Crash and Burn: The Nerfed Llamas Review – Wherein we answer the difficult question of whether or not human prostitutes are better in the sack than synthetic ones…
I had fun dabbling in the post 2000 catalog of Full Moon Features. I was even surprised by how much fun Ravenwolf Towers was (read the review here) and horror psychologically twisty Deathbed was (read the review here). It was great to experience the newer generation of Full Moon content, but I was ready to crisscross back to another classic film. Preferably something with a nice sci-fi bent to it. I was considering a much older film, perhaps something from the classic Empire Pictures days, however, as fate would have it, I landed on the giant robot epic: Crash and Burn. After watching the trailer on Full Moon’s Streaming service I was convinced that I needed to watch this flick next. It seemed to have just the right mix of what I was looking for. What did I think of Crash and Burn? Read on and find out…
Click the following link to keep up to date on this year’s Full Moon Features festivities including film reviews and other articles: 2nd Annual: May is Officially Full Moon Features Month at Nerfed Llamas!
What is Crash and Burn: Crash and Burn is a 1990 sci-fi action film written by J.S. Cardone (Prom Night, The Stepfather) and directed by Charles Band (Trancers, Prehysteria!). The film starred Paul Ganus (The Bold and the Beautiful, Dallas), Megan Ward (Trancers II, Arcade), Ralph Waite (The Waltons, Cliffhanger), Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Eva Larue (CSI Miama, All My Children), Jack McGee (Moneyball, Rescue Me), Elizabeth Maclellan (Puppet Master II, Santa Barbara), Katherine Armstrong (Silk Degrees, Ambition), John Davis Chandler (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Adventures in Babysitting), and Kristopher Logan (Demolition Man, Blood Dolls). In the year 2035, corporations have bought out the government. One company in particular, Unicom, controls most of the United States. The situation is working out well for the wealthy, but for anyone else it is a less than ideal. On top of that, the ozone layer is failing and thermal waves of extreme heat have made the outside world a harsh land. In a small TV outpost, a Unicom employee making a routine delivery gets drawn into a large conspiracy involving espionage and giant robots.
What I liked about Crash and Burn: This movie feels as if it was made for the big screen. I know that’s a funny statement to make, but the vast majority of Full Moon films were made for VHS rental. Crash and Burn feels different from many of the Full Moon films of the time, and more like an Empire Pictures film (the company Charles Band headed up just before he started Full Moon). The sets look great, the special effects were made with great care, and the actors on hand are a cut above the average low budget movie. I mean, it has Ralph Waite who was John Walton Sr in the classic TV series the Waltons in it. Crash and Burn is one of those low budget movies that feels like a perfect storm of quality acting, good art direction, and sound production that came together at just the right time. Kudos to Charles Band for pulling off this tremendous feat!
The special effects in Crash and Burn are quite nice and boast a lot of variety. Their is a ton of effects shot both big and small all over this production. From matte painted backdrops, to scale models, and even high end prosthetic work, there is a lot of quality design work to be seen. The robot is mainly puppetry (remember this was filmed way before CGI was the standard), and the puppeteers do a great job of making the robot feel like this large hulk of a machine. Every movement of the robot has weight and consequence to it. The synthetic skin and circuitry effects were well executed as well. All of these various special effects add up to an experience that is quite rewarding for the viewer.
For a b-movie, the plot is pretty heavy. You have a world ravaged by poor climate conditions that have made severe global warming the standard. Corporations have bought out the government wholesale, so corruption and control are all that people see anymore. Synthetic beings have been outlawed but are still hiding amongst the citizens, and no one knows what their true intentions may be. An underground movement has started to rebel against the corporations, and an ugly battle is being forced. All in all, there is a lot of moving parts in Crash and Burn. What’s great is that these threads all interweave to make the story feel more grounded. Because there is a reason for nearly everything in the lore of the film, the world that is shown feels “lived in” and deep. This extra attention to plot detail enhances the viewing experience immensely.
The actors involved all looked like they were having a good time, and it shows in their performances. Jack McGee plays a smarmy TV host that is a real piece of work, but he does it with expert wit and great timing. Bill Moseley is a maintenance worker that has a spitfire personality. Moseley’s role evolves over the the course of the movie, and he does a terrific job reinventing his character. Megan Ward is plucky, smart, and resourceful and approaches the role with a youthfully jaded nuance. Ralph Waite is endearing and confident as the owner of the TV station. Waite brings the same kind of warmth and authenticity that he did to his role in the Waltons. Paul Ganus is the lovably hunky hero who is a stranger in a strange land, but is equal parts compassion and action. Everyone pulls together to form a good ensemble that has solid low budget performances, certainly better than the average b-movie acting.
What I didn’t like about Crash and Burn: Nothing. There was nothing I disliked about Crash and Burn. It is a fun b-movie romp that has just enough going on to engage the mind and have you thinking about it long after the credits roll. My only possible complaint is that I wish Crash and Burn had been remastered in HD. Perhaps one day it will be. It definitely deserves the Blu Ray treatment.
Bottom Line: I liked Crash and Burn quite a lot. It has a lot of charm. There is all sorts of action, intrigue, romance, drama, conspiracies, double crosses, and of course a giant robot… what more could you ask for in a movie? Charles Band was in top form, and the filming and editing for this film is top notch considering the budget. Also, the acting is a cut above the usual b-movie fare. Many of the cast had already starred in iconic roles, or would go on to star in a more prominent role later on in their career. The plot is fun, engaging, and has enough backstory to make it feel fully fleshed out and satisfying. The core story plays out like the Terminator meets Mobile Suit Gundam, and it dabbles with a lot of the similar themes from those series as well. This film has a lot of sci-fi going on, but it is all plausible and as such could be construed as a cautionary tale about corporate greed and climate change. As I stated beforehand this feels like a movie that was intended for the big screen, so the production value (for what it is) is on point. I highly recommend checking Crash and Burn out. You can watch Crash and Burn on Full Moon’s Streaming service, or purchase it on DVD from the Full Moon Direct online store.
Here is the trailer for Crash and Burn, check it out and see if you’d like to take the synthetic/real prostitute challenge… and time permitting operate a giant robot.