Warriors of the Apocalypse (1985)
Another post-nuke thriller from the Philippines, Warriors of the Apocalypse has a few things going for it but is generally a poor example of the genre. Expect to see lots of exploding stuff, laser guns, perky Filipino boobies, insane pygmies with knives, and some of the craziest 1980s leather bondage fashions you will ever see. On the negative side, however, the acting is uniformly terrible and the screenplay seems to have been cobbled together by fifteen blind men living in a goat shack in Nepal.
Our Voice-Over Guy tells us that we are "150 years" after WWIII and the world has been reduced to the standard mix of wasteland deserts and insular tribes of survivors. Not much new there, eh?
Our "heroes" are six guys, a posse of post-nuke wanderers, each with their own unique style and look. None of the names in the closing credits are matched to characters, so I won't even try to give you any actor bios, but I'll list them here.
Trapper: With his suede and weasel fur jacket zipped down low, exposing a veritable Black Forest of matted and greasy chest hair, Trapper has just got to be the leader of this rag-tag band. His wispy locks are suitably heroic, as is his geometrically-square jaw and Pacific blue eyes, and whoever dubbed his voice was clearly channeling the spectral ghost of John Wayne. Too bad the actor playing the part has all the emotional range of a fence post.
Glasses Guy: My personal favorite, what with his airport skycap hat and flip-up sunglasses to compliment his Bon Jovi leather pants and low-slung holsters. He looks like Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and that's never a bad thing in my humble opinion.
Fishnet Guy: Fishnet shirt? Seriously, has any man since Glenn Danzig looked good in fishnet?
And no, Louisiana's own Britney Spears doesn't count, even if she really is a man.
Shoulder Pads Guy: This dude is taking the whole post-apocalyptic shoulder pad fashion craze way, way too far. What kind of pads are those anyway? They look like something an industrial welder would wear, right? Somebody help me.
Shoulder Pads Guy.
Mrs. Beckham looks good in shoulder pads...
Headwrap Guy: The most non-descript of the men, dressed like the emo kids down at the mall with what looks like a shop towel wrapped around his head. He looks a bit like Al Cliver, or maybe Al Cliver's illegitimate half-brother or something.
Token Old Guy: Named "Doc", of course, this elderly gentleman seems like he would be a liability to any traveling band of desert vagabonds, and it's only through Trapper's personal intercession that the other guys haven't plugged him and left him to the buzzards. Look at his gut! Here they are bitching about being so hungry all the time and this guy is 50 pounds overweight! He must be hiding a rack of lamb in that jumpsuit.
Token Old Guy.
We open with them out in a desert wandering around aimlessly. They are thirsty and hungry to the point of insanity, and stumble along the parched landscape like zombies. Hey, guys, look up in the hills! Green trees and foliage! Green means water and stuff to eat! Go up there, you dumbasses! And put a hat on, you're going to get a nasty sunburn.
Wandering in the desert. Why?
Our first action scene comes at us quick, as they stumble upon a small band of bandits camping out in the same desert. We can tell they're bad guys as they all wear black leather outfits like they just came from an S&M convention in Vegas. Our heroes and them get into a wicked gunfight now.
Since this is "150 years in the future!", the guns are all spacey looking, like cheap Star Wars Stormtrooper blasters, though they clearly fire some sort of projectiles rather than laser beams. The "bullets" are a constant source of amusement, as they alternately go BOOM like a 40mm grenade, shredding trees and pulverizing rock, and PWING like a regular old rifle cartridge, leaving a normal-sized hole in whatever body they hit. There seems to be zero consistency in the bullets' effects, and it is screamingly obvious during each and every firefight. But, then again, I guess you really can't explode a badly-paid Filipino extra just to make a scene look good, right? Well, maybe in the Philippines you could.
Bullets go boom!
Our heroes win, of course, and take the spoils. Two locals who were captives of the bandits are set free. They are left to deal with the still-living "Big Bill" who is the leader of this band of brigands, a large, beefy, sweaty guy in black puffy leather who is always followed around by this gay valet who holds an umbrella over his head to block the sun. Seriously. The locals taunt and poke at the man, which seems to pass for the sole comic moment of this otherwise dreary movie.
