Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pastapocalypse Then! Part 3! After The Bombs!

The last blast! Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 first of course...

Similar in style and tossing in a quick angle involving a nuclear submarine, Ruggero Deodato's Atlantis Interceptors / Raiders of Atlantis is tricky to pin down as a PastaPocalpytic film. A detailed review is in the main review section for your reference, and it is obvious that the film is a cash in on the quasi futuristic genre. It is all jock straps n' motorbikes as Christopher Connelly and Tony King play a pair of mercenaries that end up first battling and then hopping in a helicopter to attack ATLANTIS! Luckily for both the audience and the producers, Atlanteans appear to be exactly like Trash and the gang from Bronx Warriors in their fashion sense... and even more violent and vicious! The Oliver Onions, Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, are on hand to create a distinctly nuke like sonic atmosphere and th
e great Gianetto De Rossi lathers on the special gore effects with gusto. Sure there isn't a bomb, but the rising of Atlantis is pretty damn impressive. A lot of action, some groovy costumes and a great pair of leads... this is a fantastic film regardless of what we choose to classify it as.

The truly PastaPocalyptic Exterminators Of The Year 3000 gets the genre back on track and manages to clone the exact premise of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior by taking the “must get the substance from the tankers” routine, only replacing gasoline with water. After another bomb strikes down the atmosphere, all of the surviving souls are thirsting for now precious water. And not only that, but some brave souls hope to actually grow crops to feed the remaining survivors, and that means they need a whole lot of liquid and fast. Each time they try to get to a supposed stockpile of the soggy goods a big mean mothergrabber (his term) by the name of Crazy Bull cusses them out and attacks the little bands of transport vehicles with his own insanely bizarre moto-creations. Enter...ALIEN! While he may have bad motivations (he wants to sell the water), he agrees to help the ragtag band, bringing along his own uber-mobile for backup. Ah, and this one has a little kid as well, and while that is not usually something to celebrate, it sure helps when it involves him getting his arm torn off and then chucking around rocks with a bionic tosser! Luca Venantini plays Tommy and is nearly as grating as good old/young Giovanni Frezza... but I love Frezza and little Luca gets points for cloning one of his performances. Director Giuliano Carnivore does a fantastic with more De Rossi effects backing him up, creating a film that manages to capture the desolate post nuke ambiance and nucleon-melt a slice of mega bad guy cheese on top. While he takes advantage of having great actors like Luciano Pizzicato and Eduardo Ricardo wandering around, it is the silly and vile Crazy Bull that steals the show. Screaming in mock Shakespearean mode he thunders out line upon line of garbage and bizarre curses that will leave the audience laughing all the way home. “Into battle my merry mother grabbers,” he bellows...ah, the S.A.S. Dubbing crew must have enjoyed this one a whole lot, and we should thank them for it!

While chest protectors, multi-colored Mohawks and knee pads were the rage, Italian action icon Antonio Marguerite decided to create a truly After The Bomb Masterwork with Yor-Hunter From The Future. Though it may not start as an apocalyptic film, it ends there and goes beyond as well! Adapting Ill Rondo di Yor, a comic book by the popular Spanish artist Juan Zanotto, the film opens as a caveman adventure as the viewer meets Yor (Reb Brown)-a hunter from the future as the title has tipped us off. Yor doesn't have it all that easy in his World, as he must rescue cavefolk from dinosaurs and gets on the business end of the maxim that every woman wants a hunky blond cave battler to make sweet love to her! Hooking up with his new best buddy Pag (Luciano Pigozzi) and wooing the lovely Ka-Laa (Corinne Clery), things heat up as he battles raging eye creatures (in the longer version only of course), evil tribes and other nasty goons... while his situation only worsens as multiple women vie for his attention. But wait...this IS a post nuke film! Suddenly a laser beam cuts the prehistoric sky and distresses our clan of cave bears as well as viewers not remembering the title of the film! The nasty Overlord (John Steiner as Ham Vader) is out to take over the world. Of course, Yor swings into action (or his stunt doll double does) and saves the day, the girl and the world as the few Yorbies cheer endlessly from their living rooms. While a bit on the goofy side, there is a carefree flight of fancy that permeates Yor's World-one that not only spins on an axis of miniature Margheriti monsters and spaceships, but gyrates to a disco theme by the Oliver Onions that will remain in infamy worldwide forever. It's Yor's World...he's the man! Well, the world was bombed back to the stone age, so they never did find that one untouched hockey shop to grab a protective cup, but Steiner's Stormtroopers are certainly close to the PostaPocalyptic fashion. Also, be triple sure to watch for the Ptero-Glider that Yor creates and smile along with's all in good fun.

