Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn 3-D [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (10th October 2016).
The Film

Have you ever found yourself watching “The Road Warrior” (1981) and thought, “This is awesome but it could be awesomer with arcane magic and one-eyed half-cyborg villains who shoot liquid green goo that sends their enemies to another dimension”? Then friend, look no further than Charles Band’s dystopian sci-fi camp fest with a mouthful of a title, “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn” (1983). Band has long been one of horror’s most colorful showmen, sort of like a newer version of Roger Corman without some of the bigger successes. His films are usually done on the cheap, budget-wise, but the lack of cash offers up a creative void that he fills with talented crew members, scene-chewing actors, and as much possible production value that can be put on the screen. The ambition shows through because, while “Metalstorm” might objectively be a bad movie it is jammed with so many fun moments and bursts of creativity that those into such cheesy 80's fare won’t be able to wipe the smile from their faces.

Dogen (Jeffrey Byron) is an intergalactic ranger who has just set down on the planet Lemuria in search of the evil Jared-Syn (Mike Preston). Syn and his son, Baal (R. David Smith), a half-cyborg with a hydraulic arm that sprays a dimensional gateway liquid (don’t ask), have been terrorizing the local population looking for special crystals that are capable of storing lifeforce. Dhyana (an unrecognizable young Kelly Preston) and her father found such a crystal, right before Baal had him killed and their find seized. Dogen meets up with Kelly after her father’s death and she joins him in his quest to stop Syn. The two visit Zax (Marty Zagon), a local mystic who explains the crystal’s power and helps to guide the two of them. Dogen must visit a lost city, once home to an ancient race known as the Cyclopians, where he will find a magic mask that can assist in defeating Syn.

The trip doesn’t go smoothly. Baal attacks and sprays Dogen with his green liquid after a lengthy car chase, sending him into a nightmare state. Dhyana cares for him but after Syn appears to Dogen in his dreams she is suddenly teleported away while a glowing Lite Brite demon takes her place, leaving Dogen to act quickly and battle. He continues on his own, eventually coming across Rhodes (Tim Thomerson), a weary soldier who’d rather spend his days at the bar than out stopping bad guys. Reluctantly, though, he agrees to accompany Dogen on his mission – just like you knew he would. They head deep into the Cyclopian ruins and find the mask… but they also find Hurok (Richard Moll) and his band of roving warriors. Hurok hails from Cyclopian blood and considers this place sacred; Dogen could be killed but instead he is given the chance to win his escape via duel. He does, making a new friend of Hurok in the process. Now, armed with this see-through magic mask and a couple new friends, Dogen takes the fight to Jared-Syn where the two will battle in the most anticlimactic fight of all time!

Seriously. The ending to this film was either setting up for a sequel everyone had to know wasn’t coming, or it intentionally wanted to leave audiences frustrated.

Plenty of these post-apocalyptic/dystopian sci-fi films were churned out in the 80's because they could be shot in the deserts of California, not far from L.A., and they were relatively cheap to make. The set is a pile of rocks with a few tents from REI and old PVC tubing with a colander in the center meant to represent some arcane magic tool. Done. Band’s films are just-so-slightly above similar productions because he really packed every ounce of budget into the frame in addition to relying on plain ol’ creativity. The character designs are fun and fresh. The vehicles look decayed-futuristic, menacing, and rad. Alan J. Adler’s script throws in all kinds of crazy ideas and manages to get most to stick – assuming you’re the type of viewer who is on board for shlock like this.

“Metalstorm” came out in 1983, a year that was big for 3-D productions, including entertainingly bad classics like “Jaws 3-D” and “Amityville 3-D”. Like those titles, this picture packs in plenty of in-your-face moments, when arms, vehicles, weapons, and whatever else could be sufficiently tossed wound up coming straight for the camera. Although these shots intended for 3-D audiences are blatant, they are done well enough within the context of the film that it doesn’t feel TOO gimmicky. This wasn’t a big earner for Universal (not by a long shot) but, man, would it have been one helluva afternoon to catch this on the big screen.

Video

Scream Factory has gone above and beyond for this unsung cult classic, delivering not only a new HD transfer for the 2-D version but also one for the 3-D version, too. And this isn’t any red/blue cardboard glasses deal, either; this is a true stereoscopic release for those who own a hi-def 3-D setup. Since I’m not one of those people I had to settle for plain old 2-D. The 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is likely the best “Metalstorm” can ever look, for better or worse. The very nature of filming a picture in 3-D leaves the edges of the frame looking softer than usual, something exacerbated by this hi-def copy. Additionally, since there are two images to line up the alignment can occasionally shift, which it does, leaving a couple of scenes looking extremely rough; like double vision. Those nitpicks aside, this is a very pleasing release. Definition is more than adequate, especially during closeups. The dry, acrid climate fits in visually with the rusted-out vehicles and stark cities. Film grain fluctuates depending on the use of special effects, though overall it is moderate. Also, props to the make-up effects department because many of the facial prosthetics hold up well under the scrutiny of HD.

Audio

Audio comes in the form of an English DTS-HD Master Audio track in either 5.1 surround sound (48kHz/24-bit) or 2.0 stereo. This is a clean track, with dialogue strongly prioritized among the sea of sci-fi effects, laser blasts, and roaring engines. The multi-channel track offers up fuller bass and a bit more breathing room for Richard Band’s killer score. Some of the moments that seem like they should sound bigger don’t, which is my only real complaint about this track. Subtitles are included in English SDH.

Extras

There’s one major extra included here – a very nice making-of featurette – with the rest of the extras being promotional materials. Although, if you want to consider the 3-D version a bonus feature then this package suddenly looks even more attractive to fans and potential buyers.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY 3D

This disc includes the HD 3D version of the film only.

DISC TWO: BLU-RAY

This disc includes the film in HD 2D as well as the following supplements:

“High Noon at the End of the Universe - The Making of Metalstorm” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 42 minutes and 13 seconds. Everyone of significance, other than Kelly Preston (big shock), is interviewed for this piece that covers the film from when it was nothing more than a trade magazine concept right up through Universal’s acquisition of the property and more. Highly recommended for fans who want to know the nuts & bolts of making “Metalstorm”.

A still & promotional gallery (1080p) runs for 10 minutes and 26 seconds, set to score cues from the feature.

A theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 23 seconds.

There is also a single radio spot that runs for 30 seconds.

Packaging

The two-disc set comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case, with each disc housed on a hub opposite the other. The cover art is not reversible but there are some cool promotional shots on the interior of the case.

Overall

This is a competently constructed sci-fi western with just the right amounts of charisma, ambition, production design, and weirdness to somehow make it work. “Metalstorm” is far from a perfect film but if you’re the target demographic for these galactic adventures then this is one trip you’ll want to take.

The Film: C+ Video: B- Audio: B Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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