Slipstream… it doesn’t suck nearly as much as you might think.

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First off, I want to thank Barry P. of Cinematic Catharsis for asking me to join the Nature’s Fury Blogathon!  The subject matter this go ’round is Nature vs. Mankind.  In the words of Barry P., “…this is a blogathon about our eternal struggle with flora, fauna, and the elements.

I decided to go with a film that has a bit of a fan following… 1989’s Slipstream.

Maybe not a “cult classic”, (you know what, screw it… it IS a cult classic!) but there are those of us who actually really dig it.  It pits man against good old planet Earth and let me tell you… she is PISSED!!!


Oh, and hey… I’ve never participated in something like this before, so be gentle with me… it’s my first time. 😉

Alright then, let’s get to the movie!


From the depths of the Earth.

To the edge of existence.

The hunt is on…

 

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By the end of the century, man’s destruction of the Earth’s environment turned the forces of nature upon him.  There are many stories about the converging earthquakes that split continents apart – mixing civilizations together… about the floods that buried the cities and the emergence of a river of wind called the Slipstream that washed the planet clean.  Those stories all happened years ago, but this story is about a fugitive, traveling the Slipstream, who needed a friend.


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 First off, Slipstream was blasted by critics and generally despised upon its release.

 Why do I tell you that from the get-go? Because for me it was one of those movies that, after you watch it, you say to yourself – “Why did everyone hate this thing so much?”

To which I reply… “I dunno… it’s really kind of awesome.”


Slipstream is a post-apocalypse movie, or perhaps more specifically, a post-cataclysm movie.  Sometime in the future (we’re not told when), the Earth decides to rebel against mankind’s abuse and issues forth great calamities… earthquakes, floods, etc.

These events became known as The Convergence.  The Earth cracked and continents shifted.  Mountains rose and fell, oceans drained and flooded areas that had never seen water.  Cities were buried.   Our way of life was forever altered.

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Life goes on and people once again established communities.  People found residence within cave-ridden canyon walls.   They now shared their new home with others who were at one time thousands of miles away.

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The only real mode of transportation anymore is flight.  A massive river of air, aptly named the Slipstream, circles the globe and is used by folks to get from point A to point B.  You can often see scratch-built airplanes and hot air balloons overhead.


 

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Our story begins with a law enforcement officer (or what passes for one in this primitive landscape), Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), hunting down an escaped murder, Byron (Bob Peck).  He is quickly captured and taken to a nearby settlement where we are introduced to Matt (Bill Paxton), a free-spirited bounty hunter.  Matt sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and makes off with Byron to claim the bounty as his own.  Tasker and Belitski soon give chase and the adventures ensue.  The group ends up battling the elements at every turn, getting caught… escaping… running into a religious cult that worships the wind as though it is some kind of God… and finding a sanctuary of lost art and knowledge.

Yes, there is most definitely a story here.  Each character is on a mission…

 

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Matt… the young, headstrong, free-spirited bounty hunter who knows there is more to life than what he’s been dealt, but lacks the maturity to fully realize it.  His is a tale of growth.

 

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Byron… the man who wants nothing more than to dream and find others of his kind.  Although considered a murderer, his is a confusing tale and may well be worth the admission price alone.

 

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Tasker… Living life by the book and bringing justice to the wasteland of the old world.  Almost Max Rockatansky’esque,  he will use any means necessary to capture his prey.  There are no grey areas with him, only black and white.

 

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Belitski… She tags along with Tasker, but things aren’t so cut and dry with her.  Secretly she hopes for something better.  By the end of the film, you find out if she finds it.

 


 

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The film was produced by Gary Kurtz and directed by Steven Lisberger (who also directed TRON).   Kurtz was, at one time, the second half of the George Lucas team… producing both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  Kurtz and Lucas split before Return of the Jedi and Kurtz went on to produce The Dark Crystal.

Hoping that Slipstream would be his “Star Wars”,  for one reason or another the film ultimately failed and ended up bankrupting Kurtz.


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Made in 1989, it wouldn’t be until 1992 that I would finally get to see this.  I went into a Blockbusters (remember those?) and saw it sitting amongst the other “straight to video” SciFi movies.

To be honest, I thought it was just pretty good;  until right about 15 minutes into it.

There was a song – more particularly, This Big Area by Then Jericho.  To understand why it affected me so much, we’d have to got back a couple of years and spend some time in a hot and dry part of the world full of nothing but sand, blood, and fear.

At the time, I was stationed in Germany.  A couple of days before we left for Iraq, I went to the PX and tried to think of any last-minute items I wanted to grab.  On a whim, I found an album by a group I’d never heard of to provide companionship to my Planet P Project, DEVO, and Rocky Horror Show soundtrack.

I took a chance and loved it!  That was one of four albums I took with me to the desert.  When I heard their music in this film,  I became flooded with nostalgia.  To this day, when I hear that music, it takes me right back to 1991.


The acting is damned good – as well it should be, considering the names involved… Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, Kitty Aldridge, Bob Peck, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley, and F. Murray Abraham.

I mean, c’mon… look at Hamill for instance… what a badass!  Bob Peck is simply incredible.  Paxton is… well, Paxton, and Coltrane… I bet you’d hardly recognize him.

