Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Slipstream (1989)

“By the end of the century” climate change has destroyed most of civilization and created a “river of wind” call the slipstream. A small time, fast-talking, womanizing crook (Bill Paxton) absconds with the quarry (the well dressed “Byron”) of two bounty hunters (Mark Hamill and Kitty Aldridge). An airplane chase takes the characters to a sect of wind-worshippers who crucify Byron on a kite in a windstorm, until the enemies call a truce to rescue him. We learn Byron is more than he appears. A lady appears and leads the fugitives to her home – a hidden museum – which has the residents worried for their security. Rightly so, because the bounty hunters show up and all hell breaks loose.

Sloppy, confusing outing by Star Wars producer and Tron director. The audience is just as lost as the characters, although they….might…be looking for balloons? The actors do what they can with trite lines that they shoot at eachother. Ben Kingsley and F Murray Abraham are astonishingly confined to very small roles in dark corners where the camera struggles to make them out. The aircraft are barely kept aloft by Elmer “Ghostbusters” Bernstein score as they languidly glide after each other. All in all a waste of talent and resources that could have made something good.

Tropes: opening narration explains apocalypse; asshole who is shitty to woman gets the woman; bounty hunters; poisoned hero requires antidote before critical time passes; hidden enclave of rich aristocrats; robot discovers love; plane crashes don’t hurt anyone.

Toren’s rating: 4/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

225 A.B. (after the bomb) a gang of dimwits in leather garb, headbands and spiked gloves roams into a ghost town and investigate a… hotel? bar? where they find a greenhouse, a source of clean water and food, as well as an inscrutable computer. Each howling dumdum is killed in turn by hordes of insatiable “mutant” rats despite being able to walk away at any time.

Rats were absolutely harmed in the making of this film, including set on fire. Beyond that, the motivations and statements of the characters are mercurial and conflicting, and the acting is generally gawdawful. Is it so bad it’s good? I wouldn’t go that far, but one saving grace is the corpse that explodes with rats.

Watch out for the twist ending!

Tropes: opening narration and text crawl; sudden but inevitable betrayal; recording explains everything; woman screams and screams; mystic

Toren’s rating: 3/10

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As of publication you can watch Rats: Night of Terror on Tubi.

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: In the Year 2889 (1969)

Nuclear war has broken out and an old survivalist and his daughter are safe in a valley protected by a warm lake and lead mountains. Various visitors show up and are rebuffed by the man and welcomed by the girl. Unsteady relationships break down quickly while a mutant from outside the valley stalks the home.

Not set in the year 2889. This is a bad TV movie remake of the bad black & white Roger Corman movie The Day the World Ended. The actors did okay but weren’t helped by the terrible editing and blocking, where the camera is on a character’s backside while they give exposition.

Tropes: pretty girls are rivals; water is the monster’s vulnerability; victim of radiation becomes monstrous and craves raw flesh; wino has secret stash of hooch; a man dictates that women should have babies to repopulate species

Toren’s Rating: 2.33/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Idaho Transfer (1973)

A research facility discovers time travel but can only safely send young people. It is discovered in the future an ecological catastrophe has cast civilization into ruin so a group of teens are sent to start it anew. When it is revealed the transference procedure renders them sterile, Karen, having already suffered the traumatic loss of her sister in an accident, abandons the group and eventually manages to return to the present, inexpertly adjust the machine, and transfer back to an even scarier future.

A story and concept not without it’s merits, but the casting of street kids with no acting chops limits the potential here. I admired some of the scenes, however clumsily shot, and the fact that the heroine’s cosmetic upkeep degraded as she travelled the wastes. I waited for a shot of bagged corpses that never came, but was described.

Tropes: future humans have devolved; military goons spoil a science project; humans are biofuel; dead child’s toy; time travel can also move you through space;

Toren’s rating: 5/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Solarbabies (1986)

In the parched desert of the post-apocalypse, with water highly controlled, children are indoctrinated into ‘the system’ by the authoritarian Eco-Protectorate. A young child, the mascot of the ‘skate ball’ team Solarbabies, uncovers an magical alien sphere which cures his deafness, and does vague magical things like showing the kids visions of a water-filled future. The evil E.P. eventually acquires the orb through their goons the E-Police, but the Solarbabies rescue it and release the water back into the world.

They should have called this Waterlessworld! It’s a messy, pointless mash-up of E.T., Maze Runner and Rollerball, but I was impressed with the production value and set pieces, especially Tiretown. Also kind of fun to see a youngish Charles Durning (Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother Where Art Thou) and the wicked Sarah Douglas (Ursa from Superman II) being wicked in oversize shoulderpads.

Tropes: secret green sanctuary, future slang lingo, stoic dude has a pet bird, smashing control panel causes facility to self destruct, robot goes crazy, dobermans, futuristic sport is hybrid of current sports.

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: 2020 Texas Gladiators (1984)

In post-apocalyptic Texas, green-faced baddies (possibly mutants?) ravage a group of churchies, killing and raping. A group of Rangers (*not* gladiators) take their sweet time in killing the baddies, and only manage to save one survivor, the beautiful platinum-blonde-haird Maida. The Ranger named Catch Dog sexually assaults her, but the other Rangers find and exile him for breaking their zero tolerance policy. Years later, Maida and the bearded Ranger hook up and have a daughter, living and working in a refinery of some kind. Catch Dog has joined a group of fascistic Nazi-men in brown uniforms and they assault the refinery, killing and violating both women and boys. Bearded dad is forced to watch Maida violated, and then Maida is widowed and sold as a slave. The other rangers win her back in a biker/Western bar in a game of Russian roulette, and eventually conscript a group of white guys in redface, going up against the nazis superior technology with bows and arrows.

