Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: America 3000

America 3000 (1986) stars Laurene Landon

900 years after nuclear war, the stone age tribe(s) of man are enslaved by matriarchal factions, until an escapee (Korvis) educates himself with a book of ABCs that teaches him about men and women. While the matriarchs are weakened by a political upheaval, Korvis falls into a secret bunker, learns how the world was destroyed, finds a cache of advanced weaponry, and takes on the mantle of “Prezeedent” which kinda sorta fulfils a prophecy. After a pitched battle between the groups, they learn how to hug and kiss again.

Also there’s a sasquatch-like mutant called Aargh the Awful.

The film leans into its own ‘ so bad it’s good’ness that gives it a lot of fun moments and an enjoyable tone. The acting isn’t going to win anyone over but characterizations are complete and the cinematography is competent. They had a good time making this movie and there’s a lot of inventiveness in terms of props and sets. The fight choreography gets a lot of mileage given the budget. Kudos!

Tropes: Narration by main character; future lingo; women living in dirt are heavily made-up and hair-sprayed; bitter enemies become lovers; forbidden zone; mute character and character who only speaks in grunts;

Toren’s rating: 5/10

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Who Exactly Are You Going To Call?

I saw Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I liked most of it, but as a critic and as a Ghostbusters fan there was some stuff that rubbed me the wrong way, and so I’ve come to the internet to write it down.

Michael Reaves has strong feelings about Ghostbusters: Afterlife

You want spoilers? Cuz I got spoilers!

A lot of things in this film are both a strength and a weakness. Almost every relationship in the film seems surface level. Nobody connects in any real way except the young girl Phoebe and Egon’s ghost, which they do without any words. The mother is physically there, but not emotionally. She is both disinterested and uninteresting. She is blasé, takes no interest in her kids, and takes every opportunity to tell them (and everyone else) what a terrible parent Egon was. Which is weird for fans of the Ghostbusters and also seems like bad parenting maybe?

The ghost plot is a rehash of the first film, so not much original here and an overabundance of member-berries for old nerds like me. So if that is something you’re looking for, they got you covered – everything from Slimer 2.0 to Stay Puft 2.0 to “who you gonna call” and “are you a god?” I did like the Evo Shandor stuff and mossssst of it worked. I really liked that J.K. Simmons only got one line but the Evo in a box thing was a bit confusing, and I don’t understand why the terror dogs were just sitting around on the sidelines while Gozer was getting smoked by particle throwers.

The sudden deus ex machina of the original Ghostbusters was another strength and weakness. I mean, we all want to see those characters again and what they are up to, but showing up so suddenly to take agency away from the other characters legitimately took me out of the story. It kind of ruined the movie to be perfectly honest? That said, I thought their characters were on point and well-scripted. And I still have mixed feelings about CG-resurrection of Harold Ramis, which I thought they milked about 40% too much in the final scenes. But there were tears, so yeah, they got me.

Also, why, OH WHY did Egon lead Phoebe to release Vinz Clortho from the ghost trap? Didn’t that put them all in terribly deadly danger? I guess maybe it was part of his master plan but jeez, if you can move chess pieces and lamps, how about a pencil on a piece of paper?

The Elmer Bernstein music cues, identical to the original, brought back many memories, what with the original Ghostbusters being one of my most-watched films of all time, and I liked the design of Slimer, er, I mean MUNCHER and how well the animators pulled off its facial features.

Perhaps the thing Ghostbusters: Afterlife was most successful at was getting me to want to watch the original again, as well as The Real Ghostbusters cartoon…especially the “Egon’s Ghost” episode, which is excellent.

What other Real Ghostbusters episodes are excellent, since I have you here? Sounds like a great time to make a top 6 list!

  • Collect Call of Cathulhu, not just because they fight Cthulhu, but a well-crafted story by Michael Reaves.
  • Mr. Sandman, Dream Me A Dream One of the entities that causes people to fall asleep and dream goes rogue and tries to put the whole world to sleep so there will be no more wars or conflict. Dreams come to life and IT’S WHACKED!
  • Ragnarok and Roll – a jilted lover tries to bring about the end of the world, written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • When Hallowe-en Was Forever: Samhain, the spirit of Hallowe’en, stops the clocks so that Hallowe’en will last forever. Written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • Slimer, is That You? Egon and Slimer have their brains swapped, with hilarious results.
  • and of course Egon’s Ghost, in which an accident ends up sending Egon to the netherworld. The guys have to go in and rescue him. Includes a terror dog!