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So , maybe you’ve asked yourself at some point “Why should I bother with this thing”… or “I’ve seen it, it sucked… why should I watch it again?”

To which I’d reply, there’s a story here… there’s more than one in fact.  Forget the special effects… each and every character has a story and a damned good one at that.

From a young hothead looking for a quick buck to finance his dream… to a cop who is trying to make the world a better place by following the word rather than the spirit of the law… to an android who wants nothing more than to be with his own kind… to a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants until she see’s it right in front of her…

Yes, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.  If you’ve never seen it, try it out.  If you’ve already watched it, give it another chance… it might not suck nearly as much as you thought…

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But wait!  There’s more!  As a special added bonus… here is a video of the making of Slipstream.  Enjoy!

 

 

Attack of the Killer B’s…

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Back in 1992-1993, I was stationed at Ft. Carson, CO.  Assigned to a small Cavalry Squadron, attached to the 4th Infantry Division.

While it was normal for us to party on Friday nights only as soldiers can, my Saturday nights were dedicated to sitting in front of my TV with a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk and a can of Pringles Cheezum’s (the daily running and PT kept the pounds off).

There was a late-night show on PBS that came out of Pueblo… Attack of the Killer B’s.  It was along the lines of Svenghouli, Elvira, etc..  Three guys (well, two guys and a skeleton hanging by manacles on the wall)… Dr. Reek A. Mortis, Sonny, and Skelvis.

They’d offer what you’d expect – campy humor and lots of banter, but the best thing they did was sing a song that was based on the movie.  It was just so damned ridiculous and fun.

Time counts and keeps counting…. as the years passed, I’d often think of that show, but the name escaped me.  I’d try searching the web for anything about this show and could just never find any information.  I had a few VHS tapes full of the shows, but the quality was so bad (due to aluminum-tipped rabbit ears), that they were hardly watchable after a few years.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to an author friend of mine (you might know him, goes by the name of A.D. Bloom) and telling him about this silly show I used to watch.  Lo-and-behold, the next morning, he sent me a couple of links to the songs on youtube!  At which point I immediately created a playlist and added them.

I wonder what ever happened to that Mad Doctor, his singing assistant, and that desiccated corpse of a fairly famous rock star?  Maybe someone out there who reads this will let me know.

So, here are just a few of my favorites from these guys.  Grab yourself a pint of ice cream, a can of your favorite Pringles, and have a little ridiculous fun…

 

 

 

 

Humanicide – a French Post-Apocalyptic Short Film…

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It must be almost a year ago now when I became interested in this project from the French film studio, Algo Studios.  I had followed them on Twitter and their Facebook Page, and although I don’t speak a lick of French, my computer does, so thank God for technology!  Guillaume and I would sometimes have dialogues back and forth and it was rather fun trying to figure out just what each of us were saying to the other (he does speak excellent English as far as I’m concerned).  Did I mention that I completely and utterly failed Spanish in High School?  Did I also mention that I was placed in a turbo-accelerated Russian Linguist course while in the U.S. Army – only to rock out of that sucker in 8 months?  Yeah, my chances of learning French were slim to none. 😉

 


 

Written and Directed by Guillaume Oger, Humanicide reminded me a bit of Falling Skies (without all of the constant yelling and screaming).  The story told the tale of a post-apocalyptic Earth…

40 years after the invasion… the world as we know it is no more.  While Humanicide seems inevitable, some men still try to escape…

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There are three main characters… well, I should say three human characters.  The antagonist  is a very cool, very evil looking (almost insect-like), floating alien robot that administers a “sting” to hapless humans.  It seems that there is an antidote of sorts which is able to counteract this “sting”, but it is obviously rare.  Also, the antidote needs to be administered in a timely manner or something (most likely an awful something) happens.

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The human characters are Paul (played by Audren Lancien)…

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Tripo (played by Florian Gounaud)…

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And a mysterious character I can only guess is called “The Man” (played by Philippe Stepniewski)…

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So today was the big day.  Guillaume contacted me this morning and told me that it would go live at 9:00pm France time.  Did I mention I suck at math as well as figuring out time zones?  Guillaume was kind enough to tell me that it would be 2:00pm here (man, he figured that out much faster than I would have).

So with no further ado… here is the post-apocalyptic short film I’ve been waiting a year for.  I’ve seen a lot of postapoc shorts…. I mean A LOT of them.  This ranks right up there with my favorites and I really hope that it becomes something bigger in the future…

 


 

Oh, and just one more thing.  Not to let things go to my head, but I saw a little something there in the end credits that made me go “Huh?!?!”…  I asked Guillaume what I could possibly have done to get my name in the credits.  He said that I was the first American to ever share and talk about his movie.  I cannot tell you how good it made me feel to see that.   Thanks, Guillaume, you are a seriously cool cat!

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1982… A boy sleeps outside, waiting to make contact.

Just this weekend, I discovered Jesse Mercury on Twitter.  Mr. Mercury is self-described as “a SciFi action hero from 2084, flung out of time with no way to get home. His only hope is to send musical signals into the cosmos in an attempt to attract a higher form of life capable of sending him back to his time.

