America 3000 (1986)
Today I thought I'd dig into my stash of crappy 1980s post-apocalypse movies, a genre which I was reviewing in bulk a few years ago but burned out on. 1986's America 3000 is fairly typical of the rock quarry-and-hair spray style of cheap and dirty PA filmmaking, another non-descript stone in the huge scree pile of movies that piled up at the base of 1982's seminal post-nuke epic The Road Warrior. It offers a few new quirks, but really nothing we haven't seen a hundred times before.
Criminally, America 3000 has not yet been released on DVD, so I had to use an avi burned off a hazy, blurry, skippy VHS rental tape that has seen a lot of wear and tear over the last 23 years. As such, the screen captures leave a lot to desire (sorry, email me if you have a better copy).
Let it begin!...
As the title suggests, the setting of the movie is America in the year 3000. A opening card says that it's now "900 years" after the great and ending WWIII, a war fought with nuclear weapons that left much of the surface of the planet looking like Nevada and killed off almost the entire human population. Doing the math, we can tell that the Nuclear Holocaust took place in 2100, and later internal clues support this late War Date. From the ruins rose a new order, a society led by females. These Amazon-like women warriors reign over the nuked land, making all the rules and laying down the law with spikey effectiveness. There are numerous enclaves of women around the former-America, living in "Coms", which I assume is short for "Community", and they can be seen as independent City States. Each Com has a leader called the "Tiara", a rather insulting label, I say, though she doesn 't actually wear a tiara. All of this is explained to us by an annoying-as-fuck voiceover from a minor character that reeks of post-production desperation by the director when the test audience of mutants and hillbillies couldn't understand the plot.
Through nine centuries of post-holocaust survival, characterized surely by wasting plague, unrelenting death, radical genocide, extreme starvation, and hopeless despair, one thing has remained constant as the evening star...women will want big 1980's hair. Aquanet hairspray, Suave mousse, volume enhancing shampoos, natural bristle round brushes, hairdryers, teasers, jumbo curling irons, and hot rollers all have survived the End of Days, resulting in every woman on the planet looking like Lita Ford or Susannah Hoffs. Perhaps it's some sort of radiation-induced genetic change in female DNA, causing their hair to naturally appear teased and permed? [Editor Pam: That must be it. Most of those styling aids won't work without electricity, so how else could their hair look like that?] Fashions are typical wasteland leathers and metal studs, and sports bras are apparently all the rage in the future. All that are missing are shoulder pads and leg warmers and America 3000 becomes an Olivia Newton John video with post- nuke undertones.
They look like backup singers for Vixen.
Weaponry is 10th century at best, with crossbows, crossbow pistols, spears, knives, and war clubs predominating. There are also what I will call "frisbees of death", which seem to be old hubcaps sharpened and tossed at an enemy's head like Odd Job's bowler. Transport is via horseback (bareback) or shoe leather, with just a few wooden donkey-carts seen. Building materials are mostly wood and fabric, with old ruins used extensively. The best (or at least the most inventive) part of this movie is probably the new words introduced into the English language of the year 3000, quirky catchphrases and hokey describers that borrow from the "ancient tongue" of their forefathers, using strange words that have no real meaning anymore. I'm reminded of A Clockwork Orange or Axler's Deathlands book series (both on opposite ends of the cultural literacy scale). At the end of this review I'll try and list the new words.
Technology of the future! Notice the short length of the bowstring, simple physics and ballistics should tell you that a bolt wouldn't fly very far or have much penetration power from this weapon.
I wonder why no advancement in the last 900 years. This level of cultural regression and reversion to a pre-Iron Age is something you might expect in the first generation or so, but surely after nine centuries you would see more growth in our amazingly industrious species. I just reread Miller's fantastic Canticle for Leibowitz last year and it presents perhaps a truer picture of humanity regaining much of its lost technology and knowledge after the Flame Deluge. For that matter, I see some parallels with Adam's Horseclans series, which paint a similar picture of our species following a nuclear war in the far distant past (up for reprint, I hear, yay!).
