We all know the world is going to end; an inevitability proven by any number of ancient scriptures or Roland Emmerich films. But if we are lucky enough to survive the bomb, or the meteor, or...Nicolas Cage performance that unmakes our entire existence, we will have a whole host of new problems to deal with. As an avid watcher of post-apocalyptic cinema, I decided it was high time to take these prescient forecasts of our inescapable fate and issue a somber warning to our readership. Every week I will breakdown a post-apocalyptic film (usually Italian, usually from the 1980's) so that we may ready ourselves for the bleak future ahead of us. I give you Aftermath Mondays!
This Week's Disaster: Deathsport
Today we move temporarily away from the great nation of Italy and go native for Deathsport. I am more than a little excited because today's film was produced, and secretly also directed, by none other than Roger Corman. Corman is one of the greatest exploitation film makers of all time and Deathsport is one of his absolute worst movies. Though I am an enormous fan of his, this stinker has no business being a film.
Who Did They Rip Off: Corman is legendary for his unscrupulous "borrowing" from other filmmakers to create his masterpieces. When Star Wars raked it in at the box office, Corman created Battle Beyond the Stars. When Irwin Allen was enjoying mammoth success with disaster films in the 70's, Corman went out and optioned Corey Allen to make Avalanche. When Jaws knocked audiences for a loop, Corman got Joe Dante to make essentially the same film but with mutant fish: Piranha. When Alien made a smash, Corman xeroxed the plot and made Galaxy of Terror. But Corman became so proficient at this that he managed to rip off his own Death Race 2000 for this laughably awful film. The matte painting city-scapes and the concept of the Death Sport are clearly plagiarized from Death Race 2000 and even Corman himself said the whole purpose of making the film was to replace cars with motorcylces and recreate the fiscal success of Death Race 2000.
What Went Wrong: The Great Neutron War is about as specific as the prologue gets. This is not the first time that the fall of humanity has served in the MacGuffin capacity.
Who Survived: Some rather interesting factions of humanity have sprung up in the wake of the Neutron War. There are the State Men who occupy the last remaining cities and are relatively unchanged from the men and women who exist today. In the great wastelands between the cities, there reside the cannibal mutants and the Range Guides. The mutants, as you can probably guess, are flesh-hungry extras in terrible costumes draped over by fishing nets. They wear halved ping pong balls over their eyes and live in caves like Tuskan Raiders. The Range Guides are essentially telepathic hippies who are much revered for their swordsmanship and their One Million Years B.C. fashion sense.
Who's In Charge: Lord Zirpola, leader of Helix City. This guy is completely bugnuts. While a doctor at the beggining of the film diagnosis him with rapidly advancing dementia, it is his position on punishment that really identifies him as a whack-job. He outlaws the death penalty and instead pits condemned men against one another in the Death Sport...because that's more ethically sound, right? Even less morally balanced is the fact that the Range Guides are given nothing but their swords to fight the dreaded Death Machines (basically just motorcycles with tanning shields attached). He also has a room full of electrified wind chimes in which he tosses naked female miscreants. That scene really lends itself more to viewing than any justice to it I could offer in writing.
Who Will Save Us: Kaz Oshay. Kaz is a Range Guide whose mother was the most powerful Range Guide of all time. If you say his name without reading it, you may think they are saying O'Shea which would seem to make him better suited for running a Chevy dealership or a Irish Pub than saving the wastelands, but there we are. He is played by the one and only, and tragically late, David Carradine who rocked super hard as Frankenstein in Death Race 2000. He is more than a little limited by this terrible script. I dig that we wields a sword, I just wish it hadn't been made out of clear plastic. The future!
When Will It All End: According to the opening voiceover, the Great Neutron Wars will occur 1,000 years from tomorrow. I have no idea how to calculate that given the fact that the film came out in 1978. Based upon my preliminary numbers, wherein I use a sophisticated logarithms and an independent data matrix and then run all of it through the mega computer Deep Blue, the world ended two weeks ago. Wait, that's not right..