Tag Archives: Weirdness at the End of the World

2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS (1982): MOVIE REVIEW

2020 texas gladiators 22020 TEXAS GLADIATORS (1982) – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Balladeer’s Blog’s Weirdness at the End of the World welcomes in the year 2020 with a look at what Texas will be like in a few months. There are changes coming your way, Texans!

Actually, it’s not really Texas and there are NO gladiators in this film but at least it is now officially 2020!

When reviewing other post-apocalypse movies I’ve often made references to 2020 Texas Gladiators. The fact that I call it my favorite bad post-apocalypse movie has often prompted readers of Balladeer’s Blog to ask why I hadn’t reviewed it yet. The answer was always that I was saving it up for New Year’s Day of 2020.

Just because this is my favorite bad post-apocalypse film does NOT mean I consider it to be the worst one. That designation would be reserved for unwatchable trash like Empire of Ash III and the like.

2020 Texas Gladiators is my favorite bad entry in the genre because of how it defeats itself at every turn, because of its lame attempts to pretend it’s being filmed in America instead of Italy and because of how joyously tasteless it is. Tell the Hekawi tribe from F-Troop to move over! They’ve been replaced as the fakest-looking Native Americans in entertainment history by the post-apocalypse Indians in this flick, portrayed by obvious Italian extras!

Mascot sword and pistolTheir black wigs with built-in headbands are one thing, their less than authentic vests are another thing, their Tonto way of speaking still another, but the POST-APOCALYPSE TEEPEES they live in will bring a smile to the lips of any true fan of really bad exploitation movies. 

Taking things from the top, Al D’Amato directed 2020 Texas Gladiators under one of his countless aliases. For all I know he may have even directed a film using MY name. The following year Warrior of the Lost World, another Italian ripoff of Mad Max, would reuse this movie’s Nazi-esque uniforms and riot shields for the bad guys and many of this flick’s supporting cast. Hell, the largest vehicle in 2020TG even shows up as Mega-Weapon in that same movie.    Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-TWO: ARENA KILL

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 Arena KillAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #37 (July 1976)

Title: Arena Kill  

Synopsis: NEW YEAR’S EVE, 2019 into 2020, which is why I held off the extra day or two to post this review, since I wanted it to actually appear on the REAL December 31st, 2019.

Northern Florida, in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge along the Suwanee River. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. They have encountered another of the pitifully few bands of humans who also defy the aliens.  

We jump right into the middle of some action, as Killraven is pitting his sword against the two battle axes wielded by Brother Axe, the leader of this rebel colony. Brother Axe’s dozens of followers and Killraven’s own Freemen stand in a large circle around the combatants, watching the battle.

Killraven 2The cause of the conflict soon becomes clear – Brother Axe is skeptical that Killraven really is THE Killraven, the world-famous scourge of Earth’s alien conquerors. He suspects KR and his band may be fakers trying to bamboozle him or – even worse – undercover human quislings trying to pinpoint the location of Brother Axe’s rebel band so they can betray the band to their alien masters.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-ONE: RED DUST LEGACY

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 Red Dust LegacyAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #36 (May 1976)

Title: Red Dust Legacy

Synopsis: Windsor Forest, GA. December, 43 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors – Zetans in my revisions, Martians in the original, just because of the tenuous War of the Worlds connection.

NOTE: The cover reaches DC levels of deception with its depiction of Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the Freemen, trying to slay Killraven while he is restrained by the tentacles of some of the aliens. You’ll see what really happens below.

Synopsis: IN THIS STORY KILLRAVEN AND HIS REBELS INFLICT THEIR GREATEST BLOW AGAINST THE ALIENS SINCE DEATH-BIRTH. December, 43 years in the future. Killraven kneels in the red dust of the alien homeworld of Earth’s conquerors. Craig Russell’s art is incredible, and Don McGregor’s narration starts us off with:

“He had touched the blade of grass … and it turned into red dust beneath his hands. The sand sifts through his fingers now, and Killraven knows for a certainty that the desert he kneels upon is located on the homeworld of his alien foes. He is alone with that truth, and the truth is staggering! But not as staggering as the events yet to occur.” Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY: DEATH’S DARK DREAMER

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 dream domeAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #38 (September 1976)

Title: Death’s Dark Dreamer

Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors of the future.

NOTE: Another fill-in issue by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen. Once again I’m having to adjust the order of a fill-in issue like I did with Sing Out Loudly … Death awhile back. This undated fill-in issue was originally set in Miami but because we have Killraven and his Freemen’s adventures in other parts of Florida ahead of us – including the Killraven graphic novel from the early 1980s – I am instead setting it in Prosperity, SC. I’m setting it in November to place it between October’s The 24-Hour Man and December’s Red Dust Legacy.

