SIX-HUNDRED & SIXTY SIX (1972) – Directed by Tom Doades and written by Marshall Riggan, this film is a very unusual blend of science fiction, horror, post-apocalypse drama and religious message. Cult actor Joe Turkel, perhaps best known as the ghostly Lloyd the Bartender in The Shining, stars as Colonel John Ferguson.
Before I go further I want to point out once again how films can serve as indicators of what was or was not prominent in the public consciousness during the time of their release. This particular movie came out in 1972, meaning that the use of gematria to arrive at 666 as the Number of the Beast was not yet as firmly lodged in the minds of movie-goers as it would be after The Omen became a sensation a few years later.
Obviously, a post-Omen film would not blow their story’s final reveal in the title, like we get with Six-Hundred & Sixty Six.
As our story begins, Colonel John Ferguson is reporting to a man called Tallman (Byron Clark) for his new position as Head of Operations at an underground installation in the American west. Conversation between the Colonel and Tallman, the highest civilian authority at the base, provides plenty of exposition.
It is an undisclosed time in the near future. The United States of America and “the United States of Europe” have been joined into one big political entity known as the New Roman Empire. In fact, Colonel Ferguson and his men refer to “Rome” as the nation they serve. Continue reading
After a terrific Fat Tuesday it’s time for Ash Wednesday … as in Empire of Ash, the awful series of post-apocalypse movies. From Canada! Brave the Canuckalypse with me!
EMPIRE OF ASH (1988) – Also released as Maniac Warriors, this post-apocalypse movie is, as you would expect, another of the 1980s’ countless imitators of The Road Warrior. In Empire of Ash our year is 2050 and our main location is an American settlement called New Idaho, with Canadian forests passing for the post-holocaust world. All cities have become uninhabitable so survivalists scrape by in woodland communities.
The plague that destroyed civilization is a blood disease and it continues to be one of the biggest threats, along with the usual mutants and rampaging, gun-wielding gangs. There are some scattered scientists trying to come up with a cure for the blood disease but there are also evil sufferers of the disease who prey upon the unafflicted by consuming their blood and bone marrow to survive a little bit longer.
The disease-ridden have been organized into a bizarre religion and they consider the plague to be God’s vengeance, just like AIDS was being called by assorted zealots at this point in the 80s. The religion and government are run by a preacher called the Great Shepherd (Frank Wilson). Before draining the blood and marrow of “pure-bloods” they baptize them as human sacrifices. Continue reading
TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN (1983) – The very memorable actor Bill Paxton passed away recently. I’ve been trying to decide which Paxton film appearance would fit in most with Balladeer’s Blog’s world of weirdness.
I considered the horror movie Mortuary (1983) in which Paxton portrayed a bizarre young mortician and slasher. The scene where he hops and skips among the graves is weird, but not quite WTF enough. I considered Brain Dead (1990) but Bill doesn’t have a big enough role. I almost went with The Dark Backward (1991), but that has (rightfully) become too well known over the years.
Finally, I decided on Taking Tiger Mountain. Not just because of how flat-out deranged that movie is but because of the novelty factor: Bill Paxton’s BODY stars in the film, but his dialogue was all overdubbed by a British man. That odd circumstance always made me want to see Paxton’s infamous “Game over, man … we’re dead, man” whine from Aliens overdubbed by that same British guy saying “I say, something of a sticky wicket we’re in now, eh, lads?”
Putting all that aside, Taking Tiger Mountain is an artsy black & white post-apocalypse movie which is more Born of Fire or A Boy and His Dog than Mad Max. In the aftermath of a nuclear war the world is in chaos with diseases running rampant, food riots breaking out regularly and the poles knocked off-kilter.
Mutant rats are on the loose, as are the expected roving gangs of marauders. The makeshift governmental forces are playing a “spinning plates” game of maintaining order through distribution of pleasure-inducing drugs and an “anything goes” prostitution-based economy. Men can be women and women can be men. It’s a mixed-up world, it’s a shook-up world except for Paxton. Will-eye-am “Bill” Paaxxx-ton. Continue reading