Endgame (1983)

Nuclear war! Boom! It is now December 2025 in a world that has just now started to recover from atomic Armageddon. The war happened in the late 80s or early 90s, an assumption based on some internal references and the fact that the technology is right at a 1980s level, with no laser guns or matter transporters or any of that.

In the generation since the war, in "the city" (my money is on Philadelphia) a curious cultural obsession has taken hold of the populace in the form of a violent television gameshow called "Endgame", in which men stalk and kill each other in hopes of winning a huge prize of money, all to the delight of an audience watching at home. Of course, this is a total rip-off of King's novella The Running Man from 1982 (the Schwarzenegger movie of the same name came out in 1987 and has only a superficial resemblance to Endgame). The rules are complex, the stakes are high, and the game has been going on for at least 15 years. A section of urban decay is set aside for each duel and rigged with multiple remote cameras to catch all the action. Each contestant, whether prey or hunter, is allowed two weapons, and while you'd think they'd pick bazookas and flame throwers, mostly they use edged weapons and small-caliber firearms.

Television control room.

Let's meet our hero, Ron Shannon, ten-time champion of Endgame and one of the most dangerous men alive. Shannon is played by Al Cliver (of 2020: Texas Gladiators fame), a scruffy Han Solo sort of guy who hides his softy heart behind a solid titanium wall of blank emotionless stares. His total lack of any emotion except detached coolness may be his character as written or coached, or it may just be the limitations of Al Cliver's acting ability, but either way it gets annoying after a while (hard to get behind a hero who has the emotional range of plywood).


To show his badassery Shannon has continually volunteered to be the prey in the game, quickly turning the tables on his hunters every time and earning both fame and fortune for himself. As we open our movie, Shannon's latest match is against three veteran hunters, perhaps his toughest test yet, but the season's point leadership is at stake (it's like NASCAR except with fewer accidental shootings and cans of warm Old Milwaukee). Karate Dude In Parachute Pants, an alleged martial arts expert with no apparent kung fu skills other than kicking a guy in the stomach while he's down is his first kill, proving no match for Shannon's tight black jeans and Ewan McGregor beard. The second kill is Token Black Man With An Axe, the only black man left in post-holocaust America, who sports a feathered leather bondage outfit and battle axe. The cameras are there for each final kill-blow, recording every gory detail for the fans at home.

Karate Dude In Parachute Pants, the eye paint is part of the game, apparently.

Token Black Man With An Axe, looking like an extra from Barbarella.

While dodging shotgun rounds from the third/last hunter, Shannon meets a woman named Lilith in a ruined building. As it turns out, she is a mutant telepath and she was looking for Shannon to offer him a job (supremely bad timing, what with the bullets flying around his head and all). Lilith is played by the legendary exploitation queen Laura Gemser, noted for her skill in getting nekkid and..., well, in getting really nekkid (though in this movie, 99% of the time she's completely clothed, which sucks).


This is one of those movies where the Average Joe post-nuke survivor looks like a caravan driver in Egypt, with no possessions or belongings, and doesn't seem to do much more than squat in a corner or turn rats on spits over trashheap fires. It's like a snapshot image of what your mind flashes to when you hear "post-apocalypse survivor", but it doesn't help answer the questions. Where do these people sleep, what do they eat, how do they get water, what keeps them here? If all they do is spend their days squatting in shattered ruined buildings in a nuked city, they are not going to last more than a few weeks. Who feeds them, or how do they feed themselves?

I just don't get the headwrap thing, how is that more practical than a stocking cap?

Anyway, I'm drifting off-topic. Lilith uses her Spooky Jedi Mind Powers to help Shannon defeat Karnak, the last of the three hunters and the one with the most facial hair. Due to some plot contrivance, Shannon feels the need to spare Karnak's life, much to the chagrin of the television audience who have come to expect only death-blows from him. Karnak is played by the legendary George Eastman, of The New Barbarians and Blastfighter, one of those actors who is known mostly for his ability to sneer and laugh diabolically while machinegunning children and eating puppies.