Two views of America in the year 3000, typical of the desert landscapes this movie takes place in.
Anyway, the main action takes place in "Frisco Com", a town situated in a wooded scrubby valley surrounded by the inhospitable desert (no obvious water source seen though). There are maybe 50 women and as many male slaves here. Frisco Com is circled by a very low wall, with tents and shanties inside, plus one adobe building for the Tiara and a few rock and mortar shelters for community buildings. Is this a permanent settlement? Is this the best they could do, wandering herders in Africa make better settlements. Women like to make pretty homes and decorate and stuff, right? [Editor Pam: Yes, but you forget the effort they have to put into their hair to get it to look that way. Wood-fired hot rollers, solar-powered hairspray--that doesn't leave much free time.]
We open as a group of captured men are brought in, dirty, mangy, shambling outlanders who the women treat as little better than cattle. The head woman (the Tiara) walks down the line of them, checking for cooties and worms and probably arthouse goatees and fratboy sideburns, assigning each man a role as either "Seeder" or "Macho" (sex slave or laborer). We meet two teenage boys named Gruss and Korvis. Gruss is just a scared kid, but Korvis is more rebellious and is able to fight his way free. In the chaos, Korvis steals a horse and rides away, taking Gruss with him.
The Tiara is pissed that they have escaped.
The Seeder and Macho thing deserves some exploration. What other attributes or qualities decide who gets to be what? Is it just physical? Swinging jacks get to be Seeders and lunking gorillas get to be Machos? Seeders are branded with some sort of special mark and seem to be given showers and shaves, while the Machos are herded into corrals and pretty much left to sit in their own feces when not out lifting heavy things for the women. And there are also "Toys", eunuchs who are maybe used for their brains and not their brawn (the dialogue is unclear), who have their tongues cut out and their junk sliced off to "make them docile".
Eh, ladies, would you pick any of these men for lovers?
Ok, back to the movie. Korvis and Gruss are chased into the "Contams", where the post-nuke radiation is still feared. As they gallop along they pass a half-buried rusty sign that says, "Denver Brighton", suggesting strongly that Frisco Com is close-ish to the old city of Denver, Colorado. So Frisco Com can't be San Francisco as I originally thought, right? I hate it when my post-apocalyptic movies make me think too hard about geography.
Off now to "Camp Reagan", an old nuked pre-war Army base out in the hinterlands, where the "free men" are forming an army. This base (filmed in the Israeli desert), is pretty crude, consisting of one big metal tower and a few shabby tents surrounded by a wall of wooden ammo boxes filled with sand. A rusty BTR armored personnel carrier sits half-buried in the sand, along with an old field howitzer and the junked remains of a Willys jeep (this looks like a dump outside an Israeli Army base, if you ask me). Where is the food, where is the water? They can make identical wooden boxes but they can't irrigate a field?
Now, there are other men living independently in the wilds of Western America, unaffiliated savages and hermits who live little better than Stone Age hunter- gatherers. They are dumb and hairy, speak in grunts and groans, and use rocks for weapons. Where are the women who gave birth/nursed these men? Where did they come from?
We see a group of these hermits ambush a Frisco Com food convoy along a wooded road, lurching out from behind bushes to throw unconvincing styrofoam rocks with guttural shouts. The women circle the wagons and go into Rambo-mode. Reya (the Tiara) has the best kung fu moves, including an awesome Captain Kirk-style flying double-leg kick! The hermits kill three women and steal some food but are driven off by another woman wielding a bullwhip (!). The last hermit on the field stabs Reya in the stomach with a knife before expiring himself.
Flying kick! Yeah, baby!
Back to Frisco Com for a few minutes. We see that there is a huge hairy radiation -induced mutant named "Aaargh the Awful" kept in a cage. Yes, that's his name, seriously. They say that, "fallout from the Great Nuke caused Aaargh to take a detour from the human race", which is cute, if nonsensical. The women use Aaargh in a "test of strength" for young warriors looking to become elite fighters. The mutant is played to be funny, like Harry and the Hendersons, but just comes across as forced comedy relief in a movie that really doesn't need it. Hey, how about other animals, mutant or otherwise? None are seen but horses and donkeys, but they are all wearing leather so there must be cows/bison around somewhere, right? No mammalian source of meat and protein? No chickens or turkeys to give eggs? Nothing came in to fill the ecological predator/prey void left when 99% of humanity died 900 years ago? Where are the swarms of mutant cockroaches clutching twinkies?
