Hearing of his success, Dr Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) breaks out of his prison for the criminally insane and decides to kidnap an old colleague who tried to help him do something similar in 1938, only to be taken over by a being from that other dimension called Lord John Whorfin and now he wants to go back home. These beings are called Red Lectroids and arrived on Earth in 1938, using the broadcast of War of the Worlds as their cover.
The aliens now hide in plain sight, pretending to be humans, but Banzai can see them thanks to an electric shock given to him by the visiting Black Lectroids who are here to help stop the Reds. With the help of his band (among other roles they undertake) the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Banzai saves the day and his new squeeze, Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), who just so happens to be the long lost twin sister of his dead wife.
With us so far? Good, because that isn’t even the half of it.
The word ‘cult’ is overused when it comes to films that come out of leftfield, and this one certainly does that. You’ll honestly finish watching the film wondering what the hell you just saw. Fortunately, the extras include interviews with some of the cast as well as the director who, both in 1984 and present day, admit that they have no real idea what is going on either! They have idea how to categorise it into a specific genre and there was clearly a plan to turn this into a franchise, with the credits promising another adventure against the World Crime League which never materialised. It’s as if someone took the ideas for at least three different films and stuck them into a blender to see what came out the other side. Richter even to this day states that the film couldn’t be made without the assistance of the Banzai Corporation, as if Buckaroo himself were a real person. It all ends up as a bit of a mess.
It’s so difficult to score this review. Is it entertaining? That’s down to the individual to decide, but we can definitely say it’s an interesting and strange experience. And after all, isn’t that what cult movies are: enigmas?
Special Features: Audio commentary / New interviews with Peter Weller and John Lithgow / Three featurettes / Alternative opening and closing / Deleted scenes / Trailers / / Gallery / Collector’s booklet
THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984) / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: W.D. RICHTER / SCREENPLAY: EARL MAC RAUCH / STARRING: PETER WELLER, JOHN LITHGOW, ELLEN BARKIN, JEFF GOLDBLUM, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD / RELEASE DATE: JULY 20TH