Now, during that fight, a stranger jumped in from nowhere to kick some bandit ass and save our heroes. Let's meet this man now. Stylin' with his Jimmy Hendrix headscarf and homespun Partridge Family clothes, this guy is from the mountains and was down here in the deserts looking for something that's never explained. He looks like Bruce Lee, doesn't he? Might as well call him that.
Bruce tells them of his home, the mythical "Mountain of Life", and their endless supply of food and water and women. He also confirms the legend that people up there are immortal, as he claims to be over 150 years old himself! While the other men are dubious, the Token Old Guy, being a smarty-head man of science, convinces Trapper that they should follow Bruce back into the mountains to check it out. What do they have to lose?
So they travel into mountains and the thick jungle, following Bruce along some meandering path. The jungle is criss-crossed with streams and nuts and fruit are plentiful, which once again makes me wonder why the hell they were down there in the desert. It couldn't have taken them more than a few days to get here, so why didn't they before now? Is there some sort of Code of the Desert that says that wasteland wanderers must only traverse the burning sands?
Trapper and Bruce in the jungle.
It's not long that they are attacked by "Indians"! These are your stereotypical bushman natives, near-naked and covered in tattoos and crude body paint. Our heroes kill a half dozen or so and drive the rest off, making good use of the obvious advantage of firearms over spears and sticks.
A second attack, however, is more successful and they are captured by the Indians. They are taken to "Indian Town" and forced to endure a protracted song and dance number. We do get to see a large number of "National Geographic boobies", which really don't count when judging whether or not to shield your virgin eyes from the screen. As a kid I remember reading this magazine and coming across the shots of topless bushman Stone Age tribeswomen in Brazil or someplace with their saggy boobs and thinking, "Damn, I sure hope young tall blonde American girls don't have boobs like those!". Thankfully, I was right.
They are tortured with sticks and rocks and stuff, typical PA movie fare, really, before being saved by those two locals from before and Bruce Lee. Oh, and some shambling zombie-looking Blue Undead sorta guy who wanders in and scares the bejeezus out of the Indians, scattering them like school kids. More on the Blue Undead later.
After putting some distance between them and Indian Town, they stop to talk. The two locals say they came back to get food and medicine for Big Bill, despite the fact that he enslaved them before. This is supposed to show that humanity still lives in this wretched world, or something preachy like that. This movie occasionally veers off into some heavy philosophical ramblings, certainly trying to point out some flaw in human nature that was supposed to make viewers in 1985 nod their heads and then go out and Save the Planet and Stop the Nukes and organize protest marches on Washington and maybe even sit-ins at city hall.
Anyway, they are now attacked by spear-wielding two-foot tall pygmies in facepaint! The pygmies swarm our heroes, but are also beaten back by superior firepower, leaving many of their number dead, scattered about in the undergrowth.
AAAGGGHHH!!! JESUS H. FUCKING CHRIST!!! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!?!
Once they leave, a last pygmy comes upon the dead bodies of his fellows. Using some spooky Jedi Mind Powers, the pygmy brings the dead back to life! Crap, immortal scary pygmies! This movie is going to give me nightmares. No surprise, but the pygmies now stage a second attack on our heroes, which is pretty much a replay of the first attack, but bloodier. This time, however, they notice that some of these "dead" pygmies are the same as the one's they killed before, which just freaks them out. Eek, not to be insensitive or anything, but good lord, those pygmies give me the shakes!
Glasses Guy gets mauled by a pygmy.
A third pygmy attack results in them being captured, though mostly because Bruce convinces them that they are both immortal and actually trying to help (!). Our heroes are then taken to "Amazon Town", which looks like your typical Amazon movie jungle set, with lots of rope bridges and wooden stockades. There are also some matte painting Mayan-looking stone structures for ceremonies and the like, all set impressively against the jungle landscape.
Amazon Town, which I'm guessing was originally built for a different movie.
About 40 girls come rushing out to fondle them (except the Token Old Guy, notably). The men seem rather flabbergasted by this, though they warm up to it quickly. We get the impression that these six guys haven't seen a woman in years and they've almost forgotten what to do with one. Not one of them, save Trapper, has any sense of decorum around these women, and there is much groping and leering. Glasses Guy especially needs some lessons in the proper way to seduce a woman.
