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AMERICA 3000

"Nine hundred years after the Great Nuke…. The world man created, he destroyed. Out of the darkness and ignorance of the radioactive rubble emerged a new order. And the world was woggos!"

Director:   David Engelbach

Starring:  Chuck Wagner, Laurene Landon, William Wallace, Victoria Barrett, Camilla Sparv, Galyn Gorg, Sue Giosa, Shai K. Ophir, Joanna Reis, Ezra Dagan, Helen Eleazari, Steve Stroppiana, Eli Pilo

Screenplay:  David Engelbach

Synopsis:  Nine hundred years after the Great Nuke, the Frauls rule. After a raid in which Plugarts are captured, Rhea (Camilla Sparv), Tiara of the Frauls of Comb Frisco, inspects the prisoners, dividing them up into "machos" and "seeders". A young Plugart, Korvis (Steve Stroppiana), reacts violently and makes a bid for freedom, escaping despite the attempts of the Frauls to recapture him. A second young Plugart, Gruss (Eli Pilo), goes with Korvis. The Frauls pursue the two, but stop at the edge of a forbidden area known as the Contam. Korvis and Gruss forage together. One day, they discover a bag full of clothing, and a small book, which Korvis keeps…. Years later, the adult Korvis (Chuck Wagner) and Gruss (William Wallace) are part of a community of Plugarts, who eke out an existence in the Contam. Korvis still has the book he found, and slowly teaches himself to read. In this way, he learns that he is not a "Plugart", but a "man"…. A Fraul foraging expedition is attacked by a band of Plugarts. During the struggle, Rhea is fatally wounded. When she is carried back to her Comb, she declares her daughter Vena (Laurene Landon) the new Tiara. Rhea tells Vena to follow the map kept in the Tiara’s shelt, and that it will take the society from the past into a new life. When Rhea dies, the Frauls of Comb Frisco swear loyalty to Vena. After a reluctant silence, Vena’s sister, Lakella (Victoria Barrett), does so as well. Meanwhile, Korvis and Gruss come across the abandoned Fraul wagons. While collecting the eats and the weaps from it, they discover Amie (Ezra Dagan), a Fraul "toy" who has been castrated and had his tongue cut out. Frauls from the Comb Kanso arrive at Comb Frisco. Lakella greets Morha (Sue Giosa), Tiara of Kanso, and Freyha (Joanna Reis), her Second. The newcomers quickly sense Lakella’s dissatisfaction with her situation. Vena’s inauguration begins. The Frisco Elder (Helen Eleazari) recites the history of the Great Nuke, the rising of the Frauls, and their separation from the Plugarts. Vena is sworn in, then lights her mother’s funeral pyre. Afterwards, there is a wild celebration. Korvis sees this as his chance. He addresses the other Plugarts, explaining to them that they are also "men", and that they can overthrow the Frauls. The next morning, he leads an attack on the Comb, stealing all the eats and weaps and freeing the enslaved machos. Vena and Lakella lead a band of Frauls in pursuit. Korvis sends his followers away on foot, and uses a team of horses to mark a false trail. The Frauls follow it, eventually realising the deception. They then see Korvis on a nearby ridge. Vena raises her crossbow, but cannot bring herself to fire. Lakella does, and Korvis is sent plunging down an opening in the rock. He survives both the fall and the crossbow shot: Lakella’s arrow is embedded in his book. Korvis finds himself in a mysterious cavern. When he touches some of the objects he finds there, light fills the room. He finds some strange new weaps, which he uses to blast open a door bearing something called a "Presidential Seal". In the next room, he activates a device, and hears a message concerning people known as "the Soviets", and objects called "missiles"….

Comments: Yes, thank you, Keith; thank you so very bloody much!

Remember that line about how the survivors of a nuclear holocaust would actually envy the dead? Turns out it applies to people who’ve watched America 3000 as well. Or, to put it another way – I am woman, hear me whimper….

America 3000. A movie about a post-apocalyptic society. Well, that’s okay. A movie about a post-apocalyptic society from – Cannon Pictures, Inc. That’s – not so okay…. A movie about a post-apocalyptic society from Cannon Pictures, Inc. that’s described as an "action-comedy". That is definitely not okay. A movie about a post-apocalyptic society from Cannon Pictures, Inc. that’s described as an "action-comedy" and in which most of the "humour" is built around – the battle of the sexes.

NNNNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

But believe it or not, the horror doesn’t even stop there! Oh, no. Determined to make watching his magnum opus as painful as humanly possible, writer-director David Engelbach crafted his very own version of "futurespeak". His script is therefore liberally – extremely liberally – peppered with such colourful expressions as "neggie", "effen" and the unforgettable "woggos". This revamped English flies thick and fast, which doesn’t exactly make for clarity of expression. To make things even worse, America 3000 is one of those annoying films where the music and sound effects are much louder than the dialogue. The final blow comes via the cast, none of whom are what you might call top-flight thespians, and consequently seem to have some difficulty with their e-nun-ci-a-tion. Or maybe they’re embarrassed to say this crap out loud. In either case, they mumble. The upshot of all of this is that there are whole chunks of this film where you cannot understand a damn word that anyone is saying! Would you believe that I actually sat there for nearly an hour, playing scenes over in an attempt to figure it out? Yeah, I know, more fool me. By the end of that time, I wasn’t an inch closer to figuring out what any of these idiots were muttering about. I did, however, have a headache that could have killed Aargh The Awful.

(And who, precisely, you might be wondering, is "Aargh The Awful"? Oh, don’t worry. We’ll get to him. All in good time….)

Anyway….

The film opens with onscreen text explaining that it is now nine hundred years after the "Great Nuke". We are further told that a new civilisation will rise up out of the "radioactive rubble". I initially assumed that they’d used the wrong word here, and meant "rabble", but on reflection it occurred to me that every single character in this story is considerably dumber than a box of rocks, so "rubble" was probably right after all.

A second placard then informs us that "----And the world was woggos!" This mysterious phrase comes with a helpful parenthetical explanation: "In the old speak that means – Crazy!"

When you can’t even make it through a movie’s opening crawl without feeling the hairs on the back of your neck rising up, you know you’re in BIG trouble.

The first thing that America 3000 teaches us is that Charles Darwin was right, but not exactly in the way he thought. Clearly, when the apocalypse came, it took out the best and brightest first. Those who survived did so, I suspect, because of a few extra millimetres of skull thickness, which formed a protective barrier against environmental contamination. Of course, in order to accommodate that slightly thicker skull, its owners had to sacrifice certain cognitive functions; but then, you can’t have everything. This post-apocalyptic world sees men and women living separately, in different societies. The women are known as "Frauls", the men as "Plugarts". For practical purposes, it is simpler to think of them as "Dumb" and "Dumber".

America 3000 comes with a narrator, Gruss. He’s obviously (and I mean, very obviously, as in post-production tampering) there to explain what might not be quite clear about this post-nuke world. In this capacity, Gruss is occasionally granted Powers Of Omniscience, explaining to the viewer things that he couldn’t possibly know himself. To start out with, however, young Gruss is just one of a group of captives being hauled into a compound. It may be nine hundred years since the Apocalypse, but we see that in the interim no-one has figured out how to build a decent house, design clothes that actually cover the body, or even make something comfortable to sit on. However, we’re not supposed to be thinking about that. Here, writer-director David Engelbach (remember that name!) springs the first of many, many surprises: the Plugarts’ captors reveal their faces and – THEY’RE WOMEN!!!! Yes, that’s right: in this topsy-turvy world, the women are in charge!!!! Aren’t you shocked? Stunned? Even HORRIFIED???? But wait! – there’s more! Not only are the women superior, the men are inferior! Helpless, mindless creatures that roam the wastelands until they’re rounded up by the Frauls. And then – they are divided up and set to the task for which they are best suited. There are "machos", who do the heavy labour (although what that consists of in this pathetic excuse for a "society", I can’t imagine), and there are "seeders", who do the – ah, not so heavy labour. The ruler of this particular section of Fraul society, which is known as "Comb Frisco", walks up and down the line of captive Plugarts. Her name, we learn, is Rhea, and her title----

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #1: the word "tiara".

Yes, you heard me: Rhea is "the Tiara" of Comb Frisco. Gosh, that’s women for you, hey? Useful words like "democracy" and "freedom" and "peace" might have fallen by the wayside, but as long as you’ve got women around, you can be sure that useless gaudy objects will always have a place in society.

