Let's Do Our Best to Survive in the North American Wasteland : Roadwar 2000

Put your Let's Plays in here.
A plot? How unexpected.

User avatar
Hell Comes to Frogtown

"Used to take everything seriously...then they blew it up."

Image

Synopsis

The setup here is that a nuclear war that destroyed the world (introduced with the ironic phrase "a difference of opinion") which among other things caused a mutant race of frog people to be created. In a brief pre-credit sequence, we learn that the frog-men are not allowed to carry weapons, but have managed to get some guns anyway, as one of them kills a human.

We then meet Sam Hell (actual last name Hellman), a wanted criminal who is about to face some rough justice from the father of one of the women he sexually assaulted. However, two women from 'Medtech' show up and take him into custody. They've discovered that he is a virile male, one of the few remaining in the world. Instead of going to prison, he is forced into service for Medtech. It is a military organization (run by women, it seems) that is charged with ensuring the continuance of the human race; fertility is highly prized and getting pregnant is seen as a patriotic duty.

To keep Sam from running, a chastity belt of sorts is placed on him to monitor him, and control of it is given to Spangle, the officer who is now in charge of Sam. Their mission is to rescue a group of fertile women who have been captured by a frog commander named Toty in Frogtown, a place few humans apparently go to voluntarily. Sam's job will be to impregnate the women once they are rescued. They leave together with one other soldier, Corporal Centinella, who drives the car and crews its machine gun.

Along the way they encounter a woman running through the desert in the middle of the night. She doesn't speak, but when Spangle discovers through a scan that she's not sterile, she induces ovulation in the woman and orders Sam to impregnate her. Sam initially balks at the idea, so an exasperated Spangle attempts to inspire him using her "training in seduction techniques". When Sam eventually "does his part" and the woman is safely a mother, she's released and told she's now a "national hero".

As they get close to Frogtown, Spangle has Sam put a chain on her so she can show up as his prisoner and not be taken by anyone else in the city, since his belt will self-destruct if he is separated too far from her. Centinella stays back and the two go into the city. They enter a bar where most of the patrons are frog people. Inside, Sam runs into an old (human) friend of his, Looney Tunes (real name: Lonnie O'Toole) who says he has discovered a uranium deposit to mine. The frog dancer at the bar also gives them the password indicating that she is their inside contact with Toty.

Sam and Spangle find out from one of the frog-men that it was 'Bull' who had captured the women for Toty, an act which earned Bull a promotion. There is then an attempt to purchase Spangle as a slave from Sam. Sam seems to be avoiding having to go through with it, until Bull himself shows up and forcibly auctions her to himself, since no one is willing to upset him or Toty. Arabella, the frog dancer, rescues Sam and tells him that Spangle has been taken to Toty's harem.

Arabella then throws herself at Sam, but Sam's belt starts to beep since Spangle is being moved and they have to move quickly. Sam finds Spangle just as she's being presented to Toty. Toty also talks to a man named Count Sodom, who tells him another shipment is coming soon. Sam accidentally reveals himself, and ends up getting captured.

Image

Spangle wakes up and finds that the other women who were taken are around her, performing some sort of ritual on her on orders from Commander Toty. She reveals herself and they tell her that she needs to have 'passion' in order to survive the 'Dance of the Three Snakes', to which two of their companions have already been lost. She wants to fight her way out, but is unable to overpower the frog who takes her to see Toty.

Arabella arrives to rescue Sam, but is killed by one of the frog guards, who Sam then dispatches with a hand drill. Although he could now leave (one of the frog guards cut off his chastity device, which did explode afterward), Arabella's sacrifice fills him with resolve to actually do the right thing. At the same time, Looney Tunes is discovered by a frog patrolling the streets and fires off the signal flare that will bring Centinella in.

Spangle is presented to Toty and force to dance for him; if she does not please him she will be killed. She does her best to 'remember her passion'. She is sufficiently seductive, and Toty calls her to him, but she kicks him as soon as she gets close enough. Toty is likely about to have her killed when Sam shows up and kills Toty's bodyguards. Toty leaps away and Sam and Spangle fight their way out (mostly it's Spangle that does the fighting).

Centinella arrives and the hostages are all freed. In the fighting to get out of Frogtown, Looney Tunes is fatally wounded. Toty pursues them in an armored car with a tank gun mounted on it. They lose him up in a rocky hilly area, but are stopped by Count Sodom, who is armed with an RPG aimed at their car.

Count Sodom reveals himself to be the man who had originally captured Sam -- Devlin. He is upset that the government (particularly Medtech) is run by women, and wants to destroy the world again. He's been trading guns to the frog people in exchange for uranium, which he is having processed by rogue scientists in a plot to develop a nuclear bomb. He pulls out a gun and is about to shoot Sam when one of the girls loosens a sword on Sam's back and he throws it straight at Sodom. Sam retrieves Sodom's gun; Sodom shows himself to still be alive so Sam is forced to shoot him. Sam then takes the RPG launcher.

He heads back to the car and before he arrives hears an explosion. He finds the car wrecked by a shot from Toty, and thinks everyone inside has died. Toty drives up and starts to celebrate his triumph, but Sam appears from behind a bush with the RPG. He tells everyone else besides Toty to run off, and plans to blow both of them up by firing off the RPG. However, it turns out to be a dud. Sam then engages in melee combat with Toty, finally kicking him off the cliff.

It turns out that the women had just been hiding, and they are all safe and sound. Sam and Spangle finally confess their mutual affection, although Spangle reminds Sam that he first has duty to perform, and impregnate the 'fertiles'.

Image

This film seems like a perfect example of 'tongue-in-cheek' because it never quite gets too hammy but never really drops the lighthearted mood. The acting is always cheesy so it doesn't matter if it isn't all that great. That said, a fair amount of the movie is put together well. It is surprisingly well-plotted, even if it is simplistic and intentionally over-the-top. Most of the plot elements work and nothing feels nonsensical even if the world is outlandish. The production design is also quite good, from the sets to the nicely detailed frog-people costumes.

While this is an exploitation movie, it is in some ways undercutting that effort. Even if it's only in a half-serious "nice problem to have" way, Sam does come off as somewhat reluctant to be required to engage in so much sexual activity. There's also a certain alienation that results from Spangle saying that she's 'trained' in seduction; it highlights the fact that anyone displaying their body is just doing it because it's some sort of job requirement, not because they are trying to entertain or enjoying it. We know that it's all a show, and there were times I almost didn't realize just how much skin was being shown on-screen because it kind of just fits with the plot. It is still a film where women's bodies are being shown off and the sexual prowess of the protagonist is constantly hyped, but it does at least some of the work to make it less crass than it could have been.

Image

I don't blame anyone for finding the sexual politics and other aspects of the movie just bizarre and potentially off-putting. It could be extremely difficult to sympathize with a man who, according to the opening sequence, is probably a rapist (even if that detail is somewhat glossed over and he never really acts that way in the film). The frog people are uncomfortably depicted as an oppressed and exploited underclass. While that does seem to be a slight criticism of how the humans have treated them, it's not given much examination, making it feel like another muted voice and potentially a minimization of the real-world analogous problems. There is also the peculiar valorization of pregnancy, even when forcibly administered. However much that seems to fit in with the world as it's designed, it can't help but seem out of place. To be fair, it is slightly better that this is occurring in a female-led society than as a rule imposed by men (and the one man who hates that 'women run too many things' is an irredeemable villain). On the whole, these things are not overly damaging to the film as it is, but could be distracting since they are more serious issues than the movie lets them be.

This film is entertaining in spite of some of those weird bits. They almost give it a bit more charm, since they reveal that there was more thought put into this than just making another cheap post-apocalyptic exploitation movie. I'm not sure it comes off in the end as entirely charming (Roddy Piper as Sam is quite likable, but that's just him) but it at least has character. Even if it is a character with some rough edges, those are presented in a way that allows you to question them (or ignore them if you really don't care), and it's entirely possible to enjoy it for the fun parts.

Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

While most of the movie is about the strange world in which humans and sentient mutated frogs are contending with each other in a blasted wasteland world, there are still some connections that can be found with the relatively mundane fighting world of Roadwar. There is actually a bit of vehicular combat, influenced mostly by the Road Warrior, but these cars are outfitted, in a somewhat realistic touch, with more military-grade hardware. A big front-mounted tank weapon is something that would have been pretty fun to have in Roadwar, though it'd probably alter the way combat works a bit too much to do so.

The other point where this film matches things in the game is that there is some sort of remnant/provisional government with broad powers but not a broad reach. The GUB in the game is as good as a government as we get, but as we'll see very shortly it cannot do much on its own, and has to enlist ordinary citizens, even if they are criminals. Sam is even someone who'd probably be fairly comfortable having a gang to run with, and the tone of this film is reasonably close to the slightly cheesy tone of the game's story as well.

User avatar
Kibayasu wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 6:21 am
A plot? How unexpected.
Just to look at what it's taken to get to this point: You have to build up your gang enough to survive, which is probably something most players will do. Then you have to actually take over multiple cities. It's possible to do that without a lot of fighting if you're willing to travel around and find the unclaimed ones, but of course traveling city to city is not easy either. Then hope that by random chance you get the GUB contact (I believe the password/location is always one city to the next, but you have to look for 'people' in both). Once you finally make it to the GUB's city, you actually have to search again for people until it pops up.

The only guide you get is the vague hints in the journal entries. It's no surprise that a lot of people never got this far. In fairness, the bulk of the game isn't in the plot, it's in the combat and gang-building. The plot doesn't even add much other than a goal and a final end state.

I figured as much. Considering how fast a game seems to be able to decline its seems just as likely that even if you do get the first part you'd lose before getting to the second, and unlike a rogue-lite of today it isn't anywhere near as fast to get back to the same point.

User avatar
Florida Man Teams Up With Army Ranger

With Elpida nudging him, Florida Man stepped forward. "I guess we'll have to accept."

Herrell gave a slight sigh of relief. "Good. Now, let's head into my office where I can brief you."

The guards dropped their guns to the side and moved away from the Gatormobile. Another two guards appeared from the hall behind Herrell; one took a position behind Florida Man, Cecile, and Elpida, and the other stayed at Herrell's side. The group then proceeded down the metal-lined hallway. After passing numerous doors, they stopped at one on the right side labeled "Director's Office".

As Herrell unlocked the door and the guards moved to positions in the hallway opposite the doorway, Florida Man spoke up. "So where are we right now, anyway?"

Herrell responded, "Well, you came in through the Ruston tunnel, right? You're under Tacoma right now. Technically, we're under University Place," he added.

"Oh, I see. So you can use the university to help you with the research?"

"Well, there's no actual university up there," said Herrell, a bit flustered as he opened the door and led them into the room. "Anyway, we need to get down to business. Have a seat. We at the GUB need help, and you've shown that you might be the right people for the job."

Image

When Herrell finished explaining the situation, Florida Man sat for a few seconds lost in thought. Then he said, "So you need... The Gator Goons?"

Herrell replied half in thought, "Yes, that is what you call yourselves, then? Yes. The Gator Goons. It crushes me to think of what has to be done, but right now only the powerful gangs are able to undertake the trip around the country that will be necessary to retrieve our scientists."

Elpida questioned him, "What is being done to restore the government? Do you have any contact with the President?"

Herrell replied, "I can't comment on the President. No one knows his status for sure. But we don't expect that order can be restored until we can stop the pandemic. That's the job of the G.U.B., and we may be the last best hope for the country. If we can't stop the plague, then there's no point in having a government, is there?"

Florida Man said, "I have another question. What can you tell me about the" — and his voice dropped a bit lower — " Invaders?"

"Your guess is as good as mine. Probably Russians, I would bet. Too well-trained to be some terrorist group. Yes, I know you'll probably encounter some of their squads out there, but you've proven yourselves to be tough so far. They said you took Syracuse, right? Anyway, we don't get many reports on the military situation here. The soldiers from Fort Lewis do a good job keeping us safe and secret. They might know more. But now, I must tell you, time is of the essence. We need you out on the road. It's going to be winter soon, and mountain travel's going to get tough. I hope you can make some headway before the snow comes."

Welcome to the 'plot'. The vague hints in the director's journal are the only hint to get you to this point. Now we have an actual goal, however: Find the specialists and return them to the GUB.

Image

With the briefing concluded, the three returned back to the gang later that morning. Florida Man filled in a few of the higher-ranking members on the details. He made the offer that nobody was required to stay; they could leave at any time. But he thought it might be the right thing to do to help out the GUB.

Dr. Kassabian asked, "Where do we start? What's the first stop?"

Florida Man said, "I don't know, but maybe if we gotta look everywhere, why not head on down to Florida? I bet one of these scientists will be somewhere on the way, or down there already."

Cecile spoke up, saying, "Hey, you know, I actually would like to see Vancouver while we're here. It's not far, and then we can head out somewhere else..."

Florida Man pursed his lips, thought for a moment, and then smiled. "Sure thing. And Cecile, why don't you ride in the Gatormobile for now. I think it'd be safer."

Image

The ride up to Vancouver was uneventful; the gang bypassed Seattle entirely and upon reaching the Canadian border, had no trouble crossing. The guards seemed a lot friendlier here, and Florida Man's GUB ID gave them the impression he was actually on an important mission. Vancouver itself was a peaceful city, clean, and there was little sign that the pandemic and subsequent chaos in the US had affected them.

Image

The next day, a dark-haired man in his late thirties approached the gang. At first they wondered if he was a new doctor about to make an offer to join up with them, but when he told them his name, Elpida immediately recognized it as one of the team from the GUB. They promised they'd take him back to the lab immediately.

Image

Just after crossing the border, the gang stopped for a break down at the shoreline. There was a wide rocky beach where they could relax, and the pleasant late-summer sun was warm and relaxing. As Florida Man wandered for a short walk on his own up the beach, a dog padded towards him. It was a light brown in color, with a lean body and a scruffy muzzle. It had an old, half-soaked newspaper in its mouth.

"Well hey there, fella," said Florida Man as the dog continued to approach. It dropped the newspaper in front of him.

"What's this? Must be someone's old news." Florida Man absently scanned the articles. "Army Ranger Simms Mounts Bid For—" The dog barked.

Florida Man smiled. "What, Army Ranger Simms? You know the dude?"

The dog made no noise, and just walked in a short circle, as if searching around for something on the ground.

"Well, hmm, wonder if there's any other news here. 'Man From Florida Claims He's An Alien', well, I hope that's not true." He looked again at the dog. "Now where'd you come from, anyway? Walking around with newspapers?"

The dog stopped looking and barked again.

"You looking for someone? I bet you're hungry. Let me see, I think I got something here." Florida Man pulled a strip of gator jerky from his pocket. He'd made it back at his home, and although he didn't really like to eat it that much, it reminded him of earlier times.

The dog approached him expectantly. Florida Man looked down at the jerky. "Well, I guess I wasn't going to eat this anyway. Here, have some." He tore off a strip and tossed it on the ground. The dog eagerly scooped it up and chewed it for a while, as if uncertain of what it was, but finally swallowed it. Then he barked again.

"You want more?" Florida Man stripped off another small piece and held it out. The dog came close, sniffed it, and then took the scrap in its mouth. "Well, come on, Army Ranger Simms or whoever you are. Wanna come back with us?"

Florida Man turned and walked back down the beach. The dog followed along. When he returned to the group, he told them the dog's name was "Army Ranger Simms" and that's what stuck. Dr. Kassabian told him the dog was a lurcher, and added, "You don't see too many of them in the US. Wonder where he came from?"

Image

Upon arrival in Tacoma, Florida Man took off with Pintero, Cecile, and Army Ranger Simms in the Gatormobile down to the hidden tunnel entrance. When they stopped the car, Florida Man honked the horn to show his presence. The voice asked the question, "What's the first page of the road combat rules?"

Florida Man said smugly, "I got this the answer is Christma- wait, what? Did they change it? What combat rules?"

Cecile responded, "Did they give you some sort of guidelines for being out here? I bet it's some military rules of engagement thingy."

Pintero interjected, "I think I know this. We had a set of rules, covers every... eventuality." He called out to the voice, "It's page 12, open up!"

The tunnel opened and they drove on toward the lab's entrance. "Weird that I know that so well, huh," said Pintero off-handedly.

Director Herrell greeted them again at the end of the tunnel. "Back already? Who's that with you this time -- ah, Pablo!" He turned in amazement to Florida Man. "How did you find Pablo so quickly? He had to be hundreds of miles away by now."

Pintero responded, "Well, I started out in Canada. Worked my way westward. Last few months I've been in Vancouver. It's pretty nice there."

Herrell seemed a bit shocked. "Didn't you hear from any of our agents? That's right near by, you must have known it was time to return."

Pablo Pintero shrugged. "I heard rumors, but nothing definite. Figured if you really needed me back down here someone would come to get me. When this guy crossed the border one of the agents came to notify me right away. Well, who else is back inside?"

Herrell wiped his brow. "You're the first, really. But come on, let's get your data downloaded." To Florida Man he nodded and said, "Thanks. But you've got to keep looking. The rest of them are out there. Try to find a few at a time if you can."

Army Ranger Simms barked, as if agreeing that this was a good idea. Florida Man chuckled and drove back down the tunnel.

Image

With a successful operation for the GUB under their belt, the Gator Goons headed south down the freeway to Oregon. As they approached the Columbia River, scouts were sent out to determine the status of the city of Portland. Upon discovering that it'd been taken over by the Invaders, the Goons just drove on around the city without even bothering to stop.

Image

They made it to Salem, the sometime capital of the state, just a few hours later. Almost immediately, they found themselves under attack. It wasn't clear if it was a small unit of the Invader army or just some local militia that had taken over the capitol building. Fortunately the fighting was over quickly. Afterward, the Gator Goons realized that it was up to them to assume control of the city. Jack pointed out that this city, along with Spokane, would make for good safe stops on the last leg of a trip back to the GUB, in case there was any trouble on the way.

Image

A brief trip to Springfield, a short ways south of Salem, revealed that it, too, was solidly in the hands of the Invaders. The gang returned to Salem, and Florida Man made sure to install a new city government that was authorized to protect the town and keep the state capitol building secure.

Image

There'd been some gradual losses in the minor skirmishes and scouting missions. An appeal was sent out to the locals in Salem to join the gang if they wanted to see more of the country. A lot of people showed up, although hardly any of them displayed any fighting skill to speak of.

Image

Nevertheless, the Goons needed the numbers. A few days later, they were on the highway westward. Florida Man intended to head down to Florida, but figured if he had to look for these other GUB scientists, the gang should make its way through as many cities as possible.

Image

They were somewhere around the small town of Pendleton, in eastern Oregon, when they were attacked by a renegade militia group. Florida Man offered to let Cecile get into the Gatormobile, but took one look at Army Ranger Simms sitting in the front seat and said she'd rather get back in the trailer truck.

Image

It didn't look to be part of any official military unit; just some overdressed backwoods anti-government group that was riding around in two beat-up Plymouth station wagons and an old Ford Escort.

Image

The militia men seemed to be in a drunken rage and veered all over the highway median in a path the Freightliner found hard to avoid.

Image

Some of the men on top of the Ford tried to make their way up onto the Mack truck, but it did not take long to kick them off.

Image

After the first wagon had slammed into the Freightliner, the rest of the gang made sure to give the other vehicles a wide berth. It didn't take long before the Ford Escort was surrounded and all inhabitants shot dead.

Image

That left only the other wagon. With Cecile directing another broadside from the Frieghtliner, it was rapidly driven off and the Gator Goons were victorious.

Florida Man noted that Army Ranger Simms had been moaning during the firefight, and gently patted his head to calm him down.

Image

There was some concern that similar groups might be trying to attack them again, but the group had to at least stop to make what fixes they could on the tires.

Image

Fortunately everyone seemed to steer clear of them. Four days after they'd left Salem, they were in Idaho, at the town of Boise.

Image

Once news that a new gang had arrived spread through the town, a shifty looking man in a black sweatshirt showed up at the Gator Goons' camp. He said he had news, if they really were the 'right people'. Once Florida Man flashed the GUB ID, the agent revealed information he'd gathered on Alec Trotier, one of the scientists. He only knew the general region of the doctor, and as a left he told them he was leaving the mountains before the weather got worse, and suggested that they ought to do the same.

Image

Boise actually was in better shape than the gang had expected; it seemed the ravages of the disease hadn't affected them so much, and the war had kind of passed them by.

