Ah, return with us now
to the halcyon days of yore when crappy Charles Band films were not
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
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 memory
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
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.
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.
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
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;
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
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
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.