The Summer of '83: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn -

The Summer of '83

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  • Starring: Jeffrey Bryon, Michael Preston, Tim Thomerson, Kelly Preston and Richard Moll
  • Written by: Alan J. Adler
  • Directed by: Charles Band
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Series:

The Summer of '83: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn

"He lives. You do not."

By Rob Vaux     August 21, 2013

 Stop for a moment and ponder just how stupid it is to blow the ending of your movie in the title. Can you imagine calling your epic Star Wars: He’s Luke’s Father or Star Trek II: Spock Buys It? And yet here sits Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, telling us exactly, precisely where it’s going even before we buy a ticket. That presumes the journey will be far more interesting than the destination, and therein lies the film’s fundamental failure. There is nothing interesting going on here. Not even the so-bad-it’s-good interesting that the similarly trashy Yor, The Hunter from the Future achieves. Metalstorm isn’t epically awful; it’s just good enough to be run-of-the-mill bad, and what fun is that?

It starts with a profound lack of inspiration. Our brooding loner-du-jour (Jeffrey Bryon) is in pursuit of the standard-issue evil overload (Mike Preston) on the mystic planet of East Tarzana Gravel Pit. In the process, he rescues the beautiful Dhyana (Kelly Preston) – notice the exotic future-type spelling of that name – whose father has been killed by Jared-Syn’s evil henchman who spend their days wandering the wasteland looking for pointless ways for brooding loners-du-jour to kill them.

Like a lot of science fiction “epics,” this one copies its betters without the barest notion of shame or responsibility. Metalstorm at least bucked the trend at the time by ripping off Star Wars and The Road Warrior instead of Conan the Barbarian, whose various pretenders were all over August ’83 like a rash. It endeavors to keep the pace active with endless shots of Bryon cruising around on his suped-up dune buggy and provides a variety of one-note bad guys to throw at him (including a pre-Night Court Richard Moll, whose shaved head here scored him his signature role there).At least the villains get into the spirit of things. Byron can’t find the line between stoicism and somnambulism, with Preston following his lead to the doom of both. Everyone speaks with the ponderousness of religious mantra, even though it involves cringe-inducing lines like “welcome to your death.” It starts out amusing, but the monotonous repetition of it all quickly descends into terminal boredom.

Indeed, the bulk of the film is the equivalent of pointless busywork, with a half-baked outer space culture providing arbitrary rules for the heroes to inadvertently violate. Dull plot exposition walks hand in hand with threadbare stereotypes, rendering the action the worst kind of forgettable.  Director Charles Band specialized in this kind of schlock, helming such direct-to-video “classics” as Trancers and Puppet Master. (Band stalwart Tim Thomerson comes and goes way too quickly from this one.) At times, he descends into pure hallucination territory, aided by the 3D effects that Universal was apparently hinging its summer on. Sadly, that doesn’t help the hackneyed material any better, turning Metalstorm into as colossal waste of time rather than the campy throwback it could have been.

It’s worthwhile, I think, to clarify the differences between this film and Yor, which shared the same release date in 1983. Yor thrives on the kind of shockingly bad decisions that require real imagination to produce. It goes about its task with real enthusiasm, cheerfully oblivious to the havoc it wreaks along the way. Metalstorm, on the other hand is too lazy to come up with such jaw-dropping wrong-headedness. Instead, it plays it safe the whole way, which explains why you may feel a lot more fondness for Yor even though it sinks deeper than this one. We value and treasure new experiences in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that they hurt so much. There’s nothing new about Metalstorm, reducing it to the anonymous background noise of the genre’s most trite corners. We’re left only with a sense of profoundly wasted time, forgotten amid a summer whose brightest lights had long since passed by.


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monkeyfoot 8/21/2013 7:08:03 AM

Like Yor from yesterday, this is an 80s B-movie I have never seen. But unlike Yor I've always had the hankering to actually watch it for exactly the reason you implied in the first paragraph.

The title told you of the coming death of Jared-Syn and that implied it would somehow be an epic journey as we saw this happen to the title character. The badass coolness would be in the trip to the destruction. I could tell from the awful TV commercials and trailers this was a low budget movie but that somehow added to the allure for me. It reminded me of the many low budget Italian made spaghetti westerns from the 70s. It got in my head this would be a well made B-movie with style like some of those. But fate always conspired against me and I never saw it in theaters or cable in all these years.

And you know what else? All these many years I thought Jared-Syn was the name on the hero! Only now reading your article do I know that was the villain's name. I think that's what gave this movie an air of a low budget, but stylized classic film. You knew the hero was going to die by the end but the greatness of the story was in telling it well.

Muenster 8/21/2013 7:25:36 AM

There's this one scene in which the viewer will watch a space ship (actually a scaled down radio controlled airplane) supposedly landing on a alien planet- pass right in front a big parking lot in the background. It's really crazy, because the cars look gigantic.   

CaptAmerica04 8/21/2013 7:33:03 AM

Rob, I'd love to read your review of the May 20, 1983 release "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone." It, too, suffered from the gratuitous use of the 3D of the time, but it was MUCH better than Metalstorm, though definitely very schlocky in its own right. I know it misses the "summer" release season, technically, back then, but it would've been a summer release by today's standards.

I also remember this as one of my favorite cheese films of the early 80s - I used to watch it on VHS with similar frequency to my copy of Beastmaster. Plus, how can you dislike the we're-not-famous-yet performances of Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald (pre-John Hughes), Ernie Hudson (pre-Ghostbusters), and Michael Ironside?!

Metalstorm was truly awful, and I remember hating it for its content as well as its ridiculous and annoying 3D "effects."  Spacehunter (perhaps only by comparison) was infinitely better and truly enjoyable if not taken too seriously.

marcd30319 8/21/2013 8:31:30 AM

  Since we are doing retrospectives of 1980s sci-fi and fantasy films, why not do one on 1983's Nate and Hayes, a Raiders knock-off that featured a rope-bridge sequence that pre-dates Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by a year!

marcd30319 8/21/2013 8:35:10 AM

 BTW - Larry Pennell a.k.a Dash Riprock from the Beverly Hillbillies was in this classic!

dojen1 8/21/2013 8:48:59 AM

I actually PAID to see this steaming dung pile in a theatre. Took my girlfriend with me. She dumped me shortly after that. Wonder why.


dojen1 8/21/2013 8:49:53 AM

Holy SHIT!! My comment appeared! That's 1 for 15, Mania.

mellowdoux 8/21/2013 10:30:50 AM

 How about a retrospective on "Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid" ?

And no, I didn't make that up. It's an actual (little seen) flick!

jonniej1017 8/21/2013 12:19:58 PM

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie with my friend and we  were like "YES!!  we are definitely there"!!  LOL  and we saw this movie and if im not mistaken it was in 3-D.... Needless to say..   it was terrible!!!

TheSilentKiller 8/21/2013 3:38:28 PM

 For some reason this movie seems like it would be much better if it was subtitled: Face the Slayer

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