From what I gather, he is a significantly massive fan of science fiction as well as a songwriter.  Upon going to his website, I was linked to youtube, where he has a number of of songs and videos posted.  There, I found songs that all had a science fiction theme, one of them being “This is Ceti Alpha V!” – a song based on Star Trek The Wrath of Khan.

One of them stood out to me… “A Love Song from ET to Elliot“.  I was 12 years old back in 1982.  The movie, E.T. The Extraterrestrial was a major passion of mine.  I had spent untold nights sleeping outside, under the stars.  Waiting for something to make noise in the shed.  I even went so far as to lay out a trail of Reeses Pieces, hoping that I would meet an alien who had been left behind and needed my help getting home.  An alien who would become my friend.

I have spent this entire weekend listening to this song.  It brings a tear to my eye every time.  It awakens the child in me.  It brings a smile to my face and lets me become that child again, waiting for a stranger from the stars to come down and become my friend…

 

You can find Jesse Mercury on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Bandcamp, and Instagram.

Attack on Titan… a guest post from author A.D. Bloom…

Attack on Titan (live-action 2015), Kronos Eating His Children, and what it takes to fight giant monster cannibals.

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First, the answer is yes. See it. For the record, I’ve only tasted bits of Attack on Titan’s previous incarnations. This is my first real Attack on Titan story and it was great. The detail put into sets and costuming consistently maintained the illusion that the world I saw extended far beyond whatever slice of it we got to actually see. The acting worked for me. The Titans turned out to be pretty satisfying giant monsters and I dug the story.

Right. Now that that part is out of the way, let’s talk about monsters.

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Okay, this is Goya’s painting of Saturn (Kronos, a Titan from ancient Greek mythology) eating his son (painted on the walls of Goya’s house with other pics between 1819 and 1823). Why is he eating his son? If I recall, he ate all his kids for fear they’d overpower him at some point. The horror in this painting has been haunting me for a long time. Cannibalism freaks my shit. I DON’T like cannibals. (It’s hard to like people that feed on other people). Make this figure in the painting bigger in relation to its snack, give him the coloring of a corpse and a vacant, eerily amused, and ravenous stare and you’ve got a live-action Titan. And they’re actually pretty terrifying the way they munch down on crunchy, juicy humans. They’ve got a distinctly Japanese flavor that evokes recollection of Japanese ghosts, spirits and cannibal demons depicted in classical Japanese painting and printmaking (also Butoh dance).

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But it’s the cannibal part that produces the most horror in my mind.

What gives? They’re not human. How can the Titans be cannibals?

OK. You’re right. Technically, Titans can’t be cannibals because they’re not eating the same species. BUT they look exactly like giant naked humans without nipples or genitals and they bite normal-sized humans in half and eat them. That’s cannibal enough for me, especially considering the context of this story.

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Spoiler free context: Walls high enough to keep out giants surround and protect (and imprison) the endangered humans and their town. Outside the walls there are Titans and they will eat you. Inside the humans seem safe, but they’re not.

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As far as I’m concerned, Titans are giant people eating other people. (This strikes a nerve with me as an allegory of something we humans do all the darn time in more roundabout ways.) Hold that thought.

So there I am, a third of the way through the movie, reeling from the cannibal horror that began before I thought it would and all I’m thinking is, “Dammit! Someone has to fight the giant cannibal kaiju!”

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But the humans seem terrible at it. This movie presents two kinds of humans – the ones that seek safety, and the other kind, the kind that are maybe more like the monsters. These are the ones that fight monsters, of course. And this is my favorite part of the story. You can fight the Titans and win, but only after paying a price. There’s always a price when you become a monster to fight one.

But I bet you knew that. In a way, you already know Attack on Titan. The same story has been retold for thousands of years. There’s a reason for that. It’s an important story. It’s one of our collective myths. This time around, the players are humans dying in a walled world and heroes that fight the terrifying man-eating Titans. Awesome.

A.D. Bloom is the author of the War of Alien Aggression and other books. His characters fight monsters.

Fury Road – Action is Truth…. a guest post from author A.D. Bloom.

 Fury Road – Action is Truth

Fury Road is brilliant and here’s (just one of the reasons) why. The action movies we’re all used to are movies that happen to have action sequences in them. Fury Road is a different creature altogether. In conventional terms, this movie is quite nearly a single, unbroken action sequence. Action is the language used here. Action is the medium. Fury Road is not a movie with action. It’s made of action. Character development is still there. It’s there in spades and it’s expressed through what the characters do.

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The film stays true to the idea of Action as a medium right through to the prime motive of the film’s most important characters – redemption. Past transgressions or failures can be balanced out by redemptive acts. It’s what you do that defines who you are in Fury Road. Here, action is truth. And action proves to be a powerful and broad-ranged medium in the right hands. The quiet notes don’t get lost. Subtlety is present as is perceptible complexity and nuance.

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I quietly exclaimed ‘fuck’ about fifty times watching in utter amazement. I slapped my forehead over and over, astounded at how there wasn’t one lazy shot, not a single moment that wasn’t maximized. The folks that made this movie refused to coast for even a second. Fury Road is an effing good time and a rare formal advance that opens up new territory. See it. Buy it. Love it like the work of art it is.

