Monday, May 23, 2011

May 21 - What kind of tomfoolery is this?

Supersonic Man (1980)
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Format: AVI (VHSrip)

The first sign that Supersonic Man is a low budget movie is the listing of veteran actor Cameron Mitchell as "Cameron Mitchel" in the opening credits.

Coming two years after Richard Donner's Superman, this Spanish rip-off is directed by Juan Piquer Simon (PIECES), and stars Mitchell (THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) as Dr Gulik, a mad scientist intent on developing - what else? - a death ray.

An alien being is sent from an orbiting spaceshop to stop Dr Gulik's nefarious plans. In civilian garb he's suave, moustachioed Antonio Cantaforia (DEMONS 2). But when he utters the words "May the force of the galaxies be with me" he transforms into Supersonic, a masked superhero in a red costume with sparkly blue mask, gloves and cape. Interestingly, Cantaforia's moustache disappears in Supersonic form (actually because it's a different actor - Richard Yesteran, who played Tarzan in a couple of Spanish movies).

In between romancing the daughter of a good-natured scientist kidnapped by Dr Gulik (including using his superpowers to steal some champagne for a romantic dinner), Supersonic battles Gulik's stormtrooper-esque, laser gun-wielding troops and comes face to face with his fearsome killer robot (a man in a bulky,
restrictive suit).

Just about everything is played straight but comes off as unintentionally funny. Ironically, the comic relief (a drunk character who pops up several times) is about the only unfunny part of the whole film.

The special effects are hilarious. Marvel at the unconvincing green-screen work as Supersonic "flies" around New York City. Watch a car containing two baddies burst into flames for no reason after running off the road and down a gentle slope. Rejoice at the terrible model work involving houses, a helicopter, ships, submarines and more. Recoil in terror as Supersonic fights his way through jets of air, uh, I mean "corrosive gas". Gasp as he hoists a bulldozer over his head (which is clearly made of balsa wood).

Mitchell hams it up big time, providing a definite highlight of the acting on display. Some of the dialogue is awesomely cheesy (a scientist upon seeing the killer robot: "What kind of tomfoolery is this?"). The music is meant to be epic but comes off as a poor imitation of the Superman score, but Superman doesn't have banjo music playing during a bar fight, now does it?

All the ingredients for a B-movie classic are there. Unfortunately the end result isn't as good as it could have been, but it's still a good old time for any fan of cheesy, bad z-movies.

One last thing: Not once does Supersonic Man fly at above the speed of sound. But I guess Quitefast Man doesn't really have the same ring to it.

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