Speaking of which: more Frauls reveal themselves here. They’re wearing the usual collection of artfully artless animal skins, and as you’d expect with any self-respecting Amazons, they’re all physically attractive, thoroughly depilated and covered in truckloads of makeup, despite despising Man And All He Stands For. They’ve also got perfect teeth, and there’s not one of them outside the age-range of fifteen to thirty. And----

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #2: hairspray.

Oh, yes, these women have big hair. REALLY big hair. Picture some kind of weird genetic mixture of Farrah Fawcett, Marge Simpson and Fran Drescher, and you’ll be in the right ball-park. And I guess this explains why their compound is called a "Comb". Like the zombies in Dawn Of The Dead, the Frauls have retained trace memories of what was most important to them in The Time Before.

Rhea assigns the Plugarts to their new roles. Gruss waits his own turn with apprehension, observing (in voice-over), that he "didn’t need heavy smarts to figure out that things were goen cold neggie!" He then, believe it or not, feels compelled to add, "That means very bad!" Yes, thank you. Gruss is dubbed a "macho", which is a giggle in itself. Then Rhea comes face to face with a young Plugart who is somehow – different (i.e. he’s blond). Impressed in spite of herself, Rhea tries to check his teeth. The boy, Korvis, pulls away. Rhea’s Second strikes him for his insolence, but Rhea herself croons, "Spirited!" She takes out her knife and slices through the boy’s loincloth, which falls to the ground. All the gathered Frauls cop a good eyeful, including Rhea’s pubescent daughters, Vena and Lakella. "Seeder!" pronounces Rhea. "Mark him!" As the mortified boy gathers up the remnants of his scanty clothing, Gruss helpfully informs us that, "Seeders were for one thing, and one thing only." Yeah, thanks again, Brainiac. "Rhea had picked Korvis out for her own daughter, Vena," Omniscient Gruss continues, and we see the boy making significant eye contact with the blonder of the Tiara’s two offspring. Ah, so this is where they got the idea for the very first scene of Dharma & Greg from! Meanwhile, we learn that when the Frauls "mark" someone, he stays "marked". Two of Rhea’s subordinates come at Korvis with a branding iron the size of Tasmania. The boy, understandably, bucks and runs, and much "comical" violence (a Fraul being pushed into a lit brazier and set on fire, for instance – don’t worry too much about it, she doesn’t) ensues. Korvis eludes the enraged band of female warriors and steals a horse. In the confusion, Gruss too breaks free, and jumps onto the back of Korvis’s horse. As they gallop for the gate of the Fraul compound, Rhea orders a net dropped. It misses the fugitives, however, and entangles a number of pursuing Frauls. Comedy! Seeing her tribeswomen defeated and humiliated by this so-called inferior male, the young Vena smiles approvingly. Gee, I wonder where this is heading?

Korvis and Gruss make for an area of wasteland known as the "Contam". They know that they will be safe from the pursuing Frauls there, as the tribe’s "regs" do not permit them to enter it. How convenient. The boys team up, scavenging to survive. The turning point in the history of the world comes when, one day, they find a metal suitcase that contains----

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #3: evening clothes.

Gruss pounces on a top-hat, which becomes a permanent fixture on his person. (The main reason for this, I suspect, is to let the confused audience known that "young Gruss" and "adult Gruss" are meant to be the same person, despite the boy being dark-ish skinned and having dark, wildly curly hair, and the man fair skin and straight blond hair. Great casting, guys! Speaking of which, adult Gruss is played by one William Wallace, who I guess just can’t get enough of trying to free his people from oppression, ha, HA!) Korvis, however, is about to Meet His Destiny. For tucked in the suitcase is – a book. An ABC book. Korvis inspects it, puzzled. He doesn’t know what it is, of course, but something tells him that it is terribly important, and he tucks it into his clothing.

And no, I don’t know why anyone would respond to the threat of nuclear annihilation by packing their evening clothes and a kid’s book into a suitcase.

