We love our post-apoc movies here at Zombie Club. We've already seen Battle Truck, Salute of the Jugger, Endgame, The New Barbarians, Warrior of the Lost World, and probably loads more I can't recall right now. Great fun has been had thanks to high-octane violence and much silly futuristic clothing.
Thankfully, our supply of mostly Italian post-apoc movies isn't running quite as dry as the future water sources so often portrayed in these mostly lost gems, which is why we're back once again, rebelling against tyrannical leaders and approving of children who happen to have bionic arms. First up, Al Cliver kicks some serious ass before being killed off prematurely in Joe D'Amato's 2020: Texas Gladiators, followed by Giuliano Carnimeo's future western Exterminators of the Year 3000. Start the engines on your dune buggies.
This evening's Zombie Club was brought to you by Zomblee in association with the "hero shuffle"
2020 Texas Gladiators (1982)
Plot The year is 2020 and the setting is post-nuclear holocaust Texas. It's a dusty, nasty world now as can be seen in the opening scenes when a gang of outlaws rape and murder innocent nuns at a mission.
Zomblee Just when you think you’ve seen all the post-apocalypse movies out there, more keep appearing from under the still-smoking ashes. Even better, 2020 Texas Gladiators features our old Zombie Club friend and ally Al Cliver as ‘Nisus’, leading a righteous futuristic army known as the Rangers. This hard-yet-virtuous bunch roam the wastelands, looking for wrongs to right, kicking corrupt ass, sort of like a futuristic A-Team, except they actually kill the bad guys.
During the first battle scene with painted face bad guys, one of Al’s colleagues, known as ‘Catch Dog’ tries to rape a hot chick called Maida. As it turns out, this kind of violation is against the Ranger code, and Catch Dog is ousted. Al and Maida fall in love at first sight, and she offers to take him to her ‘world of the future’, where he ditches the studs and guns in favour of a fetching pair of dungarees, as well as becoming a father, an honest worker and all round good guy.
Unfortunately for Al and the other good people, ‘Black One’ (Donald O’Brien) is a tyrannical dictator, hell bent on building a new society in accordance with his vision, and despatches his special squad to take down Al and his merry men. Unfortunately for us fans of all things Cliver, the special squad are a little too efficient and promptly kill him off within the first 30 mins, after he gets really angry. It’s a great battle scene for a movie with such budgetary constrictions, complete with a fortified UPS van for the foot soldiers, because as Jim says, ”In the future, all tanks should be black.”
The rest of the movie takes place in Black One’s kingdom of cruelty and degradation, where Maida and a couple of the Rangers revolt with the help of some local Native Americans whose arrows are more successful in penetrating those pesky bullet-proof shields. And much ass is kicked. Those supposedly Native Americans didn’t really look the part though, and were obviously just Italian extras in moccasins (”They’re wearing really stupid wigs” - Jim).
All in all, a well intentioned (if slightly nonsensical) futuristic affair with lots of fighting, cool cars, a funny villain, fancy guns, and what with our initial hero (that will be Al Cliver) dying so quickly, it was something a little different to have the heroic focus of the movie change about halfway through. Or, as Rawshark called it, the ”hero shuffle”.
”Can we take a leak?”
Jim Different? That's an understatement to say the least! 2020 Texas Gladiators is one of those obvious Zombie Club movies that had been eluding us for years. I mean, it stars Al Cliver, it’s a post apoc thing - what's not to like? Surely, it's going to be awesome?
And for the first 35 mins or so it is. Al Cliver is on top form ("Al's rocking hard in this movie so far." - Zomblee) as leader a troop of rangers, signified be his extra leather strappage ("They're like a cross between Boyzone and Duran Duran." - Rawshark). Then he saves that bird from being raped by his mate, and decides to live happily ever after with her on a chemical plant and raise their young boy. We assume he's their kid anyway, the filmed kinda jumped with no explanation in typical Joe D'Amato style ("I wouldn't joke about tomatoes" - Zomblee).
Things pick up again when the ousted ranger friend Catch Dog turns up with his new gang off bikers, and they have a big old crowd-pleasing fight ("Where are they all coming from?" - Zomblee) before the bad guys regroup with black sci-fi trucks and laser shields ("Shoot the legs!" - Rawshark) and Al Cliver dies. Yes, Al Cliver dies. I think I need to reiterate this point one more time - Al Cliver dies. In a movie he's top billed in. Dead. Stone cold dead.
