Starring Robert Iannucci, Luca Venantini, Fernando Bilbao, Luciano Pigozzi
Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo
Distributed by The Scream Factory
Italian cinema has triumphed in many ways throughout the history of motion pictures, bestowing upon audiences celebrated directors, an entire subgenre of horror (giallo), timeless composers (e.g. Ennio Morricone) and unquestionably classic films. Yet, dubious as it may be, the country’s most notorious cinema comes in the form of cash-grab in-name-only sequels and blatant rip-offs of any acclaimed hit to make waves. If a Western/Horror/Shark film enjoyed any level of success in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you can be sure the Italians found a way to produce half a dozen illegitimate sequels, virtually all of which are a faint shadow of the original work. They’re also guilty of cannibalizing their own successes, as evidenced by the fact Django (1966) has more “sequels” than the James Bond series (1962-present) has films.
After George Miller’s Mad Max (1979) and The Road Warrior (1981) proved to be sizeable hits, it wasn’t long before a slew of Italian imitations hit the scene. Don’t get me wrong here – just because these films are taken whole cloth from other, often better productions doesn’t mean many aren’t awesome(ly bad) in their own special way. 1990: Bronx Warriors (1982) kicks all sorts of scorched-earth ass, so who cares if you can see pedestrians and traffic off in the distance of “post-apocalyptic New York”? The plots of these films were generally identical most of the time anyway: a fairly benevolent group of people needs some resource, while another group of less friendly people wants to prevent them from obtaining it. Fights ensue. But where Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983) slightly differs is that it might as well be a remake of The Road Warrior, with only a few minor substitutions made to distinguish it in any way. It’s like watching a student film version of Miller’s masterpiece – all the elements are present, just on a much lesser scale.
Nuclear war has ravaged Earth, leaving it a scorched, barren wasteland by the year 3000. A small encampment of remaining humans lives underground in a cave, where they use retro-future methods to grow lettuce and seemingly little else. Unfortunately, water is a scarcity now (gas probably is, too, but one problem at a time) and these people desperately need it if they are to survive any longer. One brave man volunteered to retrieve some, but he never returned and everyone figures he’s dead. In his stead another man, known as “Alien” (Robert Iannucci), offers to take up the task. He won’t be going alone. Tommy (Luca Venantini), the 10-year-old son of the guy who disappeared on his water run, wants to tag along. Tommy soon learns the dusty plains they must travel are no place for a young boy. Savages are everywhere, led by the murderous Crazy Bull (Fernando Bilbao), who has a grudge against Alien. A tough woman (and Alien’s ex), Trash (Alicia Moro), and a wily old man, Papillon (Luciano Pigozzi), join Alien and Tommy on their quest for water and aid in the fight against Crazy Bull and his stable of brutal warriors.
This movie is strictly for those who like their cheese thick. As easy as it would be to pick this film apart like a sundried carcass, the fact of the matter is it’s actually got a lot of flat-out ridiculous elements that work because they show sparks of creativity and passion. Alien uses a pair of bolas that can cut a man in two. Tommy, who we learn halfway through the film has a bionic arm, has that arm repaired and improved giving him the ability to throw a rock through someone’s head like it was made of butter. The water cache our heroes are searching for is guarded by a squad of deranged welders. An obvious miniature set explodes with all the ferocity of a Roman candle. If you’re going to make a picture and the budget is limited, this is how you do it – maximize the shit out of every dollar. Most of Exterminators of the Year 3000 is utterly forgettable, but the producers wisely included a handful of scenes that are memorable enough to give it some lasting credit. Not much, but enough to keep viewers from falling asleep or checking their social media feeds. The opening car chase, which is a fantastic example of stunt driving, looks like something right out of a Stephen J. Cannell television production.
It’s likely anyone buying this latest Blu-ray release from Scream Factory – which was almost a double feature with Cruel Jaws (1995) until that was proven to be a rights nightmare, as it uses unauthorized footage from at least four other shark movies – knows what they’re getting into, so if you’re reading this review because you love all of those scrappy Italian nuclear wasteland films and want to know if this one is worth your time, the answer is… sure. It fits right into that wheelhouse.
Much like the film itself, Exterminators of the Year 3000 arrives on Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 1080p picture that is gritty and rough around the edges. To be fair, technically the presentation is about as good as it’s going to get, plus this also marks the first time the film has been released on home video in its proper aspect ratio. Code Red had released a DVD edition in 2010 that was full frame, so enough said there. This hi-def release features a marginal uptick in quality over standard resolution, with only extreme closeups worthy of any sort of praise. In general, it’s a soft focus feature with accurately rendered colors, unspectacular details and a sunbaked color palette. In darkness, detail is completely swallowed; thankfully, very few scenes take place in such conditions. Fans will likely be happy enough just having the film in widescreen.
Once again, on a technical level there’s not much fault to be found within the English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono audio track. Every trait of the sound mix, for better or worse, is cleanly carried over here. In the bonus features it’s made clear that the languages spoken on set were English, Italian and Spanish, and their vocalization wasn’t always done when cameras stopped rolling. Therefore, the entire film had to be dubbed. So expect lots of tin can dialogue, “Look out, it’s Godzilla!” lip synching and a near total lack of any presence whatsoever. Composer Detto Mariano gets a modicum of credit for crafting a catchy low-fi synth motif, but it gets so overused you’d think it was all he wrote. Subtitles are included in English.
If you’re able to withstand the moderation by Code Red’s Bill Olsen, then this audio commentary with actor Robert Iannucci may be worth a listen. Iannucci has many clear recollections from the set, speaking about the different nationalities participating in the production, eating snakes, the stunt work and so forth. Personally, Olsen is just a little too deprecating and hyper for my tastes, and his mania sours otherwise decent commentary tracks. Just my two cents.
“Boogie Down with the Alien: Interview with Robert Iannucci” runs for a little over 17 minutes. This footage looks rather old and is presented undated. The actor sits down to discuss his involvement with the project from casting to production and its legacy. Some info is redundant here if you’ve heard the commentary track.
The film’s trailer and a couple of TV spots are also included.
- Audio Commentary with Actor Robert Iannucci
- Interview with Actor Robert Iannucci
- TV Spots