Meanwhile, while distracted, we see that the city's fascist government's "Security Service" (yes, the "SS") forces are set on a genocide plan to eliminate all the mutants in city. Sent off by the Colonel, the megalomaniac leader of the SS, the troopers storm a refugee enclave and shoot a bunch of them to death. The Italian PA movie obsession with fascist overlords is never more front-and-center than in this movie, where jackbooted soldiers with black leather dusters, full-face gasmasks, and the dreaded "SS" on their Nazi-style helmets dispense justice with the bullet and the knife. A little context is needed perhaps, if I may digress. Fascism in Italy did not die with Mussolini, if anything it only became more politically strong as the 70s and 80s wore on, and anyone with a voice in Italy in the early 1980s (such as filmmakers) couldn't help but wonder if their nation wasn't on the fast track to a return to the sort of militant fascism that caused so much trouble in the '40s. A lot of genre filmmakers assumed that all it would take was a global WWIII to open the door to the totalitarian extremists again (and they were probably right) and their PA movies show that fear. [Editor Pam: It makes sense that totalitarian extremists might end up running what's left of the world, although using that concept over and over again in this sort of movie is the lazy way out. What's even lazier is making your totalitarian government virtually a carbon copy of Nazi Germany. Don't any of the totalitarian extremists have any original ideas for uniforms, even?]

SS Troopers.

While that is happening, Lilith gets Shannon on board with her plan to take a group of fellow mutants (and one old non-mutant Professor) to a meeting 200 miles west of the city where they will be taken away to a "better place". Shannon will get a bunch of gold for the job, which instantly washes away any reservations he might have about the risks of harboring mutants (by law 2 to 4 years of hard labor and confiscation of all property, he says, which seems light considering the government's stated fear/dislike of mutants).

Meeting the mutants.

To hammer that point home, Shannon is stopped by the Colonel and a group of SS Troopers on the way from meeting Lilith again. Not impressed by Shannon's celebrity status with the huddled masses, the Colonel sticks a pistol in his face and demands to know what he's up to. Shannon is saved by Karnak and his best-fired-from-the-hip shotgun, repaying his blood debt to him by routing the Troopers and driving the Colonel away before he himself disappears into the night. There's some backstory to Karnak and Shannon that kinda sorta explains why they do the things they do, something about them being mostest bestest friends at one time or something, but it gets lost in all the cordite fumes and synth rock music. I will say I'm impressed by the Colonel's hands-on approach to leadership (exhibited here and at the end later), most people of his rank wouldn't dare go out into the field with the troops. I'm less impressed, however, by the abilities of the rank-and-file SS Trooper. Like Lucas' Imperial Stormtroopers, they are fabulous at massacring unarmed civilians, but when confronted by top-billed characters, no matter how outnumbered, they melt under pressure and flee like little schoolgirls. One wonders how the government has managed to hold on to power so long.

The Colonel has some questions about Shannon's recent treasonous actions.

Shannon needs help to get the mutants to safety, this is too dangerous an undertaking even for him to do alone. So we have fifteen minutes of him going around to various locations in the city gathering up a team. This sort of quest to recruit partners for a dangerous mission is a standard plot device, well-traveled in numerous PA movies and everything from Westerns and chop socky films to The Dirty Dozen. First he goes to a local gym to recruit Eye Patch, who along with having the business savvy to keep a gym running in a holocaustic nightmare world, has connections with people who can get them a van and some bikes. Eye Patch is a strangely cheerful man who sports an African tour guide jacket X'ed with Sergio Leone bandoleers containing bullets for which he has no guns. The eye patch does indeed look suitably awesome in a General Chang sort of way, though I question his accuracy when throwing something sharp or explodey.

Eye Patch.

Also at the gym is an Asian guy with the terribly unimaginative name of Ninja, who is, shocker, a ninja of few words and even less body fat. Ninja is played by the guy from 2020: Texas Gladiators, where he played a similar character with a similarly dorky name. The Ninja action figure (new for 1983!) comes equipped with ornate Klingon-esque battle sword and detachable kanji-script headband. Acting ability sold separately.