Image

Nevertheless, the group was on a mission, and it wasn't worth it to spend any more time than was necessary in the sparsely-populated mountain towns.

Image

An incident free-trip down into the Great Basin allowed the gang to make it to Salt Lake City in only a couple of more days.

Image

They discovered to their surprise that the city, once the center of the Mormon faith, had been all but abandoned. The LDS church's larger operations had apparently folded, and only a small remnant remained to keep the temple in operation. None of them had any interest in taking over the city government. But Florida Man didn't see a need to take the city, either. Jack said it might be nice to ensure a safe outpost here in the middle of the West, and Elpida said she was inclined to agree, but neither of them really seemed to press the point. Salt Lake City would remain in the hands of nobody.


This week's film: Def-Con 4

User avatar
Def-Con 4

"You think I'm ruthless because I wanna be. It's the only way to administer limited resources in an unstable situation, can't you see that?"

Image

Synopsis

There's a title card indicating that new defense systems mean nuclear war is not possible, and then we start on an orbiting spacecraft over a year into its long-term mission. It seems the three astronauts onboard can only get occasional messages from their loved ones, and two-way communication is for some reason disallowed. They then watch with mounting dismay as international relations spiral out of control, and nuclear war becomes imminent. We then discover that they are in fact part of the 'defense' system and are actually responsible for sending space-launched missiles. They start to observe launches and detonations on the ground. Two of the three decide they should hold off their launch because they did not receive the proper authorization indicating that DEFCON 1 was reached (despite the title, their last orders seem to indicate DEFCON 2) and the world explodes into violence below them.

After two months, the crew debates whether to return to the surface, as they've received no orders. One of them, Howe, who seems to be the main technical officer, has reason to believe his wife is alive. The crew's doctor, Jordan, doesn't have anyone to go back to but seems to favor landing rather than staying up in space. The commander, Walker, overrules them both and decides to stay. However, their hand is forced when a message comes in that takes control of the control computer and forces them to de-orbit. Before doing so, they must arm and discharge their payload. They do so, although one bomb (armed to detonate in 60 hours) gets stuck.

They crash on a beach (as we later discover, somewhere in the Maritimes in Canada). Jordan is injured and unconscious, and the hatch is buried in sand. Howe and Walker start to dig their way out when they hear tapping and knocking coming from outside. As soon as they get part of the way out, Walker is grabbed and apparently eaten by whoever (or whatever) is outside of the vessel. Howe sneaks out at night and leaves a message for Jordan that he'll try to get help.

Howe eventually discovers the cannibals; he escapes from them only to be caught in a trap set by a large man named Vinnie. He promises to Vinnie that he'll share the supplies of food on his ship. Vinnie is unwilling to make any sort of deal other than just taking his food and allowing the cannibals to get Howe afterward.

While Vinnie goes out to check on some of his traps, a woman being held prisoner in the basement pops up to scavenge from Vinnie's stores of food. She isn't willing to untie Howe until he mentions he has food; she makes a deal that if he gives her half his food, she'll lead him to a boat. The are about to get away when Vinnie returns. Vinnie is about to simply kill Howe, but when Howe mentions Jordan, Vinnie is suddenly interested in taking her as well, so he makes a deal with Howe.

Howe and Vinnie leave with the captive woman, whose name is 'JJ' (Jacquelyn Jameson), in Vinnie's armored bulldozer. On the way, they fight off some people JJ calls 'terminals'. At the beach, Vinnie ties a rope to JJ and tells her to scout for the crashed ship. At that point, another man who knows Vinnie shows up. Vinnie immediately buttons up and tries to escape, but the man's gang attaches chains to his vehicle and then get him to bail out by throwing in a fake grenade.

All three are taken back to a slave camp, which they discover is run by a young man named Gideon. He's an affable dictator, sort of a spoiled trust-fund type. Initially he seems interested in Howe, but then his lieutenant, Lacey (the man who captured them), reports that they've found the ship already. Howe is thrown into a pit in the ground.

In the pit, Howe discovers that Jordan has also been captured, and is being held in an adjacent pit with JJ. JJ explains that Gideon is actually her boyfriend ('ex', she says now) and that after the war started, she was taken along with Gideon and his parents in a Navy helicopter. With them was some strange satellite equipment and a man named Boomer, some sort of computer expert. She's pretty sure Boomer is the one responsible for bringing down the ship from space.

Boomer, it turns out, is now being held prisoner by Gideon. He's trying to force the computer password out of him so he can locate the 'survival stations' that he might be able to sail to. Gideon taunts the starving Boomer with food; Boomer says he has nothing to live for anyway and gives up the password. Gideon does give him the food, but not before stamping it into the dirt.

Gideon brings in JJ and offers to take her back, and then leave with him to the survival station. She refuses him; he sends her back into the hole and announces that there will be a 'trial' in the morning.

The trial the next day is of course a farce of justice. Gideon presents himself as judge; he accuses the two astronauts of participation in the nuclear war, JJ of 'treason', and Vinnie of crimes too well-known to enumerate. The assembled crowd stands as the jury, but naturally not a single person is willing to stand up against the obvious intentions of Gideon, and all are found guilty.

Image

The condemned are taken to a scaffolding and nooses are placed on their necks. Gideon declares that he is feeling 'generous' and will pardon one of them on the condition that they pull the lever to hang the others. After some deliberation, Howe steps forward (though it's clear that he's only doing so to buy time). He's led to the lever with guns pointed at his head. However, just then, Boomer, who's managed to crawl his way out of the room where Gideon had left him, finds a gun and shoots Gideon. In the confusion Howe escapes from the camp, although the others remain.

Gideon is alive but injured, so they bring Jordan down to take care of him. She forces him to call off the hangings if she helps him. She tends to his wound, and he reveals that he plans to have Vinnie and JJ killed anyway. He then asks for a shot of painkiller. She tries to inject him with a lethal dose of potassium; he is aware of the ruse immediately and manages to turn the tables and inject her instead.

As Gideon and a few of his closest cronies prepare to depart, JJ is brought to him for one last chance to be 'forgiven'. Vinnie is taken out of his hole and led to a wall to be shot by a firing squad. Howe, meanwhile, has retrieved a rifle from Vinnie's house and killed the guards at the sailboat. He then gets Vinnie's bulldozer out and saves Vinnie's life. The two grab as many guns as they can and distribute them to the people in the camp, who start an uprising.

Vinnie and Howe get to Gideon's office to discover that he's left already. They drive off in the bulldozer to catch the sailboat, but get there just as it is leaving. At the camp, we see that the uprising is being put down in a brutal fashion. On board the ship, Gideon gathers the guns from all his guards on board, including Lacey. He then shoots everyone but Lacey (and JJ).

Howe is able to swim out to the ship and signals to JJ, who throws him a rope. He gets on board and tosses Lacey off the ship. He threatens Gideon, but Gideon grabs JJ and starts to cut her throat. Howe jumps back off the ship, but continues to fight and as he fires off his gun at Gideon, JJ pulls the yardarm and knocks Gideon overboard.

Gideon and Lacey arrive back at the camp to discover the massacred bodies of the civilians. Just as they enter the camp, Gideon notices the warhead in the spaceship, and asks, "Shouldn't all those be empty?" Seconds later, the camp erupts in a mushroom cloud as we see the sailboat heading off to safety.

Image

This starts out almost as a tense nuclear-war drama, with all the scenes on the spaceship played fairly straight, but eventually turns into a sort of darkly comic (or maybe horrific) action film that fits more in with the typical post-apocalyptic fare. There's an over-the-top quality to a lot of it combined with a realist style, mixed with a low-budget Canuxploitation sensibility that gives it a dark edge. It's fairly messy, but reasonably well-made within its own constraints.

Most of the drama never quite lands due to somewhat uneven acting; almost everyone aside from Maury Chaykin as Vinnie is overacting a bit (even Chaykin gets there at some points but he has a marvelously understated creepiness a lot of the time). The humor is maybe too dry to make it enjoyable for that alone. The one thing that it really does well is induce a sense of discomfort in the audience, especially the horror of living at the whims of an unpredictable dictator.

Many post-apocalyptic films will use the setting to showcase the darker side of human exploitation, and just how quickly some people will resort to violence when society has broken down. What this film really does well is explore just what it is like to feel that oppression, especially when the people who hold power are capricious and terrifyingly strong. Initially Vinnie seems like he's going to be the main villain, as he intimidates the weak-willed Howe by flatly refusing to make a deal and casually brokers a deal with him to take Jordan captive, as if Howe somehow has control of her. But once Gideon shows up, we find that the protagonists are in a much more desperate situation. There are constant details that reinforce the sense of desperation people might feel in this world. There's constant degradation of the prisoners by the guards, the enthusiasm of the 'jury' to see an execution, and even the ways in which Gideon talks on a pretended equal level to the people he has bound and unable to escape (like Boomer). Even if some of these elements are intended for shock value, the net effect of living under an unstable regime is palpable.

There are a fair number of plot elements that just don't make much sense (like why the missiles have to be armed to jettison them) but the film moves smoothly enough past those hiccoughs that most of them can be forgiven. Sometimes the information is revealed in a realistic manner that requires a bit more effort and could have been done better, such as when Jordan 'poisons' Gideon, and we only see her dead body much later. It's not really a comedy, but there are fairly dry, ironic bits of humor that can be found (such as when the final text says "Mankind can now rest in peace"). There's also some outright weirdness, like Howe's sister sending a message asking if he's "getting any" right in front of his wife. Those points actually kind of increase the whole sense of discomfort that develops throughout the film, and make some of the shocking parts work a bit better because of the generally uneasy mood.

While I'm not entirely sure this is a good film, it certainly surprised me. It seems to be billed as more of a 'survival in the wasteland' movie, but the parts in space last a good twenty minutes. Indeed, the 'wasteland' isn't really one, just a part of Canada that seems relatively untouched by the war itself, aside from the dwindling supplies. The dark tone (near the end we see bodies piled up in scenes reminiscent of genocides) was also unexpected. I think perhaps I would have wanted to see a slightly more polished effort, given what it's going for.

Image

Connections to Roadwar 2000

While the game doesn't have a nuclear exchange on the level shown here, the situation depicted actually fits the world of Roadwar reasonably well. With Defcon-4 there are pockets of functioning groups of people, and enough supplies to live by scavenging, but the breakdown of the global economy is causing them to be isolated and violent. There's only one vehicle in the film (Vinnie's armored one), and not much combat other than when Howe and Vinnie first break out, followed by the failed uprising. Most of these outcomes actually seem much more realistic than anything in the game, of course, and the tone of the film is appropriately depressing. The film also seems to be decently depicting what such a world might look like, since it's fairly dirty and gross but most people haven't really started dressing in weird outfits (though some clearly no longer care about fashion). The world of Roadwar is of course a bit more stylized, but this is kind of a peek at what such a situation might really start to resemble. To be fair, in Roadwar there seems to be at least some semblance of the previous economy, but it's one that for the moment is only ruled by force instead of any sort of functioning government.

Wakkerdis wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 6:59 am
The ride up to Vancouver was uneventful; the gang bypassed Seattle entirely and upon reaching the Canadian border, had no trouble crossing. The guards seemed a lot friendlier here, and Florida Man's GUB ID gave them the impression he was actually on an important mission. Vancouver itself was a peaceful city, clean, and there was little sign that the pandemic and subsequent chaos in the US had affected them.
Getting political in here :v:

Def-Con 4 is a strange movie for me because for the longest time that opening scene seeing the bombs go off from the satellite cameras was just one of those things my brain never forgot and kept reminding me of. I'd normally account for this by it being something a young kid shouldn't have watched on a Canadian TV channel's sci-fi movie night but I figured I would have remembered the hand dropping back into the hatch door as well. But no, just the nuclear war scene.

User avatar
I think during the Cold War that scene would have hit a lot harder; it was still pretty tense for me since it wasn't clear what tone the movie was going for. The cities are just kind of casually blown off the map. The cannibals didn't really bother me (especially as it's one of the goofier moments, really), but the shooting at the camp was really jarring, even when I watched it a second time.

Wasn't really being deliberately political with that, but it's hard to avoid sometimes. I just wanted to have a different feel to certain locations. Politics is unavoidable. I just decided to switch which movie I'm going for this week because about ten minutes in, there's a person on the TV with an American flag behind him saying, "The White army needs to take back America from the foreigners" and he's appealing to disaffected young men who lack opportunity because there was an economic crash. I could not take it. We'll get to it, probably Prayer of the Rollerboys; just not this week.

User avatar
Florida Man Unearths Military Relic


Image

Salt Lake City was a decent place to rest for a day or two. Since there were a lot of people wanting to get out of the town, the gang was able to increase its numbers. Jack and Cecile noted that it was still pretty unfortunate that so many of them were not actually ready for combat, and were destined to become casualties.

Image

The Gator Goons headed down the road to Provo to see if there was anything of greater interest there, or perhaps any news on the GUB scientists. They found the town to be a lot more closed-off than Salt Lake. Most of the citizens there had decided to just barricade themselves in their homes and ride out the apocalypse, and were having no dealings with people from other parts of the country.

Image

After a couple more days resting up, the gang headed out into the Wasatch Range. People in the city had told them it wouldn't be long before it would drop below freezing at night. Florida Man really wanted to get through the Rockies before that happened.

Image

On the high winding roads in western Colorado, the gang encountered a small patrol of another so-called 'militia' group. When they approached the two vehicles, they could hear them radioing desperately for backup. The goons would need to take them out quickly.

Image

The Gator Goons nevertheless approached a bit cautiously, as they were aware of the old tactic of the Furies, which meant ramming a vehicle in the hopes that later reinforcements could finish it off.

Image

It nevertheless seemed as if the Freightliner was destined to take another blow from a smaller vehicle colliding with it.

Image

But the driver was at this point well-experienced with what her truck could do, and swerved easily past the enemy car. Cecile directed a blast out the back that took out the small convertible.

Image

Unfortunately, that only led to an actual collision, as moments later the other car, knowing it was doomed, rammed itself straight into the side of the trailer.

Image

Losses were light, although the damage was significant enough that they would need to stop for repairs in whatever city they encountered next.

Image

They weren't out of the mountains yet. A rowdy gang of cannibals drove up in three small cars. Dr. Kassabian observed, "You just find these crazy types everywhere, don't you?"

Image

Florida Man led a charge to engage them at close range. He blasted away with the shotgun while Army Ranger Simms tried to dive under the seat. Florida Man called out, "It's okay boy, this'll be over soon!"

Image

The battle was, indeed, handled quickly, as the Mack truck polished off the few of the crazed human vermin who persisted in the assault. Unfortunately one of the Cannibals' cars managed to smack the front end of the Gatormobile, leaving an unsightly dent.

Image

Just a few days after they'd left Salt Lake City, they made it to Denver, on the eastern slope of the Rockies. They found that one of the local crime families had seized power.

Image

While searching for repair garages, the group stumbled upon what they initially thought was an abandoned bus in the parking lot. It was painted bright green and had a picture of a smiling turtle on the side. When they tried to force open the doors, however, they saw motion inside and someone shouted, "Hey, hey, I'll open up, hold your horses, people." A disheveled-looking man in a tattered bathrobe came to the front and unlocked the door. He had a patch of curly white hair on his head and peered out from the bus's door with reddened eyes.

"Hey, if you're looking for a ride, sorry, we had to shut down. You want anything else, you won't get much food from me. Don't have much as it is."

Florida Man was called over to talk to the man, whose name was Harold. He said that he'd been helping people travel around the country to get to their homes, but as the roads became less safe and fuel became harder to come by, it wasn't really possible to travel out there.

Elpida asked him, "So what do you do now?"

Harold said, "I guess I've just been living in here. It's pretty comfortable. Sometimes I let people stay inside, but you do gotta be careful sometimes."

Elpida responded, "I think we can make an arrangement here. If your vehicle is working, we could use you." She paused for a moment. "There might be difficulties out on the road. Sometimes we encounter... hostile parties."

The man lifted his hands uncertainly. "I don't know man, not sure I want to deal with that. Seems safer here."

Elpida smiled slightly, and said, "What will you do here? Are you going to just roll around Denver all day? I think the mafia will get you before too long."

Harold suddenly looked worried. "Wait, mafia? What would they be doing here?"

Florida Man answered, "They own this town, didn't you know, man?"

Harold hesitated for a second, and then looked at the rest of the gang. Then he said, "Well, I guess it might be worth it to have some driving to do. Change of scenery, all that."

Image

They spent a little more time in Denver searching for repair facilities, but no auto garages were to be found. Reluctantly Florida Man said they could try searching in the smaller surrounding cities. He didn't want to hit the road with the Gatormobile dinged as it was, but couldn't waste too much time in one place. The expanding size of the gang meant food consumption was slowly starting to become in issue.

Image

Heading south, the gang decided to scout into the surrounding hills for either food or extra fuel. Florida Man was out wandering with Army Ranger Simms when suddenly the dog barked and started pawing at the ground. He couldn't see what the dog was looking at, and wondered if some animal had been buried there. Cecile had joined them once she heard the barking, but she didn't notice anything on the ground either. Army Ranger Simms began digging.

Then Cecile grabbed Florida Man's arm. "Look," she cried, pointing down the slope of the hill. "Out there, there's a road!" A few hundred yards away could be seen an apparently abandoned road that was now mostly covered in dirt. "You think it leads under here?"

Florida Man had hunched to the ground to assist with what Army Ranger Simms was searching for. After a few moments, there was a clinking sound as he pulled up a broken metal pipe. "Well, there's something here, all right. Not sure what." He used the pipe to continue with the excavation and Cecile went to call for others to help.

A half hour later, the gang had dug down two more feet, and uncovered the metal roof of a wide tunnel. At its edge was a broad rim on which letters were affixed, reading "CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN COMPLEX". Florida Man looked down and exclaimed, "This place? They got all the secrets down there!"

Image

A little more digging, and they were below the opening of the tunnel. While there was still a large dirt pile beneath them, they could see that most of the interior of it leading into the mountain had not collapsed. Florida Man was contemplating making another tunnel in the side of the mountain to surprise them, but decided going straight in was the best way. He told the others he was going to crawl into the tiny space they'd cleared. He'd slipped his legs and was having trouble squeezing through, when from below he heard a crisp voice declaring, "All right folks. That's far enough. We've got our guns out and ready to shoot, so don't come any further in."

Florida Man called out, "Hey, just, uh, wondering if anyone was still okay in there? You might have been trapped a while, wondering how it is out here, huh?"

The man below spoke again. "Well, you have our gratitude for helping to clear the tunnel, but we can manage from here. And we really didn't need the help."

Florida Man cried out, "Wait, wait, I got something to show you!" He reached in his pocket and threw down his wallet into the tunnel.

"What's that? Stop!" The voice was suddenly much louder. "Hold still!"

Florida Man spoke again, a little meekly. "No, no, I'm ... I'm with the GUB. See, you can check in my wallet. That's it, down there."

Outside of the tunnel, Cecile stared at Florida Man incredulously. "Did you seriously just throw your wallet in there?"

In the shadowy tunnel, Florida Man could see someone approaching the wallet he'd thrown down. They appeared to poke at it, and then picked it up gingerly.

"Bring it here," said the voice below. There was some more sounds of movement inside the tunnel, and then a flashlight clicked on. It was aimed first at the wallet, then turned up toward Florida Man's half-inserted body. He leaned himself over and tried to wave as best he could. "I'm here to help. You got anybody hiding out with you? GUB doctors?"

The man ignored the question and then could be heard talking with someone on a radio telephone. After about thirty seconds, he made an announcement up toward Florida Man. "All right! You, and just you, come down. You're not getting inside. We can talk here."

With a bit more effort Florida Man grunted and then went sliding down the dirt pile.

Image

After another half hour, he called up and said, "Hey, try to clear the tunnel a bit more, could you?"

With the opening enlarged a bit more, Florida Man, his clothes covered in dirt, crawled out from the below the tunnel mouth. He was followed by a well-built man in an Air Force uniform, who introduced himself as Master Sergeant Leonard Adams.

"Lennie's agreed to travel with us. Maybe serve as personal guard for the scientists we get. And help us fight back the Invaders when we have to."

"You know, we probably wouldn't have found you if it hadn't been for Army Ranger Simms."

Sergeant Adams asked, "You have someone with the Army with you? Where? I'd like to meet them."

Florida Man called out, "Army Ranger Simms, boy, where are you?"

