When I set out on this crusade to raise awareness of the merits of shitty movies, I never expected to write about two films in a row featuring Richard Grieco, but here we are. He’s not the star of today’s film. Rather, he is the most electric member of the cast. So sorry, Nicole Eggert.
From 1995 comes The Demolitionist, the directorial debut from longtime special effects makeup artist Robert Kurtzman. It’s a Robocop ripoff. There’s not much more to it than that. It is also an ambitious flick, with a decent title, some outrageous performances, and a hot lead who tries her best.
It’s the near future! Eggert plays Alyssa Lloyd, an undercover police officer who infiltrates an outlaw biker gang run by Mad Dog Burne (Grieco), a criminal psychopath who literally escaped prison from the electric chair. One can’t procrastinate any more than that.
Mad Dog susses out Lloyd’s true loyalties quickly, and the gang leaves her bloody and mortally wounded, hanging from a fence.
Meanwhile, it’s an election year in the big city, and Mayor Grimbaum (a delightful Susan Tyrrell) has made promises to reduce crime that she is struggling to keep, especially with Mad Dog and his gang wreaking havoc since his escape.
Professor Jack Crowley (Bruce Abbott) has the answer. He swoops in to the hospital where doctors are trying to save Lloyd’s life, and whisks her away to his lab. By this point she’s dead, but that matters little to Professor Crowley. He loads her up with some b-movie miracle drug and she is resurrected as the city’s newest crimefighting tool. She is still dead, however. Unless she returns to the lab on a daily basis for more anti-death juice, the flesh on her bones begins to rot. In effect, she’s a zombie cop. A zombie cop who can kick ass!
Lloyd, dubbed in the press as the titular Demolitionist, sets out to destroy Mad Dog’s gang and avenge her, and her cop boyfriend’s, deaths. Oh, did I not mention him above? No worries. His character is just superfluous plot fluff, easily ignored.
Anyway, Eggert’s transformation into the Demolitionist is one to behold. Lycra, body armor — including a very chesty breastplate, a pair of guns that would make for the world’s most impressive cigarette lighters, and a mask that looks like it was lifted from an old motocross helmet. The mask is a curious bit of kit. Why cover up the star’s attractive features? I don’t know. But then, I’ve never made a movie.
Lloyd even gets a bitchin’ motorcycle, which doesn’t do much other than look cool.
She works her way up the organization, killing Mad Dog’s lieutenants one after the other, setting up the final confrontation we all know is coming back at the gang’s hideout.
This flick is some high-stinking cheese. Kurtzman and company don’t appear to have had much of a budget to work with, but being the veteran of horror films that Kurtzman was, that probably didn’t matter all that much. He did fine with what he had, but despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film and the buy-in from the cast, it still stinks.
I can’t fault Grieco for that, either. He may have mailed in his performance in the last Shitty Movie Sundays review, but in this flick he performed with gusto. There’s rarely a line that is not delivered with grandiosity. His character is a man who enjoys the worship of his underlings. It’s a gratifying spectacle to see Mad Dog ply his criminal trade and then get his in the end.
The major drag on this flick, unfortunately, is its lead. Eggert was neither talented enough, nor physical enough, for the demands of the role. I suppose that’s unfair, considering the overall quality of the film. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling that Eggert’s stunt double (as best I can gather, it was Jennifer Caputo) did more for the role than Eggert. Yikes.
Worth keeping an eye out for are Kurtzman’s f/x compatriots in Tom Savini as one of Mad Dog’s top guys, and Greg Nicotero in a bit part. Jack Nance, Bruce Campbell, and Heather Langenkamp also have small roles. Kurtzman must have called in some favors.
The Demolitionist is at times raucous, and at other times inane. Its good qualities are enough to keep it out of the basement of the Watchability Index, landing it at #182, where it displaces Hellraiser VIII.