Next Shannon goes to get the Fat Guy, who is supposed to be one of the most physically strong men around (though he just looks chubby to me). Fat Guy is dressed like a World of Warcraft LARPer with faux Medieval footsoldier helmet and a flowing animal hide mu-mu. He comes armed with a wide battle axe (+2 Damage against Orcs and Wraiths, double hit points if using Magical Strength Bonus Potion) and an M1 Garand rifle on a too-short-for-his-bulk sling.

Fat Guy.

Lastly they recruit the Old Man, who is said to have the reflexes of a cat. We see him catch a knife in mid-flight during his interview, but (unsurprisingly) he never uses those quickness skills again (in fact, he mostly seems like a slow old man with bad knees). The Old Man has your standard PA burlap and cable knit clothes, and comes armed with a dinky little crossbow strapped to one wrist and an amusingly unlimited bag of hand grenades.

Old Man.

Ok, so you know how we've spent the last 45 minutes setting up the social, economical, and governmental structure of this city state? We've learned details about the legal system, the manufacturing base for both weapons and industrial capacity, the unique role of the Security Services in the government, and even how food and essential services are distributed in this new post-war economy. Not to mention detailing all the intricacies of the complicated Endgame show, going so far as listing past winners and explaining the season points system, international rules commissions, and gambling restrictions, and how in a way the show has become a system of conflict resolution for disputes between nations. Plus all the stuff about the television-obsessed culture in the city and how the Endgame show both placates and titillates a society which lives vicariously through the champions they see on television. Plus twenty minutes and half a dozen lengthy scenes that set up the SS Troopers and the Colonel and the government's wobbly power structure, their tenuous hold over the military, and their general disregard for human rights for non-citizens. Remember all that? Well, you might as well just forget it because we are about to leave the city for good and all that you have been shown will be totally pointless for the rest of the movie. Seriously, nothing you have seen for the last 45 minutes will ever come up again and it will have almost zero bearing on the last two acts. It's like we have two completely unrelated movies, stuck together with spit and duct tape in a desperate ploy by screenwriters who had enough material for two separate hour-long movies with widely different plots, but not enough for one single two-hour long show. Maybe they already cashed the advance checks from the studio and were in a serious bind, but knew that as long as they gave the studio something with exploding stuff and boobies in a post-apocalyptic setting they'd be happy. Either way, I for one am glad to be done with the first half of the plot, it was growing tiresome and the unrelentingly dark visual look to the whole thing was giving me Seasonal Affective Disorder (seriously, filming at night and using blue filters is fine for a few scenes, but don't overdo it). The second half is more to my liking, an old fashioned road trip in the bright sun.

Will a nuclear autumn be blue?

And so the expedition begins across the blighted plains. As far as movies go, it's an old story, really, whether it's cowboys escorting pioneers through Injun Country, wandering samurai banding together to save a village, or Mad Max getting his Aussie brethren past Humongous and his goons, the basic idea of gritty, hardened men protecting innocent civilians on a perilous journey never fails to excite me. Ok, let's reset. We have a column of vehicles (a dualie panel courier van, a tricked-out sedan, and two motorbikes), holding 15 people (Shannon, Ninja, Old Man, Eye Patch, Fat Guy, Expendable Driver, Professor, Lilith, and seven nameless mutants). All the mutants are in the van, which has no windows but does come factory-standard with a cupola-mounted machinegun on a pintle mount (fake gun, blinking light in barrel and rat-tat-tat foley'd in).

Column of vehicles.

