Film Buffs: ‘Masters of the Universe’ flexes ’80s sci-fi muscle at the Coolidge


Grab your baby oil and lather up, folks: The Dolph Lundgren-starring Masters of the Universe is hitting the screen at the Coolidge Corner Theatre this Friday (June 30), and you’re gonna want to be there for this one.

It’s wild, wacky, and totally essential midnight viewing, a weird-ass and fantastical Star Wars rip-off that single-handedly did what Skeletor never could: Kill off He-Man in the minds of the public. Also, feel old: This film came out in 1987 (a year that the Coolidge has been celebrating all month long, which continues into Saturday, as they’ll be showing the Val Kilmer fantasy classic Willow), which is just crazy as fuck, but not as crazy as the movie itself. Also, make sure you buy an extra beer so you can pour one out for noted porn n’ schlock n’ art purveyors Cannon Films, who basically were driven to bankruptcy by this release, Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, and Superman IV: the Quest for Peace (check out the documentary Electric Boogaloo on Netflix after you see this in order to feel the lack). The world is an emptier, less sleazy, more boring place without them.

As for Masters of the Universe, there’s just so much here worth your time that it’s hard to list them all. There’s Frank Langella’s Skeletor, who gave untold amounts of ’80s children nightmares because of that hellacious make-up (Langella did it because of his then four-year-old son’s love of the cartoon and toys), and he hams it up in the kind of way you’d just wish all those tasked with playing supervillains would. There’s the bizarro design, which pays good homage to the King of Comics himself, Jack Kirby, without ever specifically referencing his work.


Master artist John Byrne referred to it as “the best New Gods movie”, comparing it to the King’s greatest work for DC. And finally, there’s Courteney Cox, only three years removed from grooving with the Boss in the “Dancing in the Dark” video (which we just found out was directed by Brian De Palma, WTF), and she’s given the same kind of thankless role as Lea Thompson in Howard the Duck but pulls it off with significantly less grace and aplomb.

Add a generous portion of Dolph to the mix (who still didn’t know how to speak English particularly well but is handsome and still somehow charismatic), and you’ve got a movie so intensely ’80s that it’s pretty much the embodiment of the era.

Seriously, it’s like if Teddy Ruxpin filmed a video of Gary Hart snorting a line of blow off of Grace Jones’ back on the set of the “Addicted to Love” video while Nancy Reagan scolded them before Pee Wee Herman bursts out and tells her that “NO” is actually that day’s secret word. It’s a ton of weird fun, and you should totally take some time out this Friday to go check it out.

Like, seriously, it’s probably not going to come back to town for like 10 years, and then you’ll be cranky and have different responsibilities and decide not to go. And then it’ll come back in another 10 years, like a comet, and then, boom, you’re Skeletor yourself.

‘MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE’ :: Friday, June 30 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St. in Brookline, MA :: 11:59 p.m., all ages, $12.75 :: Coolidge event page :: Advance tickets