I'm still in shock, actually, and to be honest that was it for me and 2020 Texas Gladiators. I can't for the life of me remember anything that happens after that event, and didn't make any notes either, which just goes to show how traumatised I must have been. And still am. And that's all I have to say on the matter, damn it.
"It's all over now, from now on it'll be the same as it was before."
Rawshark Opening with a classic Film Town Video logo that would in all honesty make a very cool T-shirt design, the film starts proper with, as Zomblee commented, ”a guy knifed in the skull in the first 20 seconds”. This is how we want our Post-apocalyptic films to kick off - cool retro video logos and ultra-violence from the get go. He may be a hack, but Joe D’Amato definitely knows how to get our Zombie Club juices flowing.
Moving swiftly on to a crucifixion at a Church (which looks a bit like a warehouse with a prop cross wheeled in for good measure), Nisus (Mr Cliver) and his band of topless Rangers kick much ass, swiftly serving as much justice as they can to the band of outlaws who get to ride cool motorbikes. When the biker gang decide to attack a nearby chemical facility, Al gets really angry and launches himself over some laser shields only to get shot and killed at the 36 minute mark. The fool.
As Jim mentioned, so much is our love of all things Cliver at Zombie Club, the interest waned somewhat, which is a shame as there was still so much to enjoy with this film, from the Deer Hunter-type challenge to win back the girl (”We call it Roulette” said one of the heavies, whilst Jim stated clearly that he ”would never play that game”) and lots of bike and dune buggy chases and actors pulled in from similar movies with futuristic years in the titles (”2019, 2023, 2020 – all these actors are the same aren’t they?” - Jim).
Thankfully the heroes finally hook up with some Indian heroes who learn that their spears and arrows can actually go through the hole-ridden laser shields of the ‘evil empire’ troops and some girls turn up with what Jim called ”tit armour”. However, they also get killed, as does the homosexual paedophile (”Shoot his face!” - Zomblee) and the hero’s mate, but all finally ends well as the Indians manage to kill Black One, the bald Nazi despot, who’s laugh is quite something to behold. So, all in all, good, clean fun, but not quite in the same league as Castellari’s 2019, which was funnily enough made in the same year.
”I’m glad to say all is normalised”
Director Joe D'Amato
Cast Al Cliver
Harrison Muller Jr.
Runtime 91 mins
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Exterminators in the year 3000 (1983)
Plot A group of survivors in a futuristic world team up to fight for the right to drink water.
Rawshark Straight onto the second of tonight’s post-apocalyptic movie, and we jump forward 980 years to the year 3000 where a nuclear was has turned the earth into a wasteland and where the most valuable item know to futuristic man is water. A bit like Waterworld then, but at a fraction of that film’s budget, no Kevin Costner or Dennis Hopper and set in a desert instead of a world of salty sea. And thankfully no funny machines that turn urine into a drinkable form.
After a fairly sombre music-less credit sequence, the pace of this film starts at a sprint with an armoured car chase jam-packed with cool stunts including shotguns, smashing fences and driving through sheds (it’s good to know that shed design hasn’t evolved much over the coming 1000 years). Obviously inspired by Mad Max 2, the stunt work in Exterminators… holds up surprisingly well, and it’s always a joy to see old school stunt driving rather than the flash-cut CGI-enhanced chase scenes of modern day film (yes, Quantum of Solace - I am thinking primarily of you here).
When a small commune is attacked by Crazy Bull and his savage gang of motorcyclists, lone survivor 10-year old Tommy wanders the pains alone until he stumbles upon, and rescues, Alien, the film’s lead male hero. Despite initial quarrels, they finally bond and set out to find an underground reservoir, meeting up with a girl, Trash, and an old man (who helps fix Tommy’s robotic arm) along the way. From there they have a few adventures amidst the pimped up bikes and cars, kill a couple of ugly soldiers and finally reach the reservoir where they engage in a full-scale battle against Crazy Bull and his Mohawk Maniacs for the extremely valuable water resource.
So, second film summary - a fun little post-apoc movie, made worthwhile by the pretty good vehicles, some cool location photography and a nice little ending with a miniature explosion and the long-awaited rainfall that showers Alien, Trash and Tommy - the triumphant ‘nuclear’ family.
Jim Yes, Rawshark appears to have nailed this one with the use of adjectives like 'fun', 'cool' and 'nice' - not really words you'd expect to describe a shameless post-apoc Mad Max 2 clone, but then I guess you're used to expecting the unexpected at Zombie Club by now. And Jesus man, I can't believe we've been doing Zombie Club for over five years, and we haven't bought this movie to a night before now, especially with that video box cover, which I'm sure a lot of you will vividly remember from the local dodgy video shop shelves of the early 80s. I know I do.
