So Bad, It’s Good: The Eliminators (1986)
There’s a good chance the majority of those reading this have seen Manborg and if you haven’t, you really need to make that a priority. Seriously. It’s one of the most creative no-budget movies I’ve seen in the last few years and bonus, it hails from the great white north! But i’m not here to wax poetic about Manborg; I’m here to talk about the movie that inspired it, The Eliminators.
This mid-80’s sci-fi action flick features a character lineup straight out of every 80’s/90’s kids fantasy: cyborgs, ninjas, mad scientists,roman centurions, cavemen and a slew of disposable mercenaries for our heroes to fight are just a sampling of what this movie throws at you in its 90 minute running time. Oh and did I mention that it features not one but TWO boat chase/gun fights, one of which involves exploding fuel barrels? Well, it does and if you’re anything like me you’re already firing up your web browser to track down a copy of this movie.
The Eliminators starts off in a secret lab in the jungles of mexico, where a mad scientist named Abbot Reeves has re-built a pilot who crash landed in the jungles near his compound into a “Mandroid” (say it, it just rolls off the tongue) to travel through time and retrieve various artifacts from the ancient Roman era. Why? Who cares why when there’s a Mandroid on screen?! Mandroid’s latest mission a success, Reeves orders his assistant Dr Takeda to shut down and dismantle the half man/half robot. Possessing some form of compassion and probably feeling at least a LITTLE guilty for creating a time-traveling, cyborg killing machine, Takeda refuses and instead helps Mandroid make his escape, getting killed in the process.
Before his death, though, Takeda manages to help Mandroid into his “mobile unit,” literally a set of tank treads that take the place of his legs and allow our hero some much needed firepower to mount his escape with. Let me tell you, the escape scene alone is worth the price of admission, and it really only gets better from there on out. Once free, our cybernetic hero disguises himself as what I can only describe as Dick-Tracy-on-a-micro-budget using a straw hat painted black and a bed sheet and searches out the woman who designed the technology that allows him to live.
We never find out how he knows about her or where he gets his very effective disguise from but really, I don’t think it matters. The Eliminators is so much fun you can’t really concern yourself with petty details like that: only focus on the pure awesome, pre-adolescent grab bag that are the ideas presented here. Like our hero’s river guide Harry Fontana says “What is this? Some kinda comic book? We got robots, we got cave men, we got kung fu!”. Just strap in and enjoy the ride!
Over the course of this movie we are treated to bar fights, a boat chase or two, kidnapping by native tribesman that turn out to be cavemen and a few other everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot moments you really have to witness to appreciate. I’ll fast forward a little bit as I don’t want to eliminate (see what I did there?) your reason for watching this by spoiling everything this movie has to offer, but I do want to talk about the finale. Mostly because it involves a cyber-showdown between Mandroid and the now upgraded version of Abbot Reeves, who comes complete with Roman Centurion breastplate, flowing red cape and lightning bolt shooting action – he’s like the ultimate action figure I always wanted as a kid!
So should you watch this semi-forgotten VHS era science fiction movie? That really depends. Do you ask a lot of questions and require reasons for things to be happening or can you just buckle up and let a low-budget film take you on a ride through it’s comic booked/video game/action movie inspired world for 90 minutes? If you answered yes to the second option, you’re exactly the kind of person The Eliminators was made for. If however you answered no… I don’t know if we can be friends. Search out this little slice of 80’s nostalgia and remember a time when you didn’t need to have a comic book license or a book to adapt from to make a movie; all you needed was a ton of off the wall ideas and the desire to put them on film.