Adams let out a shocked "Boy?" before turning to see the tan dog bounding down the slope to Florida Man. He processed the thought for a moment, and then laughed. "This is Army Ranger Simms?"

Florida Man grinned and rubbed the dog's head. "Sure is!" Then he added, "Hey, Simms, this guy's in the real army, you know."

"We're actually Air Force here, sir," responded Adams as he held his hand out toward Army Ranger Simms. "Looks like you knew the right place to look." Then he stood up. "Well, your little 'army ranger' made a good start, since we couldn't get the real Corps of Engineers to come out and clear it. They'll be fine inside, but it might be time for them to uncover the road anyway."

The Drill Sergeant is the last of our 'cronies'. Drill Sergeants improve the rate of promotion after battle, and also prevent losses due to desertion (which occurs most commonly when scouting). As a result, we'll have a much easier time keeping the gang strength up and won't have to constantly be recruiting.

Image

Florida Man asked Sergeant Adams if he knew who controlled the local cities. He had said that all he knew was that they'd declined to use martial law to take over the city, and had instead retreated into the mountain while other units were called up to fight the enemy on the coasts. It wasn't too surprising, though, when they learned that the mafia had spread its influence outside the borders of Denver.

Image

What they did notice was that most of the townsfolk were unwilling to engage with any outside group. It wasn't clear if they feared retaliation from the mob, or just were naturally untrusting. But Florida Man really wanted to fill the seats on the new bus, so the recruitment effort continued.

Image

Later that day, they returned to Denver and Adams led them to a body shop that he knew about. It had been abandoned for months, but the tools seemed to be in working order and the vehicles were all fixed up in no time.

Image

Florida Man knew they'd need even more fuel to keep all the big vehicles moving. Acting on more advice from Sergeant Adams, he sent the crew out to scavenge oil supplies at the nearest source. Unsurprisingly, it was well-defended.

Image

It turned out to be another small 'militia' group that was vying for control of the precious gasoline tanks. Their force consisted of a Ford van outfitted with protective grills and roof-mounted radio equipment, along with two smaller cars that had been painted a drab green color.

Image

The Gator Goons pushed forward through the rough scrub brush on a broad slope. Harold's bus had been ordered to stay off to one side but prepare volleys in case they were needed.

Image

The terrain proved a lot harder to navigate through than expected; the locals who seemed to know the tracks better were able to close in on the bus while the trucks struggled to find a route. Florida Man snaked the Gatormobile on a line directly ahead of them to provide a distracting target.

Image

Only some of the militia group took the bait; a fair number still focused their attacks on the thinly-armored bus.

Image

Harold was starting to panic as he tried to slow and then turn around his ungainly green vehicle.

Image

It all was happening too slowly, as first the van and then a car smashed into its side before it could bring the guns around to bear on them.

Image

Florida Man had to slam down on the accelerator to outrun the remaining enemy car.

Image

Eventually the Hyundai pulled up along the side of the militia's car and finished off the crew.

Image

To their surprise, the Gator Goons found that there were no oil tanks, wells, or pumps to be found nearby. It was a mystery as to what this group had even been trying to defend.

Image

Harold was shaken but still alive. "Man, you guys gotta protect me better than that next time!" he shouted.

Image

The 'next time' came mere minutes later, as a large group of Cannibals showed up, apparently having heard the sounds of the firefight.

Image

This enemy had their own bus filled with raving violent gang members. It was a battered old yellow school bus, with a fair bit of rust -- or blood -- staining the sides.

Image

Harold rushed to drive towards safety as the rest of the goons drove down the treacherous hillside.

Image

But he still couldn't get his bus to turn away, and the enemies once again chose him as the nearest target.

Image

A massive burst of gunfire erupted from the school bus and knocked down almost half of the people inside Harold's own bus.

Image

There was a slight cheer, though, when as many as could still fire shot back and eliminated the smallest car on the other side.

Image

To Harold's luck, the Cannibal bus decided to engage with the rapidly-approaching Mack truck and Chevy van.

Image

It drove right into the middle of the Gator Goons, but the crazed occupants fired with surprising accuracy, knocking two of Florida Man's crew from the top of his Pontiac.

Image

Harold was bravely putting just enough distance between his vehicle and the enemy's second-biggest target, a Chevy pickup truck.

Image

The school bus, meanwhile, had pulled up behind the Mack truck. A savage group of men and women wielding machetes lunged on to the rear of the trailer.

Image

An intense struggle began as the topside crew found itself quickly outnumbered by the bloodthirsty intruders.

Image

Harold had made the turn to safety at last, although it was looking as if the Hyundai was about to sacrifice itself to save the bus.

Image

The pickup wasn't looking to ram, however; they just wanted to get close enough to leap onboard the car. Only a handful of people made it, though, and they were quickly beaten back.

Image

The situation on the Mack was much grimmer, however. The Cannibals were ferocious fighters.

Image

But as the rest of the gang's cars came to the rescue, the school bus was finally eliminated.

Image

The Stellar spun around and knocked out the pickup truck as well, and the battle was won.

Image

The battle was won, but the spoils still weren't that impressive. It seemed as if this fuel depot was unlikely to yield much more.

Image

The gang returned to Denver, but that night one of the mafia's groups (or possibly some cannibals on the prowl) made a probing attack. They couldn't stick around for much longer.

Image

After going back to the repair shop Sergeant Adams had shown them, they decided to move on. The group leadership thought should get more fuel, and Florida Man said the best place he knew that had oil would be Texas. He informed the Gator Goons that they were about to head south.

This week's film: World Gone Wild

User avatar
World Gone Wild

"Like the man used to say, nothing makes any sense in a world gone wild."

Image

It is the year 2087. Seventy-five years ago, a nuclear war erupted and 'a cruel trick was played on the survivors' in that rain has not come down for fifty years. The man speaking (who has a somewhat snarky tone) tells us that he has managed to survive in a small settlement known as Lost Wells that has access to water.

We see that Lost Wells is built around a junkyard of cars. A group of students are being taught on a broken-down school bus that serves as a classroom; they have only four books, one of which is an Emily Post guide to etiquette. The kids aren't able to learn much from it, but somehow it turns out to be fortuitous, as there is an announcement that visitors have arrived.

The visitors are a group of white-robed men and boys who show up in a helicopter (pulled along on a wheeled cart by people). Their leader, a man named Derek Abernathy, exits and the villagers welcome them. Derek makes some odd comments about searching for 'truth and love' and his own dreams. Then Derek and his followers pull out guns from under their robes and start massacring the villagers.

After the fighting, Derek confronts Ethan, a man dressed more or less like an aging hippie (he's the narrator from the opening). Derek mentions that he's heard tales that Ethan has 'magical powers' but leans in close and says he thinks that that story might just as much bullshit as the stories told about himself. Derek kidnaps some of the kids to 'replace' his losses, and also takes one woman from the village. He promises he'll come back eventually for more.

Ethan tells the schoolteacher, Angie, that in order to deal with Derek's crazy cult, they'll need to go to the city, 500 miles distant, for help. He knows of a man named George, who he says is "a hero, he just doesn't know it yet", and the two drive off to the city. When they arrive, Angie is shocked to find that all of the inhabitants are crying out for water from a rationing truck. The situation worsens when a motorcycle gang shows up to steal the water from those who just got their ration. One of the ration workers can't accept this, and pulls off his mask and starts fighting. Ethan recognizes him as George, and stops him in the act of chasing off the gang so he can tell him he needs him to save the village.

Ethan apparently raised George as a child, but it's been a long time since then. Ethan promises to reward George handsomely (with water), so George agrees to come. However, the leader of the biker gang, Hank, returns and is about to kill George. He lets up when George desperately promises a water reward to him. They go on to recruit two more to their side, two sideshow hucksters named Exline and Nitro.

We get a brief glimpse of what life is like in Derek's camp. It turns out they have only one book in their possession... and it's The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Manson. Derek makes a speech from the book to the cult and they pray to him.

On the way back to Lost Wells, Angie comes under attack by two cannibals. As George is fighting them off, he recognizes one of them as an old companion of his, Ten Watt, and tells him to come along with them, too. Angie is terrified by the prospect of having to rely on such characters to save their town. Ethan tells her that's why he prefers to live away from reality, in the 'land of the mushroom'.

The mercenaries are overjoyed to see that the well actually exists. They begin to form defenses for the town. Hank has the people move out of the cars they use as homes and piles them up to make a wall. The villagers dig a ditch and Ten Watt gathers snakes and scorpions to toss into it. Exline finds the lack of alcohol upsetting so he crafts a still. Nitro sets up explosive charges at strategic points around the camp.

Ethan and George have a talk about the old days, when they used to run around together fighting their way through the wasteland, an occupation Ethan has long since given up. George is still uncertain about wanting to stay and help Ethan. Ethan then gives George one of his mushroom 'potions', causing him to have a terrifying vision of being tortured and killed by Derek. He wakes up in Angie's bed and she tries to comfort him. He takes it too far and attempts to assault her, causing her to kick him in the crotch so he gets the message.

That night, Hank comes to Angie and also tries to force himself on her. George sees what's happening and draws a gun on him. Angie then gets the gun, and Hank rides off from the town. Hank goes to Derek and tells him about what the villagers are doing, and offers to fight for him instead. Derek, however, has no need for a 'disloyal' mercenary. George comes to the camp and sees Hank strung up in a manner reminiscent of his own vision.

Image

The next day, the villages continue to prepare the defenses. George tells Ethan they could use his magic, although Ethan calmly smokes a joint and tells George, "I expect you to be my magic." George decides to clean himself up a bit and tries to impress Angie at the school bus (and maybe get a reading lesson). At that moment, they get word that Derek is approaching.

Derek notices the car wall, but drives straight through the gate into the town without a concern. He confronts Ethan, who remarks with mock surprise, "Oh! You're back!" Derek deposits the dead body of the woman he'd captured, complaining that she had knifed him, and says he wants "an exchange". He mentions that the walls didn't really do much to keep him out, to which George replies that they weren't meant to.

At a signal from Ethan, Nitro blows a charge that drops several cars to block the entrance, and then the villagers attack. Almost all of Derek's men are killed or driven off. Derek manages to escape through a gap where the cars fell and starts to ride off. George's job is actually to finish him off by firing a gun at a hidden placement of dynamite, but when he goes to do it, it turns out he hadn't loaded the ammo in his gun.

After the battle, the villagers discover that the well has somehow gone dry. The mercenaries have no reason to stay, but George decides to hang around anyway, and this convinces the rest to remain. Ethan then appears and happily turns the water back on; it appears to actually be coming from a hidden pipe.

That night, George is teaching Angie about dancing, and it appears they're about to have a romantic moment. It's interrupted when Derek returns, with fresh troops and some sort of military vehicle with a machine gun on it.

Derek starts shooting up the town, with the defenders mostly caught by surprise. Ten Watt gets captured and Derek demands to know where George is. Exline is found near the still and manages to coerce two of the enemy soldiers into having a drink with him. Nitro has his grenades at the ready, though, and when he becomes enraged when one of the children he'd been protecting is shot, he starts fighting back and blows up the vehicle. George rushes to the fight but gets wounded in the shoulder.

Another cultist is about to get George when Ethan shows up and takes care of the enemy for him. Ethan says he's on his way out of there, on his way to "the sky" or "maybe even heaven", and walks off. Nitro rescues Ten Watt and forces Derek to run away. As Derek tries to flee in his car, George pulls his weapon and hits the dynamite at just the right moment, blowing the car up.

Except he didn't get Derek, who is right behind him with a gun at his ear. They fight for a bit in hand-to-hand combat. Derek clearly has the upper hand. Exline is still drinking with the soldiers, but as they observe the fight, they pull their guns and prepare to do him in. Instead, he lights up a cigarette, causing the still to explode. An on-fire Exline rushes out toward Derek, engulfing both of them in flames.

Ethan, in an apparent final act of protest against the craziness of the world, mounts a platform he has built and then sets it on fire. Before he can immolate himself, though, there is a crack of lightning, and water starts to fall from the sky. Rain has returned; the fire around Ethan is put out and he has to remain among the living.

Image

The film is basically a post-apocalyptic version of The Seven Samurai (or possibly The Magnificent Seven, given that several characters are dressed in an Old West style). Even with a plotline as strong as that to model, it's still a bit disjointed and nonsensical. However, it generally makes up for that with the entertaining characters and competence in a lot of other aspects. The director, Lee Katzin, had been working for quite some time, mostly in television, including some early western series, so that's not too surprising. The acting is almost universally great (especially Adam Ant as Derek, and Bruce Dern as Ethan), and most of the time the film looks decent visually if not overly impressive. It does a good job referencing the films it is similar to (including The Road Warrior) without feeling derivative.

There are a ton of interesting details and moments that make this work well, and they are conveyed with subtlety and craft. For instance, Ethan's 'magic' clearly derives from the fact that he remembers some key bits of knowledge and technology. Each of the mercenaries has their own amusing quirks. Exline, for example, hates guns despite having been a gunfighter in the sideshow scam he was running; Nitro is really good with the children; and Ten Watt's very off in the head and talks to the scorpions as if they're his troops. The comparison of the cultures that arise from the remnants of the books that remain is apparent. Some of these moments are a mere flash on the screen, and it happens rather naturally, without much in the way of exposition.

Image

Most of the time, the parts that don't fit together as well do so because the film opts for having something cool happen instead of what might make more sense. Derek's initial reluctance to finish off Ethan (or the town's inhabitants) isn't very rational, but you wouldn't get the film without it. The rain at the end is a fitting conclusion, despite there not even being a hint of an explanation as to why. There are a few misses on this front, though: for some reason George keeps getting compared to Derek, even though he's clearly not the leader type, and his journey as a hero isn't very fleshed out. There's an entire sub-plot involving the traumatized daughter of the kidnapped woman that starts quite oddly with Derek kissing her (on the lips); it sort of seems like her soul is at stake but it's also not quite articulated well, even if what is there is actually intriguing (for instance, she wears the bloody robe of one of Derek's followers for a while, suggesting she's connecting him somehow with her mother). On the whole, the film shies away from making the violence too real, but also doesn't try to gloss over it. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but I find that it does.

It occurred to me while writing this up that the film actually resembles quite a bit the TV series The A-Team, but with the violence and its effects allowed to be shown. That establishes a tone that really does fit the title; insanity, cruelty, and violence are the expected result when society has broken down and the lessons of the past have been forgotten. Even if Derek doesn't fully buy into his own cult status, he still seems to think that Manson's words must be important in some way, which to us can come off as both terrifying but also absurdly comical in a weird way. That sort of balance is what this film, just barely, does seem to manage.


Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

What's interesting about this film is that while some aspects of the scarcity of resources (such as water) are focused on, there isn't much concern to things like getting fuel or producing weapons. There is some vague sense of how rare such things may be. It's really only brought up as necessary to service the plot. To some extent, that fits moderately well with the game. The survival of the cities, the rise of the gangs, and the ongoing use of automobiles are all bits that do make sense in this post-apocalyptic setting. Further questions (like why the gangs engage in combat so often) are most easily answered by the statement that this it makes the game work, much in the way World Gone Wild just has some parts that serve the characters rather than a fully cohesive world.

In terms of how it feels, the cheeky tone of the movie is close to what the game is doing, but it's a lot less mock-serious than Roadwar. A more apposite reference might be the Fallout games, which at least some of the time mix their humor about the treatment of the past with a crazy and dangerous world. And if I'm so bold as to admit it, I find that it actually isn't that far off in spirit of what the narrative part of this LP has been. I'm not intending these characters to be taken very realistically, but little touches of what the ruined world is actually like intrude sometimes. There is also quite a bit of inevitable violence and death in every combat that I'm neither trying to make too glossy nor dwell on over-much. I can only say that for both the movie and the game, this is a fictional world, wild as it may be.

Two fights in a row seemed pretty costly if I'm reading that right, almost 75 people? By the way if a vehicle is boarded successfully is that just a more roundabout way to take one out of a fight or do you get to control it for the rest of the right/capture it after?

User avatar
The massive casualties were even heavier due to the boarding (which took out more than 20 on board the truck), but yeah, those two fights were probably the most costly we've had.

If you win a fight on a vehicle, you have the option to capture it and control it immediately, or to kill it outright. I actually don't know if you lose the people on board if you eliminate it. It's basically always to your advantage to capture, since you can abandon a vehicle at any time from the main screen. It's only an issue in the very rare instance where you'd want to fix flats first and a combat popped up before you could abandon (and even then, you could move all the crew out and stick it in a far corner of the battlefield, like I tend to do with the bulldozer on the tactical map). Or, maybe, if it might otherwise collide with one of your own cars but that'd be even rarer. The last thing about on-vehicle fights is that if the fight ends, the onboard combat is stopped and you win automatically. That has saved us at least twice already, since we don't run with a full crew on the big vehicles.

User avatar
Florida Man Discovers Fuel Efficiency Secret


Image

The Gator Goons followed the highway south of Denver until it wended its way up through the mountains toward Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a quiet stretch of road, with hardly even any wrecked vehicles or signs of life along the way.

Image

Upon reaching Albuquerque, they stopped at the edge of the city and sent down scouts. Reports came back that the Invaders had taken control there.

Sgt. Adams was shocked. "They're already that close? We thought we'd been able to stop them at the border!"

Florida Man replied, "Nah, man, we're in New Mexico, now, right? I think they were already here. You know, years ago. Roswell, right? You guys know this stuff."

Adams just gave him a disgusted look. "Come on, man!"

Florida Man replied, "Well, I guess you can't discuss it, heh. Anyway, I say we skip this town. No need to fight them, they probably got more of their own special technology here."

Image

They did bypass the town and took off down toward the Texas border.

Image

A day later, they arrived in Amarillo, a quiet town in the high plains of the Texas panhandle. The residents there didn't seem to care much about outside events. A gang of local business leaders had banded together to control the town and try to extract whatever revenue they could from visitors, but it was clear to the Gator Goons that they'd rather have them leave town as soon as possible.

Image

With Amarillo giving them a fairly unfriendly welcome, the group sped a little south, to Lubbock.

Image

It, too, was under the sway of the invading armies. Dr. Kassabian commented that the folks in Amarillo were going to be in for a rough surprise if these troops started marching northward.

Image

Elpida went around the city to gather more volunteers; they were expecting a fight in the Texas oilfields and fresh troops were needed. "I just hope you can train them in time," she commented to Adams.

Image

As the Gator Goons headed south into the wide open land south of Lubbock, they could see from far off five solid black Lincoln Continentals, running in formation and kicking up a cloud of dust behind them that was visible for miles. Their readied their weapons and drove down to engage the gang.

Image

The enemy cars, despite being boxy late-70s models, seemed to be in top condition with their engines roaring when the Gator Goons grew closer.

Image

Jack took a shot at the tires of the massive cars; he expected that limited steering might be these cars' weakness, and wanted to press that advantage even further.

Image

Nevertheless the Lincolns advanced, seemingly undeterred. Fire was exchanged between all vehicles with light casualties.

Image

Harold had been trying to stay out of the action, but one of the enemy cars chased him down. A broadside from the side of the bus finished off most of the people on the car. It still managed to skid into the rear of his bus as it halted, causing some minor damage.

Image

This gang did not seem to be willing to smash their own vehicles so easily. One of them pulled close to the Freightliner and then veered sharply to the side. That allowed boarders to easily make the jump on to the truck. Cecile could see the Lincoln's driver, dressed all in black leather and wearing a broad white cowboy hat, give a cruel sneer as he kept pace with the truck.

Image

Florida Man shouted, "Hey idiots, chase me!" and darted the Gatormobile just past the front bumper of one of the black beasts.

Image

The sudden turn of the Freightliner straight toward an oil well took the enemy car by surprise. It slammed on the brakes and then crashed into the side of the truck.

Image

Meanwhile, Jack had been forced to halt in a muddy patch of the plain to avoid skidding into a large rock. He was now being tailed at close range by one of the Lincolns.

Image

Florida Man and the Gator Goons' own limo (a Cadillac) took out one more enemy vehicle.

Image

As Jack's Chevy van gained distance from the last enemy car, the Cadillac pulled up from its other side and pummeled it with gunfire.

Image

The "Hot Rod Lincolns" had taken on the Gator Goons and lost.

Image

This time, there was a sizable cache of both fuel and food to be found after the battle.

Image

Florida Man had heard warnings that the Invaders would be even stronger near the Mexican border, but decided to press his luck and went ever southward into West Texas. He refrained from crossing the Rio Grande, though, and instead took the gang down the desolate highway to the east.

