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
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 it turned away; town leader makes inspiring speech about a fresh start
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.
The story starts ‘in media res’ as the traitorous splinter group led by the unscrupulous and power hungry Colonel Clay tries to outgun the democratic Alpha League. Sequence after sequence of explosion-laden gun fights are interrupted by a semi coherent narrative of a willful captive woman, and her husband trying to infiltrate her captors gang to free her. Meanwhile the spin-kicking mad max analogue has a montage training a peaceful mountain tribe to defend their mine of gunpowder from the bad guys.
Not much inspired content here. Overacting and video game level fight scenes that drag the film on much longer than need be. Old standby tropes are just as recycled as much of the battle footage is recycled from previous Santiago films.
Black leather vest with no shirt; spiky cars; sexual assault: sports gear armor; wasting bullets on downed victims; Thunder Dome like duel; Little people; guy laughs evilly after every line; man vs snake bar contest
A clearly older than teenage caveman is curious about what is across the river in the forbidden zone and returns with tales of dinosaurs and bountiful game. For breaking the ancient unquestioned law of the tribe is sentenced to be ignored by his tribe, but it doesn’t stick and he goes back into the forbidden zone to find the secrets of the God that kills with a touch, invoking the wrath of the law keeping authority figure
It’s weird to see a young Robert Vaughn. Reuses old footage of fighting reptiles with fins glued to them to look like dinosaurs. Only the older “wise men” have any hint of facial hair. As schlocky as the effects and dialogue is the film has heart and is blessedly short.
Toren’s rating: 4/10
TROPES: rites of manhood; perfect groomed hair in primitive jungle; twist ending: quicksand; naked woman bathing in pond; narration at end explains movie
Virus AKA Fukkatsu no hi AKA Day of Resurrection. Both an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic film, a genetically engineered virus is unleashed accidentally on the world. The 855 men and 8 women in Antarctica are spared the deadly human extinction thanks to the cold. An isolated nuclear submarine and crew join and they begin repopulating the species. Years later the automated nuclear response system in Washington is in danger of being triggered by an earthquake predicted by one of the scientists, so a suicide mission is begun to dismantle it.
A large and international cast, but a box office failure in the Japan homeland. The 93 minute USA TV cut removed much of the Japanese characters’ plotline, which is a shame but at the same time the Japanese segments were the most melodramatic. In this film, mobs riot, demanding an effective vaccine, rather than gathering to protest lockdowns like in the real world pandemic. The movie is quite dark from beginning to end.
Tropes: Dead pets foreshadow human fate; manly men fighting eachother to see who will sacrifice himself; insane trigger-happy military general; love interest was pregnant when she died; food and fuel scarcity is not acknowledged
Toren’s Rating: 7/10
More about the film: https://bandsaboutmovies.com/2021/04/10/virus-1980/
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
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
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