The boys join up with some other Plugarts who have managed to elude the Frauls. They build a compound for themselves in some ruins that are known by the enigmatic name of "Camp Reagan". "I never did figure out what a "Reagan" was," Omniscient Gruss tells the audience innocently. (Greywizard, the erudite proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page, says that David Engelbach wrote the screenplay for America 3000 in the mid-seventies, then shelved it for a decade. I assume that the punchline to this hilarious joke was originally, "I never did figure out what a "Nixon" was.") Time passes (and Gruss undergoes his puzzling metamorphosis), and we see the adult Korvis studying that mysterious book. Suddenly – enlightenment dawns. He learns to read!! Yes, just like that. As we watch, he carefully pronounces to himself, "H-o-r-s-e."

Hey, wait a minute! you’re probably exclaiming. Just because he figures out which symbols mean "horse", that doesn’t mean he knows how to pronounce "horse"! Well, this book is way ahead of you: it’s also a pronunciation guide, with little pictures showing how to shape your lips and teeth so as to say the words just right! How about them apples? Korvis works his way through the book excitedly, until----

----he finds a new word: MAN.

If we needed any more proof that Korvis has an extraordinary destiny before him, we have it in the instinct that leads him to pronounce the letter "M" correctly, despite his guide never suggesting that he put his lips together. Korvis repeats this magical word over and over – "M-AN. MMM-AN!!" – until he undergoes his personal epiphany. "I am a man! I AM A MAN!!"

HA-AA-ALLELUJAH!! HA-AA-ALLELUJAH!!

Meanwhile, unaware of these stirring events, which will ultimately shake their world right to its very foundations, the Frauls of Comb Frisco are foraging. We see that Rhea is with the band, although why the Tiara herself would be doing this kind of crap-work is beyond me. For that matter, why aren’t the machos doing it? Anyway, unbeknownst to the Frauls, danger lurks nearby in the shape of some highly unimpressive specimens of the Plugart race who are, Omniscient Gruss informs us, "dumb and hungry – really dumb and really hungry." In spite of these apparent drawbacks, these hairy throwbacks damn near take out the whole band of Frauls, which leads us to the fundamental question lurking at the heart of America 3000:

How the heck did this bunch of incompetent bimbos ever get to be in charge!!??

Or to put it another way – given that the Frauls are a bunch of incompetent bimbos, why the heck have the Plugarts put up with being shoved around by them for the past few centuries? If a small band of grunting Neanderthals can wipe out half a "Comb", why haven’t a few more specimens slightly higher up the evolutionary ladder gotten together and----

Oh, hang on…. I think I’m beginning to understand. Is it – no, no, don’t tell me! - is it because….the Plugarts have forgotten that they are – men!?

Ohhhhh, now I get it! It’s an allegory, isn’t it!? Okay, okay, that’s fine! I’m sorry – forget I said anything!

A desperate battle ensues, in which both Frauls and Plugarts suffer many casualties. Some of the Plugarts concentrate on stealing the food gathered by the Frauls.

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #4, 5 and 6: garlic, eggplant and red cabbage. (Jeez, you’d rather starve, wouldn’t you!?)

The Frauls prove to be fierce warriors, and throw themselves into the fray with enthusiasm (and in slow motion, which doesn’t exactly add to the credibility of the scene). They fight with knives, small crossbows, and their bare hands.

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #7 and 8: martial arts moves, and the tendency to shriek, "HIIYYYYYYAAH!!!!" whilst executing them.