Image

A day later, they'd reached San Antonio. To their dismay, they found that a group calling itself "The Texian Army" had taken over the town, putting its headquarters at the Alamo.

Image

However, the town actually seemed free of violence, and it was actually possible to find a repair garage that was running almost as a business; they seemed to be mostly working on smaller vehicles and even bicycles, but were willing to take on the job of fixing the Gator Goons' cars. The shop owner did mention that it'd be best for the gang if they moved on quickly, as the Texians were not too happy about letting any rival gangs get big in their city.

Image

While the cars were being fixed, a tall brown-skinned man approached them at the garage. "You're the group that just came into town, right?" he asked earnestly. "Have you had any contact with any government groups?" He lowered his voice and added, "Federal government, I mean."

"Hey, we got an Air Force guy," responded Florida Man, "He was with them up in the mountains around Denver. Maybe he knows something." He pointed out Sgt. Adams and the man went over to talk to him.

As he left, Cecile punched Florida Man lightly in the shoulder and said, "Hey, you know, I think that guy's looking for the GUB. You could have told him..."

"Oh!" said Florida Man. "Oh yeah, I guess we're kind of government agents, too," he remarked with a chuckle.

Sgt. Adams had already managed to figure out that the scientist, Gabriel Washington, was in fact someone they were searching for. He promised Dr. Washington that they'd bring him safely back to the GUB just as soon as they could, and until then, he would ensure his personal safety.

Image

They paid the repair shop in food and medicine, and moved on to Austin, which they found to be under the control of the Invaders.

Image

All the nearby cities had been taken over as well.

Image

Most of the citizens seemed to have fled or gone into hiding, as many of the buildings were abandoned and in disrepair. There was little to be found in the way of loot. It was a bit worrying for Florida Man, as keeping the numbers up to the level necessary for fighting larger battles was using up the food supplies quickly.

Image

As they continued up the road to Dallas, there were a few more signs of life, but the general air of desolation remained. This was especially true as they made their way through the city's downtown, where the empty skyscrapers loomed hollowly overhead. Florida Man had an idea when he found one curiously angular structure right near the city's center. Once the goons broke through the entrance doors, he started wandering up through the empty offices. He'd reached one of the upper floors that had a large conference room with a broad view out the window. As he walked over to check out the city from above, Dr. Kassabian rushed into the room, accompanied by Gabriel Washington and Sgt. Adams.

Dr. Kassabian said, "Hey, check it out, looks like Gabe here found something neat. Tell him, doctor."

"What is it?" asked Florida Man as he turned away from the window.

Dr. Washington was holding in his hand a large flask of pale yellowish liquid, which he held up and swirled around. "Well, this was in one of the labs here, and according to the notes we found with it, it contains an experimental fuel additive. A self-replicating nanomolecule that, when added to regular gasoline, doubles its efficiency!"

"So we could add it to our fuel tanks?"

"Yes," interrupted Dr. Kassabian. "It'll let us go twice as far on a full tank of fuel. No more searching out those oil wells!"

Florida Man replied, "So how much is there of it? Do they got tanks of it down in the basement?"

Dr. Kassabian and both started to speak at the same time, then paused. Washington continued, "The thing is, it'll self-replicate. That means we can add it to the tank once and every time we fill it, within hours, the gas will be back up to being super-efficient! This amount here is all we need for all the cars."

Florida Man smiled. "That sure is something. Guess it was worth coming in this building after all." He turned and looked out the window over the city, and the rest of them came over to admire the view as well.

Dr. Washington stared off toward the southeast, as if trying to make out some distant object on the horizon. "You know, I heard they had been doing some of this work here, but never got a chance to come up. Back in Houston, they said they had even done amazing things, too. But then..."

"Wait, what happened in Houston?" wondered Kassabian.

"Hm, I guess you guys didn't know that," he said, walking slowly over to the window. "Houston got hit. I was in Spring when it happened. Nuclear bomb took out the whole city. I tried to stick around, moved on the outskirts, see what effect it had on the virus. But the new strain... you know, turned people violent. They call them mutants, they do, but they're just sick. Either way, it wasn't safe. That's how I ended up down in San Antonio. Good thing you guys found me."

Sgt. Adams said, "Oh! So is that why these cities are so abandoned. Seems like the invading armies came through and even they didn't want to stay."

Dr. Washington said, "Yeah, I suppose. There's probably nothing worth going back there for, now. Maybe what I did find can help out if we make it back to the G.U.B."

To this, Adams responded, "Oh, we'll make it back safe. No worries about that." Then to Florida Man he said, "So what is our plan anyway?"

Florida Man scratched his head. "I did want to see if my house is okay, you know, I had been kind of heading back home. Uh... while we're looking for the scientists, too."

Dr. Kassabian said, "Yeah, but didn't we get a lead on one? Dr. Trotier?"

Dr. Washington spoke up. "Alec? He's alive? Where is he?"

Dr. Kassabian replied, "We don't know if he's alive really, it was just a tip. Somebody told us he might be in the 'north central U.S.'"

Adams said, "If we know the whereabouts of any GUB personnel, that should be our top priority. We were pretty lucky to find Dr. Washington here, but as he said he barely made it through this."

Dr. Washington added, "We really should look for Alec if he's out there. You could bring us back together."

Florida Man sighed resignedly. "I guess so. At least we got a few cities up there that are ours."

As they left the office, Dr. Kassabian commented, "Gee, I sure hope Trotier wasn't in Chicago."

Image

It turned out the quiet of the city would not last very long at all. Almost as soon as the goons had left the building, they came under attack from a unit of the Invader army. They'd managed to gain quite a few followers as they made their way through central Texas, but many of them were lost in the fight through downtown Dallas that followed.

Image

With the knowledge that the Invaders were only likely to come at them even harder if they stayed, the Gator Goons left Dallas as fast as they could. On the road eastward as they made a hasty camp, they were surprised by an assault from a group of 'mutants'. Dr. Washington figured they'd probably come up from Houston as he checked all the survivors for any signs of infection.

Image

Instead of heading farther down the highway, the gang swung up through the farmland of eastern Oklahoma. The gasoline additive had worked wonders, but their food supply was still dwindling.

Image

The next big city they encountered was Oklahoma City. From what they could gather, the heightened state of security in the state capital meant that the response to the pandemic had been a rapid deployment of the national guard, who'd managed to maintain order in the city since then. After checking if there had been any 'research scientists' who might have come through the town, and finding no reports, the Gator Goons left town.

Image

Tulsa was the next stop. Florida Man was relieved to hear that the Reborners were the sole power in the city, as he'd actually hoped to do a bit of looting for food, but didn't want to arouse the anger of the soldiers back in Oklahoma City. He wasn't going to be so rude as to force the Reborners to feed the gang, but he was pretty sure they wouldn't do much to bother the Gator Goons either. Initial scouting yielded no results, however.

Image

Fortunately, they were able to scrounge a bit through the supermarkets and managed to find another day or so's worth of food. During that time, the Reborners remained stand-offish but amicable.

Image

Later the next day, the Gator Goons were still searching the city blocks when they heard the sound of gunfire. At first they thought it was someone celebrating a find, but as the bullets started whizzing past them they realized they themselves were under fire. The vehicles took to the streets and started firing back.

Image

Harold, in the bus, found himself more than a block away from the main part of the group, with only the Hyundai near by. Florida Man gunned the Gatormobile down the street to provide more covering fire.

Image

As the Gator Goons got closer, they heard the twisted hooting of a group of Cannibals. There appeared to be several medium-size vehicles and one large truck that they'd kept stashed on a side street, likely because it carried all of their ill-gotten food stores.

Image

Harold turned his bus down a side street as soon as he spotted a small Toyota approaching; he wasn't sure if it was going to be the lead element of some larger force or not.

Image

Jack swerved his Chevy van around a tight corner while being pursued by a little Dodge Neon. Farther back, Cecile ordered the truck driver to slow to a crawl so they could let loose with the guns at long range.

Image

As Harold made a lumbering turn around the corner, the tiny Toyota continued to head straight for him.

Image

Gunfire erupted out the side of the bus, eliminating the driver, but it was not in time to prevent the car from barreling into the back end of the bus, causing Harold to halt to avoid fishtailing into the building behind him.

Image

A couple brave souls tried to leap out the back door of the Chevy on to the Neon, but one just slid off the roof. The two who made it did knock one person of the opposing car but where killed in short order.

Image

The two trucks had now apparently become the main targets of the enemy, though the Freightliner seemed to be at a safe enough distance down the side street at this point.

Image

Jack and the Mack truck finished off the Neon. Now there was a red Ford Bronco that was looking to close in on the Freightliner in a narrow street race.

Image

Just as those two were headed down the side street, the Gatormobile and the Stellar were making all speed up another street to get closer to the action. The Cannibals in their truck had gotten underway now and were looking to even the odds.

Image

The Freightliner lurched back and forth to give its passengers a better shooting angle, and it worked: the Bronco was taken out before the truck had made it to the next block.

Image

Florida Man broke off to head behind the flatbed while the Hyundai rushed to beat it at the corner.

Image

The Stellar zoomed by at nearly 100 mph and took a screeching turn around the block as the van and the Mack got into range of the Cannibal's flatbed.

Image

Crazy cannibals dancing around on the open bed of a truck were easy pickings, even at moderate range.

Image

As the opposition's numbers dwindled, Jack took a crazy risk and drove in close with the Chevy van.

Image

This lured several of them to get off the flatbed and onto his own van, where the more-skilled defenders knocked them off easily.

Image

Jack had timed his run perfectly, as he swung the van out of the way just in time to avoid a collision.

Image

There was still a lot of fight in the Cannibal crew, though, as they took out two of the people on top of the Hyundai.

Image

By the time the rest of the enemy gang had been defeated, even Harold had been able to rejoin the group.

Image

It had been one of their lengthiest street battles yet, but the Goons came out of it in relatively good shape; there'd hardly been any damage to the vehicles.

Image

The commotion of the battle had naturally garnered a great deal of attention. A group of Reborners actually showed up afterward with a grateful gift. "We do not allow violence, but we are glad to be rid of such foul people as that. They have been troubling us for some time," said their leader. "We share our gifts with you, and hope that you, too, will see the new light."

Image

Not wanting to push their luck any further in this region, the Gator Goons made preparations to leave the next morning. A review of the forces showed that Sgt. Adams' training was producing noticeable results.

Image

The Gator Goons pushed onward and nearly made it as far as St. Louis in a few days. On the way there had been an attack on mutants, and it wasn't clear if these had migrated north from Houston or south from Chicago.

Image

The town was said to be controlled by a group of bureaucrats occupying the city government offices, but rumor had it they were too busy arguing over how to plan the town to mess with any outsiders.

Image
Elpida was able to convince a number of the citizens that to be stuck here in the middle of the country, while safer from the Invaders, wasn't going to make things get better any time soon, and the mutants would be coming any day now. If they wanted adventure and excitement, they should sign up with the Gator Goons.

Image

After stocking up with a few more food stores, the gang continued up into anywhere that they might get updates on Alec Trotier's whereabouts.

Image

When they reached Indianapolis, they were unable to find any GUB agents, but it turned out that news of their journey through Chicago, and the takeover of Detroit, had made it to the city. There were still a number of skilled crews who had hung around at the Speedway hoping that somehow, fast car racing might make a comeback. They offered to fix up the Gator Goons vehicles for free if Florida Man would give them a show in the Gatormobile.

Image
Image
The engines were tuned for excellent performance.

Image
Image
Image

Florida Man suggested that they still had to deal with a lot of attacks out on the road, so reinforced steel panels were added wherever possible, with an upgrade to the brakes to account for the weight increase.

Image
Harold was especially pleased with the upgrades. Even if his old bus was not going to be able to turn any better, the protection on the windows and front was vastly improved, and it would take more than a simple collision to dent it now.

Note that unlike some of the upgrade sites, this one did not repair all the vehicles for free; I'm not sure why that is so. Also of note is that while I could not have known when we would get the first contact from the GUB, we did benefit from having it happen when we did. Apparently, the GUB update overrides these 'first visit' bonuses, so it did not trigger when we went through Indianapolis before. I did take advantage of that to save these upgrades for the bus.

Image
The constant threat of mutant attacks from Illinois had only seemed to worsen since they'd last been here. The gang's casualty rate was getting to be unacceptable.



This week's film: Deathsport

We'll get back to Florida one day.

User avatar
Deathsport (1978)

"When the sun rises, there's no necessity to announce it. Clearly we have lost."

Image

A voiceover explains that a thousand years into the future, after the 'Great Neutron Wars', the world consists of a few city-states and large wastelands. The wastelands are peopled with 'cannibal mutants' as well as the 'range guides' who are able to navigate safely through the dangerous territory when the 'statemen' must travel outside of their safe city walls.

One of the guides is seen being chased after by helmeted men on motorcycles. He kills off many of them using a crystal sword and a 'blaster' (a death ray that his pursuers also wield). Before he manages to escape on his horse, his horse is shot and then the statemen finally knock him to the ground.

Two leaders have a meeting and say that they need people to believe in the 'death machines' as a display of military power. They want to show their strength by using them to defeat the famously tough range guides in the 'Deathsport'. The statemen then go out and capture a woman who's been serving as one of the guides for a group of scared travellers avoiding the mutants. In the process, a young girl she'd been training is also captured by mutants living in the surrounding hills.

In the prison, Caz Oshay (the man who was caught at the start) finds that if he tries to resist his captors, they can send some sort of shock torture directly into his cell. He sees the woman who'd been captured in the cell opposite him. Her name is Deneer, and they both speak in a stilted language apparently used by the guides; they also seem to form a psychic connection since he has flashes of her being captured without her having to tell it to him.

The leader, Lord Zirpula, is informed by his doctor (a man named Agust Karl) that he has a degenerative brain disease and should probably step down before it worsens and drives him insane. This throws Zirpula into a rage and he sentences the doctor to 'Deathsport'; Karl is thrown in the cell with Caz.

Zirpula's lieutenant Ankar Moor (the man who captured Caz) comes down to the cell and threatens the two guides; he apparently killed Caz's mother, the most famous guide of all, and he wants him to know it. Caz is defiant.

Dr. Karl's son (who'd been travelling with Deneer's group) wants to rescue his father, and he comes to the prison cell with some guards. As they open the cell, he surprises them from behind and Caz is able to overpower the guards. However, it turns out that the walls of the prison cannot be breached, and the prison escape is thwarted. Both Karl and his son are imprisoned with Caz.

Zirpula punishes Deneer by having her dance naked in a dark room that has electrodes hanging from the ceiling. He seems to be able to control them somehow to give her shocks and this pleases him sadistically.

Caz is tortured and thrown back into the prison, where Deneer heals him. Then the guards come in (being sure to turn on the torture and stun the prisoners first) and carry all of them off to the Deathsport arena. It appears as if they are to be used in a some sort of gladiatorial combat. They are only provided with helmets and swords, while their opponents have the 'death machines' which seem to be just the same motorcycles we've already seen.

Caz & Deneer of course are able to win the fights. There's a fair amount of random explosions, although we see at some point that Zirpula and Ankar Moor have control over them and are maybe trying and failing to blow up the gladiators. Caz and Deneer, along with Dr. Karl and his son, take over some of the death machines and are able to escape the arena.

Image

Zirpula, upset over the escape, tortures another woman. She collapses to the ground, but when he goes to pick her up she grabs him and hits him with one of the shock devices, killing him. Ankar Moor, now knowing that he can become the leader of the city if he catches the escapees, heads into the wilderness after them.

In the wasteland, Caz and Deneer return to the place where the little girl was taken. They come across a location unfamiliar to them (it looks to be a shot of some refinery, and is said to be a secret weapons factory). They hide out during the night to avoid the roving mutants.

The next day, Ankar's men catch up to the four as they make for a 'pass'. In the ensuing chase, Dr. Karl is killed. His son wants to go back and take the rest of Ankar's men on, but Caz convinces him that it he'd be throwing his life away. As the chase continues out beyond the pass, both sides notice an oncoming 'flash wind' that they need to take shelter from.

Deneer searches her memories and realizes the location of the mutant cave. Inside, they discover the child in a cage and release her. On the way out, they have to fight off some of the mutants, and Caz has to come back and save the junior Karl from being taken.

When they exit, Caz rides off to draw Ankar Moor away, while the others head off to the nearest city, since that was Deneer's original task. After another fiery chase scene through a military base, Caz has managed to blow up almost all of the death machines. He finally faces down Ankar Moor in a duel of swords, and defeats him by slicing off his head.

Deneer comes out to the range with horses. She and Caz agree to make their 'union complete', and so they ride off into the sunset together with the child following after on a pony.

Image

While this was intended as a follow-up of sorts to Death Race 2000, this one ended up largely being a failure. There seems to be a germ of an interesting future world at its heart, with the lore of the guides as mystical figures, and the neo-Roman Empire setting, but it just ignores anything interesting in favor of distracting the audience with exploding vehicles and occasional gratuitous nudity. Unfortunately even the action scenes are too low-budget to even be entertaining, and the somewhat serious and pretentious tone of the character interactions makes it hard to enjoy it even in a more trashy way.

The attempts to provide any tension or interesting conflict simply don't work. The city-state is trying to trick the populace into a war, but we never see anyone's reaction to what the leaders are doing, and Zirpula is simply eliminated before anything more comes of it. Caz and Deneer's convoluted jargon wants to highlight that the guides maintain a fiercely independent lifestyle in the wilderness, but since they are together for almost the whole movie, there's never a doubt that they won't end up together. About the only decent source of conflict is Ankar Moor, played with intensity by Richard Lynch. He has some good scenes with Caz Oshay (played ably by David Carradine), but this alone cannot carry the movie, and opposite most of the other characters he seems to be overacting.

Image

There's a clear contrast between this and Death Race; while Death Race was fun and satirical, with well-shot vehicular action even while being lurid and graphic with the sex and violence, this is just far lower (or wasted) effort. Unlike the Death Race, the titular Deathsport is neither well-defined nor interesting. There's only one scene involving it, which goes on far too long, and it is hardly different from the other motorcycle chases in the film. Few of those are compelling to watch either, since even though they showcase some great stunts what happens in the chase isn't in service of any narrative. There are explosions and lots of things burst into fire, and the person you expect to win eventually wins. There's also the sexual exploitation, which is tossed in with barely any commentary or context. Aside from an occasionally shirtless Carradine and one very brief scene of intimacy, it's just naked women being tortured for no good reason than to be on display for the audience. There's also only a hint of Corman's unique production values, since this is mostly shot in exterior locations, and it's clear that this is the side of Corman that could care less about the plot or characters as long as the film has enough explosions and naked people in it to keep the audience satisfied.

The problem, of course, is even this does not leave the audience satisfied. While a fair amount of the camera work is well-executed, it tends to fall down in the action sequences; there are too many POV shots, and unlike speedy cars on highways these are motorbikes on bumpy off-road trails, which only makes for an unpleasant watch. The editing isn't able to hide that that the same bits and locations are being re-used over and over, with cuts to explosions with no real reason for them occurring far too often. I'd say the spacy music (assisted by Jerry Garcia) is at least intriguing, and the sound in general is competent. I listened to this with the commentary track by Allan Arkush (the second director, brought in to try to salvage the film), and as he puts it, "Bad movies don't start out as bad movies." That's true, and whatever it might have started out as, the end product is still just a bad movie.

Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

There is the promise in this film of vehicular action with the motorcycles, but it rarely is fulfilled. The death rays are invisible and kill instantaneously, so they have to either be not used or be planned with just the right shot, and it does not liven up the combat at all. Even the swordplay isn't terribly well done, since the unwieldy plastic swords don't lend themselves to proper fencing, just people either running into the hero's blade or slashed off their bike without it actually being shown on-screen.

You do get one other point where this has a common element in the game world, which is the mutants. In Roadwar, the 'mutants' only attack at night, which is something suggested by this film (although they also kidnap the child in the day, but that's hardly the movie's only inconsistency). The Deathsport mutants seem to be an actual sort of human subspecies, as they live in communities but can only speak in grunts or howls. Their appearance is unnatural but still humanoid, even if it is probably the cheapest-looking thing in a relatively low-effort film. With Roadwar's shortened timescale for the collapse they had to resort to the hand-waving 'mutant virus' idea, but they do also hold to the concept that these are a constant threat, and not quite human either. They also seem to follow the trope of being cannibals in a world where that doesn't seem strictly necessary, something that pops up in the game as well.

