Tag Archives: Weirdness at the End of the World

THE AFTERMAN (1985) – SCI-FI/ HORROR

aftermanTHE AFTERMAN (1985) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Weirdness at the End of the World category of movies returns with this bizarre little honey. The Afterman also marks the return of my sub-category “Those Darn Belgians.” Yes, just like Rabid Grannies this flick was created in Belgium.

Written and directed by Rob Van Eyck, The Afterman is in color but features no dialogue outside of periodic screams and groans. You might think that qualifies this roughly 90 minute movie as an Arthouse Film, and many people do. I would instead call it a sleazy and exploitative blend of The People Who Own the Dark, Finis Homini and Quest for Fire.

afterman posterThe story opens up in the year 2011. For twenty years our lead character, called simply the Man, has been living in a high-tech bomb shelter. The shelter was stocked with plenty of aerosol spray-food from “futuristic” 1991, when the nukes fell. Elaborate security cameras and leftover news reels have been almost the only diversions the Man has had for two decades, aside from drawing sketches.

The “almost” leads us to my need to let readers with more conventional tastes know that this is ANOTHER of those weirdass movies that would likely gross you out physically and prove morally repugnant. I’m never sure if these warnings make people avoid reviews like this or drive people TO read them, but here we go – DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID DISTURBING DETAILS. Continue reading

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THE LAST GENERATION (1908): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

last generation coverTHE LAST GENERATION – A STORY OF THE FUTURE (1908) – Written by James Elroy Flecker. A poet longs to see beyond his own era and experiences. He is visited by a time-travel phenomenon which is similar to a wind. The Time Wind transports him to various periods in the future.

First the wind takes him to future Birmingham, England, where a mad fanatic named Joshua Harris and his co-conspirators are planning to launch their coup the next day. He and his followers aren’t motivated by pure politics but by their belief that all of life is nothing but misery and can be ended only by death. They plan to seize power and set the human race on the path to extinction. Continue reading

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ROLLER BLADE (1986): POST-APOCALYPSE PAP

roller bladeROLLER BLADE (1986) – They’re the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade and they’re female Jedi Knights on roller skates. Well, sort of. Where does one begin when reviewing this film that is so beloved by all of us fans of bad movies? Let’s start with the setting and then tackle the characters as well as Roller Blade’s legendary director Donald G Jackson (R.I.P.). 

This film is set in the future during The Second Dark Age, years after humanity’s “energy weapons” have unleashed an apocalypse which has left the world a ravaged mess of ruined cities yet immaculately maintained roads and highways. Go figure.

Amid the usual tableau of feral gangs and predatory mutants there stands a force for good dedicated to rebuilding the world: a religious order of warrior nuns called the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade … Even though none of them wear actual roller blades, just regular roller skates. 

skate or die“Skate or Die” is the ugly motto of the survivors in this kill or be killed future. That’s because the filmmakers absurdly pretend that traveling via roller skates or skateboards is the only way to move swiftly enough to have a chance of evading the dangerous gangs and mutants.

If you have any goods or supplies that you are taking with you the only way to transport them is in metal grocery carts that can roll along with you as you skate through the post-apocalyptic landscape. I’m not joking. This grocery cart nonsense is another idiotic element that the movie takes 100% seriously despite how inane it looks. 

Our characters:

Mother SpeedMOTHER SPEED (Katina Garner) – The Mother Superior of the Order of the Roller Blade. She is in a wheelchair yet still wears roller skates on her feet since such skates are part of the Order’s sacred garments. Mother Speed, like all the good guys in Roller Blade, speaks in grandiose faux-Shakespearean littered with “thees” and “thous” and “yea, verilies.” ESPECIALLY “yea, verilies.” 

Making Mother Speed even more fun is the way she speaks with a weird accent that makes her sound like popular 1980s sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer. Continue reading

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IDAHO TRANSFER (1973): MOVIE REVIEW

IDAHO TRANSFER (1973) – This film, directed by Peter Fonda and starring mostly unknowns, deals with time travel and post-apocalypse themes. It was retitled Deranged for its DVD release. I have no idea why.

Not so long ago Idaho Transfer was regarded among us fans of bad movies as a So-Bad-It’s Good example of the way so many 1970s sci-fi films were presented as if they were being deep and innovative when in truth they were just reworking ideas from old Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes but dragging them out to unbearable length.

Here in 2021 Idaho Transfer has fallen so far off the schlock charts that it’s unknown to many viewers. However, it is STILL one of the best So-Bad-It’s-Good examples of pretentious yet shallow 1970s sci-fi films. While this story might have made a decent episode of a half-hour anthology series it is excruciatingly stretched out to 86 minutes.

THE PREMISE: In the movie’s present-day (1973) a group of scientists in Idaho have been using their federal grant money to try developing a teleportation/ matter transfer device for the government. Along the way, however, they realized that they had accidentally invented a machine that transports people and objects through time instead of space.  Continue reading

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THE SCARLET PLAGUE (1912): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

scarlet plagueTHE SCARLET PLAGUE (1912) – Written by THE Jack London. Years ago Balladeer’s Blog reviewed London’s mad scientist horror tale A Thousand Deaths, now I’ll examine The Scarlet Plague, London’s post-apocalypse plague story set in the year 2073.

              Jack London opens up this novella with a grim look at what life is like in the aftermath of the Scarlet Plague which swept the planet in the year 2013. Many recent reviews of this book focus purely on the disease angle because of the world’s ongoing Covid experience, but I think they overlook a lot of London’s political and class commentary. 