The sedan is Shannon's personal car and it is two tons of pure awesome. If I may grind this baby to a halt let's have a lengthy, if ultimately pointless, dissertation on Shannon's PA car. Why the silver paintjob? Why no doors or roof? Why the three inch ground clearance? Why the open grate over the engine compartment, doesn't it rain or snow out here? What survivor worth his salt would go to the trouble to make a vehicle that provides him with absolutely zero protection against attack and is too slow to escape pursuers? You can only use it during the summer months, the openness, along with the gravel-scraping clearance and the skinny 14inch tires, make it useless in inclement weather (heck, even a rain shower would drown it out, the engine is exposed). Now, admittedly, this sort of tube-frame PA car looked wicked cool in The Road Warrior, but that was set in sunny Australia, not monkeyass cold North America. And why is it always old Fiats and VW bugs that get converted to PA cars, will nothing of more substance and structure survive the End of Days? Why never off-road pickup trucks, which seem vastly more logical given the terrain and potential threats. And what's up with the huge 55-gallon drums spray-painted silver and mounted on the back? Surely they are not filled with flammable liquids and stacked eighteen inches behind the unprotected driver, right? And why the pimpalicious red pleather upholstery, does Shannon use this car to pick up chicks? And lastly we have a flamethrower (!) mounted internally with the nozzle set into the passenger's side hood, which seems frickin' kickass until the one time you see it in action and you realize that it only shoots a stream out about three feet in front of the car. Still, despite all these problems, I so want one...

The vehicles.

Shannon's car.

Getting out of the city is actually pretty easy, despite what Shannon kept saying about how the chances were slim to none that they'd make it out alive. His plan seems to have been, "wait til dark then just drive west", and that worked out fine. The countryside stretching out west of the city looks like, oh, I don't know, maybe like a rock quarry outside Rome, perhaps? I know, I know, an Italian post-apocalyptic action movie set almost entirely in a rock quarry? Amazing!

The van.

As with all road movies, Endgame is linear in form, with encounters lined up along the way to the destination. Their first encounter in the wastelands is with a burnt-out car and some corpses. Getting out to investigate, they see that the dead are mutants who have either regressed to become half-human-half-monkey or half-human-half-fish. The Professor (who, despite not having a white lab coat on, seems to know everything about everything) explains that the fallout from the nuclear war caused all these genetic mutations, both the mental powers of his friends and these, more severe, physical mutations on display out in the hinterlands. Humanity, he claims, is moving backwards on the evolutionary tree, back to our ancestors who swung from branches and swam the shallow seas. Of course, this sort of involution is bullfeathers, but I'll be nice because it's obvious that the make-up department went to a lot of work to make the mutants look either like Curious George or Star Trek Andorians. I do wonder, however, why the only place we see these sorts of regressive mutations is out in the open lands, not in the city. [Editor Pam: I hate to disappoint all the fans of post-apocalyptic movies, but extensive research has been done on animals to evaluate the effects of radiation exposure, both on the exposed animal and on its descendents, and there are no picturesque mutants produced. Thankfully nobody is allowed to experiment on humans, as far as I know, but there are no half-human-half-monkeys among Japanese atomic bomb survivors and their offspring, either. It appears that radiation does not produce reverse evolution in human beings. I haven't heard of any of the Japanese survivors having any spooky mind powers, but I suppose the Japanese government could be keeping this a secret.]

Fish Mutant!

Monkey Mutant!

Then they come to a suspicious town, and instead of just driving around it, they decide to wander right in and are met by a blind monk (!) in a long black robe. The monk explains to them that they live out here in isolation "doing the Lord's work", but it's clear to everyone that there's something fishy about his story. Suddenly, a hundred monks swarm out from everywhere, a virtual ink-black wave of sandal-clad killers with scythes and machinepistols, all growling and moaning and acting quite un-blindlike. It's only through sheer luck and firearms accuracy (plus Old Man's bottomless bag of grenades) that our heroes manage to hold on, though the Expendable Driver character is killed (not even sure he had a name, so no big loss there).

Blind monks attack.

It's Lilith the mind-reader telepath who tells Shannon that the blind monks are using a captured mutant to "see through his eyes", and if he can find and kill that mutant then the monks will fall blind again. Shannon crashes a motorcycle through a wooden door (hell yeah!) and stabs and kicks his way up into the church steeple where he kills the captured mutant with a tossed axe to forehead. All this happens so fast that we don't have time to really think about how stupid all this is. The mutant was in a small room not facing the window, so even if the monks could "see" what he sees, it would be such a limited view as to be almost useless. Also, nice job in killing the mutant, Shannon, though perhaps you might have considered freeing him instead? As he was chained up and beaten/abused, he clearly wasn't here of his own design, so maybe he would have appreciated being liberated from his captors instead of having his hair parted down the middle. He might have come in handy later.

