Cyclone (1987)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

I had forgotten there was once a time in America’s film and TV history where filmmakers loved to use songs that sounded like “In the Air Tonight.” The 1980s. Era of big hair and New Wave music where everyone’s life revolved around working out at the gym and/or the degree of coolness of one’s mode of transportation. Cyclone brought me back to those days instantly. Ahhh…smell that Aqua Net! Fresh off The Fall Guy, Heather Thomas stars as tough L.A. motorcycle chick Teri Marshall, who against all the known laws of physics, is NOT dating a heavy metal musician. Her boyfriend Rick (Jeffrey Combs) is a scientist in the midst of developing a special, new motorcycle – The Cyclone – that, once fitted with a “transformer” can shoot lasers and small rockets and run without a re-fill for years. Best of all, it comes with a matching laser gun helmet.  Gnarly. After Rick is assassinated at a nightclub, it’s up to Teri to keep the Cyclone and the transformer from falling into the wrong hands. 

This film is what I refer to as a “middler.” Among films of its type, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse films. Where it excels is in the casting. Although director Fred Olen Ray originally had Linda Blair in mind for the lead, Thomas carries the film well, spewing out lines like “Up your ass!” and “You’re as plastic as your tits!” with verve. The supporting cast includes a pre-Oscar-winning Martin Landau, Martine Beswicke, and Robert Quarry as agents, although in the final twist, it’s not necessarily America they’re working for. Stuntman/actor Dar Robinson (who sadly died on his very next film) and Dawn Wildsmith (Ray’s wife at the time) make convincing assassins and Troy Donahue, Russ Tamblyn and The Bowery Boys’ Huntz Hall appear in extended cameos. Everyone does a good job.  

There are some pretty nifty car chases and stunts, too including the shearing off of the top of a station wagon, turning it into a convertible that continues the pursuit of Teri on the bike. Although the pace drags in spots, the idea, double-crosses and plot twists are good enough to bring the film to a satisfying conclusion. Overall, it’s one of the slickest of Ray’s films from this era firmly rooted in the time it was made. 

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