Rhea herself is in the thick of the fight, and this proves disastrous. A Plugart knifes her in the back. She strikes down her attacker, but she has been fatally wounded. Meanwhile, life in Comb Frisco is going on as usual. We see Lakella, now all grown up, of course, sharpening her knife. Another Fraul is in a cage battling a huge, hairy, sub-Wookie kind of creature that O.G. tells us is "a detour from the human race" caused by fallout from "the Great Nuke". Yes, as you’ve probably guessed, this is Aargh The Awful!! – and in battling the creature, the Fraul is "trying to pass her final lawyer’s exam". (If one thing above all else distinguishes David Engelbach’s script, it is this tendency for cheap shots with no punchline. We never do find out what, in this society, a "lawyer" is.) As it happens, Aargh The Awful gets the better of things, and tosses the aspiring lawyer out of his cage. (I guess you could say that she passed the bar, ha, HA!) At this moment, the dying Rhea is carried into the Comb. Oh, no, I beg your pardon, she isn’t "dying" – she’s "goen cold – real cold". A dose of some potion or other is administered by the Comb’s medicine woman, who chants the "magic word" ("Redcross, redcross!"), and Rhea recovers long enough to name Vena her heir, much to Lakella’s disgust. Vena doesn’t feel that she is up to the responsibility, but Rhea insists, giving the girl the pendant that is the Tiara’s symbol of authority. Rhea tells her daughter that the new Tiara must be a leader who can "take us from the past into a new life. This was my dream, make it yours." From this we infer that Rhea was a forward-thinking, progressive Tiara, something that was not immediately apparent as we watched her checking out a teenaged boy’s genitalia in order to select a "seeder" for her forced breeding program. Rhea further tells Vena that there is a map in her "shelt" which she must follow, and then "goes cold". The tribe then does this little "the Tiara is cold, long livin the Tiara" ritual and swears fealty to Vena. The only hold-out is Lakella, who finally, reluctantly, swears as well.

While this is going on, Korvis and Gruss discover the scene of the Fraul/Plugart battle. Gruss collects "weaps", Korvis "eats". (Yeah, I can see how the word "eats" would be much more likely than the word "food" to survive the apocalypse.) Korvis pulls some things out of an overturned wagon, and finds – a "toy". This, Gruss informs us, is a Fraul plaything – a Plugart who has been robbed of his ability to speak by having his tongue cut off – and, to keep him gentle, has had something else cut off as well. (Hmm, more evidence of Rhea’s enlightened leadership.) Korvis immediately adopts poor Amie (Amie? – and if he can’t speak, how do they know!?). A band of Frauls appears on the horizon, and the three Plugarts run away.

The induction of a new Tiara is a big social event in the Fraul world (any excuse to gussy yourselves up for a party, hey, girls?), and the ceremony is attended by the Tiara of The Comb Next Door, Morha; her Second, Freyha; and a bunch of their followers. Freyha and Lakella face each other, and cross their knives as they chant a little greeting ritual: "I, Lakella, Second to Vena, Tiara of Frisco, give you safe shelter!" "I, Freyha, Second to Morha, Tiara of Kanso, accept your safe shelter!" – all of which might have been a bit more impressive had either of these mighty warriors been able to get their knives back in their belts afterwards on the first, or even second, attempt. Vena’s inauguration begins, and she emerges from her "shelt" wearing a blue robe and with the biggest, highest, widest hair I have ever seen. The Friscos’ Elder then starts the ceremony with a ritual speech. It’s couched in deeply mystical language, of course, but if you listen very closely, you might just get a clue as to how all of this Came To Be.

"Once the world was green and livin. Then was the Great Nuke. Death lived everywhere!" (Ah, so they know the word "death". So what was that "goen cold" crap about?) "All were born sick and unclean – a livin curse from the Merkins and Commies!" (Interesting that they retain the word "Commie" accurately enough, but they’ve forgotten the name of their own country. Well, I guess that’s Merkins for ya!) "Then, one day, a baby was born – clean and clear – and the livin curse was over! The child grew strong and beautiful, and she was called----"

The Friscos raise their clenched fists and chant, "WOMAN!" – all with rather less co-ordination and enthusiasm than you’d find at your average cheerleader try-out.

"Woman taught her children to follow the Tiara and follow the regs, and the Earth lived again! But some disobeyed the regs, and from them came the children of darkness and disease!"

"PLUGART!!" chant the Friscos, managing a tad more animation.

"Plugarts [*mumble, mumble*] nuked, ‘till neggie are left!" shouts (you wouldn’t think you could mumble and shout at the same time, would you?) the Elder. And then it’s time for Vena’s Oath Of Office. "Vena of Frisco – solemn swear to enforce the regs, oversee the birthins, and rule the Comb until the Prezzydent comes to lead us into a new tomorrow!" (In contrast, we assume, to the previous "Prezzydent", who seems to have led them right back into the Stone Age.) "Solemn swear!" chirps Vena, then completes the ritual by lighting her mother’s funeral pyre. And then it’s time to PAR-TEY, as the Frauls go completely woggos! And at long, long last, we get a reasonable explanation for the Frauls’ superiority: unlike the Plugarts, they have managed to reinvent alcohol! (Of course, this might also explain why they never got around to producing houses, clothes, and comfy chairs.)

