“I’m getting too old for this stuff,” says Han Solo clone Rhodes (Tim Thomerson), and one would think the same goes for me. Nope!
Producer/director Charles Band, whose independent studio Empire Pictures put out several entertaining science fiction and horror movies during the 1980s, convinced Universal to pick up the tab for this ridiculous post-apocalypse saga released theatrically in 3D. The plot by producer Alan J. Adler (PARASITE) is incomprehensible, the 3D visual effects shoddy, Mac Ahlberg’s cinematography murky, and the climax more anti- than climactic. Doesn’t mean I don’t have a blast watching METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN, which easily makes any list of top film titles of all time.
Dogen, who dresses like Max Rockatansky and is played by Jeffrey Byron (THE DUNGEONMASTER), an actor whose emoting is as plastic as his features, is a future cop on the trail of evil cult leader Jared-Syn (Mike Preston, who was actually in THE ROAD WARRIOR). He meets up with the hot but equally synthetic Dhyana (Kelly Preston, future wife of John Travolta who found brief stardom in MISCHIEF and SECRET ADMIRER), whose prospector father was murdered by Jared-Syn’s monstrous cyborg son Baal (R. David Smith). Byron and Preston are awful performers and a perfectly matched screen couple tossed into a ludicrous romance.
Baal shoots green acid from his mechanical arm that makes its victims hallucinate or go slip into an alternate universe or some shit. I think this is how Jared-Syn is able to kidnap Dhyana. Using his mind powers or something. Although Dogen is the one who gets squirted by Baal, not Dhyana. I don’t know. Figuring this movie out makes my head hurt.
Thankfully, Tim Thomerson co-stars as Dogen’s sidekick Rhodes in the first of many adventures he would take with Charles Band. Formerly a standup comedian and actor in light comic film and television roles, Thomerson jumped from METALSTORM to becoming a full-fledged action star in Band’s TRANCERS and its five (!) sequels. Thomerson is a champion scene-stealer, contributing the film’s (intentional) comic relief and coming through with fists flying in Band’s action sequences.
METALSTORM has cool futuristic truck stunts and explosions and lasers and monsters (check out the ridiculous electricity man-in-a-suit creature right outta THE OUTER LIMITS) and fantasy sequences and mutants and arm-ripping and tapping into the master crystal and Bronson Canyon and a fantastic Richard Band score and Kelly Preston looking good and Tim Thomerson being The Man and…well, I have to justify my fondness for the film somehow.
I must like it better than Universal did, since the studio shoved it out on a full-frame (!) pan-and-scan DVD with only the titles presented in (non-anamorphic) 2.35:1. Take away the credits, and METALSTORM barely runs 72 minutes and manages to deliver a complete non-ending ending that promises a sequel that never came.
Band didn’t get any more major-studio theatrical distribution deals after METALSTORM, but he didn’t stop making dumb movies. After Empire folded, he started Full Moon in the 1990s to produce direct-to-video genre pictures, half of them starring puppets, dolls, toys, and really little people, a practice that continued into the 2010s with PUPPET MASTER sequels and nonsense about demonic gingerbread cookies.