Mania Grade: C
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Gregory Hines, Renée Soutendijk, Michael Greene, Kurt Fuller
- Written By: Duncan Gibbins, Yale Udoff
- Directed By: Duncan Gibbins
- Distributor: Scream Factory
- Extras: Theatrical Trailer
Eve of Destruction Blu-ray Review
Absurdly charming or just absurd?
By Chuck Francisco
November 11, 2013
The late 80's to early 90's were rife with Terminator inspired tales of cyborg killers out of control. Some dipped their toes in blatant rip off territory (Lady Terminator, Exterminator), while a significant score more simply aped the style for their promotional trailer. 1991's Eve of Destruction falls into the latter camp, but once past the bluster of the advertisement there is something very different at play under the hood.
Eve of Destruction stars Gregory Hines, whose instantly recognizable visage will have you asking from where you know him (Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I perhaps?). Here he is Colonel Jim McQuade, the very best marksman that the US Government has. We know this because McQuade's pistol is equipped with one of those early model laser sights- one of those absurdly bulky numbers which comically doubles the mass of the weapon (how very futuristic). He is called upon when state of the art cyborg Eve VIII (Renée Soutendijk in her first American picture) is damaged during field testing and goes on a rampage across the country. McQuade teams up with Dr. Eve Simmons (also played by Soutendijk) who helps the military man track down the automaton she created, since it has her memories and looks.
Along the way there are violent gun battles, sultry robo-subduction, car collisions, overwrought emotional trauma, and some fancy Sci-Fi vernacular. The situation becomes significantly more serious when a low yield nuclear bomb inside Eve VIII is activated on a delay, turning this into a race against the clock film. As the pair trace the killer sex bot through the pantheon of Simmons' worst memories, the tension ratchets up five fold, but it doesn't ever rise to "gripping".
Thus far Eve of Destruction doesn't sound all that worth the time, and merely going by its Rotten Tomatoes score of 0% fresh (oddly RT features this film's poster but is for a 2013 Treat Williams miniseries of the same name) viewers would seem to be in for a boring schlocker full of pseudo faux science mumbo jumbo. Then something amazing happens- Eve of Destruction becomes compelling, far more so than it has any right to. Part of the effect comes from solid camera work which showcases a bevy of interesting angles and some stellar shot composition. This is not some massive so-bad-it's-good train wreck, instead it manages to be a competent early nineties scifi actioner.
Eve of Destruction is not a great film, straddling the line between mediocre and good as if it were terrified to choose either. Gregory Hines is horrendously miscast, almost laughably so, as a supposedly hard as nails commando type. He never convinces that he could be more than the least of Arnie's band of badasses from Predator. Nevertheless the film moves along at a solid clip and is uniformly entertaining throughout. This is the sort of staple that would have been found in near constant rotation on mid 90's Cinemax to be gobbled up by willing adolescent eyes.
While this is a Scream Factory release, it is strangely bereft of any sort of extra feature (much to the consternation of Gregory Hines fans everywhere). Only the theatrical trailer accompanies the film on this Blu-ray release. The video transfer looks great, very smooth without any noticeable grain to the picture. Those looking for something different, 90's nostalgic, or unexpectedly better than it has any right to be may want to check this one out.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.