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A.D. Bloom is the author of the War of Alien Aggression series. Fury Road made his day.

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My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1980’s – Part 1…

And here we go… the 1980’s!  I loved this decade!!!  The Cold War and threat of nuclear annihilation at any moment…  that mushroom cloud looming in the distance, the big balloon going up, survivalists taking up residence in underground shelters… good times!

Some of my absolute favorite flicks come from this time.  You may have noticed by now that just because a movie is a favorite of mine, it doesn’t mean that it is the best.  There are undoubtedly better movies out there, these just happen to be my favorites.

This list will be comprised of two parts.  This post will be comprised of Part 1.  Part 2 will appear at a future date.

As always, click the movie poster to watch either a trailer or scene from the movie.


The Blood of Heroes… “People no longer remembered the Golden Age of the 20th Century.  They didn’t remember the miraculous technology, or the cruel wars that followed.  They didn’t remember when juggers first played The Game or how it came to be played with a dog skull….

Take a band of wastelanders, dress ’em up in all sorts of old tire remnants, leather straps, and other assorted scavenged armor.  Give ’em chains and sticks and throw ’em in a makeshift dirt arena.  Throw a rock at an old trashcan lid and watch ’em beat the hell out of each other while trying to stick a dog skull on a stick.  That, my friends, is what we call Jugging.  In the wasteland of the future, roaming teams of “Juggers” fight in dogtowns for the chance to make it big.  Getting to the championship arenas that are located in underground cities to fight for the bigwigs who live the life.  Hey, it’s got Rutger Hauer and Vincent D’Onofrio, what more could you ask for?  It was filmed in the area of Australia known as Coober Pedy (you might recognize the name, a number of other films were filmed there such as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Pitch Black).

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Cherry 2000…  A dude’s Cherry 2000 love-bot short-circuits from some shenanigans on a wet kitchen floor.  He enlists the aid of a professional tracker to help him get through “Zone 7”, an area of the wasteland that is fabled to house the lost tech of the past – and more Cherry 2000’s (you see, his ‘bot’s memory was saved on disk and he only has to insert it into another “frame”).

There are a decent amount of movie stars in this one – Melanie Griffith (Edith “E” Johnson), David Andrews (Sam Treadwell), Tim Thomerson (Lester – one of his best parts), Brion James (Stacy – R.I.P.), Laurence “Larry” Fishburne (Glu Glu Lawyer), and Robert Z’Dar as Chet (sadly we lost Robert just this past March, 2015).

The soundtrack was done by Basil Poledouris, but oddly enough Tangerine Dream is featured in the trailer….

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Cyborg…  First there was the collapse of civilization: anarchy, genocide, starvation. Then when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, we got the plague. The Living Death, quickly closing its fist over the entire planet. Then we heard the rumors: that the last scientists were working on a cure that would end the plague and restore the world. Restore it? Why? I like the death! I like the misery! I like this world!”

It’s with these opening lines from the main baddie (Fender Tremolo), that we’re introduced to the world of Cyborg and one more opportunity to see Jean-Claude Van Damme do the splits (seriously, that dude’s got the pelvis of a fourteen-year-old Olympic gymnast).

The world’s taken a turn for the worst and a cyborg needs to get from Point A to Point B in order to procure information that can save the world.  She ends up enlisting the aid of a “Slinger” (Van Damme) and the adventure begins.

Little side note…. one of the actors lost his eye during filming when Jean-Claude got a little sloppy with a prop knife.  Apparently he sued Van Damme and received $487,500.00.

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The Day After…  I remember watching this on TV back in 1983 and it scared the hell out of me.  We even had to watch it in school.  This was a time in my life that I was reading nothing but postapoc pulp novels and seeing something that was done in a realistic way was terrifying.  Where were the mutants?  Where were the raiders?  Where was the lone wanderer?  It was just people becoming flash fried and radiation poisoned.  That was the point, though.  To get people to really think about what nuclear war was like and hopefully prepare for what may happen.

It’s a good flick as well as a cautionary tale about just how horrible a nuclear armageddon might be…

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Le Dernier Combat…  I first came across this while perusing the DVD section of Borders back around 2003.  Seeing that it was done by Luc Besson (a favorite director of mine and it was his first film), along with being postapoc, I threw down the cash before even doing any research as to what it was all about.  It’s filmed in black and white and there are only two words of spoken dialogue through the whole film.  It takes place at some point in the future after some sort of apocalypse (we’re never told what happened) and apparently humankind has been left mute.  “The Man” spends his time scavenging for parts to complete a flying machine and running into “The Brute” (played by Jean Reno).  It’s a fairly simple tale with a nice ending, you should give it a try…

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Def-Con 4…  What an absolutely wonderful movie!  A trio of astronauts stationed aboard a military space station, replete with nuclear missiles, witnesses WWIII unfold below them.  The station is hacked into by a group of military school punks and programmed to crash land.  After landing, one of the astronauts shortly meets a grisly end.  The surviving two, Howe (Tim Choate – who also played Zathras of Babylon 5 fame, God rest his soul) and Jordan (Kate Lynch) are left.  Jordan knocked her noggin and is passed out.  Howe leaves the craft in search of help and runs into Vinny (Maury Chaykin – one of my favorite characters in a postapoc movie).  Jordan is taken captive by the military preppies, as well as Howe and Vinny.  Oh, there’s a nuclear bomb that’s still on the ship and set to go off in about 60 hours…

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Oh, as an extra bonus, here’s the orginal artwork by Angus McKie (1976) that the movie poster was based on…

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Escape From New York…  Not necessarily postapoc, but close to it and certainly 100% baddass.  The year is 1997 and New York has been turned into a maximum security prison.  Air Force One has gone down and the prez needs to get to a peace summit ricky tick.  It’s up to Snake Plissken to get in, get the prez, and get out.  The movie is just full of awesomeness and if you haven’t seen it, under which rock have you been for the past 34 years?