Aaargh the Awful! Comedy gold!
Also, in the town is an old man who cares for a stable of young boys (!). Now, not to cast any aspersions on the fine ladies of Frisco Com, but we know that they only keep males around for one of two purposes: lifting heavy things and playing hide the weasel. So either they are raising up new generations of laborers like puppies, or these kids are being, ahem, used for purposes that are best left unsaid. Well, to be fair, I guess they could be using the smaller boys for labor tasks that require small fingers and slight stature, like crawling into burrows looking for mutated rabbits or something.
Old man with little boys. The boys have necklaces painted on, perhaps marking them as Toys?
Mortally wounded Reya is brought back to the town and everyone gathers around. A "healer" with a metal first aid box and a stethoscope around her neck tries to save Reya by giving her a potion to drink, all the while chanting "red cross, red cross, red cross". But the Tiara is too far gone, and utters the cliched line, "I'm going cold, real cold..." just to let us know her time is up.
With her (almost) last dying breath, Reya picks her daughter Vena to be the new Tiara. With her (for real) last dying breath, Reya tells Vena of a mysterious map that she keeps in her royal chamber. "Follow it..." are her final gasping words. From this can we deduce that the Tiaraship of the tribe is hereditary? Or maybe the Tiara can pick anyone she wants to be her successor, regardless of sisterly relations? How does this work?
Passing the torch (some amulet thing is the scepter of power in this culture).
Vena is played by 29-year old B-movie queen Laurene Landon, a platinum blonde with boobs in desperate need of a more supportive bra and lips locked permanently in Pout Factor Seven. While Vena is now the new Tiara, she clearly doesn't want it at first. She even tries to give it away to her more aggressive sister Lakella, but the rules dictate that Vena has to take the yoke if she wants to or not. This, of course, doesn't seem a very smart way of ruling, insuring that at least a few leaders will be either incompetent or unwilling to keep the community safe and viable.
We rejoin Korvis and Gruss now, as we see them scavenge the battle site (where Reya was stabbed a few scenes ago). We see instantly that both men are now much older, maybe ten years or so. So, clearly this is some time in the future, as was the ambush scene/power transfer? A little exposition would have been helpful! Adult Korvis, our film's hero, is played by Chuck Wagner, who was also Mikal from The Sisterhood, a very similar PA movie from a few years later. For the subject material and the general lack of talent and skill around him, Wagner does an admirable job in his role as Korvis, breathing just enough life and energy into the stock character of wandering outlaw to make the movie interesting when he's onscreen. Had things worked out differently for him, Wagner might have made it big in Hollywood. Wonder why not?
In some insert shots, Korvis and Gruss find a suitcase with a dorky Victorian tophat and a simple spelling book. Gruss takes the hat as his personal trademark and Korvis learns to read from the spelling primer. "I am a man!" he announces to the world, somehow mastering the written English language from a 26-page cartoon book with one simple word per letter (he also knows "horse", whoo!).
Korvis is hooked on phonics!
Anyway, a rival band of women now show up at Frisco Com, trotting in on horses to a driving faux-rock beat. They are led by Morha, the "Tiara of Kansas", a post on par with the Tiara of Frisco (that's a hella long ride from KS to CA, so again, surely Frisco Com can't be San Francisco, right?). Morha is a butchy brunette who is into leather and rough bi-curious sex, a woman with a violent streak to match her love of hairspray. Frisco's Vice-Tiara Lakella (Vena's sister) meets them at the gate, greeting them with this dorky crossed-knives-and-oath thing. Much ado is made about the travelers being offered "safe shelter", evoking Bedouin tribal customs perhaps. Also, it strongly suggests that the matriarchal system is widespread across the former USA, extending at least from the western coast to the Great Plains.
