Produced in Italy and first released in 1985, Enzo G. Castellari’s Light Blast is a hybrid of several different genres. There’s a lot of action, there’s a bit of horror, and there’s also some sci-fi. Like the majority of Italian exploitation films that came out during the 80s, it’s designed to have a little something for everyone.
Erik Estrada plays Ronn Warren, a detective with the San Francisco Police Department. (Though the film was filmed on location and it did star American television star Erik Estrada, it’s still very much an Italian production, complete with badly dubbed dialogue and clumsy attempts to capture the peculiarities of American culture.) When we first see Ronn, he’s in his underwear and he’s carrying a turkey. Two inbred criminals are trapped in a bank and they’ve taken hostages. They’ve demanded that the police provide them with dinner and that the food be delivered by someone “not wearing a stitch of clothing.” Ronn is happy to oblige, though he doesn’t go completely naked because Ronn is one of those police detectives who has trouble following orders. Of course, as soon as he gets inside the bank, Ronn proves that he doesn’t need to be fully dressed to stop the bad guys. He just needs for the bad guys to be stupid enough to continually let their guard down and fall for extremely obvious tricks.
While Ronn is showing off his physique, Dr. Yuri Svoboda (played by Enio Girolami, who is credited as Thomas Moore in this film) is planning on terrorizing the city of San Francisco. He’s developed a giant laser gun that he transports on top of a van. Whenever he shoots the laser at any digital clock, it causes people to melt and buildings to explode. His first victims are a teenage boy and girl who are having sex in an abandoned railroad car. His next victims are the innocent spectators of a stock car race. What does Dr. Svoboda want!?
It turns out that he wants a lot of money. Now, if Dr. Svoboda tried this today, I imagine the city would quickly pay up and Dr. Svoboda would be given a police escort to the airport. But this film was made in the 20th Century, back when people were still willing to fight back against mad scientists with lethal death rays! Soon, Ronn Warren is running around San Francisco, battling Dr. Svoboda’s henchmen while trying not to get melted himself. And, of course, it would not be a movie about San Francisco if there wasn’t at least Bullitt-inspired car chase. For this chase, Ronn steals a stock car and chases the bad guys throughout the city. Whenever anyone gets in Ronn’s way, he and the car just jump over them while the film’s synth-heavy musical score goes appropriately crazy.
What to say about Light Blast? It’s a bit of a dumb movie but, to its credit, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The melting effects are both so grotesque and so obviously fake that you won’t know whether to laugh or to scream. Castellari keeps the action moving quickly and Estrada delivers all of his lines through gritted teeth, an indication that both of them knew better than to worry about things like logic or motivation. Why Dr. Svoboda melting people? Because he wants to. How can he somehow get away with driving around in a van that has a very obvious laser gun on top of it? There wouldn’t be a film otherwise. That’s just the way Light Blast is. It’s stupid but it’s so unapologetic in its stupidity that it’s hard not to be entertained.