Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hunting Grounds

Hunting Grounds
2008, Canada
dir. Eric Bilodeau
cast: Patrice Le Blanc, Patrick Baby, Marie-Eve Lemire

After an ecological collapse, people are confined to sealed cities to allow nature to heal. Fed up of virtual reality hunts, a group of hunters arrange an illegal expedition out of the city to hunt for real in the wilderness. Unfortunately for them, a military experiment into a regeneration serum has caused a zombie outbreak in the woods, but they may find a worse danger among their ranks.

While it had an interesting set up, it's actually pretty disappointing that once the characters leave the automated VR heavy city, they just run into zombies. It could have been much more interesting if they had been faced with natures revenge. Hell, even these days some backwoods cannibals would feel less hackneyed than zombies. The tone is a bit odd, too- initially it feels quite serious but when the zombies appear, there's a lot of blatant stabs at comedy, such as the zombie in the exo-skeleton who is unkillable as he's wearing a high-tech helmet so can't be shot in the head. It's nicely filmed and makes the best of the low budget, even if it 's a bit CGI heavy (though the green screen actually work well for the virtual reality scenes). Not bad but could have been better with a bit more imagination in the storyline.

Survival 1990

Survival 1990 (aka Survival Earth)
1985, Canada
dir. Peter McCubin
cast: Nancy Cser, Jeff Holec, Craig Willams

Nuclear accidents and economic collapse have caused the end of the world as we know it. A young couple cling on, living as hunter-gatherers in the wilderness, fending off attacks from marauders. They encounter a young survivalist, and after initial hostilities, they become friends.

A truly awful effort, it looks like it's been filmed on a camcorder down the local park. Very little happens, other than sitting round the camp fire, discussing how they survived the holocaust, though these poorly scripted and badly acted chats become weirdly compelling after a while. Maybe it's just in comparison to the shoddy action scenes. There are a number of head scratching plot elements such as the woman being a mutant (and characters being able to tell this) but looking completely normal (though she has no memory, apparently) and the man explaining how he never knew his geneticist father and then his clone brother turning up but being killed off before any resolution is provided. Not the best use of 90 minutes of your life.

The Survivalist

The Survivalist (aka Jack Tillman, Survivalist)
1987, USA
dir. Sig Shore
cast: Steve Railsback, Marjoe Gortner, Cliff De Young

A mysterious nuclear explosion in Siberia brings the superpowers to the verge of nuclear war. Panic sweeps America and law and order collapses. The Constitution is suspended, martial law is declared and the National Guard mobilised. Jack Tillman is a construction contractor, Vietnam vet and survivalist. After a run in with the National Guard at his local bank, the Guard, headed up by local no good biker and Tillman's long time rival Lt Youngman (Gortner with a grey mullet) decide he must be made an example of. I say run in, he actually smashes the front of the bank in with a JCB to get a safety deposit box where he's got gold to barter with or something. As Tillman travels across country to retrieve his son, he is pursued by the National Guard biker gang.
Perhaps surprisingly, there seems to be very few films aimed at the survivalist demographic. This is one of them, playing out like your average militia fantasy- society breaking down without a bomb being dropped, the usual evil biker gang actually being part of the government (you do wonder how they get by with long hair and fruity make up in the military, perhaps this was a comment on the degeneracy of the secular liberal state?) and the good, honest small business man becoming the oppressed. It paints possibly one of the most depressing pictures of humanity in any post-apocalypse film, everyone turns into a mindless looter (with even the local hospital being attacked by drug hungry junkies), his doctor friend is portrayed as crazy for wanting to return to town to help people and is murdered for his pick up truck and it's every man for himself in a way that makes Panic In The Year Zero look like a piece of bleeding heart liberal propaganda. That would be one thing if it was a half way entertaining film, but it's just a sub-par action movie with some ropey acting and undistinguished action sequences, there's not even much in the way of unintentional humour to commend it.
NB: this is nothing to do with the Survivalist books by Jerry Ahern,which was a popular post-apocalypse men's adventure series in the 1980s.