Morha, Tiara of Kansas.
Morha had figured Lakella would be the next Tiara, so she starts to stir up trouble, gently and passive-aggressively poking Lakella to go up against her sister. Lakella "could call for a death challenge" against Vena, suggests the oily and Machiavellian Morha. She feels she could control Lakella more to her own advantage this way.
Lakella, she's hot and violent.
Just then Vena comes out of her command hut (wow, she cleans up well, if I do say so myself, even if she looks like Ann Wilson from Heart). Morha and Vena greet each other like sorority sisters, but you can tell it's fake, more so on Morha's side. "Tonight's for partying, not for talking...", says Vena. Just like a kegger at the Delta Psi house, whoop!
An old woman (the cliched "teller of stories", yawn) starts recounting the legends of the past. Wait, no written language? No singing minstrels or bards? No advance in archiving or literacy in 900 years? Really? Anyway, the old woman tells of the "Great Nuke", when the "Mericins" and the "Commies" destroyed the world and brought upon the "Living Curse". Eventually, it has been told, a "clean woman was born to rule the world", and the female-centric system was born. Again, seriously, stories confirming hierarchy or lineage are common in pre-literate societies, but surely after nine centuries there would be at least a rediscovery of the written word and the cultural growth that comes with that, right?
Old woman, who looks like Tyne Daly.
This old woman then steps up and swears in Vena as the new Tiara, to rule the women of Frisco Com until the "Prezeedent comes back". Huh, so who was in charge up to tonight, was Vena just the pro-tem Tiara? And that's cute how the legend of a man, the fabled Prezeedent, returning has come, Quetzalcoatl like, into their mythology. It's odd that a matriarchal society that treats men like dirt would venerate a male authority figure from the past, even to the point of looking forward to his eventual return to command. After exchanging "solemn swears" and slapping forearms with the old woman, Vena sets fire to funeral pyre topped with Reya's body.
Vena torches her mom.
That night we have a drunken orgy, with lots of homemade booze and giggling girls. Two bits from this scene stay with me. First when Lakella shows off her knife tossing skills on human male targets, one of which cashes out with a dagger in his forehead. The women just shrug and replace the corpse with another terrified man. It's never, ever good policy to kill off your slave laborers when there is a limited supply of them. The other is when we see a quick shot of Morha bringing what looks like a ten-year old boy into her tent for some, eh, "entertainment". It's just a blink-and-miss moment, but it speaks volumes about the relationship between men and women in this new world.
Morha also likes the ladies, if you know what I mean.
Meanwhile, in her quarters, Vena looks at that map that her predecessor left for her, but doesn't understand what it means. Her BFF Lynka enters and they chat. Lynka is pissed about being tapped for "seeding" next month, which she calls "a cold act". It's clear from this that not all the women are happy about having to bump uglies with Seeder men (even though it's been established societal tradition for ever). Vena sympathizes and says she'll be at "the birthing". Lynka is the only one of Vena's friends who is on her side (her sister Lakella is a rival), and she tells Vena that she's going to be "Number one, real hot."
Lynka giving Vena a huggie.
Meanwhile, fourteen free men, led by Korvis and Gruss, are encamped outside the town's walls, planning a daring assault. They plan to raid the food shelters and free the slaves, and kill any woman that gets in their way. "Nuke'm all." says Gruss, and the men nod in agreement. Korvis, by the way, has a nice pair of pre- war binoculars, a 900-year old piece of anachronous technology that has somehow remained intact for all these centuries to find their way around Korvis' grimy neck. This is the single most advanced technological item we have seen up to this point in the movie.
They attack Frisco Com at dawn right after the orgy dies down, when nearly all the women are drunk and asleep. There are no tactics, just a bum rush to the walls and then sneak around inside. Korvis jumps over the four-foot high wall, strangles a sleeping sentry and opens the gate to let the rest of them in. Listen to what you just read, he jumps over the four-foot high wall and opens the gate. Why didn't the rest of them also just jump the ridiculously low outside wall? The men start to steal weapons and food.