Another Eurohorror icon, Lucio Fulci, would toss his bloody careers cadaver into the fray in 1983 with the futuristic combat film The New Gladiators. With many of his usual collaborators in tow, including editor Vincenzo Tomassi, scripter Dardano Sacchetti and scorelord Riz Ortolani, Fulci and his producer’s assembled a cast of post nuke coolness to work in front of the cameras as well. Fred Williamson, Hal Yamanouchi (in yet another Asian kung fu master role-though he would later cop to knowing no martial arts), Donald O'Brien, Al Cliver and Jared Martin all take the stage as warriors in wacky gear out to create the most insane spectacle of violence possible for a hungry throng of viewers being fed the gore via satellite. Claudio Cassinelli plays his Rollerball styled nasty corporate producer type with reckless abandon and nearly steals the show as our villain here, because after Drake (Martin) won't play along and kill a final opponent, he frames him up for killing his wife and gets him sentenced to duke it out too the bitter end amidst a field of nasty nutjobs. A winning situation for the scumbag producer, hell for everyone else. Brutal training, a big battle and all that you would expect (and motorbikes to boot) unfold until the grander scheme is unveiled by our hero and the mighty Abdul (Williamson). All is not as it seems though, and it is up to Drake to save the world from the ultimate computer brainiac beast...but how? Fulci approaches the material without any humor and does a good job at keeping the pace smooth throughout. However the spotty script defeats the fun in many ways, by simply being so damned straight faced. Buoyed up by some well staged action, Fred Williamson simply being himself and a great score, this is ultimately a misfire of holocaustic proportions. A damn shame as Fulci fans would expect more, though it is not hard to believe that the Maestro of Zombie Mayhem may not have really been all that interested in this project.

One guy whose heart is always in the project at hand, simply because he wants to make the most commercially viable products possible, is Bruno Mattei... and his stunning PastaPocalyptic film Rats: Nights of Terror is as entertaining as it is silly, and as classic as the gore is nasty. An opening crawl of text alerts the viewer that we are now in the 225 A.B. (After The Bomb) and we join the ever welcome Richard Raymond as Kurt, along with his ragtag group of merry misfits. They are all resplendent in Post Blast fashions as they find a new place to hang their biker helmets in a strangely empty town. But why is it empty you may wonder? Because RATS have eaten everyone, a fact that is something the cast lunkheadedly plods towards discovering amidst their sex and shit talking. Short on plot as the preceding sentence pretty much sums it up... as long as I mention that most of the wandering gang is eaten, the film goes long on gore and odd characters courtesy of Claudio Fragasso's straight blast screenplay. Hammed up with a foul mouthed glee by the cast, we watch as Kurt, Taurus (a really funny looking Massimo Vanni), Cross, Video (who plays video games of course!), Lucifer, Deus, Duke and Chocolate (a sexy black girl...again, of course) get chomped and devoured. The End. Well, not exactly as Mattei pulls out all the stops to give us a giant rat beast in a decontamination suit for our money.

Rats is an interesting entry in the PastaPocalypse as it contains several action scenes, yet relies more on the horror elements of this After The Bomb nightmare world. For such a thin premise it plays out over a tense 90 plus minute runtime that is relentless with restless camera work galore, as we probe each and every chew hole the rats, or white mice dipped in black paint, can unleash on our intrepid crew. Pumped up by a great bit of electronic musical throb produced by Luigi Ceccarelli, it remains one of Bruno Mattei's most popular films with good reason. This group of atomic survivors is probably the best rendered in the genre because each is so distinctly outrageous, and the film was so popular that it was billed as Riffs 3 in Germany in an attempt to link it to Enzo G. Castellari's Bronx films! A must see, and even if it is short on exploding huts there are plenty of torn bodies to take their place!

