12/19/06

501 Warrior of the Lost World

(1983, SciFi-Postapocalyptic/Bikers, color)

Do you have any fruit?

Rating: **1/2


In a nutshell:

Postapocalyptic mystics enlist a rebel biker to save them from Donald Pleasence.

Summary:

The future belongs to Donald Pleasence.The backstory flies past us into space like a blurry Star Wars introduction in fast-forward. I only caught a word here and there. “Omega” and “superbike,” I think. It’s all we need to know for the purposes of the plot, anyway. Later, a lone warrior rides through the lush, green, postapocalyptic countryside on his sentient motorcycle, randomly killing evil cops in spiky patrol cars and grimy punks with exotic hair. Then he crashes into a wall for no apparent reason.

Toga-clad mystics chant in the fog next to a heavily mustached man in military fatigues. Flashlights shine out of their sleeves, healing the warrior’s wounds. The singularly ungrateful Warrior refuses to go on a rescue mission for them, relenting only when the captive professor’s hot daughter offers to not kill him in exchange for his help.

They make their way through a vast underground complex filled with squeaky spiders and loudly hissing snakes. They sneak into a futuristic discotheque/leather bar, wandering past zombified workers and an extremely unenthusiastic sadomasochistic interpretive dance troupe.

They find the professor in a futuristic parking garage, steal some guns, and shoot down the surprisingly inept guards. They steal a helicopter, but the hot daughter falls down just as they’re taking off, and the surly warrior refuses to go back for her. She falls into the hands of the evil government’s dictator, Donald Pleasence, who brainwashes her by wrapping her in plastic and high-voltage tinfoil.

The professor convinces the warrior to raise an army of multi-genre thugs by defeating them all one at a time in single combat. He wins and takes his not-so-elite cadre of road warriors down the highway for an interminable chase scene/road battle. They defeat the evil spiky cops, but are suddenly confronted with Megaweapon—a flame-spurting dump truck with a hobnailed cowcatcher welded to the front. The sentient bike sacrifices itself to get warrior underneath it, where he disarms Megaweapon and sets it to explode.

Predictably, the futuristic parking garage falls easily to the eclectic paramilitary force. Warrior and the professor rush to Donald Pleasence’s office, where they discover the daughter holding a gun to her head. They stupidly drop their weapons. The brainwashed daughter happily shoots Warrior, but turns to fire on Pleasence rather than kill her father.

The mystic toga people rise to power, holding a soft-focus rally in the discotheque/leather bar. Hot daughter apologizes for shooting Warrior by fixing his sentient bike and then giving him a long sloppy kiss. Meanwhile, it turns out that Donald Pleasence was just an android, planted by the traitorous mustache guy from the first scenes to decoy them from the real Donald. Or is the real Donald Pleasence an android too? Who knows?

Introduction:

Crow will soon be eating Tom's words.Tom gives a formal introduction for the show from a pulpit marked the “Prologue Room.” Crow pops in at odd intervals to distract him. Finally, the distraught Tom gathers the pages of his speech and forces Crow to eat them.

Host Segment One:

The Mads have invented the Squaremaster, which is a cardboard square that you can sit on while working out. Dr. Forrester does the infomercial voiceover while a tank-topped TV’s Frank practices his Shemp Howard impersonation. Joel has invented Bittersweet Hearts—heart-shaped antacids with things like “Bite Me,” “My Needs,” and “You’ll Do” written on them.

Host Segment Two:

Joel turns Tom and Crow into Hot Slot Bots, like slot cars. Crow is apprehensive at first, but once he gets going he maneuvers jumps and high-speed turns with ease. Tom can’t wait to join him, but he can’t seem get started. Once he finally does, he derails at the first jump.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots reenact the film as if the warrior had never gotten his driving permit. A surly and barely intelligible Joel (as the Warrior) fails the driving test and then slumps in the back seat, begging Crow (as his mom) to take him to the lost world while his friends wander past and laugh at him.

Host Segment Four:

Inspired by the lush green landscape of the lost world, Joel and the ‘Bots think of fun things to do after the apocalypse. These include walking around naked carrying nothing but a Terminator 2 big gulp cup, and spinning donuts in front of the Taj Mahal. Joel reminds them to always carry around an extra pair of prescription eyewear, so that they won’t end up like Burgess Meredith in The Twilight Zone.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots discuss how much they hated everything in the film—everything but the übercool Megaweapon. Megaweapon calls up from his sister’s house to chat about the film. They read a letter. Down in Deep 13, the Mads exercise with the Squaremaster.

Stinger:

Warrior looks bored and surly.

Thoughts:

They let their kids read Harry Potter and watch Dragonball Z.Mel Gibson’s Mad Max is the untouchable standard for lonely postapocalyptic warriors, and far better actors than Robert Ginty (a.k.a. the Paper Chase guy) have failed trying to imitate him. Ginty doesn’t even look like he’s half-trying. At one point Joel refers to him as “Sad Max.” He plays every scene as if he just woke up with the great-great-grandmother of all hangovers. Donald Pleasence, on the other hand, turns in his usual top-notch performance as the lost world’s evil android overlord. It’s too bad that the muffled sound and awful cinematography make him look stupid anyway.

I read that the Italian producers of this film had the movie posters printed and then hired a director to make it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but watching the film, it certainly looks true. The plot is simple, the characters are cardboard cutouts, and all the elements have been borrowed from better, more successful films. The opening backstory font is taken from Star Wars. The sentient bike is shamelessly KIT-esque, except for the squeaky voice that dispenses tinny 1980’s slang, like “tubular,” and “really bad mothers.” The recruitment scene looks like they put out a casting call for SciFi thugs, and then hired everyone who showed up (kung fu thugs, punk thugs, dwarf thugs, biker thugs, trucker thugs, nazi thugs, sexy female thugs, etc., etc.), regardless of sub-genre.

My favorite host segment is the introduction, where Tom gets more and more flustered until he finally forces Crow to eat his speech. Mike Nelson does well as the voice of Megaweapon. I liked the realistic sounds of his sister’s children in the background. The “things to do after the apocalypse” and “the apocalypse without a driver’s permit” sketches started off promisingly but didn’t end well. The latter just sort of abruptly ends, a fact that Tom acknowledges at the beginning of the next film segment.

The film segments are full of great, quotable lines, most of them from Tom Servo. My favorite comes every time the black-suited omega policemen lean out of their booths and Tom cries, “Do you have any fruit?” When Warrior conquers the multi-genre thugs, Tom says, “Now he’s the mayor of Loserville.” During the interminable road battle, Tom says, “Chitty, chitty, kill, kill.” During the end sequence, Tom gives each blurry face in the victory rally audience a celebrity name. It’s a bad, cliché, nonsensical film with average host segments, but it pulls together for a decently funny episode.