Low wall (also note that Korvis is wearing Converse hi-tops).
During all this muckery, Korvis spies a partly-nekkid Vena amidst swoony piano music and gauzy camera lenses (PG-13, to my surprise). He seems a bit aroused, though he doesn't do anything. How does the urge to mate with sexy girls become lost? Does that get selected out of the gene pool to the point where sex is just for babies and not for fun?
Not Vena, but some other drunken warrior chick sleeping it off. My respect for their prowess in battle has taken a hit.
The Machos and Seeders don't want to be freed, surprisingly. It's not the Stockholm Effect as much as the knowledge that life inside the community of women is better than outside of it. At least they get fed and have a roof over their heads (slaves tend to be more productive and less restive if they are fed and taken care of). Plus, the Seeders get to have lots of sex, so I'm not sure what the appeal of living out in the desert with a bunch of stinky men eating raw rat flesh would have for them. But, predictably, Korvis lures them into open revolt with the promise of "hot eats", while at the same time appealing to their lost honor and pride at being men.
The Machos hear the speech.
Korvis then accidentally frees Aaargh the Awful, who starts howling and leaping up and down to wake the women up. The mutant even grabs a turn-crank siren and lets it wail to alert them of the attack (suggesting that Aaargh the Awful is not so much a captive of the women as perhaps a "cooperative partner" or maybe "honorary member with fur" of the tribe). The annoying voiceover says, "It was downhill from there", and he's oh-so right. A running fight explodes, and at least one woman and one man are killed before the men escape out the front gate. As the last man out, Korvis cuts down the ropes supporting the gate, which stops the chasing girls in their tracks, helplessly shaking the bars of the gate as the men flee. What? What? What the hell? Remember the four-foot high wall not two paces away from the edge of the gate (which in itself is maybe only seven-feet high)? Hello? [Editor Pam: They're probably still hung over.]
"Curses! Foiled by height!"
Once the women get their act together, they chase the men out into the badlands on horseback. There are maybe two dozen men now, nearly all heavily armed with stolen weapons, against just four woman riders, but for some reason the men never think to turn and make a stand. Korvis draws them off alone, galloping away on a horse with a large, artfully tattered American flag as a blanket. Everyone rides bareback in this movie, but with bridles and stirrups, which just looks odd.
Horse with flag.
Korvis leads them into a rock quarry (yeesh, where else?) but finds himself trapped and has to go aground. On foot, and unwisely exposed on an open rise, Korvis is shot in the chest by Vena. Oddly, Vena isn't too happy about killing the man, as she's plainly curious about his smarts (though how is she to know that he's the one who organized the raid?).
You see, Vena also remembers (somehow) that this man was the same dreamy Zac Efron-esque boy who escaped from her mother's clutches a decade ago, way back in the first scene of the movie.
The crossbow bolt buried in his chest, Korvis falls backwards into a hole in the ground, crashing down many dozens of feet to the bottom, amazingly unhurt by the fall. And it turns out that the thick spelling book (hung around his neck in a pouch) stopped the arrowhead, so he's ok. Down in the cavern, Korvis almost immediately comes across a large, metal bank vault-looking door! He opens it with brute strength, and centuries-year old air rushes out as it cracks open.
Korvis has found a secret pre-war underground bomb-proof bunker, a "FleetSatCom Tracking Control Station" to be specific. In the well-lit anteroom, he finds a dead man still at the controls, decomposed and desiccated a bit, true, but I still question how anything remains at all after 900 years? They didn't have bugs in here, no cockroaches, no flies, nothing? And I assume there is some sort of nuclear power reactor to keep the lights running after nine centuries? [Editor Pam: I don't know of any sort of nuclear reactor system that could be left unattended for 900 years and still produce power, but maybe by 2100 somebody will have come up with one. Even if there was one, wouldn't the lights have burned out over the years?] I should also note that in the similar The Sisterhood, also starring Chuck Wagner, a pre-war bunker was discovered and altered the course of the future.