After the gratuitous sexual assault and racism, the worst offender is the editing. I regret watching this.

Tropes: Cocking weapons for no reason; bikers drive around enemies rather than fight them; shooting people who are already dead; indigenous people help white folk against their own interests; bringing out effective weapon only after sending waves of soldiers die; battle garb prominently displays breasts

Toren’s Rating: 2/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Appleseed Alpha (2014)

After WWIII in the ruins of New York, our two heroes Deunan and cyborg Briareos are forced to work for a cyborg gangster in order to pay off a debt. They try to abandon the gangster and find the legendary city of Olympus. They rescue a cyborg Olson and a young girl who are from Olympus and being hunted by two *more* bad cyborgs, who believe the girl is the key to activating a doomsday weapon.

I’m not sure much of the plot or setting makes sense (do people need food?) but the action pieces are well done and the voice acting is fun in places if not exemplary. It’s got the usual shallow and cliché characterizations you find in most anime. I haven’t seen the original anime film, but apparently this one is less a sequel and more a re-envisioning.

Tropes: Everywhere is armored except boobs; Gearhead/scientist is ‘a bit off’; character must sacrifice self to save the group; enemies unite against common foe;

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Captive Women AKA 1000 Years In The Future

1000 years after a nuclear event, three factions fight for survival in the ruins of New York City. The Norms live a life of relative comfort underground, but are regularly raided by the Mutates, whose curse of deformity compels them to kidnap Norm women with whom to breed. Both groups are enemies of murderous raiders, the Upriver Men. It is this last group who, with the help of betrayer Jason, infiltrate a Norm wedding and murder the chief.  Norms Robert (the groom to be) and his buddy Bram escape the Upriver plot but are captured by the Mutates. After a brief power struggle among the Mutates, the leader Riddon works with the escaped Norms to defeat the Upriver Men.

The first movie to show humans struggling to survive a post-nuclear wasteland, but with medieval style garb and sets, plus the pseudo classical language (“there is not a marksman in the land that can place an arrow in the wind and get such game”), it doesn’t seem like a the future. Religious themes are tossed around: the woman-kidnapping Mutates worship God and reference the bible, while the Norms worship the devil (we are told but don’t see). Apart from a short dinner table debate and the movie ending on crucifix, it’s pretty muddy.

Tropes: Prologue is a warning against possible future; women are made up and men are well groomed; kidnapped woman falls in love with captor; multiple women bathing scene; joke’s punchline is whispered in ear

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

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Watch it below:

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Deluge (1933)

As we are introduced to a family man, and, briefly, a comely young swimmer, as earthquakes, storms and floods destroy civilization worldwide. In the aftermath, the swimmer is found and ‘housed’ by a couple of creeps, one of whom murders the other while the girl swims away. She washes up on shore near the hovel of the lonely family man, who accepts his family has died. As they fight off Creep #1 and the rape gang he joined up with, they fall in love. Meanwhile, in nearby ruins, family man’s family lives in a hardscrabble community. The settlement, too, is menaced by the gang, and they organize a posse to eliminate them. After a pitched gunfight and melee between bad guys and good guys, the man is reunited with his wife and children, but can’t give up his new love. The swimmer, heartbroken, makes her own bold choice.

The first 18 minutes of this 106 minute film are the earthquakes and tsunamis that destroy civilization. It’s kind of astonishing how much has changed but also how much has stayed the same with regards to special effects in the past 90 years. You can see the ‘scoring’ lines on the miniature buildings as they topple but the whole sequence manages to sell the disaster fairly convincingly and brutally, I was reminded of Emmerich disaster porn from the early 21st Century. The ‘last stand’ against the rape gang in family man’s tunnel is quite competent (I especially appreciate the attention to ammunition), and the conflict between the two love interests isn’t as catty as you’d expect (but certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test). As a rare film made prior to the Hays Code, Deluge contains suggestive scenes the likes of which you wouldn’t see in Hollywood films until 1968.

Tropes: post apocalyptic women have perfect makeup and hair; sexual assault; biblical interpretation; spunky kid wants to join mob but is turned away; town leader makes inspiring speech about a fresh start

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

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Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

In the spirit of Buck Rogers, a pilot is propelled into the far future and learns everyone he knows is dead. This time it’s because of a cosmic radiation storm (enabled by nuclear weapon testing) which causes a plague of ‘mutation’ in humans. The last bastion of a dying civilization is run by an old man with deaf/mute daughter who can read minds. Most humans are deaf/mute – it’s the first stage of mutation – and also sterile, except the daughter. The boss’ plan is to mate his daughter with the pilot to repopulate the species (not sure that’s how biology works). There’s also three other ‘scapes’ who escaped the plague (who are not in the repopulation program for some reason) who have the ire of the security chief while they set the pilot up with their own plan to undo the apocalypse.

Despite the fact the film is a hodgepodge of established sci-fi tropes, it was moderately interesting. I can imagine the producers saying “if we make most of the characters mute, we can save on dialogue and acting costs!” Many elements (sound effects, architecture) are recognizable from Forbidden Planet, with the addition of spiffy triangular wipes. When the mutants escape their confinement the scene is surprisingly visceral (for a completely bloodless sequence). The whole affair would be shorter if they had cut out all the unnecessary walking and driving scenes.

Tropes: ladies are catty to each other; future women wear skirts and high heels; exposition with a blackboard; double & triple crossing, sexy lady goes for a swim.

Toren’s rating: 5/10

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