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Exterminators of the Year 3000…  Just one of many Italian Mad Max ripoffs that became so popular in the 80’s, the movie follows the main character,”Alien”, as he battles a motorcycle gang over the most precious commodity in the wasteland – water…

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Hell Comes to Frogtown…  In a radiation-blasted wasteland, Sam Hell (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) is one of the last fertile males to be found.  He ends up being captured by a group of warrior/nurses and enlisted to help them rescue a group of fertile women who have also been captured – by a mutated band of, well….. frogs….

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In the Aftermath…  “After the Great War, the earth is reduced to an unyielding wasteland, civilization is history, and clean air is the most precious commodity known to man. One soldier’s dreams become a haunting window to the future and his strange and colorful dreams are transformed into a terrifying reality. Among this horrible desolation, one small girl holds the key to the future… a future that may hold little promise.

I first watched this in 1992 while stationed at Ft. Carson, CO while serving in the U.S. Army.  I lost track of the title and virtually every detail (all I could remember were gas masks and a big egg) until I noticed just recently while researching another movie for this list.  Luckily I also found it on youtube and so I naturally watched it again.  Like some others, I can’t really explain why it’s a favorite of mine – it’s actually sort of hard to watch, but there is just something about it.  From what I understand, it was based somewhat on an anime called Angels Never Sleep.  There is a mixture of both the anime and live-action.  The anime portion is hauntingly beautiful.  It’s a bit of a trip, but you should check it out…

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The Quiet Earth…  A wonderful “last man on earth” tale coming out of New Zealand.  Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) wakes up at 6:12am to a world in which he is alone.  After a few days, eventually going a little mad, he comes across a woman,  Joanne (Alison Routledge).  Think it’s gonna get all Adam and Eve?  Nope, they end up coming across a fairly stout Maori fella by the name of Api (Pete Smith).  This, of course, results in a typical love triangle, but Zac is a scientist and is concentrating more on just what has happened and why.  Seems he may have had something to do with it.

The ending scene has become fairly famous in the postapoc film genre and really leaves the watcher wanting more.  I’ve always thought it would be great if someone would continue the story in book form…

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Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)…  “My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the road warrior, the man we called Max. To understand who he was we have to go back to the other time, when the world was powered by the black fuel and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel — gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They’d built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked, but nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. Cities exploded — a whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men.

On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice, and in this maelstrom of decay ordinary men were battered and smashed — men like Max, the warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything and became a shell of a man, a burnt-out desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again.”

Max is back!  Taking place approximately three years after the first film, Max spends his existence roaming the wastes hunting for fuel.  Eventually coming across a refinery in the desert populated by Pappagallo and his clan of white-armored followers, he finds that it is being harassed by Humungus – the Lord of the Wasteland, and his gang of marauders.  The denizens of the refinery have plans to strike out into the wasteland and search for a better place.  Striking a bargain with Pappagallo, Max agrees to find a tanker that will hold all of that “juice” in return for some guzzoline and a 125,000 mile service on his “last of the V-8’s” Interceptor.

Things pretty much go to hell after that.

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And so ends Part 1 of my Fav’s of the 80’s.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and stay tuned for Part 2 coming in the near future…. if there’s a future left.

Guest Blog by author A.D. Bloom…. Fascination With Nukes and Fail Safe.

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Fail Safe was a 1962 book made into a 1964 movie about nuclear war between the US and the Soviets. Though not graphic, it has a body count in the millions. At the time of its release, it had to compete with Dr. Strangelove (nuclear black comedy and a favorite of mine). Both were produced when America and American moviegoers were at what may have been the highpoint of public anxiety related to the very real threat of nuclear obliteration. A movie about nuclear war made at a time like that leverages popular fear of and fascination with that threat to put paying butts in theater seats. I don’t mean to speak ill of it. I very much like the movie and wouldn’t knock it for doing that. Heck, fear and fascination with nuclear obliteration is what drove me to find Fail Safe and watch it (and so many other apoc/post-apoc movies). That’s one reason this scene sticks in my mind. The Professor seems to equate that fascination in Ilsa with actually wanting to push the button in some kind of power-mad ecstasy of murder and annihilation. I have a fascination with nukes. I watch test footage even, but I don’t want to nuke anyone. What the hell, Prof?

Perhaps the intended function in this scene was to establish how the character is the kind of guy you can trust with a nuke. I’m not sure. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, then maybe you can tell me exactly what happened here. Why the hell did he suggest Ilsa wants to murder everyone?

