bustline) performing an impromptu rendition of 'Proud Mary'?

mike as janeway

Didn't think so.


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