On a cold lonely stretch of empty ‘Kansas’ highway… believe me when I tell you it’s empty because there’s never more than one car on this highway at one time… a young woman and her teenage son are making their way home from Aunt Bessie’s wedding. Then the storm hits. Minus the rain. Nancy (Annabel Wright) is freaking out because it really looks like this lightning is chasing them down the road but then that would be crazy right? Crazy is that this lightning splits her hooptie right down the middle, but Junior and Nancy are still okay, at least for a little while because this lighting chases them into the woods and completely fries Junior and brings Nancy face to face with something… horrible. And the Sci-Fi Original movie ‘Lightning Strikes’ has now begun.
Sheriff Bradley (Kevin Sorbo) finds this situation a little odd. A split car, a toasted teenager and a comatose woman, but he files it way as ‘one of those things’ and makes his way back to his town which consists of a single block. This is when we meet Mayor Fordice as played by FCU favorite Todd Jensen. On our TV show Totally Twisted Flix we did an entire show on the Deaths of Todd Jensen and after spending some quality time with Mayor Fordice it became increasingly clear that we may have another entry if we do a second Deaths of Todd Jensen show because he will not be long for this world. Poor Todd… I mean he’s always stuck playing these asshole characters but considering how much he works he must be really a nice guy in real life. To his credit he does try to do something extra with these assholes he has to play, say in one movie he’ll be an asshole bureaucrat then in the next movie he’ll be an asshole law enforcement officer where in ‘Lightning Strikes’ he’s an asshole homosexual. Flexibility.
Anyway the mayor is concerned because this toasted
teenager comes right about the time of the Pumpkin
Festival. Plus some Auto Executives are coming to the
festival to check out this small town of ‘Roscoe Kansas’
to build a plant. Sure it looks like there are all fifty
people in Roscoe but Kansans are some really hard
workers so I don’t see a problem staffing that plant.
Then the weirdoes come. First there are some storm chasers in a big green van chasing Blue Lightning and SHELL’s. SHELL is an acronym for something that I can’t rightfully remember right now but I know one of the L’s stands for Lightning. Also in town is Mr. Donovan who is convinced that this lightning is actually a monster, a monster that stole his young son thirty years ago and a monster he has been hunting ever since.
The Storm Chaser’s have alerted the Sheriff to evacuate the town, as if someone can actually run from lightning, which this very film has proven to be a falsehood, but naturally the mayor nixes that idea because of the Glorious Pumpkin Festival. For his part Mr. Donovan is on top of a roof to conduct himself into the lair of the lightning monster and kill it. It’s… complicated.
One thing I will say about these Sci-Fi Original Motion Pictures is that for the most part they are incrementally improving as the years go by. While I can’t honestly say that ‘Lightning Strikes’ is a good movie, it is far removed from the days of ‘Raptor Island’, ‘Pterodactyl’ or something like ‘Sabretooth’, and if I remember correctly Todd Jensen got eaten by the big cat in that one.
There are a couple of things that anybody reaching for enjoyment from ‘Lightning Strikes’ has to get past. First you have get past the fact this movie was obviously shot on some tiny backlot, a back lot that looks like somebody might’ve painted cardboard boxes to look a little like buildings and then stuck those cardboard boxes in a nearby Bulgarian parking lot.
The next thing we have to get past is that the bulk of the movie consists of a lot of people talking fancy about lightning and storms and made up fake science and colorful myths which didn’t exist before the DVR recorded this movie. True enough most of the story supporting this movie is pure and complete nonsense, though I do like the idea of a lightning monster, but I like the idea of almost any kind of monster so I’m more disappointed that this movie had more fancy fake talk in it, with the lightning monster being almost a sidebar. What works a little bit in this movies favor is that all of the actors for the most part were really locked into the fake talk and took the nonsense coming out of their mouths deadly serious. Another thing that helps this movie is that Kevin Sorbo brings his particular acting style to his character of the beleaguered sheriff, never taking it too high or too low, but just cruising along keeping all of us at ease that he will handle the situation, whatever this situation may be.
By the time the third act rolls along, the fake lightning talk is finally put to the side, and our Lightning Monster is allowed to go completely nuts and gets about the business of toasting stupid people and lighting up cardboard buildings, ‘Lightning Strikes’ shows it’s most promise as viable piece of entertainment. Folks were getting impaled, eyes were get burned out, folks were exploding into electrical flames… it was a pretty good 8-10 minutes of mayhem and chaos, though apparently they blew the budget on that one extended sequence and didn’t have enough loot to tidy up exactly what happened to our monster in his big battle with Mr. Donovan, leaving that in the capable hands of our imaginations. Personally, especially in a movie such as this one, I would rather not imagine. I wanna see!
I did kind of like ‘Lightning Strikes’ a little bit. It was a halfway decent, marginally entertaining, lightweight piece of sci-fi channel nonsense that had Kevin Sorbo and my main man Todd Jensen in it so I can’t be too hard on it. And it’s way better than ‘Raptor Island’. If that’s not a statement to put on the eventual DVD box cover release I don’t know what is.