Can you say “vanity project?”
Steve Barkett wrote, directed, produced and starred in two low budget movies, of which this was his first.
More than anything else, it resembles The Planet of the Apes, with perhaps a touch of The Omega Man and a few other equally 1970s films thrown in.
And perhaps the 1970s is an apt comparison, as he actually made this film in 1978, even if he didn’t release it in any hurry.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is that he just doesn’t look much like what we think of as an action hero. Now, if you look at some of those films from the Seventies, whether SF or mainstream, their heroes look far more average than the bulked up monstrosities who starred in these things in the Eighties, the Schwarzeneggers, the Stalones and the Lundgrens. Which is quite a change from Walter Mathau, Michael Moriarty, Gene Hackman and, yes, even Charlton Heston. Heck, if it weren’t for that shaved head, Yul Bryner wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, either.
The story is basic: two astronauts crash land and find that civilization is gone. The Apocalypse happened while they were gone and no one told them. The cities are empty, there are hordes of hungry mutants wandering around, and the few normal people are at the mercy of the evil Cutter (Sid Haig in yet another vicious role) and his gang. So naturally, there’s murder, violence, lots of blood, major characters die left and right, and there are also two cute little kids who both happen to be Steve’s real life kids.
Forrest J. Ackerman, the patron saint of bad Sci Fi, shows up in a minor role, and Jim Danforth, who animated creatures for films like When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, plays one of the two astronauts. However, he keeps vanishing for long stretches of the film, and is in some other unspecified part of the space ship during the landing (where there seems to be nothing but a chair and darkness). I have a sneaking suspicion he got added later.
Those who love to find glitches will note, during one of the rooftop fight scenes later in the film (complete with a rather ugly bit of revenge) that the building in the background was actually shown in ruins earlier in the film.
On the whole, I didn’t find this one as excruciatingly horrible as some people have: it’s very familiar territory, and does move at a more deliberate 1970s pace, and, yes, it has many of the usual problems one expects of a low budget effort (as you’d expect, some of the gore looks quite silly). However, the sound is reasonably good, the action effective, the acting passable, and the effects are better than you’d expect (which really isn’t as much of a surprise when you remember that he sunk more than a quarter of his budget into post production). It does what it’s trying to do reasonably well, even if it isn’t particularly memorable.
And, no, there are no Ninjas from another dimension. That was in his second film.
Oh, well. I guess you just can’t expect ninjas in every bad SF film…
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