The Ninjabot


Posted on May 14, 2015 at 10:00 am by Dylan Reynolds

70065b2eb6ceb9bbf394e85860d72cd6With FORCE AWAKENS giving everyone “Star Wars- fever” once again I decided to tackle a Post-Nuke flick that is said to be a “Star Wars meets Mad Max/ Road Warrior” rift.

Though I was a wee lad in 1983- as far as I can tell there were two big things happening in movie theaters: RETURN OF THE JEDI was coming out and it was “3D fever ‘83”- which would be the last time audiences had as many 3D movies to pick from until the revival that came in the wake of ’09s AVATAR (and thankfully seems to be subsiding now).

1983 3D releases included some horror offerings (FRIDAY the 13th 3D, AMITYVILLE 3D, JAWS 3D), a couple action flicks “inspired” by Indiana Jones (COMIN’ AT YA!, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS), and for some reason there were not one- but two “Star Wars meets Road Warrior/ Mad Max” flicks with ridiculously long titles.

The most known and largest cult following is enjoyed by SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE which includes some fun performances from the likes of Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson and Michael Ironside (as the bad guy of course) and overall I would say it’s worth checking out.

Less well received and regarded is METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN- here’s the trailer:

Spawned from the mind of producer/director Charles Band (one of the most notorious B-movie producers not named Roger Corman). Band began his career running EMPIRE PICTURES where he managed to release some acknowledged cult classics such as RE-ANIMATOR, GHOULIES, TROLL, and DUNGEONMASTER. After selling off Empire he formed FULL MOON ENTERTAINMENT with the express intent of churning out low budget horror and sci fi/ fantasy pictures for the direct-to-VHS market.

Full Moon movies sported much smaller budgets compared to the Empire Pictures catalogue- but even still- they were one of the most entertaining and prolific production companies operating during the era. I personally loved the Full Moon movies as a kid and I remember it was the first company/ studio I would specifically seek out when going to the video store.


It was during this “Full Moon era” that Band seemed to become obsessed with “tiny terrors” as evidenced by the PUPPET MASTER, SUBSPECIES, DEMONIC TOYS, and GINGERDEAD MAN franchises. But he also produced other diverse product like the fun Neo- Noir/ Sci fi TRANCERS series, a “Dr. Strange rip off” called DOCTOR MORDRID, and a trilogy of “robo- apocalypse” movies… Which I think aren’t given enough credit for inspiring later-day efforts like PACIFIC RIM.


1989s ROBOT JOX was actually produced towards the tail end of the Empire Pictures years. As such it has a bigger budget and therefore is an all-around more satisfying film compared to the following two flicks- especially when it comes to delivering kick ass “robot fighting” action. But the following years Full Moon-produced CRASH & BURN is still a worthwhile curiosity. Apparently taking place “years after” the dystopian future of the first film- it starts off as a “Mad Max wasteland” flick, then settles in for an isolated Sci-fi/ Slasher with elements of Alien and Terminator tossed in for good measure, and then finally has a brief third act involving one of the resurrected “Robot Jox” taking out the evil “cyborg monster”. This “robo-trilogy” was wrapped up in 1993 with ROBOT WARS- which has all the shortcomings of the previous two films (pacing, acting, script, budget) but even more so and is therefore the weakest of the three.

metal stormBut I’m going off on a tangent here- so let’s get to the actual “movie of the day” shall we?

METALSTORM takes place on a barren desert planet that is clearly meant to invoke a Tatooine “kind of vibe” (but looks nothing like the terrain of Southern California, I swear). On this planet is an evil Warlord (the Jared-Syn of the title) who goes around “trapping souls” in “power crystals” (or some such nonsense). Along comes a leather-clad “Road Warrior” who saves a Hottie (Kelly Preston- current wife to Travolta)- and he decides to help her seek revenge for the death of her father and bring Jared-Syn to justice.

mollOur hero then goes to a “Mos Eisley- esque” bar to hire a “poor man’s Han Solo” (played by Charles Band regular Tim Thomerson) to guide them to the fabled “Underground City” where Jared-Syn and his minions reside. They set off on their trek- only to be attacked by a reptile/android assassin and other wasteland creatures (including a Cyclops played by Richard Moll from TVs Night’s Court). During which time the Hottie is kidnapped and brought to the Warlord in order to be sacrificed to the “Crystal Gods” (or some such nonsense).

hqdefaultA bunch of vehicular mayhem and explosions pop off until the Road Warrior finally squares off against the evil Warlord and they have a psychedelic inter-dimensional chase on some Speedsters (that look to be lifted from RETURN OF THE JEDI).

It all culminates with a “cliffhanger ending” where Jared-Syn escapes into an alternate dimension and we get the promise (or threat- depending on who you ask) to a sequel that would never materialize. And yes, in case you’re paying attention there’s no actual “metal storm” or character or vehicle with that name- thus there isn’t any discernable reason for the title. Plus there is no said “destruction of Jared-Syn” because he gets away at the end. Which makes me think that they probably did an “audience test” for the title- for some reason it scored highly- so they rolled with it… logic and common sense be dammed!

Screen-Shot-2013-07-08-at-10.30.22-AMMETALSTORM is cheesy, at times clumsy, immature, and barely clocks in at 90 minutes including some “slow roll” credits. In other words, it’s just like every other Charles Band movie.  This is without a doubt a crap-tastic B-movie on every level. The script is silly and underdeveloped with plot holes big enough to drive one of those Road Warrior trucks right through.

That said- Charles Band knows how to “deliver the goods” and if you’re in the mood for a cheappie exploitation knock-off of all your favorite geeky 80s obsessions this is definitely worth a gander- even if you are just enjoying it on a “so bad it’s good” level. Plus- as I’ve touted with other films I’ve reviewed in this column- the pre-CGI practical effect and stunt work is a real treat.

And finally- the score (by Charles’ brother Richard Band) is a rousing affair that helps the movie at least seem exciting and epic- even if the visuals don’t always back it up.

Here’s a link of the main theme for you to groove to…  See you next time!

Be sure to check out my other Post-Nuke reviews.

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