Tapping into the same rich vein of nostalgia as “Kung Fury”, “Turbo Kid” is a gleeful throwback to the heady days of 1980s sci-fi. But where “Kung Fury” cranked the absurdity up to 11, “Turbo Kid” holds back a little and achieves something quite remarkable: it feels authentic. It perfectly captures the innocent adventure of children’s adventure TV and film and subversively blends it with the spattering grindhouse gore of the 1980s’ notorious video nasties.
Set in the blisteringly distant future of 1997, the world has been devastated by an apocalyptic war, leaving the few survivors to scrabble for survival in a poisonous, desolate world where water is the most valuable commodity. The Kid, a young scavenger obsessed with comic books, finds himself pursued by Zeus, the evil self-proclaimed ruler of the wasteland and must find the courage to become the hero the world needs.
Owing much to “The Road Warrior”, “Turbo Kid” replaces Interceptors with BMX bikes and the outback deserts of Australia with Canadian quarries. While the locations wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1970s “Doctor Who”, you have to applaud the makers for being economical with their budget so they could spend it where it counts: on gruesome, gory practical effects.
What it lacks in lavish production values it makes up for in personality and guts. Lots and lots of guts. The film is chock full of hilariously gore-filled, slapstick violence and if something can be chopped, sliced, disembowelled or shredded, then it is.
Some of the performances are a little bit creaky (yeah, I’m looking at you Aaron Jeffery) but Munro Chambers is fantastic as the eponymous hero, supported by an appealingly quirky performance by Laurence Leboeuf as the slyly named Apple. Genre veteran Michael Ironside may be looking a little doughier than usual, but he can still cut it as the malevolent and monstrous Zeus, especially when backed up by his mute, masked sidekick: the circular saw wielding Skeletron.
Pumped up by a note perfect synth score (and the occasional Stan Bush-esque rock song), “Turbo Kid” feels like a long lost late eighties Cannon movie, missing in the archives and only now seeing the light of day. It’s crazy, lo-fi fun, packed with triumphant, laugh-out-loud energy. It’s the movie you would have made yourself when you were 10 and the one you’ll enjoy watching again and again whatever age you are now.