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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cinema Scorned: In the Year 2889 (1967) review


IN THE YEAR 2889 1967

Neil Fletcher (John Ramsey), Paul Petersen (Steve Morrow), Charla Doherty (Joanna Ramsey), Quinn O'Hara (Jada), Hugh Feagin (Mickey), Billy Thurman (Tim), Max Anderson (Granger)

Directed by Larry Buchanan

The Short Version: If you've seen other Larry Buchanan blotch stains like THE EYE CREATURES (1965) and ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), than you already know what you're getting here. Like those two above mentioned wastes of time, IN THE YEAR 2889 is equally worthless, and a remake of an earlier AIP film, THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED (1955). It makes the worst Italian Post-Apocalyptic movie look like GANDHI (1982) by comparison. Either watch the original Corman picture, or avert this disaster altogether by simply not hitting the play button on your DVD player.

After a nuclear holocaust devastates the planet, a group of survivors converge on a stately, and supposedly isolated Texas mansion. As the varied ensemble try to get along with one another, cannibalistic mutants stalk the grounds surrounding the house.

Throughout cinema history there are a number of filmmakers who, whether the pictures were good or bad, were able to formulate a signature style that, if you hadn't seen the opening credits, you'd still be able to recognize whose work it was. The indefatigable Larry Buchanan is one such director. In his case, this isn't an exaltation of a brilliant string of movies, or even moderately interesting ones. One of trash cinemas most prominent Schlock Masters, Buchanan seemed intentionally hellbent on crafting crap of the highest order. 

He did movies of various genres, but his specialty were science fiction and horror pictures. His best known works include a handful of AIP-TV remakes of movies American International had produced in the 1950s. These included THE EYE CREATURES (a horrible 1965 remake of INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN), ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (a horrible 1966 remake of IT CONQUERED THE WORLD), CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION (a horrible 1967 remake of THE SHE CREATURE), and the film reviewed here, IN THE YEAR 2889 (a horrible 1967 remake of THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED).

Some of the impetuous Buchanan's non-remake, non-wonders were the equally atrocious CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE (1966), the fecal incontinence of MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967), and the unendurable IT'S ALIVE! (1969) -- the latter of which not to be confused with the vastly superior 1974 Larry Cohen film entitled IT'S ALIVE.

A staple of the directors movies were these dime store Halloween masks and costumes that, in some cases, were recycled more than once. The director (or Buchanan's frequent effects man Jack Bennett) was seemingly fond of ping pong balls, as some of his movie monsters utilized those recreational accouterments as their source of vision. Another staple of Buchanan's is an oppressive sense of boredom. If you have trouble sleeping, or need a push to do things around your house, just pop in a Larry Buchanan movie and you're cured.

There's virtually nothing good you can say about IN THE YEAR 2889, nor anything that wouldn't apply to any other Buchanan non-spectacle. The most exciting thing about the movie are the gaggle of stock atomic explosions seen during the opening credits. However, every time I type the films title, I hum a bar or two of Zager & Evans' classic 1969 end of the world tune, 'In the Year 2525'. Performances are mediocre to skunk-worthy. Special effects are non-existent -- save for a monster mask and some fried egg glued to one guys face. In fact, if it weren't for the infrequent shots of a monster skulking around peering through bushes, you'd never know this was supposed to be a SciFi flick -- it's more of a soap opera. And for a story set after a nuclear war, radiation apparently isn't much of a problem. Folks wander aimlessly (and endlessly) outside, or enjoy spending days and nights in the swimming pool.

That MGM felt this crap caliber movie was worthy of being remastered in High Definition is dizzyingly questionable when there's dozens of vastly worthier AIP pictures collecting dust. Those who find his brand of cinema entertaining may well rest easy in the hope that the remainder of his resume will receive the same restorative efforts this one has.

Believe it or not, Larry Buchanan's movies do have fans. It's a safe bet it's a tiny cult of followers, but fans just the same. His output is right up there with the likes of Andy Milligan and Al Adamson. The latter at least made amusingly awful movies. Unless you're a fan of 60s fashions, you like watching people interminably walk and stumble around in the dark, or have to see every torturously tedious crap movie ever made (or are a raging masochist), there's absolutely nothing to recommend here.

This review is representative of an MGM HD airing.

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