The mutant seer.

They stop next at a dry lake to rest and recuperate, though it's clear that none of the men brought along any personal belongings, not even a change of clothes or a toothbrush or anything. 200 miles is a long way over broken terrain, requiring at least a couple of overnight stops, you'd think they'd have to pack something, bedrolls, water bottles, a change of skivvies, some beef jerky, a nice Danielle Steel novel, maybe a flashlight, something other than the clothes on their backs and their weapons. Ever see a soldier out in the field with a huge rucksack? That's not all ammo and rockets in that pack, soldiers have stuff in there also, like extra socks and a spoon or two. But not wasteland PA heroes, no, all they need are rabbit-fur vests and their sniper rifles, comfort is for wimps and the dead! Anyway, Lilith and a Kid (a mop-haired five-year old boy mutant) go off alone to practice some Spooky Jedi Mind Tricks by the lake. The Kid is some sort of Super Mutant, with game-changing Q-like powers of seemingly infinite power, though contained in the easily-distracted-by-candy mind of a child. Shannon comes down and he and Lilith talk about the pre-war era, a time that neither of them seem to have any direct knowledge of (only the aged Professor remembers the old days before the war, the rest of them apparently weren't born yet). So, since they are in their 30s or so, I can extrapolate that WWIII was around 1985-90 or so? [Editor Pam: Your math sounds right, but this doesn't seem like nearly enough time for people to have adopted the weird clothing we see. It's not as if spinning, weaving, and raising cotton and flax were very common skills in late-80s America, and making your own clothing completely from scratch is slow going even for those who know how, so most survivors would be likelier to loot clothing stores and wear their clothes to rags. Of course, the fascist government seems to be producing clothing, judging from the guys at the TV station, but it doesn't look anything like this.]

Shannon chats with Lilith and the Kid.

Next the caravan comes to what seems to be a gory scene of refugees slaughtered by mutants. They get out and investigate, giving us a look at a topless woman hanging from ropes (the first nekkid chick all movie, which is amazing considering this is a Joe D'Amato production). Lilith's Spidey Senses start tingling and she jumps out to warn them (giving away her mutant status to Fat Guy, who is virulently anti-mutant), but it quickly becomes a trap as the "dead" leap up and start shooting. The topless woman gets a knife into the Professor before being shot down with the rest of her crew. The Professor gets a lengthy death scene, while Shannon hovers over him, and he expires with a heaving sigh.

Topless woman (it's about damn time, is this not an Italian movie?).

The once-despicable but now-redeemed former hunter Karnak shows up now, having followed them all this way out into the hinterlands, though he seems to have no vehicle and carries nothing but a large combat machinegun. Karnak is all about poses, the more dramatic and poster-worthy the better. Watch him pose with his machinegun against the dismal gray sky. Watch him pose with his twitching mustache as he glowers at Shannon. Watch him pose on top of that broken masonry wall, his greasy hair flapping in the breeze as his steely eyes glint in the cold apocalyptic sun. He has his own music cue, too, which is particularly awesome.

Karnak, always backlight your stars for optimum effect.

Just then an army of mutant bikers attack! Oh yes, this is more like it, this is what I paid to see. Look at all those suspiciously well-maintained and painted dirtbikes, look at that PA car with the tubular frame and the Bren gun mounted on the hood, look at those skanky girls with their floppy boobies hanging out sitting astride what is presumably the head mutant, look at all that leather and burlap and grommets and buckles and all that wonderful facepaint to make the mutants either look like monkeys or fish! Look at those shoulder pads! God, I love the Italians.

Mutant army.


Does that guy have horns?

