28th Aug2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Turbo Kid’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright. Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzri, Orphée Ladouceur | Written and Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

turbo-kid-cast

As a kid there were three distinct phases in my movie-watching life. The first was when we rented a Betamax player from the local electrical retailer – who just happened to be the only place that rented the tapes too! That didn’t last. Obviously. And we never did upgrade to VHS, instead going wthout for years. That was until the second phase… In 1989/1990, after incessantly hounding my mother to get a VHS recorder because everyone else had one, she bought one of those huge silver behemoths, apparently one of the first front-loaders, from my uncle who in turn had got it from a guy in a pub who needed the money for beer! That Christmas I recorded EVERYTHING – on Granada VHS tapes may I add – including the weird late-night stuff ITV and Channel 4 used to fill up the post-midnight slots with. It was there that I discovered a number of wierd and wonderful movies, many of which have faded into memory and obscurity. Then came phase three…

That would happen in 1993, after I got compensation from a cycling accident and we took a holiday to Los Angeles (yes, even then I dreamed of being “involved” in the movies). With the money left over I bought a brand-spanking new, LP-recording, NTSC tape-playing machine – because I’d stocked up on tapes in the US, including banned titles Like TCM 2 and Fulci’s Zombi – and thats when my education began. I rented tape after tape after tape from the new video shop that opened up in my little town. It helped that they had half of the shop dedicated to “£1 a week” tapes. I rented them all, and often. So much so that after a while, if I really liked the film, I never used to take the tape back – I’d just pop in every week and drop off another pound.

But why am I telling you all this?

Because its something you need to know to understand just how much Turbo Kid spoke to me. Filled with references to a myriad of movies I rented as teenager, this film speaks to me like no other “retro” movie has. I thought Hobo With a Shotgun was fantastic. Turbo Kid is better. Much better. If you’ve EVER watched an 80s or 90s, post-apocalyptic action/sci-fi adventure then you HAVE to see Turbo Kid. Whether its Italian movies like Exterminators from the Year 2000, the oddly-beloved The Go-Kids, the classic Empire flick Eliminators or even Albert Pyun’s Nemesis, this film encompasses everything nostaglic about that period in movie making when plots got crazier, effects got more explosive – and more gooey (something you can thank Gorezone and Fangoria for) – and soundtracks got even more awesome.

Originally conceived as an entry in the ABCs of Death series, which was eventually rejected (in favour of T for Toilet) and expanded to feature length, Turbo Kid is set in a post-apocalyptic 1997 and follows a young kid obsessed by comic books who lives in an underground bunker and survives by scavenging in the Wasteland. His life is turned upside down when the evil Zeus who controls the water supply with an iron fist kidnaps his mysterious new friend Apple. And the reluctant hero must find the courage to face his fears if he is going to save her. Did I mention it features BMX’s, a fantastic synth soundtrack and gore – lots of gore. Plus an opening montage that gave this RAD fan goosebumps!

If you were one of those video store kids like me then Turbo Kid is DEFINITELY for you. You’ll find its filled with references to the movies you undoubtedly watched all those years ago and probably still hold in fond regard. But this is no parody, Turbo Kid is a loving homage to the decade that people of my generation still think was the best for movies… And a damn fine movie in its own right!

A genre-bender if ever there was one, Turbo Kid encompasses horror, sci-fi, action and romance in one geuninely fantastic package.Its the kind of movie that you should experience rather than read about. To go into detail about the film would spoil that pure “first-time watch” joy. The same joy I found as a teen renting movies in a pre-internet era, when all you needed to know was the crief synopsis and some cool artwork to know that the movie was one to watch. And the same applies here… All you need to know is that if the artwork and synopsis look and sound appealing then you’ll adore Turbo Kid as much as I do.

***** 5/5

Turbo Kid is released digitally on September 28th, the film hits DVD and Blu-ray on October 5th.

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