Thursday, December 31, 2009


 Robert Kurtzman loves to keep his friends working. As in his later films like Wishmaster and The Rage, his directorial debut is rife with cameos from buds like Reggie Bannister, Bruce Campbell, Jack Nance, Sarah Douglas, Joe Pilato and numerous others. The “hey, there’s…” drinking game level just adds to the enjoyment to be had from this campy little SF actioner. It may not be a masterpiece, but at no point does it feel like either a waste of talent or a shameless, soulless grab at money.

In an obvious “nod” to Robocop, an undercover cop named Alyssa (Charles in Charge’s Nicole Eggert) is murdered by a horrible villain (played by 21 Jump Street’s Richard Grieco! Of all people!), she is saved by science (represented here by Re-Animator’s Bruce Abbott) and put on the streets by the corrupt mayor (Forbidden Zone’s Susan Tyrell) and the chief of police (Deadwood’s Peter Jason), to clean up the streets so dirtied by Grieco and (wait for it) Tom Savini. Clad in skin-tight leatherette and a futuristic scuba mask, Alyssa leaps onto her supercharged motorcycle and runs roughshod over the villains. Meanwhile, Heather Langenkamp as a reporter covers the corruption in the government, Grieco prefers looney over menacing in an odd character choice, Savini whispers his dialogue and lots and lots of bullets are fired.

While the above sounds like something between a recipe for disaster and a MAD TV parody, The Demolitionist is actually a pretty deft satire of violent action films, albeit using violence to bring attention to violence, in much the same way Paul Verhoven was often credited with doing. Actually, it’s obvious from the get-go that Verhoven’s oevre is The Demolitionist’s prime target. The comedy is painted with broad strokes here, due in part to Kurtzman’s abject love of movies. One of the founders of KNB, Inc., the Academy Award winning special effects company, Kurtzman wrote the script with his wife, Anne, and tore into his first job as a director with all the enthusiasm of a sugared child on Christmas. As a result, there’s a giddy excitement injected into every scene—even talking head expositional sequences seem electrified. The movie charges past its limited budget and structural silliness with great abandon and the pace never slows. The Demolitionist’s campiness works in its favor and all of the actors seem to be having a great time.

A staple of late-night cable for a short time, The Demolitionist can be hard to find now. Because of this recent scarcity, it’s developed a nice cult following which has only grown since the release of Kurtzman’s similarly-campy zombie outing The Rage. For folks who grew up haunting mom and pop video stores in the ‘90s, revisiting The Demolitionist is like a return to puberty. Analyze that statement however you want, I stand by it. 


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