 

Scene: the Professor is driving Ilsa home from a Washington power party where she appeared to get hot and bothered listening to him talk about nuclear war and the deaths of millions. He’s an expert and a man of power. She’s young and hot and attempting a seduction through the end of the scene. He’s Walter Matthau.)

Ilsa Woolfe: …..you know there won’t be any survivors, will there?

Professor Groeteschele: Not many.

Ilsa Woolfe: None. None at all. That’s the beauty of it.

Professor Groeteschele: I’ve heard nuclear war called a lotta things, Miss Woolfe. Never beautiful.

Ilsa Woolfe: People are afraid to call it that, but that’s what they feel.

Professor Groeteschele: The beauty of death?

Ilsa Woolfe: Don’t patronize me. What else but that are you selling, Professor? And we all know we’re going to die, but you make a game out of it, a marvelous game that includes the whole world. You make it seem possible.

Professor Groeteschele: It is possible. Even probable.

Ilsa Woolfe: You make death an entertainment… something that can be played in a living room.

Professor Groeteschele: As good a place as any.

Ilsa Woolfe: No. No, there’s an even better place. Turn in there.[Professor Groeteschele steers his car into that road and stops the car. Graveyard?]

Professor Groeteschele: This where you live?

Ilsa Woolfe[laughs] Don’t joke.

Professor Groeteschele: Why not? I’m a joker. I make death into a game for people like you to get excited about. I watched you tonight. You’d love making it possible, wouldn’t you? You’d love pressing that button. What a thrill that would be, knowing you have to die to have the power to take everyone else with you. The mob of them with their plans, their little hopes, born to be murdered. Turning away from it, closing their eyes to it, and you could be the one to make it true. Do it to them. But you’re afraid, so you look for the thrill someplace else. And who better than a man who isn’t afraid? [Ilsa Woolfe tries seducing him, and he slaps her.] I’m not your kind.

 

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Fail Safe, book 1962 Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, film 1964 directed by Sidney Lumet, screenplay by Walter Bernstein and Peter George.

 

The only clip of this scene I could find on youtube cuts out the great lines and focuses on the slap.

 

Can anyone clue me in as to why he thinks Ilsa wants to murder everyone? And what’s with, “I’m not your kind?”

 

A.D. Bloom likes watching nuclear testing videos. His favorite is the Cannikin test. He sucks at Warthunder but won’t stop playing it. He writes military scifi novels with titles like The War of Alien Aggression and 2166 – Force Liberty. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1970’s…

And now we’ve come to the 70’s.  There is just something cool about the movies made during that time and the post-apocalypse genre was really coming into it’s own.  We were now moving a bit away from the standard Atom Bomb and the Mutated Monster and beginning to portray a society that had devolved into barbarism and ruin.  The movies started becoming more violent and edgy and having either a sole individual or a group of people fighting for their life.  Some of the movies retained a simpleness of the 50’s and 60’s, while others (like Zardoz and Wizards) got “a little out there”.

As in the previous installments of “My favorite postapoc films…”, click the image to be linked to a video.  Most of the videos this time will be trailers instead of the full movie.

 

A Boy and His Dog.  “World War IV lasted 5 days.  The politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.  2024 A.D.

It’s with an opening series of blossoming mushroom clouds and the preceding text that we are introduced to the film adaptation of the novella Vic and Blood by Harlan Ellison.  Starring an excruciatingly young Don Johnson as Vic and his dog, Blood,  this movie takes place in a desert wasteland for approximately the first half of the film and in an underground oasis for approximately the second half.  Vic and Blood spend their days looking for food… and women.  I reckon there wouldn’t be much else to do for a boy and his dog in the ruins of the old world.  The movie is rather darkly humorous and the voice of Blood is hypnotizing – oh, did I not mention that?  Yeah, Blood the dog can talk – well, telepathically anyway.  The conversations between the two are the real stars of the film.

The movie did not receive rave reviews when it was released, but it became a cult phenomenon in later years, especially when released on VHS.  The one thing that it may be most well known for is the last line of dialogue, which is spoken by Blood.  It was absolutely hated by Ellison, who criticized it as a “moronic, hateful chauvinist last line, which I despise.”  You’ll have to be the judge – I thought it was hilarious.

A little tidbit in regards to the Book of Eli – if you look on the walls of the room Eli is staying in the hotel, there is clearly a movie poster of A Boy and His Dog.

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Damnation Alley.  I first saw this on network television back in the early 80’s.  Back in the day when we had all of two channels.  It would be years before I would get to rent it over and over again.  Since then, I have watched it a number of times and have read the book it was based on by Roger Zelazny.  The similarity between the book and the movie is essentially restricted to the title.

Featuring Jan-Michael Vincent in his earlier days as 1st Lt. Jake Tanner, it also starred the likes of George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, and Jackie Earle Haley.  The story revolves around a group of Air Force missile silo personnel who survive a nuclear attack on the United States.  The tension between 1st Lt. Tanner and Major Eugene “Sam” Denton (Peppard) is palpable.  So much so, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the two actors didn’t much care for each other on set.