If nothing else, the mutants are in a way one of the least disappointing aspects of the film, as from their first appearance in their cheesy outfits we have an understanding of what they will be like. The cave scene even provides one of the more engaging fight scenes, with a torch fight that actually gives a reason for everything eventually catching on fire. It's just unfortunate that as with a lot of the parts of Deathsport, it doesn't fit together with the rest at all.

User avatar
Just a note that the update schedule will likely be a bit less often than once a week for now. It's better to get them out at a more workable pace for me than to push, since trying to get it out actually has taken more time out of my schedule than doing it slowly. No big slowdown - more like 10 days or so between posts, and a new update is coming within a day or two.

User avatar
Florida Man Abandons Millions in Buried Gold Treasure


Image

The Gator Goons spent a bit more time in Indianapolis searching for new members and seeking reports on Trotier's whereabouts. They encountered another band of the oddly face-painted people who'd spread out after the 'gathering' in Detroit. They didn't seem to be ready to help out the gang. Army Ranger Simms gave a bark, and they dispersed.

Image

The mutant attacks continued as they moved on toward Ohio. In Cincinnati, they discovered that with the cold weather already arriving, the Reborners were only sharing their food to those who professed the new faith. There were many left out who were ready to join up with a road gang instead.

Image

However, the leadership knew their own food supplies were going to get tight if they kept bringing in so many members, and Sgt. Adams was having trouble training all the raw recruits. Florida Man told Elpida to hold off on bringing in more people, and only to look for Alec Trotier, or any other GUB scientists.

Image

Unfortunately, this behavior often drove the assembled crowd to anger. In some cases, they turned out to be cannibal gangs that were only waiting for the right moment to strike. After a few encounters like this, the Gator Goons were down to their lowest numbers in weeks.

Image

In Dayton, at least, there were doctors who had set up camps for the Reborners, and they were able to trade for a few more doses of antitoxin.

Image

But even there, the Chicago mutants continued to find them, and again the Reborners asked them firmly to leave the city.

Image

Columbus and Cleveland proved to fertile ground for new and friendlier replacements for those who'd been recently lost, but there were still no reports of Trotier.

Image

By the time they got to Youngstown, the gang had swelled to nearly 200 members again. This time, when they encountered a group in the street, Army Ranger Simms started to jump and whimper. Sgt. Adams looked and spotted telltale traces of blood on the shirts of some of the crowd.

"Cannibals!" he cried out, and the Gator Goons attacked. With their ruse discovered, the cannibal gang tried to pull their weapons out, but the Gator Goons were already firing. They mowed down the enemy with ease.

Image

As the afternoon faded into evening, Florida Man spotted another small band of men and women coming down the street. They had smears of blood all over them. A couple seemed to be dressed quite differently, with one in a flowing black gown, and another wearing an oversized red, white, and blue hat and a star-spangled suit. Oddly, the seemed to be laughing as they meandered towards him.

"Cannibals?!" cried out Florida Man, and pulled out his shotgun.

"Holy shit, no!" yelled one of the bloodstained men. "Is that real? No, wait, wait, we're just going to a party!" He, and several of the others, began waving their arms furiously in the air to show they meant no harm.

"Party? In that get-up? Huh?" asked a bewildered Florida Man. He lowered his gun.

"Yeah, you know it's Halloween! Still gotta party," responded one of the women. "What are you dressed up as?" she asked, twirling around and following the shocked group away.

"What do you know, Army Ranger Simms, I guess it's Halloween," said a relieved Florida Man, remembering all the fun he'd had on Halloweens past. He patted the dog on the head and called back to the rest of the gang, "False alarm. Just a costume party, you know."

Image

There was a growing chill in the air as Florida Man guided the group up toward Michigan. He didn't want to spend another winter up in the northern cold climates; last year in New York he had thought he was going to freeze to death. Fortunately, as they entered Toledo and checked in with the National Guard, they found Alec Trotier right there, staying safely at the base.

It seemed word had gotten through that the Gator Goons who had set up the government in Detroit were the ones chosen by the GUB to bring the scientists in, and he'd expected them to come back any day. Dr. Washington was overjoyed to be reunited with him, and they spent the afternoon comparing notes and discussing the current state of the pandemic.

Image

While they were in town, the helpful national guard allowed the Goons full use of their repair yard. The vehicles were once again ready for action on the road.

Image

Early the next morning, Florida Man was just returning from a morning walk with Army Ranger Simms. He found Ms. Stojanova and Sgt. Adams waiting for him. Elpida brought up the question first. "We have two GUB scientists. Where do we head now?"

Florida Man scratched his ear and replied, "Well, it's been pretty cold lately. Getting toward winter time soon. I think it would be good to head south for a while." Army Ranger Simms came and nudged his hand, and he leaned down to pet the dog. "And I do aim to see my home," he said with conviction.

Sgt. Adams said, "And what after that? We need to get these scientists to the lab as soon as we can. I can keep them safe, but our goal is to get them there, not just wander about the country."

Florida Man chuckled a bit. "We've been all around the country. But I haven't been home. Besides, don't we have, like, five more scientists to look for?"

Elpida responded, "We don't know if we will find them all on one trip, though. We cannot even be sure they are all really alive. It would be a mistake to keep them away from their work for too long. We do have to head back to Tacoma, possibly sooner rather than later."

Cecile and Jack had shown up at this point. Jack broke in with, "The United States is a big country. There are more places to check for the scientists. And moving these cars in winter is going to take some doing. We might be better off in the South."

Sgt. Adams said, "It's not yet winter, and that's precisely the reason we ought to move now through the north. We can make it back "

Florida Man finally said, "Look, Gator Goons is my gang. We will get back to Tacoma, and we'll all get there safe if we stick together. But we're gonna head South. We can search for more scientists down there too."

Elpida responded, "I just hope you don't keep those scientists out on the road for too long. And make sure that we have the supplies to make it back, too."

Image

The decision on their next step seeming to have been made, the Gator Goons headed off the highway and in a southerly direction. They tried searching through the southern Ohio farmland for any edible crops. They did manage to find some overgrown pumpkins, and added them to the half-empty trucks. Even the bulldozer was barely carrying a load anymore.

Image

They crossed the Ohio River a little west of Louisville, Kentucky. Someone pointed out that the Gold Bullion repository must be close by, wondering idly if all the gold was still there. Florida Man said, "Well, that might be something worth checking out."

Sgt. Adams responded immediately with, "You'd better not be getting any ideas. The Army's got that place well secured. Besides, what are you going to do with gold anyway? Buy yourself a vaccine?"

Cecile chimed in, "It'd be pretty neat to see, anyway! All the gold in the US, all in one spot!" She giggled gleefully.

Image

The first sign that something was off was when the gang pulled up to the front gate of Fort Knox and found it abandoned. No one was there at the guard post, and the base looked like it had been abandoned long ago. Here and there were scattered bits of refuse on the ground. They continued driving on and there were more indications of something worse. A few of the bushes seemed torn out or burned. There were spent shell casings in the gutters. Black spots on the pavement suggested explosions, or fires. Then they found the rusted hull of a pickup truck - not a military vehicle, although there was the twisted wreckage of a machine gun in its bed.

"Looks like a bomb went off here," commented Cecile. "I hope things are okay inside."

"You mean like a nuke set off?" wondered Florida Man.

"No, silly," she said. "Who'd do that? I just... you know, probably it's been looted already."

The Gator Goons drove on, slowly, and rounded their way to another empty gate of the fort, and then up the road to the bullion storage. Here, too, there were even more signs of combat, with a few smashed motorcycles and one Army jeep that had been shot up in the sides.

"It's unguarded!" shouted someone when they drew close to the main repository building. Indeed, the doors of the main bunker looked to be torn open. Nobody stood on guard, and on there seemed to be a faint glow of gold from somewhere inside the structure.

Soon more people started shouting, and rushing toward the door. In short order, the vehicles had largely been abandoned. Jack was futilely shouting, "Wait! Wait!" as the unruly mass ran into the building. Cries of "Gold! Gold!" could be heard as footsteps echoed down the stairwells.

Image

Then, the gunshots started. At first, there was a shout and some people rushed upstairs, possibly fearing and ambush from hidden guardians. Before long, however, the gunfire was repeated sporadically, and sometimes it was cut off in the middle as if unnaturally. From below, there were more sounds of a melee.

Florida Man had dismounted and finally reached the building. He dreaded heading down into it, but Jack and Sgt. Adams spurred him on.

He said, "Okay, Adams, you stay up here, make sure it's safe on the outside. Me and Jack'll go down." They pulled out their guns and headed down the stairs. Elpida followed after. Dr. Kassabian had come up to the group and asked those standing guard, "You think I should go? See if anyone's hurt?"

When he got down, Florida Man witnessed a scene of intense carnage. Dozens of bodies lay on the floor and many had been shot in the stairwell with their hands still wrapped around ingots of gold. Although the fighting had mostly subsided, Florida Man fired off his gun in the air to silence the room. He announced, "Nobody gets the gold. We're heading out now."

Dr. Kassabian and a few others descended to care for the injured and remove the bodies to be buried outside the fort's compound. He noted that there was more dried blood on the ground in places where none of the Gator Goons had fallen.

Image

Fleeing the fort, the gang regrouped and headed back to Louisville. While the town was quiet, it seemed to them almost as if it were under a cloud. Scouts they'd sent out earlier told them that it was a Reborner zone. Florida Man wandered through the city and one of the white-robed members of the group came to talk to him.

"You look troubled," she said calmly. She studied his face and said, "Oh, you've been to Fort Knox. Here for the gold I suppose. You should learn, like us, to abandon your selfishness."

Sgt. Adams asked, "Do you people really control this town? The fort too? And you don't do anything to guard it?"

"We find we don't really need to," the woman smiled. "Such things as gold we do not desire." She paused a moment, giving the group a long stare. "Only outsiders come for it... but they never leave with it. It's a problem that takes care of itself."

Image

Elpida did some inquiries around the city and found a few remnants of former gangs that had torn themselves apart in their own attempts to secure the gold reserves. "Let us leave this cold city, and never come back," she suggested, and Florida Man agreed.

Image

The goons found a calmer, more relaxing atmosphere in Nashville. There, the Tennessee 'Volunteer Guard', as they called themselves, had established the law. They were largely made up of former members of the military, but not necessarily answering to any higher authority than their own units. The Gator Goons were able to breathe a sigh of relief after the tense situation in Kentucky.

Image

A small bunch of cannibals did wander into the town, but the Gator Goons, with the help of the Volunteers, made short work of them. Sergeant Adams was starting to turn a lot of them into experienced soldiers.

Image

It was undeniable at this point, though, that the food situation was dire. Instead of heading off on the highway through the mountains toward Georgia, the gang tried to scour the countryside in a search for working farms. There was none to be found, though, and by the time the crew made it to Birmingham, they were subsisting on scraps.

Image

Starvation was held off for a few more days by a big find at one of the Piggly Wiggly markets on the north side of the city. It seemed that here, at least, large sections of the city were untouched by looters.

Image

When probing the local residents for news about any scientists or government crews who might have been through the town, a number of them mentioned that they should take to 'Miss Gloria', a local doctor who it seemed had helped a lot of people through the illness.

The group made its way over to the campus of the Birmingham-Southern College, where she'd reportedly set up her practice. In a red brick building that housed a former biology lab, they were met by a tall, pale woman with a bright smile. "Well, hello," she beamed when they came in. "You need some medicine, or got someone you have to get patched up in here?"

Sgt. Adams spoke up. "Actually, ma'am, we're here on a special mission. You are Dr. Gloria Mills, correct?"

"Yes, that is me. But, oh, wait, you mean to say— Alec! Gabriel! My gosh, you are here in the flesh! Well, now, what a delight!"

The doctors explained about the call to come back into the GUB. Gloria was a bit saddened that she'd have to leave behind the people of the city, but she understood that it was necessary to gather the group and combine their knowledge to really discover a cure.

Image

Early the next morning a sizable group of people showed up outside the camp and begged to come along with the Gator Goons. Gloria explained that she had told some friends about the gang, since she figured they had to be doing something right to make it to her. Florida Man said it'd be fine for them to come along. Sgt. Adams, Elpida, and Jack were less pleased. Elpida noted that if they were going to be making down to Florida and back they could have at least let them stay in their own homes until then, and save the food.

Image

The gang departed Alabama and pushed on to Atlanta, hoping that it would be more rich in resources. By the time they got there, even the fuel supply was rather low.

Image

Initially things went poorly there. The first group of people they encountered feigned an interest in discussing joining up, but attacked as soon as the envoys were sent over to negotiate. Elpida managed to escape safely, but casualties were heavy.

Image

The gang's luck turned later that afternoon, as they found a long-abandoned cafeteria in a public high school.

Image

A few more searches and they had more than a week's supply of food, enough to safely get them to Florida.

Image

The next day, they crossed the border into Florida. It had been more than a year for him. Florida Man just said, "I'm looking forward to seeing my house again."

Image

They had just passed Gainesville when Cecile flagged them to slow up. "We got trouble coming!" she called out, pointing ahead to the convoy of vehicles rolling up the highway ahead. "They're all hopping around and ready to fight! A whole bunch of cannibals, by the looks of it!" she added.

Image

Sgt. Adams gave the signal to the large vehicles to form up at the sides to provide firepower. "Those cars are fully loaded, and staying in a close formation. They won't go down easy," he shouted. The more nimble smaller vehicles pushed ahead to get around to the enemy rear.

Image

When the Gator Mobile took the lead, there was a sudden commotion on top of the limo in the center of the enemy cars. One man stood up to full height on top, and he leaned forward as if trying to spot something. He appeared to be wearing some sort of captain's cap. A second later he screamed out and started waving, "Him! It's him! In the Pontiac, get it!"

A moment later the enemy vehicles erupted with fire, all aimed at the Gator Mobile. One of the troops on the roof went flying off.

Image

Jack shouted out, "It's a trap! Turn around!" Florida Man wasn't sure what was going on, but he slid the Gator Mobile across the highway at 100 miles an hour and started to circle back toward the Gator Goons.

Image

Sgt. Adams directed the vehicles on one side to take out the small Chevrolet at the front of the enemy pack; he hit in such a way that it lined up perfectly with the wrecks already on the freeway and would make that flank much tougher for the opposition to navigate.

Image

Even as Florida Man took evasive action, the shots continued to be aimed at his car. Another casualty was lost. The only fire at the other vehicles was aimed at the tires, as if they were just trying to keep them from interfering with their target.

Image

As the Gator Mobile passed behind the Freightliner, Cecile pushed forward several willing soldiers, telling them, "Jump on his car! Make sure you can defend him!"

Image

Adams's trick had done the job, as the limo with the apparent gang leader on top of it had been unable to maneuver past the wall of twisted steel, and halted with a loud thump into the barrier at the edge of the highway.

Image

The combined firepower of Harold's bus, and the two trailer trucks, polished off the other limousine without a problem.

Image

Florida Man gave Jack a thumbs-up as he passed him in the rear of the circle he'd made away from the battlefield. Jack's own Chevy had taken two hits to the front tires, and he'd wisely retreated.

Image

The limo had successfully extricated itself from the low highway wall, but the 'captain' who had been on board was nowhere to be seen when it turned around.

Image

It didn't take long for the Gator Goons to fire off some well-aimed shots that took out the few people who remained inside it.

Image

The Mack had played a little game of chicken with the bus, the last opposing vehicle. The souped-up truck had no trouble whizzing past the old bus, but as it did so it exposed itself to boarders.

Image

They were not well-armed, and didn't seem skilled at fighting, but there were an awful lot of them.

Image

Florida Man, gaining confidence, had brought the Gator Mobile back into the battle. "You won't take me out that easy!" He leaned to the seat next to him and said, "Ain't that right, Army Ranger Simms."

Image

Less than a minute later, the bus, too had crashed off the highway. Most of the rest of the cannibals fled, and the Gator Goons took a few potshots at them as they ran.

Image

One of the biggest hauls was the crates of food and fuel that had been stashed on board the bus.

Sgt. Adams said, "This stuff is military rations, at least most of it. These guys were no cannibal group. Maybe they took over the cars of somebody else." He turned to Florida Man. "But they were targeting you. Did you recognize that guy? Like, maybe when you lived down here?"

Florida Man shrugged his shoulders and said, "Can't say that I do."

Image

It was just about sunset when they finally reached Tampa. Florida Man was awfully eager to get close to the city, but the gang decided that after the run-in they'd just had, it would be better to fully scout the town before getting in closer. Florida Man's return home would have to wait for one more day.


This week's film: Cherry 2000

User avatar
Cherry 2000 (1987)

"Remember gentlemen, life's an adventure."

Image

The film opens with a man coming home from work to his loving wife. Their house appears to be quite futuristic, although she seems to be filling the role of a stereotypical housewife from an earlier era. After dinner, they start making out on the floor. When the dishwasher malfunctions and soap suds hit the woman, she jerks violently and freezes up. It turns out that she's actually an android.

The man, Sam Treadwell, visits a repair shop and the repairman tells him his 'Cherry 2000' has had a complete meltdown and there's no way to get parts for those models anymore. He is, however, able to retrieve her memory chip (a disc about the size of a coin) and can easily place it in any new body that Sam desires. Sam doesn't seem to be enthusiastic about what's in the shop, and says he'll have to think about it.

Sam's co-workers encourage him to come to a bar and meet some real women for a change. At the bar, we see that dating has turned into a very complex affair, with all consent negotiated by lawyers in advance. There's also a typical pre-screening of previous sexual encounters, recorded holographically. Sam goes home and instead prefers to listen to his own Cherry's recordings using her memory disc.

The repairman tells Sam that he knows of a 'tracker' who can find him a replacement Cherry body in 'Zone 7'; he tells Sam to meet the tracker out in the town of Glory Hole. He heads out to a seedy motel there and looks around for the tracker, "E. Johnson". He initially balks at the fact she's a woman. He doesn't want to sign up when she tells him that the robots are kept in the 'worst part of the zone' and that he'd need to come along with her. He heads to a local bar instead to hire "Six-Fingered Jake", the man who trained E., but when the trackers there end up nearly killing him, he comes back to her.

They take off in Johnson's souped-up Mustang, and have to force their way past some barricades to get into the wilderness. According to E., they're set up by people who just 'want a little action, they're bored'. She tells him that when they get to the robot 'graveyard' in the remains of 'Vegas City', they likely will only have a short time before the alarms go off. They take a break near a large canyon, and while scouting Johnson spies the vicious gang leader Lester, who controls Zone 7.

They take an alternate route to avoid him but find that they still have to cross a washed-out ravine guarded by some of Lester's men. One of them uses a large scrapyard magnet to pick up the car and move it into position to be shot by rocket launchers, but Johnson seems unperturbed and says this is the 'best way' to get across the river. Somehow all the gang's rockets miss very badly, while Johnson's return fire is very accurate. Treadwell mortally wounds the crane operator, who is able to still move the car over the river in an attempt to drop it in. Johnson ties a rope to the magnet so they don't end up being dropped, and are instead lowered into a giant pipe. Johnson again assures him this is her plan, although when they try to descend via a rope down the pipe, Treadwell slips and they both go sliding all the way down. At the bottom, they meet a man on a barge who is happy to see Johnson, and treats them to rattlesnake broiled in one of his many surplus toaster ovens. Yes, he's "Six-Fingered Jake" and no, none of this makes any sense.

Jake asks E. what she's doing out there. She mentions the job, and Sam describes how special his Cherry is, which causes Johnson to snipe at him over the fact that Cherry is just a robot.

The next night, they attempt to go down another 'tube' but the guards spot them. Johnson and Jake get into a firefight, and Sam is struck a blow to the head from behind and knocked out. Sam wakes up in bright daylight. He's wearing an unfamiliar pink shirt, and encounters an old girlfriend of his, Elaine, who says she's changed her name to Ginger. He's a bit confused, although when she mentions 'Lester' he starts to understand where he is.

Lester returns with a man named Skeet, and that night they have a barbecue. At the barbecue, Lester shoots Skeet in the head after forcing him to admit that he's a Tracker (because Lester hates Trackers), and then the group dances the Hokey Pokey.

