The Bad Movie Report


Ah, return with us now to the halcyon days of yore when crappy Charles Band films were not Gosh, doesn't this look exciting?simply released directly to video, but actually received the consideration of theatrical release. Yes, 1986, the heady days of similar films, like Metalstorm, Space Hunter, and Parasite. Unlike those three, however, Eliminators was not shot in 3-D, nor does it totally suck. Note the modifier "totally".

Okay, so there's this mad scientist in a secret fortress somewhere in the wilds of Mexico, Abbott Reeves (Roy Dotrice, the British Michael Moriarty, i.e., a fine actor who has been in some crap movies). Reeves is performing time travel experiments utilizing the Mandroid (Patrick Reynolds), a cyborg he built from stolen technology and the corpse of a downed pilot. Being a villain, Reeves orders Dr. Takawa (Tad Horino) to dismantle the Mandroid, and, being a decent sort, Takawa helps the Mandroid escape, and gets shot in the process. The dying Takawa tells Mandroid to "find Colonel Hunter." The Mandroid gets away on a cool little tank-like thingie, but not before he is shot up by the Overweight Head Thug with a serious gun (we know it is serious because it has four scopes).

Somehow, with an entire globe to search, Mandroid finds Col. Hunter, only to discover that it is Denise Crosby and Self-Propelled Odious ThingDenise Crosby. Hunter is a robotics whiz, and recognizes most of Mandroid's outfitting as derived from her work. She has also created an odious little sub-Black Hole droid that bleeps like R2-D2, flies around, and can turn into a cartoon that zips about at a Speedy Gonzales clip. It's called SPOT, which stands for something contrived, like Self-Propelled Odious Thing. Hunter patches up the Mandroid, and they set out for Mexico.

Once there, they must find a guide, as the Mandroid's memoryHarry Fontana vs. Bayou Betty!  Only on Pay Per View! chips were shot up. Hunter does this by striding into a bar and saying, "I want the toughest guide in the place," which sets off a monumental bar fight. The actual winner of the fight is a diesel dyke named Bayou Betty, but she is coldcocked (so to speak) by wily lovable rogue Harry Fontana (Andrew Prine, in a role which cries out for Tim Thomerson). In the trip down the river, they must not only deal with the vengeful Bayou Betty, but the Overweight Head Thug and his Raul Julia Clone.

Mandroid falls overboard at one point so he can meet Takawa's son, Kuji (Conan Lee), who, being Japanese, is a ninja, with a full complement of ninja powers (all of which seem to involve making the film run backward or in slow motion). Mandroid and Kuji must then save Hunter and Harry from a tribe of Neanderthals transported to the present by Reeves.

"Hee hee!  I'm evil!"Our woefully unprepared heroes crash the gate, and find out what Reeves has been up to: He plans to go back in time and take over the Roman Empire. Why? Outside of sheer nuttiness, we have no idea. Reeves has also been mandroid-ing himself, and his cyborg parts have seen several upgrades over our hero Mandroid, who once again gets shot up, and sacrifices himself to rescue the others from a shrinking force-field death trap. The remaining heroes arrive in the lab too late to stop Reeves, but the rather useless Harry manages, by a good ol' American punch to the keyboard (shades of Plan 9!), to send Reeves instead to the Silurian Era, where he can lord it over a bunch of trilobites. The end.

Eliminators suffers the fate of many bad movies - Big Ideas, No Budget. Having set up interesting heroes, they are not given much to do; Bayou Betty and the Overweight Head Thug are not exactly compelling enemies. The Neanderthals are more like it, but that sequence doesn't last more than five minutes. Nor is the final battle terribly convincing or satisfying.

At one point, Harry asks the question, "What is this anyway... some kinda goddam comic book?" Best line - "Fruity Cavemen?"This is a very dangerous trap the writers have fallen into: pointing out the weaknesses in their script in the hope you'll laugh knowingly along with them (Further liquifying the dead horse, Harry's next line is, "This is all some kinda weirdass science-fiction thing, right?"). From the plot synopsis, the movie's comic book origins are pretty obvious - it's the fact that these same origins are used as an excuse for poor storytelling (with a wink in the viewer's direction, no less) that irritates me.

Patrick Reynolds, as an actor, makes a very good tobacco heir. Perhaps this is cruel of me; the "Robo-who?  Robocop?  Never heard of him."script doesn't exactly give him a whole lot of motivation or chances to do more than shoot lasers or missiles. A good deal of the movie is spent on trying to find out his true identity, wiped out after his plane crash, but this is all at Hunter's insistence - Mandroid doesn't seem to care that much. A bit more time spent on that, on the tragedy of the loss of self, would have made Mandroid's sacrifice poignant, rather than merely a way to advance the plot. The movie also does not end so much as it stops; neither the characters nor we get a chance to mourn the Mandroid.

And while we're on the subject of Hunter, let me just say that I am the one who stood up and cheered when Next Generation killed Tasha Yar. I don't actually hate Denise Crosby... it's not like she's a terrible actress, but lordy, how I hate her characters. Building the awful little Cutesy-Poo 9000 is bad enough, but finding it entertaining when the silicon brat starts shooting people in the ass with a laser...

Prine and Lee do okay in roles they could have phoned in, and the film could have benefited fromNo, they don't explain how he gets young and handsome later. a bit more Dotrice... if only to have given us more of a menace in the plodding middle of the film. Anything would have been better than the "comic" antics of the bungling Overweight Head Thug and his Raul Julia Clone. Heroes are defined by their enemies as much as anything else; giving our Eliminators opponents that I could have taken care of without breaking a sweat doesn't exactly make me want to go out and buy the T-shirt.

You can almost taste the word sequel in the proceedings. Sadly, there's no real reason for one, and not only because they killed off the one member of the team with some dramatic potential. Of course, in these dark days of Trancers 32 and Scanner Dog, one would have been made regardless. Except for some profanity and a glimpse of the side of Ms. Crosby's right breast, this is all tame enough for family fare; but if you're looking for something for the 6 year-old inside you, I warn you: Eliminators is likely to leave him bored and scrawling on the walls with crayons.



Remember: in Hollywood, Comic Book = Dumb

- June 7, 1998