The battle is furious and violent, as our heroes stage a fighting retreat to get the van to safety (which is easier that you'd think). Shannon is caught on foot in the ruins of a building and is only saved by Ninja's valiant kamikaze death, which also costs them his PA car (best insert shot of all time when Ninja reaches back and lights a bundle of dynamite with a cigarette lighter milliseconds before crashing head-on into the mutant's car). I couldn't help but laugh each time that Shannon ran out of bullets for his revolver, clicking the hammer on empty chambers three or four times and then looking at the gun like he doesn't know what happened or doesn't know how to count to six. Since he does this several times, I have to question Shannon's intelligence (six isn't that big a number, right?).

Remember that scene in The Road Warrior when Max struggled to reload his shotgun? Me too.

Karnak drives the van away while Eye Patch mans the cupola-mounted machinegun, raining bullets down on the mutant bikers, who seem content to just drive alongside the van and wait to be punctured and mangled so they can crash their bikes down gravel hills and into dirt piles. The van escapes as the bikers give up the chase. In the final tally, Ninja and Old Man are killed, and Fat Guy and Lilith are captured. Our party is now down to just Shannon, Karnak, and Eye Patch, plus seven mutants in the van.


While they should just scratch their losses and drive on ahead, Shannon is a bit smitten with Lilith and volunteers to go back and rescue her. Karnak, for some reason, decides to go with him. This is an odd decision in light of later disclosures that he's only out here in the wastelands to get the gold, so you'd think he'd stay with the mutants (the golden tickets, so to speak) instead of risking his life to help Shannon. But he does, and they zoom off on Shannon's motorbike, Karnak holding on to Shannon's waist as he tries to balance his huge 6'6" frame on the dirt bike's tiny jumpseat (more amusing to watch than you might imagine). You know, I've noticed this all movie, but Shannon's bike doesn't have a kickstand, so every time he gets off it he has to awkwardly lay it down on the ground. These are things I notice when I watch movies, which is probably a sign that I just don't enjoy movies the way I used to.

Laying the bike down.

Meanwhile, back at the mutant camp, poor Lilith gets raped by the mutant leader, which is nothing new for Laura Gemser, who was one of the great exploitation actresses of her generation. The look on her face as the mutant humpagrinds on her is one of detachment, fitting for her character, but the actress must be thinking to herself, "Son of a bitch, raped again?!? I swear I've been sexually abused in every single movie I've ever made. There must not be an Italian actor between the ages of 23 and 50 who hasn't raped me at least once on-screen. God, I hate being typecast."

"I so need a better agent."

Shannon and Karnak arrive there during the day, but wait to assault the mutant's base until night falls, begging the unanswered question just what did these two guys do for the eight hours before nightfall. Did they sit around and talk about knife sharpening techniques, or about that one time when they were shooting at each other, or how hot that one mutant chick in the van is? Did they play cards? Seriously, they hate each other, they are sworn enemies, they are both only keeping the other alive long enough to get the gold and then it's game-on again, what could they possibly have to chat about? Maybe they just sat there in silence, brooding deeply and staring off into the distance like the disturbed loners they both are. Maybe they made out.

Chillin' and posin'.

They make it inside, scaling down a rope that magically appears from thin air, and tiptoe across a room filled with sleeping mutants (out of a given group of, say, 100 people, how many of them are sleeping at any given time, and how many of those are light sleepers easily roused by rappelling attackers?). They get Lilith free of her bonds, but on the way out they see that Fat Guy is still alive but held captive, stuck in concrete in a wall like a mounted elk trophy. This is a rip-off of The Empire Strikes Back, of course, and really makes no damn sense unless these mutants have somehow developed an ultra-quick drying concrete mix and a stand-up pouring form, neither of which jives with the general Wandering Marauder class of mutant we see here (well, I suppose they could have poured a flat layer of concrete and then stood Fat Guy up in it to his neck before it hardened and then tipped it up for display, but, still, it looks dumbass). Karnak puts the poor guy out of his misery (though as Mythbusters showed us recently, being encased in any substance, be it sand or carbonite, that constricts the natural rise and fall of the chest/lungs will result in a quick death anyway). As the mutants get wise and start yelling and jumping, Karnak is trapped below and badly outnumbered, with little more than his homeless-guy beard and size 14 boots to fend off the mutant legion. No help from Shannon on that, as he runs off without even trying to help the guy who has saved his ass three times already. Of course, Lilith did tell him that Karnak's real intentions were to get the gold and nothing else, so maybe that's why.

