Related Posts with Thumbnails

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983) review


Robert Iannucci (Alien), Alicia Moro (Trash), Luciano Pigozzi (Papillon [as Alan Collins]), Eduardo Fajardo (Senator), Fernando Bilbao (Crazy Bull), Beryl Cunningham (Shadow), Luca Venantini (Tommy), Venantino Venatini (John)

Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo (as Jules Harrison)

The Short Version: It's the year 3000 after a nuclear holocaust and somehow everyone is still driving 1970s model cars and have one word names like Alien and Trash. Sacrificing common sense for an environmental message, water is scarce while no one seems to run out of gas out in the desert. Cartoonish and run-of-the-mill, this Italian-Spanish ROAD WARRIOR (1981) clone does feature some great stunts and explosions. Unfortunately, when there's no car chases onscreen, Carnimeo's movie stays in the slow lane going about 35mph.

A nuclear holocaust has left the remnants of humanity struggling to survive in a desert wasteland. Water is more precious than oil and a vicious gang called The Exterminators is out to get it all. A lone man named Alien, his ex-lover, a boy with a bionic arm, and a former astronaut seek out a secret location where plentiful water is held.

After MAD MAX (1979) became a huge hit, the sequel, THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981), emerged a couple years later and was an even bigger success. This meant a flood of copycat flicks--predominantly from foreign territories. Italy being the main movie machine churning out clones of popular productions, THE EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 was one of the near two dozen results. 

You will likely never find Italy's lineage of genre filmmakers compared with the Euro art house crowd (the auteurs; the mise en tedium); but unlike those revered artisans of pretentiousness, guys like Sergio Martino, Antonio Margheriti, and Italo western specialist Giuliano Carnimeo could be counted on to deliver entertainment in a variety of genres.

Carnimeo is best known (in America, anyway) for his westerns; and it's those that make up the bulk of his resume. He did dabble in Giallo and comedies--and was attached to a SciFi movie that was never completed. Carnimeo's appreciation for comedy is evident in many of his works. His initial westerns were serious in tone, but this changed after the THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1970) became a global phenomenon. There were hints of humor in his early westerns and his gadget-driven SARTANA entries; but he really cut loose into full-blown Looney Tunes mode in the early 1970s with a slew of slapstick westerns like HIS NAME WAS HOLY GHOST (1972), and THE CRAZY BUNCH (1974) to name two.

Flash forward a decade, and his post-apocalyptic movie casually resembles a western. The formula for THE ROAD WARRIOR is the reason for its existence, but adds some ingredients in a mostly futile attempt to set itself apart. Even the Italian title is similar--translating to 'The Exterminator of the Streets'. Akin to Carnimeo's past work, there's humor in this wasteland--some of it intentional, and most of it the unintended variety; the dubbing shares culpability with such exchanges as "You've got the feeling of a fossil!" and "Die, you unspeakable varmint!".

In comparison, EXTERMINATORS never gets in the same lane as George Miller's influential actioner; the low budget keeps it under the speed limit for 90 minutes. However, it is ambitious, and it's clear during the first major action sequence that the crew were trying awfully hard to match the stunts of their inspiration. Unfortunately, the movie runs out of gas right after this impressive sequence and never recovers that level of vigor. For example, the demolition derby finale lacks the bombast and creativity of this first action scene. 

Instead of gas, water is the priceless commodity. This being a European production, there's an environmental message hovering over Dardano Sachetti and Elisa Briganti's silly script. It works best when there's action onscreen yet hits a dead end when it attempts exposition. The entire middle portion is a wasteland of unavailing dialog that acts as nothing more than a bridge between the action. 

Elsewhere, the hero is as far away from Max Rockatansky as you can get. This might of seemed like a good idea on paper to write a less-than-heroic protagonist, but unfortunately, this is to the film's detriment.

Robert Iannucci's nihilistic good guy is surprisingly weak. For long stretches he's written as heroic and in others he's a self-serving bastard. Altogether, he is constantly duped by the various characters. He has a really cool car, though. It may look like a clunker but it has a number of gadgets like protective metallic plates, rockets, and tires that inflate themselves when flat. Among his personal arsenal, Alien uses a lethal Bolas (curiously, we only see it once); and a late appearance by a laser gun. Iannucci looks good in the role, he's just not the typical Action Hero type. Alien is less about saving the day than stealing it.

Luca Venantini is the boy with the bionic arm. A civilized version of THE ROAD WARRIOR's Feral Kid, he's the only character the script is somewhat successful in presenting. The son of prolific actor Venantino Venantini, the father has a role here too. You think he's going to be a major player in the movie only to meet an unexpected fate just prior to the impressive chase sequence early on.

Additionally, Italian genre fans will recognize Eduardo Fajardo--the villain in numerous westerns--here playing the passive patriarch of the remains of the human race now living in caverns. Luciano Pigozzi as Papillon, is another familiar face from westerns and horror pictures--here disguised underneath a lot of facial hair essaying the role of the grizzled elder who remembers a much kinder Earth... before the holocaust of Italian ROAD WARRIOR rip-offs.

Crazy Bull is the main villain played by Spanish actor Fernando Bilbao. He's virtually identical to the memorable Wez in THE ROAD WARRIOR (as played by Vernon Wells). Bilbao had worked with Carnimeo before in some of his westerns and was an unforgettable presence as the axe-wielding giant in THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (1973). The most memorable dubbed lines are his, including "CHARGE! Once more into the breach, you mother-grabbers! Let's purloin that water!" Mother-grabber is never defined, but Crazy Bull loves saying it.

Whereas Miller's movie had an oil refinery under siege by the villains, it's some remote factory with plentiful water and a solar panel garden that's the centerpiece in EXTERMINATORS. This is one of the major deviations from ROAD WARRIOR--especially since Crazy Bull's gang (the dubbing calls them The Exterminators) never find the place.

How bizarre that this H2O-asis everybody is looking for is lorded over by a bunch of mutants armed with flame-throwers! The presence of irradiated humans guarding likely contaminated water doesn't seem to change our heroes' minds to, as Crazy Bull would say, "purloin that water!" This absurdity aside, the place is loaded with booby-traps; so we get a satisfying action precursor to the less than stellar finale that answers why you should never bring a knife to a gunfight.

After a final return to the water hole proves to have been a colossal waste of time, the last scene makes amends with some divine intervention that brings rain (apparently the first time in decades); and yet the first thing Trash does is wipe mud all over her face. This pretty much sums up THE EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000.

In the end, Giuliano Carnimeo's (he died September 10th, 2016) post nuclear holocaust hokum does little to stand out among the celluloid ashes of ROAD WARRIOR clones. Aside from its attention-grabbing title, it's not quite as energized as Castellari's entries in this genre; yet Carnimeo strives to entertain with his. With no nudity, cartoonish violence, and some modest gore, it's relatively safe--if unremarkable--exploitation fare.

This review is representative of the Shout! Factory bluray. Specs and Extras: 1080p HD 1.85:1 widecreen; audio commentary with star Robert Iannucci; interview with Robert Iannucci; TV spots; running time: 01:30:24

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails


copyright 2013. All text is the property of and should not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without permission from the author. All images, unless otherwise noted, are the property of their respective copyright owners.