They discover a radio transmission that originates from Albany, NY.  Bad news is that they are currently somewhere in the California desert.  So what do they do?  They climb aboard two of the most iconic vehicles to ever grace the silver screen – the Landmaster.  Giant 12-wheeled armored vehicles that look like they could make accordion music as they travel.  Early into their exodus, they encounter a freak storm and one of the Landmasters is destroyed.  Along the way, they come across survivors, dirtbags, mutant armored cockroaches, freakish aurora borealis-type skies, and gigantic irradiated scorpions.

The ending scene was filmed right here in Lakeside, MT.  Apparently George Peppard was a fan of Montana and coaxed them to film here.  I feel oddly bonded to this film.

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The Final Programme.  Based on the book of the same name by Michael Moorcock.  I’m not really sure where to start with it.  It is a favorite of mine in the sense that it is fairly obscure and such an odd bird.  A group of British scientists are on the hunt for information that will allow them to develop “The Final Programme” – a process that involves combining a woman and a man to form an hermaphroditic all-purpose human being.  The result?

Tell ya what, just watch the trailer…

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Logan’s Run.   The quintessential science fiction film of the 1970’s (barring Star Wars).  Loosely based on a book of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (there is actually a trilogy of books – they’re all quite good), the story takes place in the year 2274.  After a nuclear apocalypse that happened long ago, the remnants of humanity live in dome cities where life is a utopian paradise.  The downside?  Life ends at 30.  When a citizen reaches “Lastday”, it’s off to “Carousel” where they are vaporized… er, I mean “Renewed”.

The story follows Logan 5.  A “Sandman” (always loved that job title) who’s job is to catch “runners”.  Runners are those who do not believe in renewal and choose instead to, well…. run.  Their destination?  Sanctuary, of course.  A place where people can be free to live to a ripe old age.

Logan 5 is tasked to find Sanctuary and destroy it.  In order to do this, his lifeclock is fast-forwarded to last day and he is forced to run.  He meets Jessica, a runner sympathizer, and they make their way outside of the dome city, in search of Sanctuary.  They are pursued by Francis 7, Logan’s fellow Sandman and best friend.  Francis is not aware of Logan’s mission and thinks that Logan has actually turned runner.

There was a short-lived television show in the 70’s based on the movie and going by the same title.  The pilot episode is essentially the same as the movie with a few changes.  The rest of the series takes place outside and follows them in their search for Sanctuary.  I am quite fond of the television series.

The question remains, do they ever find Sanctuary?  The answer is not as simple as you might think…

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Mad Max.  “The warrior Max.  To know him you’d have to go back to another time…”.

This is where it all began.  The genesis of Max Rockatansky’s past and the events that turned him into a wanderer of the wasteland – a road warrior.  You see, Max once had a house, a family, a job.  He was a cop, a husband, and a father.  In the roar of an engine, it was all taken away from him.  He lost everything.

Max was the best of the best.  So much so that he became afraid of becoming that dragon he was so effective at slaying.  Taking a vacation with his family, he is hunted down by an outlaw gang, led by one of the best bad guys ever – Toecutter (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne).  After losing those he holds most dear to this gloryroader and his minions, he returns to secure the “last of the V-8’s”, donning his leathers and heaters, and setting out to kill each and every last one.

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No Blade of Grass.  A British film based on the book The Death of Grass by John Christopher, this one deals with a future in which civilization has broken down because of a plague.  Global famine ensues and food riots rip cities apart.  The story follows a man who tries to get his family to the safety of Scotland.  It is a great tale of survival and the extremes a man will go to in order to protect his family.

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Omega Man.  The second incarnation of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Also the most well-known version.  It is also the one that is most loosely based on the book.  But, it’s got Charlton Heston killing mutants, so who cares.

In 1975, U.S. Army Col. Robert Neville, M.D. (Heston) find himself the sole survivor of a biological attack that has either killed or turned the population into albino mutants.  Neville was able to inject himself with an antidote before the total breakdown of society and is effectively immune to the plague.

Neville spends his days running 4 minute miles (um, yeah….ok).  When he’s not doing this, he is hunting down “The Family”, mapping the city, and dressing up all fancy like.  He likes to haggle with imaginary car dealers,take sports cars for a spin, and having conversations with store window mannequins.

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Phase IV.  Not so much post-apocalypse, but perhaps closer to gettin’-damn-near-to-the-apocalypse.  In the Arizona desert, a group of scientists study the rapid evolution of a colony of ants.  These ants are smart… and they are up to some fairly odd shenanigans.  Building towers for no apparent reason.  Creating mirrored glass focal lenses that direct sunlight to the scientists’ lab in order to heat things up.  Gaining access to the lab and mucking around with the AC.  Yeah, these little guys are up to something, but what?

Taking over the world, that’s what.  The end is something akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Just plain weird, but fascinating at the same time.

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And as an added bonus, if you want to watch most of the entire movie, Phase IV was featured on a very early episode (the 9th episode, 1989) of MST3K.  Enjoy!

 


 

Quintet.  Another film that makes it difficult for me to nail down why it is a favorite.  Quintet takes place sometime during the next ice age.  The main character, Essex (Paul Newman) and his pregnant girlfriend, Vivia (Brigitte Fossey) wander across the frozen wastes.  They come across a snow and ice covered settlement and things just get weird.  Trying to follow the storyline can be an exercise in futility at times.