Elaine Ginger tells Sam that there isn't really any escaping the place, and that Lester seems to like Sam, so he should probably stay. Sam decides to get out anyway, and then is completely surprised when Johnson appears to rescue him as well as recover her car. Treadwell sets fire to the camp's vehicles and the two get away into the night. Sam believes that the Cherry memory chip was lost with the rest of their gear, but Jake already gave E. the chip and she doesn't tell him.

Image

Sam takes over the driving since Johnson is tired, but he crashes the car. When they get out, the sexual tension breaks and they start kissing. While making out on the car, Cherry's recording that is in Johnson's pocket is triggered. Sam is hurt when he realizes she'd concealed the truth. He says that Cherry never lied to him, to which Johnson replies acidly that she's not a machine. Some of Lester's men attack, and they fight them off, after which they decide to go to the Robot Graveyard and complete the job, with Sam insisting that is indeed what he wants.

They stop at "Snappy Tom's", a junkyard/gas station, to fix up the car, and Jake meets them there. Johnson finds a small airplane and works on it instead as it'll be faster. Tom and his girlfriend Randa get a radio call from Lester looking for Sam, and Randa gives up that he's with them. Tom and Randa shoot Jake before he can get away, while Johnson and Sam get on the plane and fly off. When Lester shows up, he's upset that Snappy failed him. Randa tells Lester where the two are headed, but he gets annoyed by her and shoots her in the head.

Johnson and Sam land in the ruins of Vegas and make their way down into the abandoned casino that houses the robot shells. They start searching through the racks of robot bodies as Lester shows up outside and starts searching. Sam finally finds a Cherry 2000 and puts the memory chip inside her. She is activated right about the time Lester sees them and starts firing. This leads to Cherry, still in 'housewife' mode and clueless about the gunfight, following them out under gunfire. Sam shoots Lester and he falls down a skylight, but claws his way out as the three get into the plane.

Once they start moving, they find that they're too heavy to take off. Johnson says she has finished her job, and jumps out, allowing the plane to take off. An elated Sam turns around and shouts, "We made it!" only to encounter a blank smile from Cherry. He sees Johnson on the ground struggling to hold off the gunfire from Lester and his gang, while Cherry simply taps him on the shoulder and repeats, "I love you".

Sam, realizing he can't leave E. behind, lands the plane and tells Cherry to go get him a Pepsi. She gets out of the plane, and he shouts at Johnson to get on board. When they take off again, Lester hooks the plane with a rope, but this only gets him dragged along where he slams into a giant showgirl statue and dies. Ginger and Cherry sit down together, while Sam and Johnson fly off into the sunset.

Image

That plot description probably makes the film sound quite disjointed and a bit crazy, and it is that, but it manages to hold together with interesting characters that keep the plot moving along, at least in broad strokes. The world is stylized and often over-exaggerated, but well-detailed enough to be intriguing. The big logical gaps don't really help, since it doesn't seem to always be intentionally disorienting. It still has some decently entertaining parts.

Even though their actions or motivations can be a bit unclear, the characters are distinctive and in terms of dialogue, well-written. Each of the minor characters has color and the acting is uniformly good. In what is probably a deliberate tweak of the Road Warrior formula, Lester and his gang look like suburbanites, and dress in bright colors. They speak in terms of maintaining 'positivity' that make Lester's genuinely psychopathic behavior all the more shocking. Johnson is a bit scattershot. It's not clear how much false bravado she's supposed to have, given how contrived the plot progression is, and Sam Treadwell is bland enough that it's hard to imagine what she sees in him. She's played by Melanie Griffith, who really does an impressive job making the character work. You can feel just how lonely she is as a sort of societal outcast, and maybe she just finds Sam attractive from the start. It really doesn't help to have the plot kind of forcing them into each other to make a point about 'real' relationships, but it's not like the film is really trying to say anything particularly deep anyway.

I do like just how the details of the world make it nearly plausible. There are neat exchanges that flesh out the structure of the society. For instance, Sam shows E. a photo of Cherry, and she notes that Cherry's eyes are 'red dots' in the photo, thinking it's because she's a robot. Sam responds it's just the flash, and if he took a picture of her they'd look the same. The moment when Sam wakes up at Lester's compound is one when the disjointed logic works particularly well, since it feels dream-like, but also matches the aesthetic of Lester's gang once you learn about them.

Image

On the other hand, the movie isn't quite well-paced. It takes until late in the movie to really be clear within each scene what each character is trying to do, and while that does mean it ends on a strong note, by then it's hard to know if things are really going to stay consistent or not. The parts where the plot just trips along to the next beat stick out a lot more when it seems they could have been re-shaped into something more cohesive if they'd only bothered to connect the dots in a sensible way.

There is of course the fairly obvious problem with the whole premise. The film has a man who simply refuses to deal with the emotional investment and vulnerability required for a real relationship, and literally objectifies women as pleasure robots. We never even see a suggestion that male husband androids exist, and the film has very little to say about this particular treatment of women. (It is interesting that Blade Runner 2049, a film with a few strange parallels to Cherry 2000 and made roughly in the year this one is set in, doesn't go much beyond it in this regard). It's additionally a problem that Treadwell barely has to do anything to form a relationship with Johnson other than notice that she's human. Ultimately, the message just boils down to 'robot love is fake love' but never really tackles the other issues that it could have gone after.

The movie does have problems but it's certainly not the worst we've seen in the genre. I think it deserves some credit for doing things differently, and it definitely does not feel derivative. It takes a while to really get going, and it's light entertainment, nothing too serious. Even if it doesn't feel like they fully fleshed out the sequence of events, it's not hard to see where it is headed. It has its fun moments if you can manage to overlook the flaws.


Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

It's worth noting that vehicular combat could actually have happened in Cherry 2000, since Lester's gang at one point rides out in ATVs to get to Vegas, but the cars never get into it. The combat is rather static on the whole. Even with as many explosions and fires as this movie has, the gunfight at the end is the only halfway-decent battle scene. The connections to Roadwar seem to fit more in with how the world got to its current state.

This is not a world that has seen any large calamity (though Treadwell does mention having been in 'the war'), yet it is also clearly one in decline. Some cities seem to be functioning, and technology has advanced, but there are also clear indications of serious problems. There is a news report that mentions unemployment is 'down to 40%', and it seems as if the broken economy may be tied up with resource shortages, since recycling is considered a necessary (though bizarrely unpleasant) duty. Outside of the cities, it's a wildland, except it seems as if the only real threats are gangs like Lester's, and maybe the harsh desert environment that necessitates the experience of the Trackers. Outside of the city, we can see that the scrap business is probably thriving, meaning that manufacturing capacity just isn't what it was.

It is a world that feels a bit like where Roadwar could be headed, if some more of the cities started to fall apart. Already the road gangs can attack people in lone cars or in groups, and ruling over large open spaces would make sense after a while, especially if they were seen as valuable for retrieving scrap. It'd actually be a neat expansion if you could have territory both in or outside of cities that gave you resources in the game, but again, it's more about the road gang fights than any other aspect.

User avatar
Florida Man Defends His Homeland

Image

The time had finally come to return home for Florida Man. He drove the gang over to his old house, a little ways outside of Tampa, in the town of Mango. Scouts were sent out to find out if anyone had taken control. Meanwhile, he showed the rest of the gang around his house. It wasn't in great shape, but none of them wanted to ask how much it had looked like that before he'd left.

Reports came back that it was mostly quiet in the town and people kept to themselves, there was one group that would occasionally disturb the peace. It was a mostly ex-military outfit, from the sound of it, run by a man Captain Nono who was maybe an actual Navy captain. The gang didn't always bother people, but when he wanted something, Nono would demand it and be ruthlessly intolerant to any sort of disagreement. He also was known to be quite aggressive if he caught wind of anyone else trying to gain power in his territory.

Florida Man figured that Captain Nono must have been the guy they'd seen in the road battle.

Image

To fix up the cars after the fight, Florida Man took the gang over to a repair yard he knew. He glanced around at the place and said to the others, "Still looks kinda like it did. I wonder if old Sweeney--" and he stopped short as a white-haired man in a Florida Gators cap stepped out of the garage. "Hey! It's you!" shouted Florida Man with delight.

"Well, I'll be jiggered," said the man. "Hell, I figured you for dead."

Florida Man ran up to him and slapped his back. Then he shouted, "So good to see you, man! Hey, check it out, I got myself a whole road crew now. We're back in town and we're gonna clean it up right."

"Well, you'll probably have to deal with the Snowbirds," said Sweeney.

"Uh...people are still coming down from up north?" asked Florida Man.

Sweeney gave a grimace and continued, "Maybe they did. A lot of them probably. They ain't local, that's for sure. But what I'm talking about is a gang. Fully armed, almost military even. They came in at the start of the year, and they haven't left yet." He hefted a wrench in his hand. "Nobody's been able to stop them from doing whatever the hell they want. That Captain, too, he's a mean one."

He took a look around at the Gator Goons and nodded approvingly at Florida Man. "Well, looks you folks might have half a chance, now."

Image

A few more of his old friends were impressed that he'd managed to form up a gang, and signed on to help oust the Captain and his Snowbirds.

Image

As the gang commenced their search for the Snowbirds, they heard a shrill whistle in one of the surrounding houses, and then guns from all sides were fired on them. The sudden attack left dozens of the Gator Goons dead.

Image

Sgt. Adams suggested they regroup in a safer region, possibly in a nearby city. Florida Man was reluctant to leave his hometown so soon, but gave his assent. Almost as soon as they'd left Tampa, though, they encountered another road gang. These had been assembled from former tour buses. Instead of tourists wielding cameras, they were filled with angry gangsters armed with rifles. It looked to be a difficult fight just to get out of the city.

Image

The Gator Goons were ready for battle, though. They moved down the highway to engage the group of buses.

Image

Somehow it seemed that the opposition wasn't really used to highway combat in their large vehicles. One of them was unable to even move past the wrecked cars right in front of it, before even coming under fire. It crashed into the back of it and stalled.

Image

Florida Man spun the Gator Mobile back in front of one of the buses, baiting them to try and turn toward him. This seemingly distracted the bus right behind the one that had hit the car, and it smashed into the halted bus, crumpling it into a mass of metal.

Image

"You're making this too easy!" shouted Florida Man as he swung past the bus and fired his gun back behind him.

Image

The remaining enemy vehicles were now well-separated from each other, and were becoming surrounded.

Image

It wasn't too difficult for them to take out the lead bus on the median strip.

Image

That left the lone, damaged tour bus that had showed up late. It was being hit from three sides.

Image

The fight was over, with the undergunned tour bus easily knocked out by the experienced fighters of the Gator Goons.

Image

The gang was quite pleased to discover that the four wrecked buses had quite the stash of food supplies on board. Their food worries were over for the time being.

Image

Without any more incidents of trouble they headed over to eastern Florida to assess the situation with the local gangs there. The first stop was north of Miami, which they found had been one of the landing sites on the south.

Image

There was a group of people who'd been driven from their homes by the Invader forces. They wouldn't make good fighters, but Florida Man couldn't turn down fellow Floridians in their time of need.

Image

To his chagrin, he discovered that all of the Miami area was under the thumb of the Invaders. He promised that when he'd cleaned up Tampa, he would have to come back here and secure this side of the state as well.

Image

The recruitment trip hadn't been a big success so far, but they were able to get the vehicles all fixed up in Jupiter.

Image

The Gator Goons then continued back up the eastern Florida coast until they got as far as Orlando. Many among them couldn't resist heading into the amusement parks there, since they knew they'd probably be able to get through the gates with little difficulty. Florida Man though it'd be a good place for them to let off some steam.

Image

Unfortunately everything turned tragic after a few hours inside. Someone found that a few of the generators were still working, and got a handful of the rides up and running. But without the proper repairs, or anyone properly monitoring them to see the alarm indications, the place had turned into a death trap. Three dozen people died when one of the roller coaster tracks cracked and the car on it went crashing to the ground. Several more were killed elsewhere trying to swim in one of the artificial 'rivers' of another attraction when they got caught on unseen machinery and drowned.

Image

The dejected gang sent out the usual scouts into Orlando the next morning to see who was in charge in the city. But before the scouts could even report back, the Invader force attacked!

Image

The victory turned out to be the one bright spot in what had been an otherwise awful week. Cecile said, "Well at least now we can relax for a bit," but Florida Man said he still wanted to get back to Tampa sooner rather than later.

Image

The fight with the Invaders had reduced their numbers a bit. A quick search of the town yielded a number of former gangs who'd never gained the power to deal with the well-equipped army forces. Sgt. Adams handed them some better guns and got to work on their training.


Image

When they got back to Tampa, they went on the hunt for Captain Nono's gang, but all they ran into were already-looted gun shops. It seemed he was ensuring that no one could oppose him. Elpida told Florida Man the gang seemed to be in okay shape, but it might help if they could find some local mercenaries who knew more about the gang, and she'd see what could be done about it.

Image

That afternoon, tragedy struck. "Come quick! Come quick!" were the shouts as they spotted Elpida stumbling back into camp. Her head was bloodied and there was a blood soaking through her clothes from another wound in her leg. Florida Man and Jack helped to lift her up into Harold's bus.

"They... found me," she whispered. She pulled out the pistol that she'd always kept in her pocket but rarely used. "I got... one, and they ran off," she continued. Then, her voice fading, she said, "Get the scientists back to Tacoma. End this fight..." and she passed out.

When Dr. Kassabian arrived, he only confirmed what they already knew. She'd lost too much blood to survive.

Florida Man told them to bury her in his own backyard. He said that once it was all over and he was able to come back home, he'd have something out there to remind him of how hard a fight it had been.

Image

In one of Florida Man's old neighborhood markets, the usual patrols found a surprisingly large supply of food. It improved the somber mood slightly. Florida Man had a renewed feeling that he was in familiar territory and should know how to fight back. The rest of the day was quiet, with no more attacks. Perhaps Captain Nono was sending them a message to get out of town.

Image

The next day, the attacks resumed and they were fired on by hidden gunmen. Some Gator Goons fired back, but shortly after the exchange, Sgt. Adams called out that the enemy had stopped shooting. When they went to investigate the houses where they had been hit from, no one could be found inside.

Image

More attacks continued the entire day. There were suspicions that some among them had been betraying their movements to the Snowbirds. Florida Man made the decision to leave town once again before they took any more casualties. But he swore he'd be back.

Image

Back in Orlando, the gang rebuilt its strength again, from the remnants of the smaller gangs that had sprung up when the Invaders had arrived. It took longer than expected since no one was able to recall all the details of the agreements that had been usually negotiated by Elpida.

Sgt. Adams approached Florida Man that day in a private meeting. "I've got some concerns, sir," he began. "It's almost December. It might be good weather here, but snow will be falling in the mountains before long. It'll be even tougher if we don't head back soon."

Florida Man said he wasn't ready to give up on his hometown yet. But he did feel willing to put it to the leadership of the gang as to what would be best.

Cecile said, "We don't need to fight here. At least not right now. The mission for the GUB is important, and if we help them we'll be closer to ending this whole thing. "

Dr. Kassabian remarked, "If we keep it up down here much longer, we might as well stay the winter. And I don't know if Washington, Trotier, and Mills will be happy with that."

"I think it's only fair for us to help you make your home safe," said Jack. "We can't let Elpida down. We shouldn't have to run."

Sgt. Adams responded, "Well, if we are going to stay, we really need to find a way to win this fight."

Florida Man said, "Yeah, I agree there. We're gonna go back to Tampa and beat them. We just have to find a way to battle them in a fair fight instead of all this running around. Let me think, I'll come up with a plan."

Image

They came back to Tampa, only to find the same deserted shops and streets every time they sought out a confrontation with their rivals.

Image

Once again, the Snowbirds always got the jump on them. The Gator Goons lost most of the their new members when they were attacked from behind in a patrol through the north end of downtown.

Image

With the violence in the city mounting, there were actually some who wanted to stand up to the Snowbirds, and they voluntarily joined with the Gator Goons. Florida Man felt fortunate to see a few faces in the group that were familiar to him.

Image

One young woman who'd just signed up told him she knew of one of the Snowbird hideouts. Sgt. Adams was wary of a trap, but the group followed her to the spot and kept a close lookout all the while. She took them to a doctor's office. Inside, the furniture had been placed to barricade most of the windows, there were spent ammo casings on the floor, and a fair amount of dried blood staining the examination rooms. It didn't look like it had been in use any time recently, though.

"Well, it could have been where they were. Can't really say, can we?" muttered Cecile.

Army Ranger Simms started nosing around at the back of one of the closets. At first Florida Man thought he'd sniffed some unusual medicine, but it turned out that that there was a small hole in the back panel. He poked his finger through and pulled back the full piece of wood. Behind it were stacked a pile of automatic rifles, and a sack full of grenades and ammo. The label on the bag read 'MACDILL AFB'.

"MacDill," noted Adams. "Dammit! These pieces of trash stole from us!"

"Or maybe they were part of it," commented Jack. "They've been using a lot of advanced tactics. Some of them must have army training."

"Air Force," corrected Adams. "I mean, maybe we don't know," he added, correcting himself.

Florida Man said, "Take the guns out of here and dump them, just to be sure. Tomorrow we can check out the base."

Image

The next morning they went down to the south end of Tampa proper, where MacDill Air Force Base was. Before they could even get to the gates, they starting coming under gunfire.

"Well, it looks we found them!" shouted Cecile as she raced to get behind a road barricade for cover.

It was clear that the base might have been too well-defended for the Gator Goons to get inside. Florida Man called the gang to fall back; the Snowbirds did not pursue them and neither side took heavy losses. The gang had finally found the enemy base, but actually taking would be no easy matter.

Image

Rumors of the Gator Goons actually going after the Snowbird stronghold proved to be a powerful aid to bring more locals to their side who resented the gang of outsiders ruling their town.

Image

By this time the battle for Tampa had been raging for weeks, and between the recruitment and searching for enemy gangs, the gang had actually managed to start stocking its own supply cache at Florida Man's house in Mango with extra food, as even Harold's bus was full.

Image

There didn't seem to be any way to approach the enemy base. The ground near the guard house was too easily defended, and the rest of it. The military's fencing surrounding the rest of it made entry at any other point a difficult matter.

Florida Man tried to bait the Snowbirds out into another confrontation, but this only led to further secret strikes on the gang, despite their best efforts to stay cautious.

Image

With the violence in the streets growing ever more frequent, many of the citizens of Tampa were starting to flee the city. That also meant that some of the braver and well-armed inhabitants in the outlying towns gathered to Florida Man's banner.

Image

After several days, the Gator Goons had swelled to over two hundred members. Florida Man contemplated how best to stage an attack. He met together with Sgt. Adams, Jack, and Cecile to figure it out. They came up with a two-part plan: First, they'd send some of their forces in sailboats, coming from the marina toward the eastern shore of the Snowbird base. They would put just two per boat, so that the number of ships would seem to much bigger and draw off much of the enemy force. Meanwhile the bulk of the gang would come in with a more direct attack. Initially Florida Man argued for an advance on land from the far side of the base, near the flat airstrip. Adams said they'd never make it in the open ground, and a concentrated push at the guardhouse would actually be the most likely way to succeed, especially with the distraction from the 'amphibious' forces.

Image

Things started looking bad right from the start. None of the boats could easily get to the shore as the wind picked up right as they set out and slowed their approach. The on-shore enemy forces spotted them when they were still far off, and they were easy pickings. It had been hoped that even with the actual small number of people, spread Not a single crew managed to get to the beach, with some of them just abandoning the attempt in the face of heavy fire.

Nevertheless, the signal was given to go at the gates, as their estimates of the Snowbird's size meant that they could not have that many individuals to give so much fire toward the bay and to the front of the base. Florida Man yelled out the charge and the Gator Goons surged toward the guardhouse. It actually didn't take long before they'd taken it, with hardly any casualties. With the front gates, cleared, the advance to the main base began.

That's when it all went wrong. The group moved toward the buildings under sporadic rifle fire, and they could hear shouting that they hoped was confusion in the fight on the beach. Instead, though, their thoughts turned to terror as they saw first a large tow rope, and then, slowly wheeling into view on its end, an armored car, its four large wheels slowly rolling as the turret on top rotated a bit left and right. Leering at them from the back of the vehicle was Captain Nono himself. His mouth opened up and he let out a big laugh and then shouted down to the crew, "Let it rip, boys!"

From the turret the machine guns roared, and heavy .50-caliber rounds began smacking the ground all around the Gator Goons.