I’ll take a look at the way in which London presented the pre-plague America of 2013 as a dystopia even before the first victim of the Scarlet Plague passed away. The elderly survivor recounting the tale to his grandchildren in 2073 doesn’t describe it that way because he was in a privileged class as an “educator”.

scarlet plague 2James Howard Smith is that elderly survivor in a world returned largely to hunting and gathering. He is cared for by his three grandsons, Edwin and two others whose absurd names probably contribute to keeping The Scarlet Plague so underappreciated – Hoo-Hoo and Harelip. (?) They get by as well as they can in northern California, raising dogs to help them herd the goats that they raise for meat and milk, and relying on the ocean for much of the rest of their food supply. Primitive weapons like bows and arrows are all they have on hand to use against wild bears and other menaces. Continue reading

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EMPIRE OF ASH WEDNESDAY – MOVIE REVIEW

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 AshEMPIRE 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

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KILLRAVEN: CHAPTER LINKS

Reader Daniel Kibblesmith reminded Balladeer’s Blog that I had not followed up my reviews and revisions of the original Killraven stories (1973-1976) at Marvel Comics with my usual collection of links in one handy blog post. Here we go:

Killraven 1WAR OF THE WORLDS – Jonathan Raven, rechristened Killraven in the gladiatorial circuit of Earth’s alien conquerors of the “future,” leads a group of Freemen in an attempt to retake the planet. CLICK HERE   

THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE – After learning the truth about Earth’s alien conquerors AND about his possession of “The Power” (a pre-Star Wars variation of the Force), Killraven leads his Freemen against genetically modified women called Sirens as well as against assorted other post-apocalyptic threats. CLICK HERE

Killraven WarlordTHE WARLORD STRIKES – On the run after the destruction of their Staten Island rebel colony, Killraven and his Freemen run afoul of the Warlord, a human quisling who has wanted revenge against the rebel leader ever since he escaped from the gladiatorial pens. CLICK HERE 

THE MUTANT SLAYERS – The Freemen are joined by scientist Carmilla Frost and her monstrous creation Grok as they battle the Warlord and an assortment of mutated Earth creatures and deadly beasts from the aliens’ home planet. CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-NINE: THE END – K.R., SABRE AND AN EXPLOITATION OF EVERYTHING DEAR

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. 

Killraven cornerKILLRAVEN: THE END

My final Killraven post will look at the last few story elements that writer Don McGregor transferred from KR’s canceled Marvel series over to his independent Sabre series at Eclipse Comics. For my detailed look at how McGregor used many Killraven elements in the 1978 Sabre graphic novel click HERE .

Regular readers know I give Don McGregor a lot of praise for his work on Panther’s Rage and on the Killraven stories at Marvel, at least until his half-assed, rushed and unsatisfying KR graphic novel in 1983 (see previous installment). Unfortunately the 1983-1985 Sabre series at Eclipse Comics represented McGregor’s writing at its worst.

With hindsight we readers can see that, back at Marvel, the editors clearly reined in Don’s tendency toward self-indulgent and pretentious rambling. Over at Eclipse there were no such constraints on him, making the 1983-1985 Sabre stories unbearable to read. The series went from bi-monthly to quarterly to “whenever” and was mercifully axed with its 14th issue.

Sabre 5This final Killraven installment will deal with just two issues of Sabre. One that reflects what KR and his band of Freemen would have faced had they reached their Yellowstone Park destination before their 1973-1976 series was canceled, and one that reflects another adventure that the rebellious Freemen might have faced on their long odyssey to Yellowstone.

A. AN EXPLOITATION OF EVERYTHING DEAR – Part Two (March 1983)

As the overall title for this Sabre story would indicate, any sense of subtlety was now beyond Don McGregor. If further proof is needed, the main villain in this tale is named Joyful Slaughter. Seriously.       Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-EIGHT: LET IT DIE LIKE IT’S THE FOURTH OF JULY

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven in his glory daysKILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983)

Chapter Four: Let It Die Like It’s The Fourth Of July

SYNOPSIS: February, 2020, or 37 years in the future, like it would have been to readers in 1983. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors.

Their current target, as this four-chapter story comes to a close, is Cape Canaveral. The site has been upgraded with alien tech and serves as both a fortress for the aliens and as a hub of the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis. The High Overlord himself is currently inside the Cape personally overseeing the final stages of this project.

With him is Keeper Saunders, the human quisling who separated Killraven (Jonathan Raven) from his brother Joshua Raven when they were children.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-SEVEN: BLOOD AND PASSION

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven 2KILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983) 

Chapter Three: BLOOD AND PASSION

SYNOPSIS: February, 37 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. We left off last time with Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and their new ally Jenette approaching the alien-upgraded Cape Canaveral. Their mission is to inflict enough damage to thwart the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis.

REVISION: My usual revisions would apply – Deathlok, my substitute for Grok, would still be one of the Freemen, as would Didymus, the two-headed, four-armed, androgynous being who was my substitute for Huey and Louie. Plus the pre-invasion astronaut Jenette Miller would instead be McGregor’s Melissa Siren, newly-returned to Earth after a decades-long chryo-sleep mission in space and horrified to find Earth in the clutches of alien dictators who feed on human flesh.

On their way to the Cape Canaveral fortress of the aliens, Don McGregor’s slapdash writing showed again since he had one foot out the door to move on to his new Sabre series over at Eclipse Comics. Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the group, chose that moment to tell M’Shulla she was pregnant with his child.

While the pair engaged in bland Soap Opera dialogue on the subject, Old Skull, Killraven and the enamored Jenette encountered a moustachioed man being attacked by a bland menace: a larger-than normal wolf. Yes, after all the inventive creatures and villains the Freemen had fought in the original series we’re stuck with a lame large wolf, since McGregor was clearly saving his best ideas for Sabre at this point.  Continue reading

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