Author Topic: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon  (Read 13086 times)

CSSCHNEIDER

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Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« on: March 15, 2010, 08:25:21 AM »
I've never charted a marathon here before so this is an experiment.  I'm working on something important to myself and needed some inspiration, so I've gotten a hold of a bunch of Post-Apocalyptic films and I'm gonna devour them.  I'll post my thoughts here.  There is little rhyme or reason to the order, they're just what I could get my hands on.  There are three titles I'm scrambling for since they're rare, but hopefully they'll surface. 

I'm gonna watch all manner of Post-Apocalyptic films and even a smattering of Dystopian crossovers, but these will mostly be Post-Disaster films and wasteland type films. 

In the Top 5 forum I've posted a Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Films thread.  If you have suggestions post them there.  I'll watch anything I haven't seen and can get my hands on that you consider viable.  I spent two hours last night scouring the net for lists and ideas and what I love is that there are about 20 standard titles then there are some less prominent ones that get tossed in by the hardcore fans.  So let's hear some ideas, I'm gonna get to work...

First up, A Boy and His Dog...
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CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 11:10:13 AM »
1.



A Boy and His Dog
1974
Dir. L.Q. Jones
Based on the Novella of the same name by Harlan Ellison

When I dive into work it becomes all consuming, and my viewing habits follow suit.  The first time I shot a film on 35mm Black and White I watched around 40 modern and classic Black and White films in the span of 3 weeks, shot both film and digital stills on the format, and just immersed myself.  Here will be no different.

For the first film in this marathon I chose A Boy and His Dog.  This was due mainly to the fact that ever since I fell in love with the genre its been touted as one of the "ones to watch" and I could never find a copy of it.  Thanks to the internet and Netflix this has become easy.

The title of the film gives you all the information you may need going into the film.  Its about a young man and a dog wandering the wastelands of a Post Nuclear crisis America.  An opening text crawl tells us the World War IV lasted five days.  Just long enough for America and the Soviet Union to have fired all their missiles.  Now the world is filled with survivors, scavengers, Irradiated Mutants and a sentient dog named Blood.

Blood is the result of an experiment and he is psychically linked to Vic, our "boy".  The two live on the fringe of a fringe society scavenging food, and trading canned goods for the chance to munch popcorn and watch scratchy 16mm black and white stag films.  They survive and dream of a better existence "over the hill", though Vic mostly dreams of the next woman he can forcibly bed down with.

The film starts with a montage of negatively processed footage of nuclear explosions and mushroom clouds before giving us the previously mentioned text scrawl history lesson.  This is directly followed by a rape scene.  This films gets underway quickly and establishes the world view in the sharp screams of the young woman.  While the act isn't shown, the audio is enough to give you a brutal idea of what's going on off screen.  And to make it worse, as the gang walks away from the crime a young boy is heard saying "Hey!  Did you see her jerk when I cut her?"  I was floored by the brazen approach.  Its such a shame that the rest of the film does little to live up to this moment until the very end.  From here on out the film becomes a mixture of tones silly and dark, but never as chilling as this introduction.

The major problems I had with the film largely have to do with the era in which the film was made.  It would have been dated only a few years after it was shot, and now, 36 years later its REALLY dated.

Much of A Boy and His Dog feels like a gritty TV movie.  The dialog and acting all belong on the small screen, but the sensibilities, use of nudity and language belong to the cinema.  Case in point; After defending his new prize woman from marauders, Vic has an argument with Blood over her.  Blood being sensible feels they should have given her to the gang of thieves.  Vic out of frustration threatens to kick Blood's butt.  He actually says "I'll kick you in the butt".  That might sound nitpicky, but only moments before he was cursing up a storm, why not say "ass" or why say something so silly at all.

My interest ultimately began to wain when they arrived in the underground realm of Topeka.  The supposed Utopia run by Jason Robards (in his first but not last appearance in this marathon) is quickly deduced as the sham it really is.  This is yet another oddball form of society.  A twisted and deformed "Leave it to Beaver" world thats loud and abrasive from the moment we are introduced to it. The idea of Topeka is solid, its just handled very, very strangely.  And they spend far too much time there for my liking. 

I know I've been really harsh on this film.  It was worth watching because the ending took my slow brain by complete surprise (its not a twist mind you).  While it was happening I could feel the numbed muscle of my mind work its way out of the stupor Topeka had rendered it and when everything clicked into place I was stunned.  Its a great, great moment and a fantastic way to end the film.  It doesn't save the film entirely but enough that I can recommend it to fans of the genre.

Grade C+

Be back soon...
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CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 09:12:27 PM »
2.

Threads
1984
Dir. Mick Jackson
Written By Barry Hines (Writer of both Kes and the novel its based on)

Words like 'Bleak' and 'Depressing' don't even scratch the surface.  This TV Movie covers normalcy, the Apocalypse and the Post-Apocalyptic life.  It is a very brave film that pulls no punches and leans heavily on the least optimistic of all possibilities.

Focusing on the perspective of one city, the depressed steel town of Sheffield, the film follows a couple of characters in this docudrama before and after a Nuclear Holocaust caused by a conflict in Iran between America/NATO Forces and the Soviet Union.

Steeped in loads of research they use a small budget and the constraints of British Television to bring us this horrific and at times thought provoking imagining of mankind's ultimate non-religious nightmare.  

