Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Starring Jeffrey Byron, Michael Preston, Tim Thomerson, Kelly Preston, Richard Moll, R. David Smith, Larry Pennell, Marty Zagon, Mickey Fox, William Jones, Winston Jones

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: High. With a name like “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn”, it has to be good.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Pitch your tent and start your fires, it’s about to get campy! Coming off the high-brow 3D horror flick Parasite, Charles Band, never one to rest on his laurels, set out to create another 3D epic for the ages. This time he set his sights on the science fiction genre, specifically Mad Max and Star Wars (Technically, I don’t classify Star Wars as science fiction, but that doesn’t matter for this review). The result is the ultra-camp, ultra-fun Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, and it’s one hell of a film.

Summarizing the plot in any depth would require a re-watch as its intricacies aren’t something I was able to keep up with on the first go-round, but the gist is this: Dogen (Jeffrey Byron) is a space ranger hunting the evil Jared-Syn. Along the way he runs into a girl whose father was just murdered by Jared-Syn. They team up and set out on the adventure of a lifetime amid the arid wastes of some post-apocalyptic planet. That’s the overall, but to look at it in such a way belittles the power of the movie. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn isn’t about “Plot Point A” leading into “Plot Point B.” It’s about an alien with a retractable claw-hand that shoots out green hallucinogenic acid. It’s about Dogen hooking up with the Han Solo-esque Rhodes (Tim Thomerson) in a seedy alien bar in the desert (nothing familiar about that one). It’s about fucking awesome car chases with vehicles crudely fashioned from scrap metal and old VW parts. The awesome literally never stops in this film, so I frankly could not care less if it all makes sense. It’s a popcorn movie that succeeds handily, and if that’s what Band set out to make, then it should be applauded. Do purely fun goals make a film any less worthy of praise than one with more artistic goals? Not on your sai-wielding cyclops’s life. (Yes, there are a bunch of cyclopes in this too, see what I mean? Nothing but awesome.)

This is a movie I would have absolutely went apeshit for as a kid. As an adult it entertains wonderfully, but my enjoyment is a little more slanted towards an acquired bad movie taste than the simple joy of childhood. This does not diminish the experience, I just feel that I should make that clear before someone ventures unheeded into the wasteland and never forgives me for steering them wrong. As Metalstorm is a low-budget 80s movie, it doesn’t feature big stars and some of the FX aren’t as cool as they could be. This is the same year Return of the Jedi dropped and if you go in expecting something like that, good luck. It simply cannot hold up to that, but for what it is, it’s remarkably fun.

Richard Band delivers what is quite possibly his best score, filled with rousing crescendos played by a full orchestra. The main title could sit alongside any big-budget film’s music and stand tall. It reminds me a lot of Goldsmith’s excellent work for the Star Trek films. There’s also a little 80s-style future music that plays in the Cantina bar sequence when Dogen picks up Tim Thomerson. It’s a fun diversion to the otherwise orchestral music and helps the scene stand out while evoking that Star Wars Mos Eisley feel.

Charles Band’s directorial style feels even more solidified here than it did in Parasite, with the narrative coming through and driving the film. I know I said the plot details weren’t always handled that well, but in comparison to his earlier productions, Metalstorm is fuckin’ Citizen Kane. So with that in mind, it’s very interesting to see him develop his chops. This was the final film he made before creating the Empire International company that produced some of my favorites, and judging off the strength of this, it’s clear to see why he felt ready to start such a venture. One of the company’s first films, Ragewar AKA The Dungeonmaster, even reused some of the vehicles and featured some car chase scenes reminiscent of this film.

The acting and writing are probably the weakest part of the film, with Tim Thomerson and Richard Moll leading the charge in the good acting camp. The main guy Jeffrey Byron was also the lead in Ragewar and I remember him being a lot more interesting and charismatic in that film. Here he’s very boring and forgettable for the most part, the high point of his performance coming during a fight with Richard Moll in THE PIT! The writing is really as much of a reason to laugh at this movie as the acting though. Take a gander at this choice exchange:

“We’ll have to go on foot.”
“This was never here before.”
“It is now.”

Why screenwriter Alan J. Adler didn’t get an Oscar nod is beyond me!

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is a great, low-budget sci-fi action film, filled to the brim with non-stop fun of all kinds. It’s only rated PG too, so it’s definitely kid friendly, as long as you don’t mind your kid seeing bandit cars careening off of cliffs in slow-motion and culminating in a glorious explosion on the valley floor. And who could possibly object to that? This one is blatantly trying to combine Mad Max with Star Wars, and honestly, Charles Band succeeded.

Next week, it’s The Killer Eye! Oh no!

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