Alas for the Frauls! Korvis is nearby, and sees his chance. He rushes back to the other Plugarts, and tells them that this is the time to attack the Comb. "They’re getting all loose and woggoed!" He then tries to inspire the others with his own vision of the future – which does not include the extermination of the Frauls. At first, his words fall upon stony ground. "Effen Frauls! Nuke ‘em all!" growls Gruss. Korvis reproves him, but Gruss adds defiantly, "This kind of hiden seeken makes me feel cold!" (Yeah, and this kind of crappen onnen is painen butten, too!) "Ya gotta get hot on new ways, Gruss!" Korvis insists. "We’re gunna be better than the Frauls!" The eyes of his followers light as he addresses them. "Neggie more machos!" he promises them. "Neggie more toys!"

"Neggie more seeders?" questions one of the men, and I think you’ll agree that I’m behind my usual schedule here, as it was at this moment, twenty minutes into a truly crap film, that I had my first "Simpsons" flash; in this case, the founding of Springfield, when Jebediah Springfield offers people the chance to follow him into a life of "chastity, abstinence, and a flavourless mush I call root marm". Shelbyville Manhattan, on the other hand, as you might recall, offers an alternative future founded on the right of men to marry their cousins – "Because they’re so damned attractive!" Korvis turns out to have far more Springfieldians than Shelbyvillians amongst his followers. In answer to his companion’s question, he says firmly, "Neggie more seeders!" – and the others look pleased! I dunno, somehow this strikes me as somewhat improbable. But then, what would I know? I’m only an unseeded Fraul, after all.

The riotous celebration continues in the Comb, with the Frauls getting thoroughly---- Gee, I don’t actually know how to describe their condition. The word "pissed" does survive into the post-apocalyptic future, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know, but only in the sense of being angry, not in the sense of being, well, pissed. Vena has withdrawn, taking the opportunity to study the map her mother spoke of. She is joined by her loyal friend, Lynka, who is horrified to see that it is a map of the Contam. Lynka reminds Vena that just because she is Tiara, that doesn’t mean she can break the regs. "If Lakella finds out, she’ll death-challenge you for sure!" Vena promises to be careful, adding that she is glad to have Lynka by her side. "Not for much longer," says Lynka glumly, explaining that it is her "season", the time she must be seeded. "Woggos!" exclaims the appalled Vena, further opining that being Tiara is easy in comparison to being seeded. And here, you see, we have another reason why the society of the Frauls cannot possibly survive. I mean, women who look at pregnancy and childbirth as an ordeal! – tsk, tsk! Vena tells Lynka that even if she does go into the Contam, she will be back for the birth, and the two embrace.

When dawn breaks, Korvis’s band – who really do give a whole new dimension to the expression "rag-tag" – approach the Comb. "Korvis was a born leader!" says O.G. admiringly. Hmm – an inferior Plugart who’s a "born leader", a reluctant Tiara---- Where can this possibly be heading? Korvis takes out the lone Fraul guard and they enter the compound. Whatever the Frauls cooked up by way of booze must be great stuff, because Korvis & co. proceed to plunder the Comb, stealing the eats and weaps and generally wrecking the joint, without one of the Frauls waking up. The invaders then try to free the machos, which proves unexpectedly difficult, as these helpless Plugarts have had their spirits so crushed that they’re scared to leave their enclosure. Korvis, meanwhile, has discovered Vena’s shelt, and is gazing in at the new Tiara (who lies on her back with her legs invitingly bare and apart) with a strange new stirring…. (No, not that! Well, okay, maybe that.) Gruss drags him away, and he assists with the freeing of the machos. He tries inspiring them with his vision and then, when that fails dismally, plies them with stolen alcohol instead. Bingo! The raid has almost been completed when Korvis ("I’m not leaving any man behind!") decides to free Aargh The Awful. This proves, as you might suspect, a tactical error. "Effen woggos!" cries the horrified Korvis when he sees what he hath wrought. The ruckus finally rouses the hungover Frauls. Korvis and the others escape, briefly trapping their pursuers by cutting the ropes that control the compound’s gates. Korvis takes two horses (his own having a blanket made of a piece of material covered with stars and stripes – ARE WE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE HERE??) and drags branches after them to stir up a false dust trail, sending the other Plug--- I mean, men, back to camp. The Frauls, led by Vena and Lakella, fall for Korvis’s cunning scheme. Finally, Vena realises what has happened. "Effen Plugart tricked me!" she exclaims, half-frightened, half-awed. Lakella is not convinced. "Plugart’s got neggie smarts for tricken no-one!" she pronounces contemptuously (an emotion which might have been directed at David Engelbach, granted). The Frauls split up to search for this remarkable Plugart. Korvis, meanwhile, has cornered himself on top of a high ridge, and Vena and Lakella see him before he sees them. Vena raises her small crossbow but somehow cannot bring herself to fire. Korvis sees that he is danger and raises his own crossbow, but recognising Vena, he likewise does not shoot. Finally, Lakella, disgusted with all this (and rightly), does fire. Her arrow strikes Korvis in the chest and sends him plummeting into a deep cavern. Lakella smirks, satisfied. Vena, however, looks – strangely saddened….

