“Turbo Kid” begins its theatrical run in Houston at Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park tomorrow.
In the futuristic year of 1997, the world has become a treacherous wasteland. Water is all but forgotten and people scavenge on a regular basis in order to survive the violent and vulturous mentality of what mankind has evolved into. A kid (Munro Chambers) passes the time by riding his BMX bike, making his own weapons, and reading and idolizing Turbo Rider comic books. Together with his exuberant new friend Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) and a macho arm wrestling outlaw named Frederic (Aaron Jeffery) the kid plans to dethrone the ruthless one-eyed tyrant Zeus (Michael Ironside).
Similar to how “Hobo with a Shotgun” originally began as a mock trailer for “Grindhouse,” “Turbo Kid” is based on the short “T is for Turbo” which was submitted to (but unfortunately not included in) the horror anthology film “The ABCs of Death.” With its vibrant visual style and outrageously colorful use of gore, the comparisons between “Hobo with a Shotgun” and “Turbo Kid” are more than warranted; even “Hobo” director Jason Eisener has a small cameo in the film.
The nostalgic factor of “Turbo Kid” doesn’t just remind you of horror films and video games from the 80s and early 90s it punches you in the face and then spends an hour and a half showering you in enjoyable nuggets from your past. The film’s score is absolutely incredible as it mostly feels like a John Carpenter score sounding like it was entirely composed on a Casio keyboard. The film lets its 8-bit video games influences take the wheel, as well. Everything from its visual and sound effects to life bars being illustrated by a certain number of pixelated hearts are ripped directly from Nintendo and Atari games and beyond.
The costumes were obviously made on a budget, but they’re creative down to the last detail. Nearly every outfit has some sort of household item incorporated into it like laundry baskets as samurai hats or sporting equipment utilized as armor. The film has the “Mad Max” mindset except instead of freakish muscle cars everyone rides altered BMX bikes. The unique weapons bring a smile to your face, as well. The kid uses an NES Power Glove that shoots explosive blasts and Zeus’ right hand henchman Skeletron (Edwin Wright) wears a wrist shooter that ejects rotating saw blades.
The blood and gore in the film is ridiculous and over the top in every way you can imagine, which is what makes it so fantastic and entertaining. Severed skulls spin like tops and flesh wounds squirt like crimson geysers. One henchman gets someone’s severed torso stuck on top of his head in addition to two other halves from two other individuals. It’s this walking, stumbling totem pole of pure awesome. The torture devices Zeus thinks up are insane, as well. In addition to bloody death matches being dueled out in an empty pool, he has a giant juicing machine that grinds up corpses and body parts and turns it into drinkable water. While his exposed blender blades that shoot fire are impressive, his crown jewel is the bicycle that slowly pulls out a poor victim’s intestines while the rider pedals.
With its gushing gore, outlandishly brilliant kills, overwhelming sentimental value, and its ability to emphasize that nobody plays a dastardly unlikable villain quite like Michael Ironside, “Turbo Kid” is this gruesome time capsule overflowing with bloody nostalgic greatness.