Charles Band's second and most successful 3D movie METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN gets the treatment so long denied of it by embarrassed studio Universal on Scream Factory's two-disc 2D/3D Blu-ray.
On the desert planet of Lumeria, renegade Jared-Syn (Michael Preston, MAD MAX) has incited a Holy War between among the nomadic Cylcopeans, and ranger Dogen (Jeffrey Byron, THE DUNGEONMASTER) has been sent to track down the war lord. When prospector Aix (Larry Pennell, SUPERSTITION) and his daughter Dhyana (Kelly Preston, CHRISTINE) mine in forbidden territory, Aix is killed by Jared-Syn's half-android son Baal (R. David Smith, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO) whose lifeforce is among many his father has stolen to with a crystal capable of harnessing and directing the energy of the stolen souls. When Dogen is wounded in a skirmish with Baal, but the force of Dhyana's love prevents Jared-Syn from taking his lifeforce. Abducting Dhyana, Jared-Syn plans to lure Dogen to him and make the couple his final sacrifice to the crystal before using its force to take over the land. Tracing the crystal's markings to the fabled city of Set, Dogen seeks out former ranger-turned-prospector Rhodes (Tim Thomerson, TRANCERS) to lead him to the lost city. Crossing into Cyclopean territories, the pair find themselves at odds with Hurok (Richard Moll, EVILSPEAK), the leader of a Cyclopean band on their way to Jared-Syn's war council, who challenges Dogen to a battle to the death.
Made on a shoestring in rock quarries and the famous Vaszquez Rocks locations, METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN seems at times as threadbare as some of the Italian post-apocalyptic MAD MAX ripoffs. Story and characterization have been stripped down to the bone (the film runs eighty-four minutes with ten minutes of slow-moving opening and end credits) with the performers doing what they can with what little they are given, with particularly entertaining turns from Thomerson and Moll. The film's strong points are in the imagination and innovation of cinematographer Mac Ahlberg (HELL NIGHT) and its effects crew (with make-up effects, costumes, and props supervised by INVADERS FROM MARS' Allan A. Apone, PRINCE OF DARKNESS' Frank Carrisosa, and EVILSPEAK's Douglas J. White and visual effects by GALAXINA's Frank H. Isaacs) and the big sound of Richard Band's (HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW) first full orchestral score which is often more momentous than the action. As with other 3D films from the period like FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D, the filmmakers try for as many protruding objects and people as possible, some of the gags are laughable like the random push-in on a jutting tree branch seemingly for lack of anything else in the shot or Baal's ripped off robotic arm hurled towards the camera. The film's subtitle is a bit of a misnomer since Band and company pitched a sequel to Universal that fell through after METALSTORM actually had its wide theatrical play.
Released theatrically by Universal to exploit the same venues they outfitted with 3D for JAWS 3D, METALSTORM was released on panned-and-scanned VHS without any mention of its 3D origins and forgotten until the studio put the film out on DVD in 2010 as part of their "Studio Selections" line in a fullscreen transfer again without acknowledgement that it was originally a 3D production. Scream Factory's two-disc Blu-ray set presents the film in 2D 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 widescreen and 3D 1080p24 MVC 2.35:1 widescreen presentations on separate BD50 discs. Like the ArriVision 3D on Scream's disc of AMITYVILLE 3D, wide shots often have soft edges which is fine for the most part unless Ahlberg's camera pans slightly and blurs part of an actor's body in a group composition. The bluescreen effects hold up well for what they are, as well as other opticals, but these shots also evince some black spots and other minute damage that presumably could not be painted out without compromising the 3D effects.
The 3D Blu-ray features the film, 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio options, and English SDH subtitles only, with the extras on the 2D disc. "High Noon at the End of the Universe: The Making of METASTORM" (42:13) documentary bookended by the recollection of Fangoria's Michael Gingold of the summer of JAWS 3D and 3D trailer of METALSTORM that pumped audiences up for the letdown of a main feature. Actors Byron, Moll, and Thomerson reminisce about working together, the shortcomings of the script, and the achievements of the stunt and effects people. Most amusing is Band's recollection that Moll's agent did not want him to shave his head since it was pilot season, but the actor did so for an additional five hundred dollars, and his bald pate would contribute to his landing a regular role in NIGHT COURT. Band and writer Alan J. Adler (PARASITE) discuss the origins of the project, Band's methods of garnering interest and foreign sales based on poster artwork suggesting the film was already in production, and how former Avco Embassy president Robert Rehme's move to Universal as head of marketing lead to the studio's interest in the film to play at the tail end of summer in the theaters they outfitted for JAWS 3D. Apone and Myers discuss designing not only the effects but also the costumes and special props on a low budget. Also included are the film's still & promotional Gallery (10:26), the theatrical trailer (01:23) – unfortunately not in 3D, denying viewers the opportunity to experience what Gingold recalls above – and a radio spot (0:30). (Eric Cotenas)
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