Supersonic Man (1979) poster

Supersonic Man (1979)


Spain. 1979.


Director – [Juan] Piquer Simon, Screenplay – Tonino Mi & Piquer Simon, Producers – Faruk Alatan, Tonino Moi & Dick Randall, Photography – John Mariner, Music – Gino Peguri, Special Effects – E. Ruiz & F. Prosper, Art Direction – Frank Prosper & Emil Ruiz. Production Company – Almena Films.


Michael Coby (Paul), Cameron Mitchell (Dr Gulik), Richard Yesteran (Supersonic), Diana Polakow (Diana Morgan), John Caffarel (Professor Morgan), Emilio Fornet (Drunk), Frank Brana (Peterson)


The alien Kronos is woken aboard a spaceship and sent to Earth. There he adopts a guise as the private eye Paul. When he says a key phrase, he turns into the costumed superhero Supersonic. Meanwhile, Dr Gulik has used his robot to abduct Professor Morgan. In his Paul identity, Supersonic befriends Morgan’s daughter Diana. When Gulik’s heavies threaten Diana, Paul appears as Supersonic to protect her. Gulik sees Supersonic as being in the way of his plans and becomes determined to stop him.

Supersonic Man was one of the films from Spanish exploitation director Juan Piquer Simon (1935-2011), who also variously credited himself as J.P. Simon, Juan Piquer and here as just Piquer Simon. Simon made a number of films, all within the science-fiction/horror genre, which included The Fabulous Adventure at the Center of the Earth (1977), Beyond Terror (1980), Monster Island/Mystery on Monster Island (1981), The New Extraterrestrials/The Return of E.T. (1983), Pieces (1983), Slugs: The Movie (1988), Cthulhu Mansion (1990) and The Rift/Endless Descent (1990). Frequently, Simon’s sf/horror films were cheaply conducted ripoffs of other successes that usually came out in the last couple of years before they were made. Simon frequently did his own special effects and all of his films were shoddily made.

Supersonic Man was a Mockbuster way back before anybody invented the term. In this instance, it was made not long after the big hit of the Christopher Reeve-starring Superman (1978). It was one of several European copies made around this time on low budgets attempting to offer their own usually tatty versions of a Superhero Film – see also The Pumaman (1980). Supersonic looks a rather ridiculous figure in his red costume and blue mask and cape.

From Superman, Simon borrows the travelling matte shots of Supersonic flying against the Manhattan skyline. The film also borrows somewhat from the Superman-Lois-Clark love triangle, although Michael Coby’s day guise here is merely that of a lowly private eye. If anything, Supersonic is more akin to Captain Marvel/Shazam than Superman where he has a magic phrase where he says “May the galaxy be with you,” that transforms him from everyday Michael Coby into the super-powered Richard Yesteran – the choice of phrase also shows the undeniable influence of the then very recent Star Wars (1977). The film never does much to define Supersonic’s powers – at one point, he demonstrates the nifty ability to turn thugs’ guns into bananas.

Richard Yesteran in flight as Supersonic Man (1979)
Richard Yesteran in flight as Supersonic Man

Supersonic Man suffers from the one problem common to these Superman copycats – crappy effects. The film opens with a fine detailed model ship passing the camera – and there are some good model effects throughout, particularly with the explosion of the villain’s island base at the end. However, that opening shot sinks immediately after with the shoddy optical shots of Supersonic flying. Soon after that we get a clunky robot, which look as though it stepped out of a 1950s B movie. There is also the rather amusing scene where the bad guy’s car goes down a hillside and explodes into flame halfway down without actually hitting anything first.

Juan Piquer Simon also adds an element of slapstick comedy – again, not too different from Superman and the scenes with Ned Beatty. Simon directs a slapstick barroom brawl sequence filled with comic pratfalls where people get plates of spaghetti in the face, as well as a character who keeps eating unfazed amid the chaos happening around him. Or later scenes with two moronic truck drivers. The most prominent piece of comic relief throughout is the appearances of Emilio Fornet as a drunk who manages to turn up everywhere, including inside Michael Coby’s car at one point, before being snatched up by the returning alien ship instead of Coby at the end.

To the film’s credit, the dubbing, which was usually atrocious in foreign films of this era, is not too bad and a reasonable effort has been made to match the words to the actors’ mouth movements.

Trailer here

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