"They've got an M706!" cried Sgt. Adams. "We have to fall back to the guardhouse," he said breathlessly to Florida Man. Florida Man took a second to react, because he'd just realized where he knew the Captain from. It had been from an incident a while back he had hoped to put behind him. He wasn't too proud of the fact that he'd probably smashed into this Captain's big boat while being a bit too tipsy, but he was just mad at all the rich jerks who owned those big yachts anyway.

Adams was already seeking cover. Cecile grabbed Florida Man's arm and pulled him to the ground, and they started running back. The rest of the Gator Goons were already routing in disarray. Even the guardhouse could not be held, as when more of the forces reached there, Snowbirds coming from the beach starting engaging them on their left flank. The gang had to retreat entirely from the base. In the end, over a hundred people were lost in the fight.

Image

The battle at the base had ended terribly, but there were still a lot of people in the city who were wanting to do something about the Snowbirds. Just the fact that the gang had been engaged in their own home base by somebody was proof of bravery. It was enough to get people's hopes up.

Image

Things were quiet for the next two days. It seemed as if the Snowbirds might have been forced to hole up at the Air Force base. Florida Man still had no good plan for attacking the base, especially with the knowledge that they had some military-grade hardware still inside.

Image

The peace was not to last. Indeed, the strikes on the Gator Goons only seemed to get worse. Adams protested that they no longer had any time to train new recruits, and they should probably head back to Orlando to plan their attack in a safe location. Florida Man said he did not want to retreat yet again. He added that leaving town again would only delay their trip back to the GUB.

This week's film: Prayer of the Rollerboys

User avatar
Prayer of the Rollerboys (1990)

"The future's comin' anyhow. It's got you in its sights."

Image

The film opens with shots of a man rollerblading around a skate park. Interspersed with this we see a young man on a television screen giving a speech in front of an American flag. He's talking about how this generation's parents caused "The Great Crash" due to their own greed. Another, younger kid is shown trying to sell some salvaged trash he pulled from a bin. The man on the screen goes on, stating that "alien races" have taken over the country while "we were locked in homeless camps". The rollerblader comes and pulls the younger kid away from the screen as the man makes his view clear: the "White Army" needs to take back the country, and all those listening should consider the Rollerboys their new family.

We find that the rollerblader, Griffin, is a pizza delivery truck driver, although he has to carry an assault rifle on his route. The younger kid, his brother Milton, rides along with him. Griffin comes to a house on fire with a man inside yelling for help, and smashes the van into the house to free him. The person inside runs off as the police arrive; Griff is initially suspected of being a drug dealer since it turns out the house was a 'mist house'.

Later, Griff and Milty (as they call each other) encounter the Rollerboys skating in formation in a parking garage. The gang's leader, Gary Lee, recognizes Griff, since they used to be neighbors as kids. He tells Griffin that he owes him one, since he saved a Rollerboy named Bullwinkle from the fire. Milton is impressed by the gang, but Griffin tells him to avoid them.

Griff is now stuck with a huge debt to the pizza shop owner for the damage to the van. Milton, however, shows up with a brand-new van donated by Gary Lee. Griff is upset, but the owner won't give it back. Griffin is now being thought of as one of the Rollerboys, with some locals thinking that he has access to the drug mist. Milton is increasingly being drawn into the group. Even when Griffin tells him the gang is a bunch of racists, Milton doesn't seem to believe it.

Later, two plainclothes policemen see Griffin rollerblading (though he's not wearing the trademark Rollerboy white coat) and they arrest him. The police officer who had seen him before at the fire, named Jaworski, interrogates him at the station. Griffin denies any connections to Gary Lee, simply saying that they simply used to know each other. Jaworksi gets worked up, and says that Milton is going to be sucked into the gang and eventually start using mist. He wants Griffin to infiltrate the gang, but for now, Griffin says he's staying out of the whole thing.

Then Griffin discovers one night that Milton has in fact started dealing mist on the street. The situation gets dangerous when the B-13's, a rival gang, do a drive-by on some of the Rollerboys, and then chase down Griffin. Bullwinkle shows up at the last second and saves his life. Milton encourages Griffin to leave with the gang, and seems sad when he won't join them. Griffin returns to Jaworski and agrees to get into the gang, as long as they can keep Milton safe if anything happens to himself. Jaworski wants him to join up and start reporting to him, and he also wants him to find out what the gang's frequent chant "Day of the Rope" means.

Griffin completes a trial of initiation into the gang by rollerblading through a high-security port and stealing a badge (which leaves two other hopefuls dead). He then attends a rally that night as a 'dragon' of the gang. He also starts participating in more gang activities, from shaking down his old workplace to passing out free food and comic books to young kids.

He also encounters a young woman named Casey (who had earlier tried to get some mist from him), and she reveals that she's actually an undercover cop herself. She gives him his new orders, to get access to the 'mist house' where they manufacture the drug. Gary Lee tells him that Casey's brother had been a Rollerboy, and his last wish was to be buried with his coat on.

It turns out that Gary Lee is as much of a businessman as he is a white supremacist. He shows off an old naval yard that he bought from the ailing US military, and he'll be looking to purchase a power plant soon. He then takes Griffin directly to the mist operation - a sealed trailer inside the naval yard. He plans to put Griffin in charge of the operation, and gives him a healthy advance in pay.

Image

Griffin purchases an RV, but Speedbagger, a black man whose junkyard they'd been living in, has lost all respect for him and Griffin feels he has to move away. He then finds Milton inside the RV, wasted on mist. Griffin leaves to meet up with Casey, telling her he thinks he's done enough by locating the operation. However, since the trailer is rigged with large tank of acid to dissolve any evidence if raided, she says that he needs to be put on 'kitchen duty' to prevent that.

The gang attacks the B-13's, and when Bullwinkle discovers that Griffin has let some of them escape rather than shoot them, the tension between them grows worse. Milton gets caught failing a drug test (Gary Lee has a strict rule about not using mist), and instead of Griffin helping him out, Gary Lee slaps him and then hugs him.

Griffin tries to make some sort of peace with Speedbagger, but can't reveal his real intentions, and leaves dejected. Gary Lee meets with Griffin, saying he's heard rumors that his heart might not be in it. Later that day, the gang beats up on a man whose head is covered, and Griff joins in. Then it is revealed that the man is Speedbagger (Bullwinkle brought him in). Speedbagger ends up in the hospital. Milton is now eager to get away but thinks there's no escape from the Rollerboys.

Griffin goes to Casey and ends up spending the night with her. Bullwinkle shows up in the morning and starts to taunt him about Speedbagger. Unfortunately he then spots Casey's police badge lying in the open, and prepares to shoot them. Then the two plainclothes policemen (who are monitoring Casey) come in, and one of them shoots Bullwinkle in the head. Griffin says he wants to get out because it's too dangerous for him now.

Gary Lee comes to Griffin's RV tells him that he has to take over Bullwinkle's kitchen shift the next day. Griffin agrees, then he calls up Casey to let them know to run the raid (although the two policemen answer instead of her).

The next day, he gets locked inside the drug trailer with Bango, who seems to be the one mostly in charge of the drug operation. Bango reveals to him what 'the rope' is -- an additive to the drug that sterilizes the users. When the raid happens, he has to battle with Bango until the cops show up. But the first two through the door are the plainclothes cops, who plan to kill Griffin and take all the drug money for themselves. Casey comes in behind them and shoots them first.

As the police leave, Gary Lee shows up with Milton as his hostage. He wants to trade him for the drugs, but Jaworski snaps, "No deals!" Milton then turns on Gary Lee and a firefight breaks out. Gary Lee races out and Griffin has to chase him down. He ends up with Gary Lee at his mercy, and pulls a gun on him. Milton encourages him to finish off Gary Lee, but Griffin shows mercy (though he pistol whips him, since he sees that Gary Lee is reaching for a concealed knife).

Griffin and Milton (along with Casey and Speedbagger) take the RV and head toward Portland, Oregon. In prison, Gary Lee informs his accountant(?) that he wants to increase their investment in the Pacific Northwest, "because that's where he's headed". The film ends with Milton wondering if Gary Lee will be able to find them, and Speedbagger promising that they'll be fine.

Image

The film only barely meets the standard of being a 'post-apocalyptic' film, especially since it gradually becomes nothing more than a gang-panic movie of the type that was common in the early 1990s. There is the set-up of an economically devastated USA, and the inclusion of Rollerblading as a futuristic mode of travel (to the extent that it's practically a sub-genre). There is of course the distressingly accurate concept of a gang of white supremacists gaining such a high degree of power; at the time it was something on the rise but not as openly tolerated as it is in the movie. It's more of an 'extrapolation to a dark future' than it is a proper science fiction story. It is also trying to be more relevant to its own time, with the obvious parallels to crack cocaine and gangs seemingly growing more powerful than law enforcement's ability to deal with them. It's not quite interesting enough in its portrayal of the future, and it's not well-made enough to pull off the dramatic themes that it seems to be swinging for.

There are a number of details that seem they should have been fixed with another pass at the script, or in the editing room. Mist, for instance, is initially shown to be taken through creepy fluorescent tubes into some sort of mask, but later on it's just tablets. You also have the vague 'day of the rope' plan which is presumably intended to target non-whites, but the drug-dealing side never shows that because it instead focuses on the shock of 13-year-olds dealing (and using) drugs. The futuristic world-building is at first a neat bit of flavor, such as when Milton has to deal with a paper map because the 'American-made' navigation system in the van is broken. Later these bits become absurd, such as Germany 'buying' Poland, or Harvard University being relocated brick-by-brick to Japan. Mostly they disappear entirely when the movie focuses on action in the last act. I will say that it does a decent job of not really calling attention to these details much. When we first see Casey, she's wearing a German Navy cap, suggestive of her association with the Rollerboys without being too obvious.

Image

As much as it does to depict the characters believably and show how they fit into the world it has crafted, it doesn't deliver on what it seems to be going for. It is doing more than a sanitized after-school-special level of violence and danger, but it can't quite get the tone right. The film never navigates the dramatic impact of all these disturbing events very well. Jaworski's histrionics about gang life fall flat because he's mostly there to motivate the plot. We don't really see what he actually has to deal with day to day, and while it's suggested that the police force is weak, it's hard to tell if it's meant to be an aspect of the future society or a commentary on the police departments of its own time being poorly-equipped to handle large-scale gang violence. Milton's drug abuse is never all that believable either, as it seems primarily included as a spur to Griffin's story.

On the whole, the film is pretty competently made, most especially in the performances. Corey Haim as Griffin does a very good job as someone not inclined to violence but able to push himself to it (it's believable that he seems unwilling to kill but will fight or hurt someone if he feels it necessary). He has good chemistry with Chris Collet as Gary Lee; there's a feeling of real friendship that is nevertheless tinged with a certain amount of mistrust and resentment. There is a distinctive visual style to the film, although I'm not sure I like it -- most of the outdoor scenes have very obvious optical filtering. It seems to be there to indicate a 'future' with environmental degradation, even though the scenery never quite looks like anything other than the dingy parts of late 20th-century Los Angeles. My reaction to it may just be that I'm more used to seeing such tinting handled by computers as in modern films, and so it sticks out a bit more here.

Even if the film manages to feel like it got something right with its prediction of an economic collapse spurring an increase of white supremacy in America, it's still stuck with a 1990 attitude toward it. In particular, the main focus is almost never on the effect this could have on society as a whole, but primarily on how it affects these young white men. Speedbagger is the only positive non-white cast member, and even he is barely there except to show how Griffin feels about betraying him. The white supremacy isn't highlighted much outside of the rally scene, though I suppose we can't expect it to accurately have predicted just what it looks like when these views start to become disturbingly absorbed into mainstream American politics. But even with its commentary on gang culture, it doesn't seem to know where it is heading or if it made its point. Much like its own ambiguous ending, the film doesn't quite feel tense; it just feels confused.


Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

As I've said, the film isn't much of a post-apocalyptic one, but the dark future it portrays actually seems a bit in line with the version of events that resulted in the Roadwar 2000 world. We don't get anything of what the 'Great Crash' was (presumably it's meant to hint at the 1987 Black Monday crash), but it appears that some countries are still rather prosperous. In Roadwar we can presume the pandemic has spread but the societal collapse means little news of the outside world is known. The city of Prayer of the Rollerboys seems to still be at least partially functional, or maybe it's in a recovery state. There is one point when Gary Lee says he plans to "Buy back America" to a Japanese businessman (who responds "Who'd want it?"), and given the talk of 'previous generation', we can imagine that the movie is likely set at least a decade or two past the aforementioned crash. Probably once things have settled down in the post-pandemic society of Roadwar, such semi-functioning cities that are slowly being taken over by gangs might well be a common sight in that world as well.

There isn't much of a connection to the game in terms of the gangs, either. You do have a few gang battles, but the film (to its credit) does a decent job of hardly ever making the violence look pleasant. Most of the time you just end up seeing the victims being hit, even in the case of Rollerboys being gunned down by cops, it's not glorifying their death any more than it is making the action out to be exciting. That can be taken a bit too far, though, as when the attack on the B-13's is shown almost completely in slow-motion. Interestingly enough, it does seem to make the rollerblading look pretty cool, but that is mostly used for racing or just skating around the city. The foot combat in the game is too abstract to really allow for anything interesting in terms of mobility, and the vehicle combat is well beyond the level of speed or detail to include pedestrians; it is something that I occasionally wish could be mixed, but I can tolerate that including more and slower units would probably bog down the interface to an unacceptable level.

User avatar
Florida Man Has to Fight to be Free

Image

Tampa was becoming a war zone. Many people had fled the downtown core. Some of the citizens were no longer interested in joining either side. When the gang tried to recruit them, one of them said, "We're just waiting to watch the whole place burn."

Image

Of course, there were many others remaining in the city. Some found themselves trapped, with no means to leave. The best they could do was hope for the fighting to stop. In amongst them were some ragged individuals who looked like they'd been through hell. They were clearly starving, and desperate to survive, they agreed to join up with the gang.

Image

A gaunt man with thinning black hair on his head and an untrimmed mustache threw in the comment, "Sure we'll do anything for some food. But can't you guys work out your problems?"

When he heard the voice, Florida Man said, "Hey, you sound familiar..." He walked over and squinted at the scruffy man and then cried, "Wait, Blas? Is it really you?"

Florida Man stuck out his hand and ran it along the rough skin of the other man's shoulder. His smile broadened and he gave him a hug, which caused the other man to smile awkwardly.

"Come with us, man!" said Florida Man, and with a twisted smile, the man nodded his head.

Blas, or Mr. Alvarez as he came to be known to the others, proved to be a capable recruiter, since he knew the area well. He was also able to bring in some troops who were more comfortable speaking Spanish than English. Even if he didn't strike the others as the most skilled negotiator, and wasn't about to fill Elpida's shoes, he had a relaxed attitude about him that put people at ease. He made them hopeful about the Gator Goons' mission to overthrow the Snowbirds. The numbers in the gang began to grow steadily.

Image

The Snowbirds still seemed to know just where to hit them. Many grew suspicious of the newer arrivals to the gang, and Blas came under suspicion as well since he was doing most of the recruiting. Though with the casualty rate they were seeing, turnover in the gang was so high it was hard for anyone to tell who could really be trusted.

Image

But it was Blas's observations that revealed one of the normal patrol routes that the Snowbirds had been using around the city. For once, the Gator Goons got the jump on them. It was a small victory, but a victory none the less.

Image

As the month of December rolled on, Sgt. Adams and some of the rank and file members began to grow impatient. Trotier and Washington complained that they'd expected to be taken to the lab by now, not stuck at the end of the country farthest from it. They didn't see much point in staying in Tampa when the Gator Goons had the means to travel. Adams complained that the journey was only going to get tougher the deeper into winter they delayed their start. He suggested that at the very least, they get out of the conflict zone in Tampa and make a final decision as to where to go next.

Florida Man finally agreed that proper planning would be easier to do back in Orlando. He figured new members recruited there would be less likely to have loyalty to the Snowbirds. As much as it pained him to leave Tampa once more, the Gator Goons drove back to their temporary headquarters in one of the city's many abandoned hotels.

They held their meeting on the couches and armchairs of the hotel's ground floor lobby. After two hours, no agreement could be found. Florida Man was hoping that the group would stick with him to free Tampa, but he knew they couldn't just stay there if the gang started to tear itself apart with dissension. Yet no one was quite willing to start a mutiny. Even Adams remained respectful, as much as a argued in favor of leaving. Florida Man felt they were waiting on him to make the decision.

He decided to take a walk up to the upper floors to clear his head. While meandering down the hallways, he heard an unusual sound from one of the distant rooms. The faint sound of music could be heard, as of someone strumming a guitar for a bit and singing snippets of some unknown song.

The room was crammed not just with keyboards, guitars, and drums all around, but mixing consoles and amplifiers as well. A man with shaggy, sandy hair was seated on a barstool in the middle of it all. He appeared to have crafted some sort of studio.

"Oh, hey there," said the man. He lay the guitar in his hands down on the floor next to him.

Florida Man looked him over and had a glint of recognition. "Hey, aren't you-?"

"Yeah, sure," the man replied, his sad eyes taking on a bright twinkle.

"Well, uh, it's sure great to meet you, Mr., uh-"

"Tom is fine."

"What are you doing stuck up in here, Tom?" wondered Florida Man.

"Well, this was the only place nearby that had power. And I figured I could play up here without bothering too many people. Kind of a nice view out the balcony, too. Sure would be nice to have a few others around. I wouldn't mind having some of my old band with me now. A keyboard player'd be especially nice," he mused, looking around the studio.

"I always imagined you'd somehow still be around whenever the world collapsed," mused Florida Man.

"I suppose. There wasn't anywhere else I was going to go. Just got lucky this time," responded Tom with a grim expression. "It'd be nice if we could still be out on the road performing songs. I don't know what else I'm quite as good at as that, and it's hard to know if this world can handle that now."

He lit a cigarette and then cocked an eye at Florida Man. "So what are you guys up to? Looking to have some fun at the old park? Better be careful if you head in there. I heard some folks had a rough go of it in there."

Florida Man responded, "Yeah, uh, I know."

Tom chuckled. "Was that you? Oh, wow, man, I'm sorry. Guess you learned your lesson." He took a pull on the cigarette.

Florida Man said, "Anyway, we're planning... stuff. See, we got a problem over in Tampa. There's this gang there, the Snowbirds they call them, and they're ruining the town. That's my home, you know."

"Sounds rough, man. But what are you planning? Gonna run them out? Someone else'll probably come in after them to ruin it no matter what. That's just how it's been going."

Florida Man dropped his voice a bit. "Well, see, me and my crew, we got a plan. We kind of have—" he lowered to a whisper "— the government on our side."

"Yeah?" asked Tom.

"Well, we might have a shot to end this thing for good. Or at least make it better."

"I don't know. Not sure if whatever government is left is really gonna help you. But if you feel like the right thing to do is go take your town back, you do it." He paused for a moment and took a good look at Florida Man. "Don't just do it for whoever you happen to think is in charge."

Florida Man took a step to the side. "Yeah. Definitely." He suddenly stood up straight as he noticed Tom's cigarette had burned down to almost nothing. "So we'll just be down below. We won't bother you. Gotta plan out our next steps."

"Well, you do what you gotta do. I'm gonna be up here playing, maybe hit the drums for a bit. Good luck with the planning, I guess."

When he returned to the group, he had a new-found determination. Everyone in the room stopped talking when he came in, and their eyes turned to him. They could sense his confidence and knew that what he said would decide the matter.

All he said was, "I won't back down."

The Gator Goons headed back to Tampa one last time.

Image

Most of the stores had been looted, some even multiple times, but they continued to check them thoroughly. Removing the guns from the local shops in Tampa was more about making sure no one else had access to them than obtaining more for their own side.

Cecile had a laugh when she discovered that one of the stores had a big stack of inflatable pool toys, including some bright green plastic alligators. She excitedly cried, "Hey, let's take some of these!" and filled up a bag.

Florida Man examined one of the toys. "Inflatable Gators? Like for a swimming pool? Sure, I guess we could use a few mascots." A moment later, he turned back toward Cecile. "Hold on, I just got an idea. Yeah, we're taking the Gators."

Image

Once they got back to Florida Man's house, he gathered the gang leadership together to inform them of his new plan. He made sure the doors were locked so nobody outside of the group could tell.

"What I have in mind, what's been kicking around in my head ever since Cecile found this batch of toy gators—"

Cecile interrupted, "Can we call them inflata-gators?"