The bunker, with corpse in chair.
In cabinets along the wall Korvis finds a rack of Laser Assault Rifles (L85 bullpup looking weapons with shiny blinking lights on them). The rifles have instruction booklets hanging from the barrels, and Korvis teaches himself how to use one in about five seconds. Oddly, an over-the-shoulder shot of the booklet shows that it's printed both in English and in Hebrew! This movie was filmed in Israel, remember, but you still have to wonder why an official manual in a US government C3I bunker in Western America would be dual-printed in Hebrew. Perhaps, and I know I'm over thinking this, the pre-war America of 2100 was converted to Judaism and Hebrew was the co-official language?
Manual for the Laser Assault Rifle.
He then finds a small presidential suite (where he could rest and recoup if forced to hide down here). To keep the Chief of State entertained there is a Bally Medusa pinball game and an old school Centipede arcade stand-up down here (uh, Centipede in 2100, really?). Poking around, Korvis activates a long-delayed video message to the president from a general directing the war. The general tells of how the initial nuke attack was a computer error, but the subsequent counter-attacks and counter-counter-attacks were enough to blitz the world (ah, that explains all). Korvis takes a gold full-body radiation suit, a big 1980s-style ghetto boom box (with working batteries!), and a bunch of loot and leaves the bunker.
Message for President.
The old man who was watching the young boys in Frisco is out looking for his escaped charges when he meets Korvis coming back from the bunker on his horses (hey, how did he get them back?) in his full gold radiation suit. The old man, who is quite spiritual, thinks Korvis is the fabled Prezeedent returning to Earth! This is a bumbling Monty Python comedy relief scene, with the old man hamming it up with abandon and the soundtrack bouncing along cringingly. Korvis plays the game, saying he's come back to free the enslaved men. The old man tells Korvis of Vena, Morha and the "seeded" Lynka, which gets Korvis a-thinkin'. You know, Chuck Wagner is having a ball in this movie. He alone of the cast seems to be fully aware that he's in a crappy b-movie and he's enjoying every minute of it (and who can blame him, he's getting paid real money to run around the Negev in a leather loincloth, beating on stuntmen with swords and kissing pretty girls, name a better way to spend a few months in the summer.).
Talking with the old man. [Editor Pam: That's the fanciest anti-contamination suit I've ever seen. By 2100, nuclear facilities must have had money to burn. And it seems to end at his ankles, which makes the usefulness questionable.]
Meanwhile, Vena is off wandering the rad-blasted wastelands, following that map that her mother gave her. Tracked by Lakella, who has been giving her static (Vena should kill Lakella, the only way to hold power is to be like the Mongols). Vena enters a cave marked on the map and finds "Thunder Rocks", which are crude gunpowder bombs with fuses. When she brings them back to the town, a woman admonishes her that she "broke the regs, you'll bring the curse upon us!" Ah, maybe this why they don't use old technology? Some sort of legendary curse put upon the Old One's Magic?
Vena's Thunder Rock with a long fuse.
Back at Camp Reagan, the free men, led now by Gruss since Korvis is still MIA, are making real men out of the freed captives. They dunk them in water (where do they get their water in this radioactive desert?) and comb their hair, turning them normal again (sure). The mutant Aaargh the Awful is also here, having followed them on foot. They can't do anything about Aaargh, who is too strong to wrangle, and he smells terrible and keeps breaking stuff (like my roommate Abdul in college, but without the bhala snacks and the horrid Sufi rock CDs).
Washing the men.
Korvis comes riding in on his horse, boom box blasting a cover-band version of some random Def Leppard song. He's brought some stuff from the bunker of the "Merikans ", including a Laser Assault Rifle and four boxes of grenades (odd that he only brought one rifle). He's also brought along a collection of pre-war goodies, such as shaving cream, Playboy magazines, flashlights, flares, comic books, cookies, and the like. The men are amazed by all this alien technology and gadgets and it's predictable that one of them blows himself up playing catch with a grenade before they figure out how to work everything (a comic book shows them how to use the grenades, really). Aaargh the Awful takes a can of Haze brand deodorant and gleefully runs around spraying himself in the face (comedy, oiy!).