Fat Guy in wall.

Reunited with the caravan, they all get moving again and it's not much longer before they arrive at a rock quarry where they are to meet their contacts. I am so very tired of rock quarries by now. And abandoned warehouses and tractor factories, for that matter. Even old Soviet-era concrete bunkers annoy me. I know they are "traditional" post-apocalyptic settings, but just once I'd love to see something different. And if you think about it, what group of survivors in their right minds would stay in a blasted city or blighted region with nothing but gravel and rocks when surely there are areas of the country that still have trees and tillable fields and water sources? America (for example) is criss-crossed with literally thousands of rivers and dotted with hundreds and hundreds of lakes, any one of those verdant locations would be vastly preferable to the bottom of a rock quarry or a metropolitan area with a nuke crater in the middle of it.

Quarries are so dismal.

Anyway, as they wait, the Colonel and a platoon of SS Troopers show up. Remember them, from the city in the first act? Wouldn't blame you if you forgot, as they had completely and utterly disappeared for the last 50 minutes of the movie. But they're back now, and itching for a fight. One wonders how the SS managed to find this exact location and arrive here at the exact moment that our heroes did. Outnumbered a hundred to two, the fight ends quickly with Eye Patch riddled and dead and Shannon captured. The Colonel snarls at the mutants and it looks like it's going to get ugly. Oh my, look at all those zooming close-ups of the main characters' faces, so stern and determined, it's nice of the Colonel to wait patiently while Shannon thinks up a plan to escape, it wouldn't be fair if he just pulled the trigger now and got it over with.

SS Troopers arrive in Mister T's van.

Up against the wall, Shannon speaks to the Kid's mind via Lilith (don't ask) and gets the Kid to use his awesome Spooky Jedi Mind Powers. The Kid's powers are indeed incredible, as with just a shaking head and a twitchy eye, he brings up a sandstorm like a djinn, tosses boulders down the hill, lifts a truck up and smashes it down on some Troopers, and even gets the Colonel to shoot himself in the head with his own gun. Hey, why didn't Lilith get the Kid to help her out when she was captured by the mutants? Is there a "maximum range" to Spooky Jedi Mind Powers?

Try running away, it might work.

The Colonel's hand is not his own.

Ok, that over, right on cue, a small Augusta 106 helicopter emerges from behind the mountains and comes down for a landing in the quarry. Two white-clad men exit and bring out a box of gold bars, which they plop down at Shannon's feet with barely a word. The eight mutants run down and pile into the chopper, which, like a clown car at the circus, seems to expand comically to fit them all in.

Helicopter, wait, all of them are going to fit inside that?

Lilith and Shannon share a last moment emotionally Ilsa-and-Sam moment. Despite the offer of a seat on the flight out, Shannon decides to stay, and though we've kinda been building up to it all movie, they surprisingly don't share a kiss or even a hug goodbye. Typical of PA movies, the loner hero turns down a free pass to ride off to a better world with a beautiful woman so he can stick to his idiom. Of course, that helo is already critically overloaded, so maybe Shannon is smart enough to realize that it's going to crash soon once the rotor bearings give out under the strain.

What's she hiding under that hat anyway? Antennae? A Kate Gosselin haircut?

Because we didn't really have that cliched final showdown between hero and villain, it's almost mandatory that Shannon's old nemesis Karnak now show up, having somehow (a flourish of the scriptwriter's pen) escaped the mutant hordes. They toss down their guns and run at each other with bloody screams as the credits roll.

Swarthy Italian men shall rule the post-apocalyptic landscape.

The End. All in all a pretty "meh" movie, though worth a look for genre fans.

Written in November 2009 by Nathan Decker.

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