1987, France
dir. Pierre-William Glenn
cast: Karen Allen, Jurgen Prochnow, Johnny Hallyday

A genetically engineered child genius creates a race across a post-apocalyptic Europe involving computer controlled trucks. His driver is captured by a local militia and tortured to death, so a convict and a young slave girl manage to hijack the truck and continue the race, evading the militia and a psychopath driving another truck.

Bit of an oddity this one. On one hand, the involvement of kids, the lack of explicit violence and son on, gives it the tone of a kids film, but yet it has some dark undercurrents. Jurgen Prochnow steals the show with a triple shift as a clones of the same person- a doctor, a transgender scientist and the psycho with a lorryload of GM kids. Plenty of chase sequences should keep action fans happy, with seemingly the main reason for picking racing trucks is to show endless sequences of them smashing through rickety buildings. Most notable for the jive-talking onboard computer with a human mouth,which is way more disturbing than was probably intended.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Death Racers

Death Racers
2008, USA
dir. Roy Knyrim
cast: Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, Scott Levy

In 2033, following civil unrest, one million US citizens are imprisoned in a sealed off city that functions as a prison for the whole country, known as the Red Zone. When The Reaper, the ruler of the Red Zone, gets his hands on some sarin gas, the local governor arranges a Death Race, to use criminals to kill off the Reaper.

An Asylum mock-buster designed to cash in on the remake of Death Race, while also stealing liberally from Escape From New York, this is pretty hard going. Insane Clown Posse play themselves, and the horror of two grown men in clown make up, condemned to act like backward 14 year olds for the rest of their lives in order to scrape a living soon overshadows the film, especially as it's basically a bunch of people driving round an industrial estate, committing killings in shitty CGI. To make it even more unwatchable, the soundtrack is largely composed of ICP tracks.If I told you the best thing about this film is one of the teams is called Vaginamite, that'll give you an idea how woeful it is. One of the worst films I've ever seen, and there's been some stiff competition for that accolade, I can tell you.

Driving Force

Driving Force
1989, USA/Philippines
dir. Andrew Prowse
cast: Sam Jones, Don Swayze, Catherine Bach

Rival breaker companies clash over the salvage rights to the auto wrecks on the highways of a post-economic collapse future. A decent family man must fend off his dangerous rivals to keep in business, while trying to bring up his daughter.

Utterly tedious effort in which TV movie bullshit family drama wins out over armoured pick up truck mayhem. Not even Don Swayze as the cancer riddled nihilistic villain can save this, despite knocking a caravan with a kid in it over a cliff. Dead End Drive In used the same basic idea as a sub-plot to much better effect.

The Killing Edge

The Killing Edge
1984, UK
dir. Lindsay Shonteff
cast: Bill French, Paul Ashe, Matthew Waterhouse

A business man treks home after a nuclear war to find it was spared the effects of the attack but the area is now controlled by the Terminators, a group of rogue soldiers who have killed off most of the survivors and enslaved the rest. Finding his wife and child in a work camp, they are gunned down in front of him, setting him off on the vengeance trail.

A real bottom of the barrel effort here, with woeful acting, a barely there script, whatever locations they could scrape up (no ruins, just woods, fields, an Asda carpark and what looks like an 80s showhome) and poundshop effects. The hero is like Mad Max re-imagined by Alan Partridge, proving you can still be smart but casual after the apocalypse. The scenes where he talks to a teddy are presumably there to show how much he grieves for his son but just provide a rich seam of unintentional comedy, especially when he tucks it into his poncho when he runs into battle at the end of the film. And the ending- presumably, it was meant to be a Sam Peckinpah style bloodbath, but ends up looking rubbish. I could go on, but picking holes in this film is like shooting fish in a barrel of radioactive waste.