Honorable mentions: Knock Knock; The Boogieman Cometh; Night Game; The Thing in Mrs. Faversham’s Attic; Citizen Ghost; and Take Two – the crew is called to California to help make the Ghostbusters Movie

Most of these are available to stream somewhere or other

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Neon City

Stark (Michael Ironside) is a rough-and-tumble ex-cop turned bounty hunter and the attractive young Reno (Vanity) is his bounty, which he must take on a bus with a rag-tag cast of characters through the Outlands to get to Neon City. On the way they must weather toxic storms and deadly solar events as well as attacks by mutant raiders. Each of the passengers have their secret or are connected to Stark in some way (former friend, former wife…that sort of thing).

It’s a journey and a story not unlike the 1939 western Stagecoach, but with shades of Mad Max and neither the competence or inventiveness of either of those films. The cast and characters stand out, but not much else. Certainly not the dialogue, direction, cinematography or sets.

Tropes: bitter enemies become lovers; one of the party is an impostor; improvised laser; gunpoint standoff; gunpoint standoff involving a hostage

Toren’s rating: 4/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: A Quiet Place Part II

Taking place immediately after the events of A Quiet Place, the family leaves their burning home to find a new one, and accidentally finds a former family friend who has lost everything, but has a good hiding spot from the echolocating killer aliens.

A radio signal tips off that there are more survivors, and the daughter with the hearing aid/sonic weapon wants to find them and save the world, so she runs off by herself. Mom convinces family friend to bring her back and dangerous adventures occur.

Good acting, good characters, decent writing, and the continued tension will keep you rapt until the end, which doesn’t take long as it’s a refreshingly short film. A bit predictable in places but overall quite enjoyable.

Tropes: flashback explains origin of apocalypse; survivors work against eachother; booby traps; black man is killed; skeletons cause jump scare; monsters weakness discovered accidentally

Toren’s Rating: 7/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Finch

Robot maker Tom Hanks has survived a land-waste-laying solar flare and the ensuing societal collapse. He’s old and sick but he has a dog that needs to be cared for, so he builds a robot and they take a road trip to escape a superstorm.

More of the same old same old, Tom Hanks does Tom Hanks which is not a complaint, but this time with friendly robots AND a dog! A bit heavy-handed in places but also not a typical Hollywood ending. Not very cerebral, and not very exciting either despite a few interesting moments. Pretty PG affair overall with some added coughing up blood. Kind of needed a bad guy.

Tropes: robot learns to be human; hope epitomized in tiny animal; booby-trapped snack

Toren’s rating: 6.8/10

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Overdue Who Review: The Invisible Enemy

Season 15, 1977 (4 parts)

Here’s a weird one – a virus that transmits through eye lightning gives people a silver fuzz on their face and hands and they become mind-controlled by the viral “nucleus” which looks like a prawn. Even the Doctor becomes infected but Leela is immune because she’s all instinct, whereas the virus needs intelligence. Seems like a backhanded compliment to me.

At a space hospital, we are introduced to K-9 the robot dog and the Doctor and Leela are cloned, and their clones shrink down Fantastic Voyage style to take care of the prawn monster inside the original Doctor. But the prawn uses the same size-changing technology to embiggen itself and now the invisible enemy is very very visible. And makes bad decisions. The professor is a fun character. The story starts out strong but kind of fizzles out. Clever use of some cool-looking visors to hide infection and the Doctor’s ridiculously long scarf is used as a tether in this episode.

Next up: Image of the Fendahl

Overdue Who Review: The Power or the Daleks

“When I say ‘run,’ run like a rabbit…”

4th season; Season 1966; six 1/2 hour episodes.

Partway through the season, the Doctor regenerates for the very first time, and we enter the Patrick Troughton era. This is an exemplary Who episode, even though the original films were lost and this story was reconstructed in 2016 using the original audio and animation (re-finessed in 2020, which is actually the year that the story is set).

An Earth colony on the planet Vulcan is terrorized by Daleks after an overzealous scientist reanimates them from an inert space capsule. The scientist sounds like a muppet performed by Terry Jones. The new Doctor seems a bit queer (not gay but acting erratically) and emotionally distant from his companions, and the story gets intensely dark by episode 6.

