Deadly Weapon (1989)

When Zeke finds a crate marked “office supplies” floating in the local river, takes it back to his dump of a house and opens it to find an advanced, highly destructive anti-matter ray gun, the audience’s excitement builds in anticipation of the entire hick town of King Bee, Arizona being zapped into the Negative Zone, along with the abusive family, bullying kids, and cruel school officials who make his life hell.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the rampage as Zeke spends much of the film holed up in a cafe, holding the mayor, sheriff, and town pastor hostage. And then anonymous Saturday Night Live alum Gary Kroeger shows up as a smarmy TV personality to interview the troubled Zeke. Didn’t director Michael Miner know that whenever Kroeger came on SNL, that meant it was time for a bathroom break?

Deadly Weapon‘s deadliest moments though aren’t Kroeger’s, they are squarely on Zeke. Yes, Zeke is picked on at school and his home life is garbage, but he is also completely freaking deranged!

It’s hard to feel anything but unease with Zeke as he engages in a disconcerting narration throughout the film where he constantly refers to himself as “the visitor” and acts like he’s from outer space! By the end of the movie, we’ve long since abandoned the hope that this was going to be some sort of gory revenge situation as instead Zeke is reunited with his hateful mother and keeps babbling about meeting the “mothership”!

Despite the warning signs Zeke displayed (at least to the audience – everyone in town was clueless that he was clearly unhinged) initially it appeared the film would deliver on its teen vengeance themes. After getting beat up and robbed of his stepfather’s whiskey money outside the liquor store, his father snaps and goes after Zeke with a baseball bat. Only after he kills Zeke poor dog with the bat does he use his new ray gun on the drunken scum. Nothing too crazy about that. Anyone with a dog would have at least done that much and Keanu Reeves has made a second career making a series of very successful films based around that very concept!

Zeke runs into his bullies again outside the liquor store and gives them a demonstration by blowing it up! Surely this was just the prelude to a long stalk and kill through the town and surrounding countryside with Zeke zapping punks here and there as they desperately scuttle out of the way, right? Unfortunately, Zeke isn’t that kind of crazy. In fact, he just lets them go! Damn Zeke! What will anyone learn from that? How are they going to know you’re finally the man with power if you aren’t willing to crispy fry a few dirtbags with a nice dose of anti-matter protons? Maybe your stepdaddy was right about you all along!

Zeke’s career as heavily armed super sensitive outlaw isn’t a total bust though. He steals away Traci from one of the bullies though she proves just as shallow as you would expect someone who is suddenly attracted to a guy who is running around town using some black budget Space Force weapon to blow up small businesses to be.

She takes the opportunity to loot a store, calls Gary Kroeger’s character to town so she could get famous and even says she likes his creative writing! (This is regarding a story he read in English class. It was basically his narration in story form about the Visitor fighting the humans. The teacher cut it short and sent him to the office after he read the part about how the Visitor chewed off all the earth people’s balls so they couldn’t reproduce. I mean, damn Zeke, that’s the sort of stuff schools go into lockdown for now!)

Once the army comes looking for their lost weapon, a standoff at the cafe (run by Zeke’s only friend Indian Joe and featuring Zeke’s favorite arcade game where he further indulges in his outer space fantasies) ensues as does much talking, particularly in several dull scenes of military guys arguing about whether to kill Zeke or not. Of course while they were debating just how to handle the situation, the bullies just walked on into the cafe where Traci told her ex that Zeke was the new hotness! And one of the bullies told Zeke that whatever happens, he better not end up at some juvie joint named Green Meadows because they treat teen meat like Zeke real bad! But the US Army is still gearing up like this is the landing at D-Day.

Like any memorably bad movie (and Deadly Weapon is certainly that what with the “chewing the balls off” story, the vice principal asking if Zeke is a “faggot” and then paddling him, and Indian Joe somehow comparing Zeke’s predicament to that of an eagle that flew so high it reaches infinity), it takes one final out of left field turn with a tacky tacked on teen suicide angle.

Though we don’t actually see it happen, the film makes clear that the army is about kill Zeke, but then a news report comes on saying that he committed suicide. Normally, you would just assume that was the government cover story, but because of all the weird stuff Zeke was saying and pretty much living in a world divorced from reality, I wasn’t sure if the movie wanted us to think that he really did kill himself.

If the movie was an attempt to send a message about emotionally disturbed youth, it really shouldn’t have bothered because it wasn’t even good enough to be a decent trashy teen revenge flick, let alone some heavy handed message movie. Deadly Weapon promised Massacre at Central High, but only delivered an overlong (though admittedly twisted) Afterschool Special.

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One thought on “Deadly Weapon (1989)

  1. That was awesome and a Monsterhunter classic review! I laughed several times throughout but the part comparing this movie to the John Wick flicks was great stuff.

    I think my fav Mst3k end credits moment in this movie is when Zeke reads the part in his story about the mastication emasculation he intends to inflict on the inhospitable earthlings, and his love interest in complete earnesty shouts “Don’t stop reading! What happens next?!!!” as if shes completely enthralled by his disturbing story.

    I think this movie had a lot of potential for being a great bad movie between the premise itself and all of the stereotypes for characters: drunken dad, hair metal reject bullies, bimbo love interest, Indian Joe himself, but in the end as you said, we miss out on what we really want to see, which is for everyone to get fried to a crisp. I dug the song by Hurricane at the end though.

    Keep up the great work!

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