As we continue on, it should be noted that by this time the Italians were not alone in exploiting the popular World Gone Wild Phenomena.. No matter where a renter or drive in fanatic looked they could find films shot on the cheap with a few dune buggies and beastly heroes. Most notable are the widely distributed films by Filipino genre hopper Cirio Santiago. In some ways his films are both cheaper and more outrageous than even the Italian films, but that is a story for another time. Also emanating from the Philippines is the must see ultra bizarre entry W (is War) and it's semi-sequel. For any post nuke historian this is a must see and well worth the hunt. However, with this much product it became obvious there was not going to be a lot of viewer interest or money left as video rentals were spread thin, as almost any and everything could find a home at the local shops. A few minor entries (and one really strong one) would appear before the trend fizzled entirely. Generally written off as the nadir of the PastaPocalypse, Tonino Ricci's back to back quickies RUSH and A MAN CALLED RAGE assaulted video shelves globally. In the United States they had a post nuke clad Sybil Danning on hand to pump up the viewers excitement level thanks to some clever VHS marketing, but to no avail. The two films are almost identical in that they feature Conrad Nichols (Luigi Mezzanotte) as the titular hero relentlessly killing every guy in a gas mask he can get his hands on. A few weak looking supercars try to spruce things up, but gone are the gloriously over the top effects and miniature sets of earlier entries, replaced by “radioactive” fog which appears to be generated by one severely overtaxed dry ice machine and (in the case of A Man Called Rage) even a PUDDLE has become something to fear! Doubly difficult to swallow is the utter lack of personality or charisma from Nichols, who looks like a slightly more fit Ray Wise more than a Mark Gregory styled mean motor scooter. Watching him RAGE is more like a child's fit and you'll RUSH to go watch another film when he appears on screen. Ricci is not what I'd call the most stylish director in the world (nor the least), but he shows little flair at all for the more atomic oriented aspects of the production. But he DOES know how to film repetitive violent action and is assisted by genre workhorse Tito Carpi's script for A Man Called Rage, which simply abandons the use of dialog in many instances and relies on rat-a-tat-tat to carry the running time.

They may be the lowliest of the bunch in some opinions, but for the action junkie (and especially the readers of this book), there are parts of each that redeem them from the scrapheap. In the case of Rush there are lots of ballistic sequences as well as an evil overlord in the form of Gordon Mitchell who does his best with the available material. Francesco De Masi's scores from previous entries into the genre pop up, and are as good as least the PastaPocalyptic video warrior can tap his toes while watching this film. It even has the lovely Laura Trotter to look at on occasion. A Man Called Rage has the aforementioned Puddle of Doom as well as even more killing and some goofy white robed religious types who believe Rage to be their savior. Also notable is a really great recap of The Apocalypse which features crying children, stock explosions and so much more. Vincenzo Tomassi probably enjoyed working on this sequence more than anything else-it has lots of horrific punch and gets things started off strong. The best part of A Man Called Rage has to be the always welcome presence of Werner Pochath, who wanders around looking buffed out while he goes on a final mission seeking catering and the paymaster. Well, he doesn't do that in the film, but we know what was really going on don't we? If you love your PastaPocalyptica then it is worth watching these back to back so that you don't really know which was which and get your cheap Rush of nuke powered Rage flavored memories from the video shops of the 80's.

Once you have gone below the Ricci line you can follow the slow death of the genre, which begins at the surprisingly cool The Final Executioner. While The Final Executioner is a great film, the production company, L'Immagine, would grind everything they could from it, destroying what could have been a legacy equal to at least the Filmirage pictures. But first, the good stuff...

Directed by Romolo Guerrieri, an uncle too Enzo G. Castellari, this is an atypical entry, one that is equal parts stalk and slaughter to action film. Taking a cue from the ever popular Most Dangerous Game and set in the future, where human hunting is sport for the remaining rich folks After The Bomb. One couple, including Alan (William Mang), is brought to the slaughter for the delight of a group of wealthy youth. Instead of simply killing them and being done, they rape Alan's wife before offing her... and even dumber than that they screw up in classic Spaghetti Western form and leave Alan alive. As Alan flees the scene and becomes obsessed with revenge we follow the hunters around as they deal with Erazmus (Harrison Muller Jr. in his best role). The gaggle of gorehounds continue on being rich and scummy while Alan meets up with the iconic Woody Strode as Sam, the last Sheriff! Luckily, Strode is a personal trainer to the post nuke wastelands and he beats Alan into an iron rod of rage, wrath and slasher worthy annihilation. Turning the tables he stalks and slaughters those who have done him wrong... much to the audiences delight.

Well made and featuring an excellent score from Carlo De Nonno and Carlo Maria Cordio, The Final Executioner is a great hybrid of action, over the top heroics and slasher atmospherics. A canny use of locations really helps set the post nuke vibe, even if the focus isn't on the typical hyperbuggies and machine guns. On top of Strode's script smashing shouting, Mang makes a good hero, Muller Jr. is cool looking, and most males in the audience should enjoy the lovely as always Margit Evelyn Newton and her finer points making an appearance. It's stylish, it's fast paced and should appease any fan of obscure European trashy cinema. Sadly this film seems to have fallen into obscurity even amongst the hardcore viewers of such items. A shame... this is top stuff! But I did mention that this signaled the beginning of the end... and here is what happened.