Unrevised story: The lone Killraven has “ridden ahead of ” his Freemen in response to some troubling feelings he’s having courtesy of The Power, a pre-Star Wars variation of the Force. Riding his pinkish-red scaled stallion he has come upon a large domed structure at seaside. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN NINETEEN: THE TWENTY-FOUR HOUR MAN

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 24 hour manAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #35 (March 1976)

Title: The 24  Hour Man

Synopsis: The ruins of Atlanta, GA. October, 43 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. The rebels are walking through Oakland Cemetery overlooking the city and encounter a beautiful but crazed young woman in tattered garments kneeling beside the emaciated corpse of a green-skinned humanoid clad in gold armor and matching helmet.

24 hour manWe readers watch the Freemen through the eyes of a yet-unknown character named Emmanuel who has been watching them enter his domain from hiding. The crazed, kneeling woman is his mother. Narration tells us that her unhinged whimpering is the same noise she made when bringing Emmanuel into the world.

“But that was a lifetime ago … All seven hours of that lifetime.” (Remember the story’s title.) The insane woman finally notices the presence of Killraven and company. In a panic she says “Who is there? Not G’Rath! G’Rath must stay away!”

The woman looks over our heroes then says “Do I know you? Have you come to … to save me? Don’t you know it is too late! Too late to save me. You are too late, you see. I have borne G’Rath’s child! Yes, I have.” Lightning flashes overhead and thunder rumbles.

The woman’s frantic rant continues: “My body nurtured it, yes, and sustained it, yes, and gave it life … midnight life, yes. Because it WAS midnight, you know … midnight when G’Rath’s child left my womb! And now it is morning, yes. And the spawn of G’Rath and I will seek its OWN.” So saying the woman runs off through the cemetery and our heroes run after her.      Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN EIGHTEEN: KILLRAVEN MEETS SPIDER-MAN

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 future shockMARVEL TEAM-UP Vol 1 #45 (May 1976)

Title: Future-Shock

NOTE: Killraven meets the time-traveling Spider-Man in this story. Team-up titles, like Marvel Two-In-One and Marvel Team-Up or DC’s The Brave and the Bold were often considered non-canonical by comic book fans.

              The purpose of such team-up books was largely promotional. A superstar of the respective publishing company – Spider-Man for Marvel Team-Up, the Thing for Marvel Two-In-One and Batman for The Brave and the Bold – would star in an often half-assed story. The high-profile character’s fame would, it was hoped, put more eyes on the less popular figure they were being teamed up with and increase that less popular figure’s sales.

              Another purpose was to retain copyrights on characters in Marvel or DC’s vast, increasingly overpopulated shared universes. A long unused figure not popular enough to carry their own comic book could be used in a one-shot team-up story, thus satisfying copyright law without the expense of trying to use the superhero in another failed title of their own.

              Given Killraven’s forever-struggling sales there’s little doubt this team-up story was done hoping Spider-Man’s fame would boost those sales.

Killraven cornerSynopsis: August, 43 years in the future. The story is set in the war-torn No Man’s Land on the outskirts of New York City. This of course makes no sense since Killraven and his Freemen were at this point in America’s Deep South. (KR even refers to recent events so you can’t say this tale is set during the 3 years when Killraven and his rebel group were headquartered on Staten Island.)

              Again, this reflects the “who cares about continuity” nature of many such team-up titles. 

REVISION: That’s why I would have this story set in Troy, Alabama, with the Freemen still lost and wandering through the biologically mutated jungle which now covers much of the American southeast.

Back to the unrevised story: Spider-Man is using Reed Richards’ copy of Dr Doom’s time machine to leave 1600s Salem, where he and assorted guest-stars had just had an adventure.

              Saddened that he could not save the victims of the Salem Witch Trials (well, duh), Spidey morosely tries to return to his own time, only to overshoot his mark and wind up in the New York of Killraven’s future. In that future, Earth is being ruled by its alien conquerors, Martians in the original story but Zetans in my revisions.       Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN SEVENTEEN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

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 death in the familyAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #34 (January 1976)

Freemen: Killraven, M’Shulla (African-American), Old Skull (Big, bald and brawny), Hawk (Native American), Carmilla Frost (The scientist of the group) and Grok, Carmilla’s creation (Deathlok in my revisions) 

Title: A Death in the Family

NOTE: Despite the singular title, TWO Freemen are slain in this story.

Synopsis: The war-ravaged ruins of Chattanooga, TN. July, 43 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. (Zetans in my revisions, NOT the ridiculous Martians in the original comic book.)

Killraven on horseKillraven, M’Shulla and Carmilla Frost are using an old, abandoned horse-racing track to race each other on their separate mounts. KR is riding his usual pinkish-red serpent-stallion, while the other two ride similarly chimeric creatures spawned by residue of the bio-warfare agents unleashed 18 years earlier in Earth’s unsuccessful war against the alien invaders.

M’Shulla rides a two-legged ostrich-giraffe beast with cattle horns on its head. Carmilla rides a cougar-horse hybrid that sports a unicorn’s horn on its forehead. The Freemen have obviously been camping in the area for some time since the two new creatures are every bit as saddle-broken as Killraven’s reliable old serpent-stallion. Continue reading

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