It seems strange to produce a sequel to a film that virtually no one has heard of, but that’s what Antonio Lexerot and Vincent J. Roth have done with their belated follow-up to 2006’s Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes. Depicting the further adventures of its titular character, the first out gay superhero, Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel proves so gleefully campy it makes the 1960s Batman television series look gritty by comparison.
Lexerot and Roth may be godawful filmmakers, but they certainly have one hell of a Rolodex. As with the original, this entry’s chief virtue is the amazing lineup of B-actors and personalities from many eras. Watching the film is like strolling through the autograph galleries at Comic-Con, and I mean that literally: A post-credits sequence features an array of cameos that were shot at the mecca for pop culture geeks.
Here are but some of the celebrities featured in supporting or “blink and you’ll miss them” roles: Lou Ferrigno, Larry Thomas (the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld), Rex Smith, Reb Brown, Paul McGann (a genuine “Doctor Who”), Nicholas Brendon, Dawn Wells, Walter Koenig, the late Richard Hatch, Borat‘s Ken Davitian, Murray Langston (“The Unknown Comic”), the stars of 1994’s ill-fated Fantastic Four movie and Kato Kaelin. (Yes, Kato Kaelin.) The film also features the final appearances of Noel Neill and Jack Larson from the Adventures of Superman TV series.
The storyline concerns the efforts of Surge (Roth) to once again defeat his arch-nemesis Metal Master (John Venturini), who has just been released from prison. Still bitter about his parents (Gil Gerard, Linda Blair) having put him through conversion therapy — they disapprove of his sexual orientation, although they don’t seem to have a problem with his criminal lifestyle — Metal Master is recruited as a henchman by the villainous Augur (Eric Roberts). Augur (who at one point asks “Why so serious?” in one of the film’s many pop culture references) dispatches Metal Master to Las Vegas to procure some “Celinedionium,” a mysterious element he can exploit for nefarious ends.
Surge drives from his home base of “Big City” to Las Vegas on his Surgemobile featuring artificial intelligence in the form of comedy writer/performer Bruce Vilanch and Shannon Farnon (Wonder Woman on SuperFriends!). Other characters featured in the outrageous proceedings are the superhero Omen, played alternately by Star Trek veterans Nichelle Nichols and Robert Picardo, and celebrated female impersonator Frank Marino, known as “Ms. Las Vegas.”
It seems safe to assume that any audience members who can identify at least a percentage of the castmembers will enjoy this deliberately ramshackle effort featuring amateurish special effects and production values that make public access television seem lavish. Anyone else is likely to be put off by the sophomoric proceedings, whose level of comic sophistication is illustrated by this exchange: “I’ll be back!” “After an unsuccessful term as governor, no doubt.”
Nonetheless, it’s hard to entirely resist the film’s cheerful self-awareness of its limitations or the committedly loony performances by the performers who seem to be having a good time (at least one hopes they are, since nobody could have been paid very much). In particular, Roberts, a former Oscar and Golden Globe nominee who’s now apparently determined to appear in every B-movie made, never once gives a hint that he slumming. The film’s ending delivers the promise of a sequel, but considering how many years it took for this one to appear, you shouldn’t hold your breath.
Production companies: Surge of Power Enterprises, Lexerot Entertainment
Distributor: Indie Rights
Cast: Vincent J. Roth, John Venturini, Eric Roberts, Linda Blair, Frank Marino, Lou Ferrigno, Mariann Gavelo, Gil Gerard, Bruce Vilanch, Shannon Farnon, Nichelle Nichols, Robert Picardo
Director: Antonio Lexerot
Screenwriters: Vincent J. Roth, John T. Venturini, Antonio Lexerot
Producers: Vincent J. Roth, Antonio Lexerot, Victor Stone
Director of photography: Mario DeAngelis
Production designer: Christopher Todd Hall
Editor: Chris Henderson
Composer: Ken Fix
Costume designer: Kishmere Carter
Rated PG-13, 90 minutes