Trapper meets the girls.
The girls are not really what you would expect in an Amazon movie, as in, they're not really that hot. A lot of chubby thighs, wrinkly skin, and poofy frizzed-out '80 hair, and their Wilma Flintstone fur bikinis and loincloths do very little to improve their looks. I've seen far prettier women down at my local supermarket on a Tuesday afternoon, hauling around three screaming kids, covered in formula spit-up and crusty McDonald's french fries while they try and shop for groceries.
A collage of Amazons.
Some backstory here, though it really isn't needed. The pygmies seem to be the foot soldiers of the Amazons, subservient to their demands and in charge of the prisoners while they are here. There are a number of men around, though most of them look old and worn out, and all are used as manual labor. Clearly, the arrival of these five young-ish, virile, strapping men in their town is the best thing to happen in years. The plan is to mate with them and make more Amazon babies!
We now meet the Queen of the Amazons, a fairly unattractive woman who likes to wear Princess Leia gold slave-girl bikinis (grr...) and Arabian veils. She is the unquestioned leader and all the girls defer to her and her alone.
We also meet the "High Priest", an older graying man who seems to handle the ceremonial functions of the Amazons. Watch him, he's tricky.
The High Priest.
The men are taken to a room and held for a while, though they are well-fed and doted on by Amazon girls the whole time. The Token Old Guy want to leave, but the men want to stay for obvious reasons. That night the High Priest comes to free them! They don't ask why and he doesn't tell them why.
Once out in the jungle, there is yet another difference of opinion within the group and it splits in two again. Trapper's group heads down a path but doesn't get very far before they are recaptured by Amazons and pygmies. Sheer weight of numbers dooms their escape plan, as does their unfamiliarity with the terrain and the fact that no matter how many pygmies they shoot, they keep coming back to life. Which sucks.
Glasses Guy and Shoulderpads Guy go off on their own (they pair off a lot in this movies) and run into some bathing beauties at a waterfall. They then stop to smoke some weed (!) before being recaptured. They are so stoned that they don't put up much of fight, other than to say, "Man, those little dudes are freaky..."
Filipino extra boobs!
Smoking the wacky tobacky.
They are all brought back to Amazon Town where they are told by the High Priest that their escape was a just a test. He wanted to show them that real escape is futile as the girls and the pygmies can catch them easily. Seems like a goofy way to teach a lesson but I guess no one got hurt, and those that did are immortal anyway.
So, to make a long story short, the Amazons want to mate with the men. But they have to wait for the next full moon so they can stage a fertility ritual to their gods to make it all proper like. Ok, I guess a society could have reverted back to pre-Columbian rituals in just 150 years, though you'd think that it would take many more generations that that to lose the threads of modern civilization.
The men are allowed to flirt with the girls but they won't put out yet, which has got to be frustrating as all hell. Not surprisingly, then, a few of them violate the rules and the Queen must step in and stop them. Bruce and Trapper even have a fistfight over this matter, which Trapper is about to lose when the Queen steps in and ends it over the High Priest's wishes. It seems clear now that the Queen is quite smitten with Trapper and hopes to make him her own once the time is right.
Flirting with pretty girls can be dangerous, though Fishnet Guy looks quite happy here.
And so the full moon rises and all gather around the big stone alter. The fertility rite ceremony is stolen right out of the Mayan history book, with dancing girls and animal sacrifices and a lot of feathers and chanting to the moon.
Chicks in see-through outfits, that's cool.
But that's not cool, it looks like they killed a real chicken for this scene!
The men are then all led off to have group sex with multiple horny girls! Bully for them. I was really expecting something horrible to happen afterwards, like they would all be ritually sacrificed after their night of mating, but much to my surprise nothing happened. In fact, it works out pretty well for the men, as they get lots of sex without consequence.
Trapper and the Queen go off to make love as well. Though the scene is shot through a gauzy veil, and I see more of Trapper's man-butt than anything.
The Token Old Guy, too old to mate, goes wandering around. He finds an underground tunnel in a cave behind the alter and follows it into the mountain. There he finds the "big secret", that inside the mountain is a functioning pre-war nuclear reactor! The labor is provided by natives condemned to die due to "contamination", who become the shambling Blue Undead we met before.