Colleen is completely right to describe this as 'sad'.  No one is spared and no inhumane act is left unturned to drive home the point.  

The most harrowing moment for me was when the character we've followed the most, pregnant this whole time and now in labor months after the attack, stumbles into an empty barn to give birth to her child while a starving and ravaged dog is tethered just outside the door and driven mad by the scent of blood.  Yeah.  Its like that.

Technically the film achieves so much with very, very little.  Doctored stills of devastation stand in for larger scale sets, and their stark and contrasy black and white, almost photocopier quality, is more effective than many of the actual sets they do have.  They add scale beyond the edges of the frame.  The film also uses a lot of stock footage from past, but still recent wars and confrontations.  Even some footage of teens outside a rock concert stands in here for footage of a protest gone riot (I've seen the same footage used in a few Rock-Docs), and its really effective.

The dramatic filmmaking itself isn't great, and would probably have done with less drama, and more verite type material.  The acting is often very melodramatic with background performers overly staged in freeze frames to amplify the tension and drama, but instead feels overly TV.  Or like a large budget educational film.  The film is able to overcome much of this by being so brutal and not pandering to an audience used to television letting them off the hook and those government films that told us to duck and cover.

The real craft is in the editing and use of post tricks to expand the boundaries of the budget.  In these simple, well planned stills and very basic effects shots the overall effect is greatly enhanced.  That is real craft, problem solving of the simplest and most effective kind.

I also found the film to have renewed relevance in this age.  With war raging in the Middle East and tensions with North Korea mounting daily (North Korea just the other day released a statement saying they are prepared to fight a ground battle and a Nuclear War with America), maybe its time for everyone to seek this out.  Or maybe that would just bolster Fox News's fear campaign.

Grade B

 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 01:11:25 AM by CSSCHNEIDER »
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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 12:24:51 AM »
3.



A Wind Named Amnesia
1993
Dir. Kazuo Yamazaki

The first two minutes of this are awesome.  They are brilliantly designed and animated, they establish a vastly interesting world and show a lot of promise.  At minute three this completely derails into a 20 minute flashback narrated entirely in exposition, and then it gets worse.  

The premise is pretty cool.  A wind has swept over the entire Earth rendering all its inhabitants with complete amnesia.  Humans have no memory of anything, only their instincts and most basic emotions.  Basically they become base animals, fighting and killing for food, fear and mates.  The world turns to chaos, but one boy still remembers because of a computer chip implanted in his brain.  It has stored all his memories, and than some.  He teaches another boy to remember some of the past and entrusts him with the task of teaching others.

Then there is a giant self repairing killer robot, an alien plot to rid the galaxy and planet of barbaric, undeserving humans, and a bunch of morality tales that are either too simplistic for this world or too complex for the situation.

I got a chuckle out of this dialog exchange:

Guy - "Where you headed?"
Girl - "New York."
Guy - "Hope you don't mind if I make a couple of pit stops along the way"
Hard Cut To:  Los Angeles


Not good.

Grade D

I've decided to throw ZARDOZ into the marathon at the recomendation of Zhankfor to add some life to it.  I'm not gonna get to the first two Mad Max films till the bitter end since I've seen them so much, so I needed something that wasn't so bleak and depressing.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 12:29:14 AM by CSSCHNEIDER »
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Junior

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 12:35:59 AM »
That one sounds kind of like The Giver. When are they gonna make that movie? Come on, They! Get your head(s) out of your butt(s).
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CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2010, 01:09:25 AM »
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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 10:36:03 AM »
That one seems to have been in development dice I first read the book in the mid nineties.
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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 11:07:59 AM »
4.



The Quiet Earth
1985
Dir. Geoff Murphy
Based on the Novel "This Quiet Earth"

"I'm condemned to live." is the lament of scientist Zach Hobson and is a fitting tagline to the film.  After a world shattering cataclysmic event that has erased all life (other than plant life) off the surface of the earth Hobson awakes to find he too has survived.  After going a bit stir crazy alone and declaring himself the President of Earth, Hobson sets out for the sea and a life of something.  There he meets another survivor, a woman.  They travel around looking for more people stumble across one other person alive.  Together the three set out to try and save the world.

This movie was boooooooooring.  I know that's a horrible way to contrive a review, but it is.  If you're gonna make a film, any film, it should be interesting and engaging.  If not that, then make it entertaining.  This was neither.

There's not much to say beyond that.  The filmmaking is competent, but never interesting or inventive.  It lacks style and substance.  There is one great music cue in the score, and the photography is bland.

The Quiet Earth's biggest legacy is that 28 Days Later cribs the empty city motif from this, and does it better.

My favorite thing in it was the last shot:



You can skip this.

Grade C-
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smirnoff

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 12:27:52 PM »
Darn, I was really hoping that one would be good.

Oh well, I'm enjoying this fast and furious marathon.

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Re: Grim Horizons: Post-Apocalyptic Marathon
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 03:52:05 PM »
Fast is right, Monday I have work again, not much but enough that this marathon needs to be largely completed, not entirely, but the bulk of it.
Taste is discerning, not all encompassing.

It's Not What You're Like, It's What You Like

Know the Difference Between Arts and Crafts

"Pain is Temporary, Film is Forever..." --John Milius

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