Empire Pictures tend­ed to stick to straight­for­ward b-movie premis­es of hor­ror or sci-fi vari­ety, the kind of films that could be made cheap­ly and host a vari­ety of spe­cial effects that could be plen­ti­ful and col­or­ful with­out break­ing the company’s small film bud­gets. Eliminators was an inter­est­ing attempt to break the mold, ven­tur­ing into more of a comic book/superhero-style realm. Though it didn’t have the bud­get to go all-out in a way that would tru­ly fit the genre’s needs, the amount of suc­cess they have is sur­pris­ing.

Dun-Elim-bluEliminators begins with a cyborg called Mandroid (Patrick Reynolds) escap­ing the island lair of evil sci­en­tist Abbott Reeves (Roy Dotrice), who has been using him in sin­is­ter exper­i­ments involv­ing time trav­el. Mandroid doesn’t know his pre-cyborg iden­ti­ty so her turns to Nora Hunter (Denise Crosby), an army sci­en­tist who cre­at­ed the tech­nol­o­gy that Reeves stole for his evil pur­pos­es. The two team up to go after Reeves, enlist­ing the help of raff­ish island guide Harry Fontana (Andrew Prine) and lat­er team­ing with mar­tial arts expert Kuji (Conan Lee), who has his own score to set­tle with Reeves. It all cul­mi­nates in a show­down involv­ing action, sci-fi and comic book plot twists.

Eliminators is a favorite with b-movie fans who are into Empire Pictures because of its sense of fun and adven­ture. This spir­it comes from the script by Paul DeMeo and Danny Bilson. They were two of the best writ­ing tal­ents to emerge from the Empire sta­ble and they bring a sense of pulpy fun to the nar­ra­tive, with sim­ple but clear­ly-drawn char­ac­ter­i­za­tions and crafty plot­ting.

The ambi­tions of their sto­ry ulti­mate­ly over­whelm the resources Empire can give it, lead­ing to a sec­ond half where the spec­ta­cle a big­ger-bud­get­ed film could have is miss­ing and the dénoue­ment is too hasty to be tru­ly sat­is­fy­ing. That said, DeMeo and Bilson’s work has a heart­felt love of its b-movie ori­gins that car­ries it through. Director Peter Manoogian gives it a stur­dy treat­ment that allows the sto­ry­line to be the star and he pumps it up with as much action and effects as the bud­get can allow.

Eliminators also Elim-01ben­e­fits from a strong, like­able cast of heroes. Crosby makes a resource­ful hero­ine and Reynolds brings a sense of soul­ful­ness you might not expect to a char­ac­ter that looks like an action fig­ure brought to life. Hong Kong import Lee isn’t asked to do much act­ing but han­dles the mar­tial arts sequences with aplomb, even chore­o­graph­ing them him­self. That said, Prine is the one who steals the show, play­ing a kind of Indiana Jones/Romancing The Stone-type out­law hero with charm and a nice sense of comic tim­ing.

To sum up, Eliminators is the kind of almost-clas­sic where the view­er has to imag­ine what could have been if it had the bud­get to live up to its imag­i­na­tion but what actu­al­ly made it to screen is still plen­ty of fun, a kind of blend of The Six Million Dollar Man, Frankenstein and Raiders Of The Lost Ark with a lit­tle bonus time trav­el and kung-fu thrown in to top it all off. If read­ing Elim-02that descrip­tion makes you smile, you just might have some fun with the pulp whim­sy of Eliminators.

Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory pre­vi­ous­ly released this title in a full-frame edi­tion on a 4-pack set for DVD but have just upgrad­ed it to blu-ray via a two-fer disc that pairs this film with The Dungeonmaster. The new HD trans­fer is tak­en from non-remas­tered source so there is a bit of speck­ling here and there but the results gen­er­al­ly look col­or­ful and have a gen­tle but notable boost in detail. The 2.0 loss­less audio retains the film’s vin­tage mix and gets the job done nice­ly. There are no on this part of the pro­gram but there is an inter­view with direc­tor Manoogian on The Dungeonmaster half of the disc (click here to read those details in the Blu-Ray Notes sec­tion of that film’s review).