He smiled slightly and then continued. "We take the inflata-gators, and we use Beer Can Island."

"Beer Can Island?" asked Adams.

"It's out in the middle of the bay," said Blas. "But it's still pretty far from MacDill. You'd need a boat," he said to Florida Man.

"Well, that's where the gators come in," said Florida Man. "With an inflatable gator, it'd be possible to swim the whole way."

Jack said, "We'd be sitting gators out there on the way to MacDill though. We'd have to keep our guns out of the water, and they'd see us coming from too far off. I don't see how we can make any sort of attack, especially with that big-ass military vehicle they've got."

Adams interjected, "Well they probably only have one of those and it didn't look like it's mobile. We can handle the M706 with an attack from multiple sides. We'd need more numbers for that. Failing that we would need some light anti-tank weapons; one of those would take it out right quick."

Florida Man said, "Or, what we just need is a way to distract them." He turned to Jack. "See, we aren't going to be attacking from the gators. What they're for is to get just one or two people on shore, inside the base. They wouldn't be armed except for knives and wire cutters. The idea is to go in and sneak over to the fence by the airfield. You cut a hole in it. And actually I was thinking you would be good for that, Jack."

Jack responded, "Okay, that sounds risky, but I might be up for it. I just want to know how a hole in the fence helps us?"

"Well, the next morning, we start with a fake attack back at the front gate. As soon as they roll over their armored car, we crash in from the side, through the broken fence. That's something they wouldn't expect, seeing as how they don't know there's a hole in it yet. Sgt. Adams, I'd have to be at the head of the fake attack so the Snowbirds will buy it. I would hope you can lead in the charge through the fence."

Adams said, "We'd have a lot of ground to cover. I think I can do it, but you'd have to give me the best squads. And make sure that you all don't actually try to push from the front gate. You will get wiped out for sure."

"You can take your pick of the forces. The front-gate group will stay close to the cars, so we should be safe."

Jack questioned, "This Beer Can Island, if it's far off from the base like Blas says, would we really need to take the gators there? How about if we let a ship just kind of float in on the tide? They might be alerted, but they might see those bright green gators out there just as easily."

Adams said, "Okay, I like it. What I think I like best here is that we can maintain a high level of secrecy on Jack's mission. Nobody outside of us and the ones going will need to know about it. If we go down and let a few boats loose, and then drop some of the, uh, inflata-gators in the water later, all any spies will know is that we're up to something. They'll figure a new strike by sea or something. By the time we're in attack position, it'll be too late for them to warn the enemy." Then he looked around the room and commented, "We just have to keep a lid on it. We do it right, maybe we'll be on the road to Tacoma by Christmas."

"Then it'll have to be us who go down to the marina and send off Jack," said Cecile. "I want to be there for that. And send out more inflata-gators later," she beamed.

Image

In the late afternoon, as the sun was heading downward toward the Gulf of Mexico, a few stray boats slipped listlessly in on the tide and toward the south end of Tampa. One of them got beached on a tiny dot of sand in the middle of the bay. Inside that one hid Jack and two trusted companions. One of the other boats floated close by MacDill and the Gator Goons could hear the Snowbirds taking potshots at it. The one on the island ended up ignored.

A few hours past midnight, the men inside the boat crept out on to the island. A feeble half-moon was shining through the thin cloud layer overhead. The men inflated their gators and started the mile-long swim to shore. At the same time, another fifty inflated gators were released farther out in the harbor from a smaller boat captained by Cecile. She tossed them gently in the water with a whispered, "Get to shore, my pretty little inflata-gators!"

As dawn was breaking, Florida Man led the rest of the gang to the south end of Tampa, out to the main entrance of the Snowbird base at MacDill. The vehicles were parked a little ways out of the gate, to mask that one third of their force had already embarked toward the west end of the base.

"I hope they made it," Cecile whispered to Florida Man as she climbed down from the truck.

"If not, this is going to be a much harder fight than we thought."

It did not take long before the Snowbirds sounded the alarm when the Gator Goons approached. Florida Man led the charge, and opened fire even before they were at any sort of range they might be expected to really hit the enemy. He could still see Captain Nono marching out from the rear of the base. He gave hard look at Florida Man, then glanced around suspiciously. While waving to one crew to come near, he started giving orders to a man next to him. He pointed briefly to his right, and the man took off with two other soldiers... toward the beach, on the east side of the base.

This did not go unnoticed by Cecile. "They're worried about the inflata-gators!" she almost yelled.

The other crew that Captain Nono called over ran off toward a large building, and a short while later the dreaded M706 rolled out into view. Florida Man noticed that they'd even positioned it to cover a little farther back than he'd hoped, but it was angled more as if expecting to deal with threats from the beach than from the airfield side.

"C'mon Jack, now, I hope you got them in!" he cried out as he ran for cover near the entry guardhouse. He continued to fire his rifle in the direction of the Captain, but paused a bit longer between shots as he prayed to hear the noise of an attack from the enemy's flank.

Nothing could be heard so far. The .50-calibre guns once again roared over the battlefield, and more of the Gator Goons ran for cover where they could. Suddenly they heard shots coming from one of the near buildings, a bit to their right but much closer than expected. It wasn't close enough

Captain Nono directed fire straight down the roadway; he wasn't hitting anyone, but it reinforced the notion that the pathway to retreat was cut off. He let out a roar and laughed as he fired another burst. "What'll it be, now?" he shouted. "Your little gator stunt didn't do anything to impress me! Toys are no match for real weapons!"

A rapid burst of gunfire into the building behind him interrupted his taunting. More shouting followed, and some of the Snowbirds could be seen fleeing into the lane behind the M706 before being cut down by shots from the side again. Captain Nono whipped his head around and shouted at his crew to start wheeling him back, but he already had a look of panic on his face.

"It's them!" cried out Cecile. Florida Man rushed around the side of the guardhouse as the commotion increased. He ordered Cecile to focus fire on the nearby building; with Nono still trying to reposition, they could probably be handled without difficulty. All the while, they could hear the approaching blasts of fire from the west side of the base growing more frequent and louder.

The battle lasted only about five more minutes. Captain Nono had been shot through the stomach and was leaning heavily on the side of the M706 when Florida Man approached. He saw Florida Man, and then saw Blas standing next to him, and gave a look of disgust. "Ugh. Figures..." he muttered, his consciousness fading. He staggered, bent over and seemed about to fall. But he stood back up with a pistol in his hand, and waved it tremulously in Florida Man's direction. A shot rang out. Captain Nono's head slapped against the vehicle.

Florida Man turned in the direction of the gunshot. It was Jack.

"Where'd you get a gun, man? I thought you came over without one," said Florida Man, grinning gratefully.

"We procured it on the base," responded Jack. "We saw Adams come through right on time and started our own firefight from the rear. Really confused the hell out of those Snowbirds!"

Sgt. Adams himself had now come over with his own squad. He was grimed with sweat but smiling. "We'll do a sweep of the base, but I think they're going to give up now."

Florida Man asked "Hey, what took you so long? I thought we were going to get hung out to dry at the gate."

Adams said, "We didn't go firing off as soon as we could once we got inside the fence. You have to wait for the right moment. I could see your position and went to the right place to trap that Commando." He gave Florida Man a slap on the back and continued, "You did a good job making the distraction, sir. It takes guts to hold down your position in the face of that kind of firepower."


Image

With the ruthless control that the Snowbirds had held over the city lifted, more residents were willing to come out and help. One woman in particular said that she'd heard about the Goons stunt with the toy gators on the beach, and suggested that using real gators in combat might have been more effective. Florida Man said he kind of liked the idea, and might have to consider it the next time.

Mr. Alvarez brought many on board to create a new Gator Goon-led city government. Florida Man came over to talk to him after the city council was established. "By the way, Blas, what was that about in the fight? You know, the Snowbird guy said something to you when he died. Like he knew you."

Blas looked down, then off into the distance. "That guy, Captain Nono? He once came to me, early on. When the Snowbirds were first gaining power. I told him no, back then. He must have remembered my face." He paused a bit, and somewhat hesitantly, added, "I was thinking for a while, back when it was so tough, that maybe I should have joined up with him." He grasped Florida Man's shoulder and smiled warmly. "But I think it's so much better that we met up. Let's go out and have some adventures, all right?"


Image

They stopped briefly in Orlando. Florida Man said he wanted "to go see someone," but when he checked the hotel, Tom was not to be found.


Image

Jacksonville was luckily not under the control of the Invaders or any other gang. A few local groups were vying for power there. Florida Man expected that when they got wind of his exploits in Tampa, they'd be sure to give the Gator Goons the respect they deserved.

Image

Indeed, news had gotten around. Some of the local gang members decided to join up.

Florida Man said he wasn't interested in trying to do more in the town. Sgt. Adams said he was relieved that he wasn't going to try to take over "the whole damn state single-handedly". Harold commented that he was going to be glad to finally get out of Florida.

Image

Jacksonville was left behind in a hurry. Florida Man took the Gator Mobile and led the gang off northward into Georgia as fast as they could, desperately hoping to make it back to the GUB before the winter weather made it even harder to get over the mountains.


This week's film: The Warriors

User avatar
The Warriors (1979)

"Warriors, come out to pla-a-ay..."

Image

Synopsis
(original cut, see below for note on the director's cut)

The film opens with nine members of a New York street gang, The Warriors, on their way to a city-wide conclave of gangs set up by a man named Cyrus, the president of the largest gang in the city. They have to travel to the Bronx, far away from their own territory in Coney Island, and cannot bring weapons. They come wearing their own 'colors', maroon leather vests with the name 'Warriors' emblazoned on the back. As they ride the subway to the meeting, we also see a few other gangs in their own distinctive outfits making their way to the Bronx.

At the meeting, Cyrus declares that if they were to all band together instead of fighting each other, they could run the city. Unfortunately just as the crowd is cheering in support of his plan, he is shot by one of the gangs that secretly brought in a gun. Chaos erupts and the police (who were monitoring the crowd) start to move in.

The man who fired the gun points the finger at the Warriors, claiming that they were responsible for shooting Cyrus. The leader of the Warriors' delegation, Cleon, denies it, but is grabbed by many in the crowd and apparently beaten to death. The rest of the Warriors flee to a nearby cemetery to regroup. With Cleon gone, Swan assumes command of the eight remaining Warriors (over the initial objection of another man, Ajax) and they head to find the subway home.

We then see that the Gramercy Riffs, Cyrus's gang, are demanding that the Warriors be caught — alive or 'wasted'. The message goes out via a local DJ who plays "Nowhere to Run" dedicated to the Warriors. A large number of gangs start to gear up to come for them, as it's clear the truce is over. This also includes the Rogues (the ones who actually shot Cyrus), who are hoping to kill the Warriors rather than let them be taken alive.

Image

As the Warriors get close to the train station, Swan pauses for a moment. They then spot the passing bus of the Turnbull A.C.'s, a skinhead gang. With the train approaching, they have to make a break for it. They get on board just in front of the Turnbull A.C.'s and start their journey home.

They aren't able to get far before a fire blocks the train tracks, and they're forced to go on foot. A short while later, they spot some gang members that they identify as the Orphans, who are considered so far down they weren't even invited to the meeting. The Warriors negotiate with them and are about to pass peacefully, when a woman comes out of her building and berates the Orphan leader for letting them go without a fight. The Orphans leave and the Warriors start to head for the next subway station, with the woman, Mercy, taunting them.

As the Warriors head for the station, Mercy cautiously follows them. They turn the tables on her and imply they might rape her, but then the Orphans return ready to fight. Swan improvises a Molotov cocktail to create a distraction and they make a break for the train. Mercy also ends up on the train with them. At the next stop, they notice the train seems to be held on the platform without moving. The spot a policeman outside the train and realize they have to get out. The group gets split up; three of them get on another train and ride off, one gets into a fight with a cop and ends up thrown in front of a moving train, and the other four (including Swan) make it safely outside the station.

Swan's group immediately encounters another gang, the Baseball Furies, who have brightly painted faces, wear baseball uniforms and wield wooden bats. Two of the Warriors get separated, including Ajax, who defeats one of the Furies, and then eventually the Warriors beat down the rest.

On the way out of the park they pass a lone woman sitting on a park bench. Despite the insistence of the others not to waste time, Ajax says he wants to go after her. When Ajax attempts to assault her, she turns the tables on him and handcuffs him to the bench. She signals to police officers and Ajax is arrested. Two of the others head back to check on him but take off when they witness the arrest. Swan continues ahead.

The other three that had made it on the train get to the next subway station, and expect they'll have to wait a while for the others. They spot a group of women and follow them back to their place, and they seem to think it's a good chance for them to get some action. The women mention that they've actually heard of 'the Warriors'; when asked where their 'men' are, they say they're away up at the Bronx meeting.

Swan heads into the next station alone, where he encounters Mercy. They are about to get on a train when a police officer sees them and gives chase. They run into the tunnel to get away. There's a brief argument between them as Swan disapproves of her (presumed) promiscuity, and she defends her decision to get what she wants while she can. They kiss, but Swan breaks it off.

Image

Back with the other three, the group of women say that they're the 'Lizzies' and for a while, the Warriors get to relax. But then one of the Lizzies locks the door, and says she knows exactly what the Warriors did to Cyrus. They all brandish weapons, including guns. The Warriors improbably escape with only one of them getting mildly injured. They are now aware that all the gangs in the city are after them for the death of Cyrus.

As Swan and Mercy head out of the tunnel into the next station, they spot a few roller-skating men in overalls tailing them. Just as they start to get worried, the rest of the Warrior group returns. They all head into the bathroom to hide and the enemy gang (the Punks) follows them in. The Warriors are hiding in the stalls, and a full-on fight breaks out with even Mercy joining in.

With the punks defeated, the Warriors are finally together and on the train heading to Coney Island. They're exhausted and nearly falling asleep as they contemplate Cyrus's dream of a unified gang controlling the city. As they get back to their home territory, the sun is coming up over the city.

As they head into the safety of Coney Island, the Rogues show up driving slowly behind them. The Warriors get away from the vehicle and arm themselves. The Rogues' leader, Luther, taunts them to come out. They decide to confront him out on the beach. The Rogues approach and Swan asks Luther why he killed Cyrus, and he replies he "likes doing things like that". Swan challenges him to single combat. He draws his gun and as he's firing, Swan throws a knife into his hand, causing the shot to go wild.

The Riffs have now shown up, but a witness to the crime revealed the true culprit to them already. The Warriors are allowed to go free as Luther and the Rogues are swallowed up by a crowd of Riffs. Over the radio, the DJ apologizes and plays Joe Walsh's "In the City" as the closing credits roll.

Image

This film is well known for being an adaptation (by way of a book that provided the modern-day gangland setting) of an ancient adventure story, the Anabasis by Xenophon. The Anabasis relates the ordeal of a group of Greek soldiers trying to make their way home from Persia after their leader is killed. There are several nods to the source in the character names and a few lines, but even without knowing the connection, the film works perfectly well*. The time-tested plot allows The Warriors to have a solid if simple story. What makes the movie work is how well it builds the world in which this story operates.

It's very much a cult film -- the kind that might not have broad appeal, but has something some fans really love. While filmed and set in real-life locations around New York City, the film isn't particularly tied to reality. While there is a fair amount of detail to the characters, they can be difficult to distinguish on first viewing, as they aren't the focus of the story and can easily be missed. It's a film that does reward multiple watches well, as all the parts are consistent even if difficult to take in initially. It is constructed with a particular style that if it works for you, you can have an enjoyable thrill ride through a dangerous city in a world that's crazy enough to make a certain sort of sense.

Something it really handles excellently is a near-perfect sense of progression. The geography of the Warriors' route makes sense as they move through enemy territory and in and out of each subway station; there's always a sense of how far they've come and how far they need to go. This is done not just by faithfully adhering to proper New York City geography, but in the lighting and scene construction, as well as the performance of the actors. With each new gang they encounter, they gain a bit more in power - they start out unarmed and fleeing, then fight the Baseball Furies with just their fists, but later have enough weapons (obtained from their defeated opponents) that they can counterattack the Punks. As the night wears on, they are also growing more fatigued, and the danger never lets up. Even when they have nearly made it to safety, they are faced with one final test, at a moment when you know they are least likely to have the stamina for a big battle. All of the editing and pacing of the movie works in this direction as well.

Image

For as much as the plot is timeless, some elements of the film are stuck in the era it was made. This is particularly noticeable with the treatment of women. For one, violence to women is seen as a completely acceptable part of life for these young men -- the objections to Ajax's intended dalliance with the woman in the park appear to be more along the lines of not wasting time than on the basis of any moral objection to what he might do to her. That scene is even heightened when for a brief moment it's not clear if even after she's caught him that she'll be able to properly restrain him. The character of Mercy certainly seems to be largely attracted to the Warriors, and Swan in particular, on the basis of wanting a sexual encounter with someone who might be perceived as more 'powerful' than the Orphans in her own neighborhood, or at least just different. The one all-female gang, The Lizzies, resort to what would be considered a more feminine technique of seduction and deception instead of direct combat to try to defeat them (and when they do bring out weapons, they are sadly ludicrously incompetent at using them).

All of this is done with enough of a realistic bent that it does feel more like it's trying to depict things as they are instead of making statements about them. While the violence is casual it is rarely brutal; each fight is there to advance the plot or show off a character, not necessarily to depict or comment on the violence itself. Race relations are present but again hardly important — some gangs are all one race or another, but most (including the Warriors) are a mix reflecting the diversity of New York itself. Also of note is that the Lizzies are clearly coded as a lesbian gang, yet the film does not take any clear moral stance against them either, which stands out as progressive for its time. To be sure, they are being deceptive about their sexuality, but that would seem to be because they are antagonists, no worse or better than any of the other gangs standing in the way of the heroic Warriors. Even after Swan has denigrated Mercy for her sexual choices, he later upholds her dignity in a confrontation with a group of middle-class prom dates, in a wordless scene of exquisite visual storytelling.

The film manages to provide those occasional nuggets that flesh out the characters without losing focus on the primary story it is telling. It's that balance that gives an insight into these lives that seem to really exist that make it a classic. The adventure plot moves energetically, with a constant tension. There may not be a lot of thematic depth to it, especially since the universe it's in is so detached from our own, but it is all well-crafted and engaging. It is always aware of what the characters are doing and how they might react to the events around them, so that even when this gang is being attacked by men in Yankees' pinstripes and bizarre face paint who never speak, you don't question the stakes. For those who are able to get into the space of the world, it makes for an unforgettable experience.

*The director's cut has a 'comic book' framing device (derived partly from the novel) that more clearly makes the connection to Xenophon. It is also widely disliked by fans of the original since it breaks a bit of the naturalistic feel. I don't think it's a terrible version, but most of the additions are unnecessary and I'd agree with the assessment that the original is better. The director's cut is unfortunately the only HD version currently available.

Connections to Roadwar 2000

Image

This is another 'near future' setting that is largely indistinguishable from some of the more run-down parts of the present. New York City did not seem to be all that far from being ruled by street gangs in the 1970s, and in fact there had actually been a conclave of multiple gangs not unlike the one portrayed (although it was spurred by the death of a prominent figure and was aiming more for peace and unity than consolidating power). Here, there is no widespread downfall of society, and the police are actually maintaining control fairly well, with the city mostly existing just fine, aside from the fact that it's not at all safe to be out alone at night. It is not really a post-apocalyptic genre film, just a grim future one.

On the other hand, it is also one in which the street gangs are all split into factions that don't just have their own uniform, but distinctive choice of fighting style or weapons. This aspect clearly has a major impact on the game. The themed gangs of Roadwar feel like they could easily fit in with the world of The Warriors (Furies seem likely to be a tribute to the Baseball Furies if only in name), especially as each of them has their own general territory on the North American map that meshes with the gang name. While the Roadwar plot is a bit more complex than just trying to get to home turf, there is the similar feeling of a lone gang having to deal with a wide variety of antagonists who mostly out to get them.

It's worth noting that The Warriors itself was made into a highly-regarded video game (another one I haven't played), which really seems a natural fit for it. As mentioned, there's a progression to the plot that I think fits perfectly into a game. Having the various opponents be so clearly distinguishable would make for an easy way to mark increasing difficulty as well. It's no surprise that Roadwar was drawing on those elements when creating its own big world of gangs, and I feel the movie has been influential almost more on games than on any movies that followed after it.

Post Reply