- Directed by Peter Manoogian
- January 31, 1986
A scientist and her pet robot along with a mandroid and a martial arts master must stop an evil scientist from traveling back in time and conquering the Roman Empire.
Before Charles Band founded Full Moon Entertainment he founded another entity called Empire Pictures that specialized in low-budget horror and fantasy feature films. See a pattern there? They released such guilty pleasures as Re-Animator, Troll, Ghoulies, Trancers, From Beyond, and this-Eliminators. It’s a fun science-fiction tinged adventure film with the feel of a comic book from the early days of that medium.
The story is a rather bonkers mix and involves cyborgs and ninjas and riverboat pilots and a mad scientist with a desire for time travel. It’s just a silly and fun grab bag of science-fiction ideas and comic book tropes thrown together and mixed up thoroughly and formed into something though low-budget is all entertaining.
Roy Dotrice plays evil scientist Abbott Reeves. In my perceptions the actor seemed to play a supporting role in just about everything back in the day. For some reason I often got him mixed up with Donald Pleasance on the regular. Anywho, his Reeves is dying of some mysterious disease though he has managed to prolong his life and has created a time machine. Why? Not sure exactly at first but if you can then why not?
We eventually learn for some reason Reeves wants to time travel to the early Roman Empire as a cyborg (or something along those lines) and take it over. Why the Roman Empire? I don’t know. This film is not something to be thought about too deeply. It is crafted as a guilty pleasure and that it most certainly is.
Denise Crosby plays Col. Nora Hunter a scientist who much like in comic books is a bit of a jack of all trades as all scientists are. Not only can she build sophisticated robots capable of matter transmutation and scouting areas, but she can also fix a boat and seems to know a little bit about history and a touch of Latin.
Andrew Prine, an actor with a long and varied career, is charming and rather good as Harry Fontana who is the riverboat captain that Col. Hunter hires when her and John the Mandroid go to stop the evil scientist. He’s just a fun-loving asshole in the mold of Han Solo who’s overtly sexist yet still manages to be somebody you could like.
The Mandroid/John (Patrick Reynolds) is a pilot who crashed in South America and was turned into the cyborg by Abbott Reeves. On the surface that might look like the evil scientist did it for shits and giggles but it appears that he needed a test subject for his time travel villainy.
John was a pilot but it looks a lot like he might be a pilot from World War II though that’s a little fuzzy. I’ve watched this a few times and it certainly looks like it but it’s never really stated. He has holes in his memory and there isn’t too much about his past revealed other than the mention of a picture found in his crashed plane of his wife and child.
None of these characters are well built up but the weakest of them all is Kuji (Conan Lee) who is the ninja son of Dr. Takada (Tad Horino) an associate of Reeves that freed Mandroid and thus was killed by Reeves. Kuji is going to look for his dad who he hasn’t heard from in quite a while. There was a bit of a ninja craze during the 80s and a lot of action characters were ninjas or used martial arts of one form or another. In that mold Kuji comes on the scene rather late in the story and is really added to do the cool shit the others cannot.
I need to mention character actor Peter Schrum who plays Ray, Reeves chief flunky. Not a big name but a face that was everywhere. For example he played a biker in T2 but was in so much more. Just one of those character actors that I fondly remember.
Eliminators doesn’t have much but it makes the most of what it does have. There is humor and surprisingly better than expected action with a rousing finale and a creative though relatively expected disposition of the villain.
The effects of Eliminators are bargain basement. This was the mid-80s AND low budget and are even cheap looking. Then again you do not watch something like this expecting the finest of production values. Its aim was to entertain, and it does that in spades.
I’ve read and heard a few times over the years that this was intended to be the first of a series of films where the same group would go off on random adventures and save the day. Unfortunately that was not to be. From the looks of it a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff caused those films to not occur. And that’s unfortunate because what we get here is enjoyable. It’s just a guilty pleasure that’s all fun and no substance. We have hammy villains and weird heroes that come together and create something special.
Eliminators is a better than it should be film. It’s not high art but it is fun and enjoyable. There are some goofy moments in it but in the end is just pure fun. This may be a little hard to find but if you find it or see it somewhere watch it. You will enjoy yourself.