Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27 - Masterblaster

The cover of my VHS copy of Masterblaster

Masterblaster (1987)

Director: Glenn R Wilder
Format: VHS (CBS/Fox)

An action slasher in which the participants of a paintball game are picked off for real? Check. The one-and-only directing credit for a stuntman who did stunts on movies like Die Hard and Terminator 2? Check. Starring a bunch of other stuntmen and actors whose credits include Martial Arts Opponent in Blue Shirt? Yes indeed. Count me in!

To say my expectations were high going into this one is an understatement. I mean, for a start check out that cover! And those expectations only got higher when the opening credits rolled and a corny theme song started to play, with lyrics like "You'd better look ahead as well as behind you; At anytime someone could disqualify you".

The plot: $50,000 is up for grabs in the Master Blaster Grand National Championships, a simulated war game that is like paintball with booby traps. Only once the game begins, someone starts killing players one by one (despite the back cover of the VHS saying "REAL bullets kill!", most of the kills are by other methods, like strangling and stabbing.

The early part is used to set up the usual red herrings, before we're introduced to the players. There's a couple of comic relief Hispanic goofballs, three racist rednecks, a massive mafia bodyguard, a Japanese warrior and other assorted fodder.

The main characters are Vietnam vet motorcycle rider Jeremy Hawk (Jeff Moldovan - a stuntman with 39 stunt credits and a few bit part acting credits) and his love interest, police officer Samantha Rosen (Donna Rosea, PORKY'S REVENGE). There's also rock star Lewis Carlisle (Peter Lundblad - his only acting credit), who has the most awesome blond mullet since Patrick Swayze in the famous SNL Chippendales skit.

Watching this I couldn't help but think of the paintball scenes in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. There's a scene where the killer reaches down from above to grab a victim, just like Jason, and one of the players even wears a camoflage hockey mask.

We all know 80s slashers need to have two things - nudity and gore. Unfortunately they're both sparse (we get one token topless shower scene and a nice beheading), but my VHS is 81 minutes and IMDB lists it at 94 minutes, so who knows what has been cut out. In the version I saw you couldn't really class it a horror.

The acting is about what you'd expect from a bunch of no-names and on par with most slashers - not great but not too wince-inducing.

For a movie directed by a stuntman and featuring stuntmen, you'd expect good fight scenes and while there are disappointingly-few of them, there's a nice barroom brawl early in the piece and a lengthy fistfight later that incorporates knives and even nunchucks!

The reveal of the killer's identity is a bit lame but not the worst I've seen.

Masterblaster isn't a classic by any means, but it's a rare gem (not available on DVD as far I can tell) that I'm glad I got the opportunity to see.

Previews on my VHS: Big Trouble in Little China, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Lightship.

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