Blood by the bucket-load, dreamy nostalgia and some cracking performances make Turbo Kid a fantastic first-night watch at FrightFest 2015.
We open in a post-apocalyptic 1997, where The Kid (Munro Chambers) scavenges the wasteland he calls home for lost treasures – in particular anything relating to his favourite comic-book hero, Turbo Man.
Orphaned by the tyrannical Zeus (Michael Ironside), he's a wandering loner – until he's befriended by sparky optimist Apple (Laurence Lebeouf), who ends up drawing him into a battle against Zeus and his gang of BMX-riding marauders.
Its ingredients may be familiar, but this genre-clasher never feels anything less than fresh. There are nods aplenty to its post-apocalyptic forebears (Mad Max is a clear inspiration), and Canadian directors Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissel – collectively known as RKSS (Road Kill Super Stars) – deliver their incongruous tale with considerable wit and an affection for the ridiculous.
Key to it all are Chambers and Lebeouf, who play it totally straight even as the increasingly absurd plot sees them going up against a baddie whose evil plan involves 'juicing' people for the precious water contained in their malnourished bodies.
Lebeouf in particular boasts impeccable comic timing, taking what could have been an irritating character and layering her with a tragi-comic edge. Meanwhile, Ironside cranks the villain dial up to 11, pastiching his own baddie-packed back catalogue, erring on just the right side of camp.
And when the blood starts pumping, it barely stops. Wringing its limited budget for every drop of the red stuff, Turbo Kid contains great, gory sight gags (we'll say 'totem' and leave it at that), knowingly fuzzy visual effects and some fantastic sound design that boosts the epic feel.
Inspiring ear-to-ear grins, and even the odd bout of fist-pumping, Turbo Kid feels like a lost '80s classic. Equal parts cheesy and charming, it scores serious 'retro cool' points and achieves what all the great old genre flicks do – it makes you feel like a giddy kid all over again.