Anyway, yes, the film opens with music-less credits ("Ah, the music-less credits..." - Rawshark) and cuts to a desert road with a couple of guys in a cop car turning up to check a wreck at the side of the road for water (a little bit like the opening from Mad Max 2 although obviously they were looking for gasoline instead). Then Alien turns up with his cool car with tubes stuck to it and runs these guys over. Next, in a very short sequence that you could easily miss if you are all pissed and talking amongst yourselves, Alien checks out the cop car, someone hiding at the side of the road runs out and drives off in Alien's car, so Alien gives chase in the cop car. What follows is the films opening chase, which is very good albeit rather confusing if you can't work out who's in what car. That kind of set a precedence for us for the whole movie.
We had tonnes of fun with this one though. The commune send out some guys on a water finding mission and Crazy Bull and his Mother Grabbers give chase in a scene that reminded us all of the end chase from Mad Max 2 (funny that, eh?) but included some rather good stunt work, including a bit where one biker drives up a ramp on the back of another truck to jump on to one of the good guys' trucks mid-fight ("Oh my God, that's brilliant!" - Zomblee). Anyway, they all die except the robot kid, who finds and rescues Alien and together they go see the old Astronaut who super charges the robot kid's arm. The kid knows where the water is and so it's a race against time to get the water before Crazy Bull and his gang get to it, etc, etc.
"This is preposterous really...." commented Rawshark on more than one occasion, and as usual he's spot on. Alien's sci-fi bolas is stupid ("He is, he's going to toss him his balls!" - Rawshark), Crazy Bull is "...so ridiculous." (thanks Zomblee), the black girl with the claw hand is very cool and, well, it's hard not to thoroughly like this movie in every way, right up to the final and suitably silly fight between Alien and Crazy Bull (think the swordsman encounter in Raiders of the Lost Ark and you've got it). Why this hasn't been given a decent DVD treatment is beyond me. Wicked Zombie Club film too.
"I don't care about the future, I won't be there."
Zomblee Spaghetti Western powerhouse Guiliano Carnimeo helmed tonight’s second instalment of post-apoc shenanigans, entitled Exterminators of the Year 3000, which sees hard futureman ‘Alien’ (Robert Ianucci) team up with robotic arm kid Tommy (Luca Venantini) in a search for one of life’s essentials – water. Kicking off with the ever-reliable car chase, the pace settles somewhat when we introduced to little Tommy and his commune’s need for water to sustain their planet-saving research, now that the ozone ‘belt’ has been destroyed by man and his evil ways. After being attacked by Crazy Bull and his colleagues while on a mission to get water from a distant underground hydro facility, Tommy is the only survivor and manages to escape to walk around desolate wilderness, which is when he chances upon Alien trapped under his cool future car.
Reluctant at first, Alien soon warms to young Tommy when he realises Tommy knows where the water facility is located. Soon, the pair form an alliance whilst being hunted down by loads folk straight out of Mad Max 2 ("He's got a storm trooper outfit on!" - Rawshark), led by this Crazy Bull idiot who has a weakness for heavy eyeliner on one eye only, because that’s what they do in the future, you know. They also like to pimp their cars something rotten, and the results are a pleasure to witness (”It’s just a family saloon really” - Jim). There’s nothing quite like Italian post-nuke on a tight budget, is there?
Director Carnimeo’s Western experience has, strangely, served him well in the realm of post-apoc action. The barren, mountainous landscapes remain, while Stetsons and cowboy boots have been replaced by lots of padded leather, and horses replaced by those enhanced family saloons Jim mentioned. There’s quite a likeable story here, greatly enhanced by the brilliant idea of Tommy’s robotic arm, which is made even more powerful following some ‘modifications’ at the hands of Papillon, the crusty old ex-astronaut who gets clawed by Crazy Bull’s mental henchwoman. Is it just me or has she stolen Han’s claw from the set of Enter the Dragon.
All in all, this is an efficient, enjoyable future flick with enough cool ideas and characters to make it worth your while.
Director Giuliano Carnimeo
Cast Robert Iannucci
Runtime 103 mins (US)
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It's essential to keep coming back to this beloved subgenre simply because these movies are so much fun. Mad Max 2 has so much to answer for, in a good way. Unfortunately, we were left a bit shell shocked by Al Cliver's untimely demise in 2020, but luckily our man D'Amato was able to keep the macho pace up, even if it didn't make complete sense - who cares? Can we do more of these movies next time please guys? And the time after that? Can we? Please?
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