Korvis passes out grenades and wisdom of the ancients.
To the women's "Seeder Camp" now, where the ladies who are picked to be seeded (have babies) are sequestered from the main Frisco Com while they "get bigger". This basically undefended location, populated only with kids and pregnant women, is at the pre-war "Paradise Oil and Gas" building, plus some shacks and lean-tos. It's said specifically that if a woman gives birth to a boy they "throw it away". What? Where do all those free men come from? And the hairy hermits? Are there free women out in the hinterlands who lead normal lives? Why don't we see any of these societies? And if you are Frisco Com, how do you replenish your stocks of Machos and Seeders if you (or someone) don't keep the male babies? There must be a whole other layer of civilization, with radically different male/female relationships out there somewhere.
Vena's best friend Lynka arrives here to mate with her "chosen Seeder". An older woman tells her to "just lie down and close your eyes" while her arms and legs are spread and tied down. A man in a hood enters and gets busy with her right away (foreplay in the year 3000 consists of walking across the room). Lynka seems to be actually enjoying her first time, despite her anxious attitude before. Sex is portrayed as this near mystical act that only women in their "breeding time" do and no one talks about. I can't imagine a culture when women don't talk about sex with each other, can you? And how often does a woman "get seeded"? Until she's pregnant, or is it just once? And it would seem that every single woman in Frisco Com is of breeding age (18-30 and in good health), why is it that only certain women at certain times are given the red card, so to speak? So many unanswered questions.
Lynka gets some loving.
Meanwhile, Korvis has decided to attack the Seeder Camp and kidnap Lynka to use as leverage against her sister Vena (he learned of this from the old man). Four free men attack, led by Gruss, who shoots the only two woman guards with the Laser Assault Rifle. The rifle shoots a red bolt and doesn't seem to cause more than localized heat damage. And yet, the women die instantly, even the one who was only hit in the stomach. You would think it would just burn a cauterized hole in her, not kill her in the blink of an eye. People survive wartime stomach trauma far, far worse than this all the time.
Little puffs of smoke?
The men burst in mid-coitus, ruining a special Hallmark moment for Lynka. They tell the Seeder that he's a free man now, and he pulls off his hood to reveal a rather handsome dude (who is probably wondering with some concern if being a "free man" means he won't be banging cute bound chicks anymore). When she sees his chiseled boyish face, Lynka smiles with approval (huh?). Well, I guess nearly all the males she has seen in her life have been furry, stinky slaves who haven't showered in their lives, so this is pretty impressive to her.
Later that night, Korvis and the rest of the men sneak up to Frisco Com and fire flares over the town (nice perimeter security!). The women come out to marvel, as all females are amazed by pretty lights. The men use the flares to shock and awe the town to the pounding horns of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture on the boom box (Caddyshack, anyone?). Once he has their attention, Korvis then uses a loudspeaker to tell Vena to come alone to "meet the Prezeedent at the edge of the Contams". A woman faints!
Flares, really just fireworks.
Vena is all for meeting the Prezeedent, but Morha thinks it's a "man trick". Morha thinks the Prezeedent will be a Kansan like her, but Vena says the prophesy is unclear, though she's sure it will be a man. Morha tries to turn Lakella against Vena now. "Show your Com who a real leader is!" Morha growls and offers to put the full weight of Kansas behind Lakella if she chooses a coup. But they need Thunder Rocks and Lakella knows where Vena got them (the cave, she followed, remember?).
Stirring up trouble.
The next morning Vena comes riding out alone to meet the Prezeedent (Korvis in his suit). Lynka is freed and Korvis takes Vena to the underground bunker (though hopefully he found a better entrance than falling fifty feet flat on his back). Down in the bunker, Korvis takes off his helmet and tells Vena that he's "a man" (the term seems to be foreign to her, oddly) and not a slave. Emotions and biology get the better of them both and they make sweet sweet monkey love (to the soft piano keys of some Jefferson Airplane ballad).