People spend their days playing a game called Quintet.  You know what, I’m not even going to attempt to describe it.  You can find the rules here.  Trust me, you’ll be in a far better place if I don’t try to explain it.

The movie did not do well, but like most of these films, it gained a cult following in later years.  It’s one redeeming quality is it’s bleak visual setting.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much…

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Ravagers.  Getting back to the good stuff, back to basics.  Moral decay and, well… ravaging.  This one is based on the book of the same name by Robert Edmond Alter.  Some time after a nuclear war, humanity does what it can to survive against mutated marauders – or in this case, Ravagers.  The story follows a man whose wife is killed by these vermin and so begins a vengeance tale.  He finds a community of people that live on board a ship until it is destroyed by ravagers.  He does what he can to lead the survivors to someplace safe where they can live in peace and free from – yep… ravagers.

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Soylent Green.  What was is about the 70’s and the dominance of Charlton Heston in post-apocalypse films?  Omega Man, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and now Soylent Green…

The year is 2022 and the world is severely overpopulated.  Couple this with the ravages of pollution, war, and disease, you’ve got a perfect storm for a delightful dystopia.  New York City alone is populated with forty million people.  Where do they live?  In the streets, on stairwells, on each other, anywhere they can fit.  What do they eat?  Wafer-like crackers called Soylent.  Purported to be made from plankton (“sea greens and protein from the sea”… pardon me, I still have Logan’s Run on the brain), it is the chief foodstuff of the future and rationed to the hordes of homeless.

Enter NYPD Detective Frank Thorn (Heston) and his old friend who remembers “the time before”, Solomon “Sol” Roth (Edward G. Robinson).  The scenes with these two are worth the watch.  While Thorn is investigating various and sundry illicit goings on, Solomon is investigating something on his own – just where Soylent comes from.  I won’t tell you what it is, but the answer is delivered only as Charlton Heston can.

The film is a fairly fun romp, and remember, Friday is Soylent Green day…

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The Ultimate Warrior.  “After the ultimate war, comes… the Ultimate Warrior.”  After the last world wars have almost wiped man off the earth. With food disappearing, water scarce and all machines stopped, one lone band of survivors cuddles behind walls of debris under the leader they call The Baron (Max von Sydow).  There’s only one man who can get through the roving street people.  This is… Yul Brynner…. er, I mean… the Ultimate Warrior!

A refreshing, simple tale of good versus evil.  A group of people trying to simply survive are constantly harassed by a gang led by a leader with such a terrifying name that it is sure to strike terror in even the bravest of souls.  What is his name, you ask?  I hesitate to say.  You may never sleep again.  You may end up looking over your shoulder at every passing shadow.  Alright then, I warned you…. Carrot.  CARROT!!!  Fear the dark, feel the sweat start to…. awww, forget it.

The plotline is simple, The Baron enlists the aid of a lone wanderer to help his community combat Carrot and his minions.  It is reminiscent of Kurosawa’s film Yojimbo.  It is a fairly violent film and the fight scenes are *ahem* well orchestrated.

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Wizards.  An animated feature by Ralph Bakshi, the same talent behind the animated features The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  It features Mark Hamill in one of his earlier animated voice-overs as Sean, King of the Mountain Fairies.

The story takes place some 3,000 years after a nuclear war wiped out the planet.  There has been a return of magic and sorcery, fairies and goblins.  There are two rival wizard brothers, Avatar (the good one) and Blackwolf (the bad one).  Blackwolf discovers technology that will help him “take over the world!”.  It is up to Avatar and his friends to combat Blackwolf and his army of goblins.  Done in pure Bakshi form, this movie is an animated acid trip.

Click the poster for the full movie…

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Zardoz.  Sean Connery in thigh boots and a red nappy.  Need I say more?

This one takes place in the year 2293.  Earth has been devastated by war and two factions of survivors exist – the “Brutals”, those who live in the wasteland and scrape by on a measly existence, and the “Eternals”, those immortals who live behind an impenetrable barrier that separates their lush, green, paradise (the Vortex) from the blasted landscape.

The Eternals consider the Brutals as nothing more than cattle.  Using them to grow crops and as slave labor.  The story centers around Zed (Connery), who is an Exterminator.  Exterminators are brutal in every sense of the word, their sole purpose being to terrorize and kill Brutals at the whim of Zardoz – a gigantic flying stone head.  In exchange for grain and food, Zardoz offers up to them guns and weapons of war.

One day, Zed hitches a ride on Zardoz and is taken back to the Vortex, where he is enlsaved and experimented upon.  There are some Eternals that determine this man is the answer to ending their boring, corrupt existence.

It’s a bit violent, a bit wacky, but I mean come on… Sean Connery in a red nappy and thigh boots!

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And so ends this episode of “My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Films of….”.  The 70’s really changed the way we see postapoc films.  Some became grittier, more violent, while others took us on a kind of psychedelic mind trip that was indicative of the time.  Next time we’ll be taking a look at the 80’s.  The decade of delicious Italian Mad Max 2 ripoffs and straight-to-video diamonds in the rough.