The animation is quite limited, you can hear a lot of action happening in the audio, especially during the climax, but it is not reflected in the animation. This limitation of the human characters is actually offset by doing away with the limits of the daleks on a practical set. Instead of having the few dalek models moving about with cardboard cutout of a dalek crowd behind them, it’s like these guys were designed to be made into 3-D models and replicated in this environment. So that at least works better than the original!

One of my favourite episodes!

Overdue Who Review: Horror At Fang Rock

Season 15, 1977

In which I learned about the Schermuly pistol rocket apparatus (see below).

Horror At Fang Rock is probably the Who episode I’ve seen the most times, and therefor have the most memories of, with the possible exception of “Unearthly Child.” It’s also one of the most suited to a Call of Cthulhu RPG adventure – a few people in a lighthouse are victimized by an alien blob that is trying to call its fleet of spaceships to decimate the planet.

Interesting and well portrayed cast of characters, but don’t get too attached to anyone. e. Includes the folksy old-timer who believes in sea monsters, who, to the actors credit, becomes the monster, after a fashion. Castaways include sleazy stock broker reminiscent of Carter Burke in Aliens, and the high-strung secretary who provides more than enough screaming and fainting spells until her inevitable demise.

Leela does some fine companioning in this episode, unlike previous eps her ideas and actions are not pooh-poohed by the Doctor and all the men. She’s in control and in her element, fighting monsters. This is also the episode where her eyes change colour, because actor Louise Jameson was tired of wearing brown contact lenses for the character, so they wrote a bit into the script where she was blinded, but when she recovered her eyes became blue. Why they would care what colour her eyes were when the character was introduced is beyond me.

All in all a fun, spooky bottle episode that could serve as a great introduction to Doctor Who for folks who like period horror.

Next up: The Invisible Enemy

Omega Doom (1996) Post Apocalyptic Movie Review

After a robot war AND nuclear apocalypse, only various models of robots are left, and they are very concerned about a rumored return of humans who plan to take back the world with a rumored stockpile of guns. Rutger Hauer, a mysterious stranger introduced as the eponymous character in the opening credits, rolls into town with a mission. The mission is revealed at the end but, like the rest of this movie, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The robots in the town consist of a gang of ‘droids’ – who look like people but make mechanical servo noises when they walk or turn their heads – and a gang of ‘roms’ who look like humans, specifically rejects from the Matrix (three years before the Matrix, mind you). And also a bartender and bodiless head, who all look like humans. Basically everyone’s a replicant but with circuitry and machinery under their skin. They breathe, drink, and presumably poop.

Of course Omega Doom pits the factions against one another and wins a series of energy knife/boomerang duels. One of them wounds a robot so badly we can see the chromagreen fabric that never ended up having special effects added. Overall, pretty dreadful writing, pacing, and the actings not so hot either.

Tropes: Old West style duels but with throwing knives not guns; pitting gangs against eachother; fisheye lens used for wide shots; flashbacks; nuclear winter; literature quote before the action starts

Toren’s rating: 4/10

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Overdue Who Review: Talons of Weng-Chiang

Final episode of Season 14, 1977

So I’ve never actually seen Phantom of the Opera but I expect if you threw in a dash of Jack the Ripper, ‘Oriental’ racism, and an enemy from another time this would fit the bill.

This is a six-part serial that could have been compressed to 4. Briefly, real British actor John Bennet puts on yellowface to portray evil “Chinee” (to quote the local copper) actor Li H’san Chang, a hypnotist with an animated ventriloquist dummy (that we later learn is part pig). They both serve a Chinese god Weng-Chiang who of course isn’t actually a Chinese god but a despot from the future. The Doctor refers to him as the Butcher of Brisbane so I guess he’s a (white) Australian?

Anyway this is a series of Leela having good ideas and actions that either end with her inconceivably failing to stab someone in the back after successfully sneaking up on them, or simply being told by men to not get involved because it’s too dangerous for a woman (even the Doctor, who knows she’s a capable warrior).

There are several actual Asian actors, though they all play opium-addicted thugs. Racism aside, the intrigue and characters are mostly enjoyable, although the time despot chews almost as much scenery as Jeremy Irons in the Dungeons and Dragons movie.

The writing includes lines like “In my country we have saying: Man who goes too quickly may step in bear trap” and “On my oath, you wouldn’t want that served with onions. Never seen anything like it in all my puff. Oh, make an ‘orse sick, that would.”

Next up: The Horror At Fang Rock