Peter’s Retro Reviews: Crash and Burn (1990)

February 24, 2014

Crash and Burn posterby Peter Nielsen

We’re in the year 2035 and the world is a harsh place to live in. At the start of the movie we see a wall calendar that says July 2030, but I suppose buying a new one and keeping up to date isn’t exactly on the priority-list. Food and water might be a tad more important, along with protection against the glaring sun. I suppose the ozone layer is mostly gone, because people keep mentioning the ultra-violet being bad. A minor character, Scratch, who works at a small supply store, has apparently spent a little too much time outside because, as the owner of the store says… “His brain is fried… as well as his skin!”

To make matters worse, sometimes hot “thermal storms” sweeps across the landscape. These storms will basically cook you alive if you venture out into them for any prolonged period of time. Nice place, huh?

Making a delivery!

Making a delivery!

The world has also gone through an economic collapse and is now run by a large and powerful organization named Unicom, which oversees more or less everything. Computers and robots has been banned and outlawed and the world has gone back to analogue basics, so to speak. This is officially because Unicom wants to try and rebuild the world and, as they say, ensure “life, liberty and economic stability”. But hey… we all know that’s bullshit and that they just want to keep tracks on everyone… you know, Big Brother style!

Crash and Burn was directed by Charles Band who also directed the two first Trancers movies among others. He was also the executive producer on movies such as Cellar Dweller, Re-Animator, Zone Troopers, Puppetmaster and Robot Jox. Because of his involvement with the latter one and because Crash and Burn also used the same opening theme many thought it was a follow-up to Robot Jox. And the fact that it was actually released as Robot Jox 2 in many European countries, further fueled the misconception that it was indeed a sequel.

Ralph Waite as Hooks, the station manager.

Ralph Waite as Hooks, the station manager.

This, of course, disappointed a lot of people who thought they were going to get treated to more giant robots bashing each other to pieces, just like in Robot Jox. Crash and Burn is not about that at all, although you do get some giant robot-action at the end of the movie, which was kind of cool.

Tyson Keene is a delivery-man working for Unicom and is on his way to a small TV station out in the middle of nowhere to make a delivery. He’s played by Paul Ganus, who’s mostly done TV work like The Bold and the Beautiful and Dallas for instance.

The station manager, Lathan Hooks, doesn’t like Unicom much and is initially a bit “cold” towards Tyson but soon warms up to him anyway. He is, after all, only doing his job. Hooks is played by a prolific actor who sadly passed away on February the 13th this year (2014), namely Ralph Waite. I’m sure you’ll remember him as John Walton from the show The Waltons. He’s also been on the long lived TV show Days of our Lives, but also in movies like The Magnificent Seven Ride! and Cliffhanger, to name a couple.



Hooks is later attacked and killed by an unseen assailant while checking on some of the station’s equipment. His niece, Arren, suspects that Unicom has sent a synthetic human, a synthoid, to infiltrate the station to get at her uncle, because, as it turns out, he’s a member of a revolutionary group who opposes Unicom. None of the others at the station believes her, but she is of course right. There is a killer among them and pretty soon the bodies start stacking up.

The cast in Crash and Burn is a fairly small one, ten people to be exact. Well, according to IMDB there are eleven, but I’m not 100% sure about it. I think the eleventh cast member might be a guy who shows up very briefly on a TV screen.

Arren is played by Megan Ward who’s also done a lot of TV work, like for instance Dark Skies and Party of Five. Bill Moseley from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Pink Cadillac is Quinn, the station’s handyman. Eva LaRue (Santa Barbara, CSI: Miami) is Parice, an on-the-air school teacher, of sorts.

Jack McGee, whom I know as Doc on the short-lived sci-fi series Space Rangers (which wasn’t all bad and I actually like it), portrays the sleaze-ball talk show host Winston Wickett. Katherine Armstrong and Elizabeth Maclellan are two prostitutes that he interviews on his show and later intends to have some fun with!

"Damn, people throw away everything nowadays, huh?"

“Damn, people throw away everything nowadays, huh?”

If you go into Crash and Burn expecting wall to wall action, you might be a tad disappointed though. You do get action, of course, but it’s more of a slow burn which I personally, don’t mind. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller and we do like those, don’t we? Well, I do anyway! It was a direct-to-video release, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s a bad movie, does it? Ok, I have to agree that sometimes it does, but not in this case though.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not award winning material that’s for sure, but it’s actually not all that bad. The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s ok and interesting enough. The cast doesn’t suck, at least not all of them and you kind of have to take the movie for what it is… roughly 1 hour and 25 minutes worth of entertainment! Nothing more, nothing less! Well… unless you lived in Sweden, of course, where it was slightly shortened by the censors. In which case it actually was less!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my review for this week. Have any of you seen Crash and Burn? Do you have any opinions about it? If you do, then please leave a comment below!

Until next time, my friends…

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