While they are banging, back in Frisco Com, Morha riles up the women to war against the men. There is some dissention amongst the locals (as they don't trust the "outsider" Tiara), but all the women are eventually swept up in the fever and the bloodlust. Lakella returns with Thunder Rocks from the cave (a lot was cut out in the final edit, I think). A column of women warriors on horseback then ride out to attack Camp Reagan, Lakella and Morha in the lead with Kansan women mixed in with the Friscans in the van. Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. They know where Camp Reagan is? And they just let it be established and fortified under their noses? It must be geographically close, as the women take no provisions or baggage train with them, just weapons and hair care products.
The men see them coming and prepare (they have a rough line of walls to hide behind). They pass out their stock of pre-war grenades, unsheath their knives, and hunker down. Surprisingly, this final battle is excellently paced and well-shot, better than most similar battles in crappy post-holocaust b-movies. The women charge, circling the compound, and crossbows, Thunder Rocks, and grenades take a heavy toll on both sides. Horses fall down and thrown stuntwomen roll in the dirt (ouch, those horses look like they actually hurt themselves, someone call PETA!). Morha is downed early, killed by a grenade blast, leaving Lakella to lead the attack. Even though Gruss clearly has his Laser Assault Rifle, it disappears early and is never seen again (huh?). Aaargh the Awful is a bystander, hiding behind the defense works and comically putting on a helmet!
Eventually, the women breach the defenses and the line collapses under pressure from both sides. The rest of the battle is bloody close-quarters hand-to-hand combat with knives and clubs dealing havoc and death. Several of the women are fanatic warriors, including Lakella with her throw-back kung fu style, and many men are killed. But the men take advantage of their superior physical strength and the motivating fear of extinction and fight back furiously, eventually turning the tide. Lakella is finally killed by Gruss, and the men get the upper hand.
The famed face-to-boob combat technique.
The women eventually abandon the field, limping away carrying their wounded. It's a pyrrhic victory for the men, however, as behind them the women leave Camp Reagan a blazing shambles with most of the defenders dead or dying. Final tallies for the battle are (and this is just what is seen on screen) roughly 70% casualties on both sides.
Retreating back home.
Meanwhile, Vena and Korvis are done boinking, they snuggled, he ran his fingers through her hair, she traced the outline of his biceps with her fingertip, they talked about wallpaper patterns for the dining room, they discussed going up to the Catskills for the holidays to see her mom, and they agreed that no matter how popular it is, "Seven" is still a pretty shitty name to saddle a child with. Most importantly, they have both pledged to go back to their warcamps and get their respective sides to start a new order of humankind, one based on love and respect and boinking. Unfortunately, while they were gone, the savage attack occurred on Camp Reagan. Korvis gets home first and is truly enraged, he thinks Vena tricked him with her feminine wiles. He goes riding off towards Frisco Com, with the few remaining men following behind.
Korvis has his angry-eyes.
Vena also makes it home to see that half her women are dead and blood is flowing freely. Before long, the men show up spitting venom and there is a showdown outside the walls. Just when it looks like it's going to get ugly, Vena and Korvis start kissing again! The rest of the men and women are taken aback, and start to look at each other differently, winking and smirking and generally acting like college kids at a TGI Fridays. They toss down their weapons, join hands and hearts and all is better. So, uh, like, then uncounted generations of inter-species warfare, brutal gender discrimination, and established mores of violence and bloodlust just get pitched to the side? Just like that? Because two people started kissing? Seriously?
Get a room.
Bonus: "Uncle Mutie's Olde Timey Post-Bomb Lexicon"
"hot plastic" super awesome
"neg" or "neggie" no, none
"number one" the best
"check" or "check-check" yes, affirmative
"The Prezeedent" the President
"regs" rules, regulations
"hot smarts" brilliant, smartyhead
"scan" or "heavy scan" look, see, view
"cold hard" hard work
"high sun" noontime
"pain you" hurt you
"whatzit" what is it
Written in May 2009 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...