The High Priest finds him here and instead of punishing him, they talk about the facts. The reactor "gives life to mountain" and is also the source of the immortality. Token Old Guy and High Priest wax on about this but it doesn't make much sense other than in a Philip K. Dick sorta metaphysical kind of way. The High Priest and the Queen are linked to the "power of the reactor". Once he dies the pygmies are mortal, once the Queen dies the other girls are mortal. Without the reactor, then both the High Priest and the Queen both die and everyone is mortal. Ok, sure, that's dumb, but I'll go with it.
The reactor, looking like an electrical power station in Manila.
But all is not peachy within the Amazon society. The High Priest is apparently either really jealous of the Queen's love for Trapper, or just fed up with her constant power-tripping and feels it's time for a drastic change of leadership. Either way, the die is cast.
The High Priest tells the Token Old Guy to find his fellows and leave before the ugliness starts, and then he seems to deliberately release all the Blue Undead workers! He even kills some guards so they have laser guns, which is odd. It seems he is going to make a final stand against the Queen, even if it means his own death.
Releasing the Blue Undead, who beeline for the tunnel.
Topside, the Queen announces her intentions to make Trapper king! While Trapper is all for this (who wouldn't be?), he's talked back to earth by the Token Old Guy, who has returned from below to tell of the reactor and the evil of the Queen. Before anything can really happen here, the High Priest arrives.
The Queen and the High Priest now fight it out! This is the culmination of a power struggle that's been brewing for over a century and neither side is going to stop until the other is dead. Both can shoot these astoundingly dorky laser beams out of their eyes (accompanied by bloopy Atari sound effects) and they seem evenly matched. All the girls and the men come out to watch the fight, which takes place up on the alter where all can see.
Eye Beam war! Is this not the dumbest thing you've ever seen?
The High Priest eventually takes a hit and goes down dead, leaving the field to the Queen, who has other things on her mind at the moment. She sends the girls and the pygmies after the men, who have fled during the fight. Left alone now, it's up to the Queen to fend off the swarms of Blue Undead workers who now flood out of the tunnel. Many of them are armed with laser guns, but the Queen has laser beam eyes, which are much cooler.
She also runs to her throne, which most amazingly is armed with rocket launchers and a bigass ray gun! This goofy Xardox-esque throne manages to find the last gasping vestiges of my respect for this movie and drive a stake through it. The Queen holds the Blue Undead off with her eyes and the weapons in her throne, but Amazon Town is wrecked in the process. A massive fire begins to burn in the tunnel leading to the reactor and we just know that time is running short.
The throne, rockets in the armrests.
Still frothing at the men, Bruce gives chase at the Queen's behest and he and Trapper go one-on-one. The battle is at a riverside water wheel, which is just neat, though not as well shot as a similar scene in Dead Man's Chest. Trapper holds his own for a while, but Bruce's fighting skills begin to wear him down. It's only due to fortune that Trapper is able to drown Bruce and win the fight.
Bruce and Trapper fight on the water wheel, the single most impressive set-piece scene in the entire movie.
The Queen shows up now, pissed as hell and looking for blood. Before she can kill Trapper, however, she collapses and dies there in the dirt! It's never really said, but we can assume that at that moment the fires reached the underground reactor and with it died the Queen. I never understood the weird symbiotic relationship between the human Queen and a large hunk of metal machinery, but I guess anything can happen in the Philippines, eh?
With both the Queen and the High Priest dead, the prophesy is fulfilled and both the pygmies and girls are mortal. Once everyone realizes this, they stop fighting and think about the future. This ending scene takes place in a jungle clearing, as our heroes are being surrounded by girls and pygmies, and it's only by Trapper's sudden appearance (plus the Token Old Guy's whining) that guns are holstered and spears lowered.
An Amazon warrior during the final showdown.
Trapper wants to stay and build a life here with the girls, who are willing to do the same. The Token Old Guy, Fishnet Guy, Headwrap Guy, and Glasses Guy all agree that this is the place to be. But, because this is a crappy PA movie, some lip-service must be paid to the time-worn cliche that wasteland heroes always choose the road over the girl. It's Shoulderpads Guy who takes the bullet for the team, choosing to head back into the wastelands alone. Idiot.
Written in January 2008 by Nathan Decker.
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