L'Immagine got the brilliant idea several years later to revive portions of The Final Executioner not just once, but twice! And even more amazing is that these versions would become commonplace on video and DVD shelves everywhere while Guerrieri's film languishes unseen! Not only did these producers simply exploit a good film, they managed to kill it altogether... an unforgivable sin. Even more amazing is that Italian horror legend Piero Regnoli was hired to write these redux atrocities, which I'll assume must have been a quickie paycheck job, since there is so much stock footage on show it becomes one of the craziest patch jobs imaginable and barely scripted... at least at the French company of Eurocine they would splice lots of movies together to repackage them into one.

Starting with The Bronx Executioners and continuing on into Urban Warriors the original saga of Alan and Sam becomes somewhat new, but not nearly as good. These two films are so poor that even if the bulk of global trash featuring the PastaPocalyptic world couldn't crush the interest from weary viewers, these two films could. The Bronx Executioners lifts huge sections of The Final Executioner and centers around returning actress Margit Evelyn Newton, which is usually fine-but they add new footage of her that is a complete mismatch! Her breasts do appear to have grown several sizes in between the two productions however, and that isn't bad because any excuse for Ms. Newton's breasts to wobble across a cinema screen is nice... but only for so long. Newton is back to human hunting and she picks the wrong people to take advantage of... thankfully Woody Strode is also back to put him through the same workout routine we saw in the earlier film. Well, almost, since Strode wasn't asked back for his role there are scenes with the most amazing stand-in appearance I can recall. To call it a mismatch would be an understatement, but I'll leave it at that. Ebony and Ivory have never been so mixed with confusion. Bringing in a few new characters doesn't hurt in the creation of a patchwork film, but Alex Vitale is such a goof that he destroys even the new footage at every turn. Confusing and patched up in the poorest manner the deathbed of the PastaPocalypse has been made, and L'Immagine couldn't help but rush to tuck the bombed out corpse neatly into it.

Urban Warriors is the polar opposite of the Enzo G. Castellari films. It is stagnant, it is bland and worst of all it is boring. Well, aside from one monkey flip and a bit of hubba bubba nudity and the trademarked Banzai Landgren Lunge. Again plumbing the Final Executioner for stock footage, though far less than in the previous film, this is one slow bit of post nuke work. Three lab technicians are underground and chatting on the phone when the PastaPocalypse occurs... luckily Brad (Karl Landgren) is a bad looking dude and totally ready for such an occasion. Not so good for his pals Maurie and Stan. Stan doesn't live very long since he is played by distinctly not tough looking Maurice Poli and the two remaining guys walk VERY SLOWLY around the wasteland. But nothing is wasted? Buildings remain and it looks quite like a dumping ground here. After only a few days there are tribes of evil punks that want to kill the scientists. Why not? Is there something better to do? They fight, they escape and then they work on their car...over and over! That is until we meet a woman who gets naked and has a sloppy and boring sex scene with Karl Landgren. But she is apparently up to no good! She is killed by another gang (they are everywhere it seems) and the new gang members reveal that spinal fluid is the drink of choice in the post nuke world. There is more but you get the picture by now. Utterly ridiculous at every turn, there is more Landgren, some lunging and fighting and then a truly goofy ending to slap the viewer awake. Oh, and a long flashback narrated over Final Executioner footage of course.


However, at this point the explosions of post nuke adventures had finally burnt bright and left the video shops as ash for this no longer fertile ground as the PastaPocalypse would go out with a whimper. While it may seem a shame that the cycle did not close on a triumphant note, it is somehow fitting as the last survivors of the World Gone Wild die off... it would appear that Big Ape failed to repopulate the world in 2019: After The Fall Of New York. Drat. No need to be sad though... the digital revolution in home video has opened the bunker and several of these films have found new life! And be they lovely restorations or fittingly cheap bootlegs of L'Immagine's releases-fans of action cinema, fans of science fiction, and fans of Eurotrash have a canon of films that nothing, not even the fallout from the implosion of the Italian exploitation cinema can deny. All hail you Merry Mothergrabbers!! They baked the big apple and it still tastes as lovely today as it did when action was king and the baddest dudes in the dead world wore jock straps OVER their pants.

1 comment:

cooltopten said...

OOh that was a great read :) I hate hollywood bubble gum movies .I never watch hollywood stuff anymore .foreign movies especially horror just beats the s%%t out of hollywood everytime.

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