But fear not, gentle reader! Korvis is not killed so easily. He survives the fall (he’s not even winded!) and the arrow: it buried itself in the ABC book, which he carries over his heart. Awwww!

Korvis then finds himself in a strange underground bunker. Would you believe it? – a full nine hundred years after the apocalypse, the electricity is still working! (As indeed are the batteries in the ghettoblaster, and the hand-held remote control, that Korvis will soon discover.) After the shock caused by voice activated electric light, Korvis sees cupboards bearing the words "ARMS" and "Authorised Personnel". He opens one (they’re not locked, or anything) and finds inside some nifty high-tech laser guns (also fully functional), complete with their own little instruction booklets! (I dunno, I would have thought that "Authorised Personnel" meant people who already knew how to use them!?) Korvis opens one of the booklets and starts figuring these new weapons out. Admirable as his literacy skills are, it is possibly just as well that the instructions come in the form of diagrams rather than words, even if this does seem a trifle unlikely. (Then again, these were intended for the American military, weren’t they? [Hey, now, come on, guys! You have to admit, I’ve been very restrained up to this point!]) Practising, Korvis manages to blast his way through a door marked with something called a "Presidential Seal". Venturing in, he discovers more wonders. And hey! – who knew that Reagan was into pinball and Arcade? Ya learn something new every day, I guess! Korvis picks up a small black box covered in buttons, and accidentally activates a monitor on the far side of the room. A man in uniform says urgently, "Mr President! Mr President!"

Korvis reacts violently, startled by both the appearance of this strange man and his mention of that legendary figure, "the Prezzydent". As Korvis listens, mystified, the man explains that "the computers reporting a massive Soviet first strike were in error". However, due to "standing Presidential orders" the computers reacted to the perceived threat by initiating "a total retaliatory response". A Soviet counterstrike, he adds, has also been confirmed. The man in uniform then becomes emotional, exclaiming, "We didn’t ask for this war, but goddamn, we WON IT!!" Yeah, congratulations.

All of this means nothing to Korvis, of course, who wanders off without even beginning to comprehend that he has heard his own people’s history. Isn’t it just too poignant? Oh, the humanity! [*sniff*]

Vena, meanwhile, has separated herself from her companions (she thinks) and is following Rhea’s map through the Contam. She enters a cave, watched by Lakella, and O.G. informs us, "What she was going to discover in that cave was going to change the way things were supposed to go – for Frauls and us."

Korvis has gathered more goodies from the bunker.

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #9, 10 and 11: gold lamé contamination suits (gold lamé!!?? Jeez, I would have thought that was more a Clinton-era thing), a working ghettoblaster, and a comic book named "Warlord".

After dressing himself in one of the suits, Korvis rides off with his haul. In the middle of nowhere he encounters Leiz. In the film’s creepiest plot thread, Leiz is "the Toykeeper" – the elderly man who "looks after" the young boys destined to be the Frauls’ "toys". Seeing the gold-clad figure, Leiz takes Korvis for "the Prezzydent" and prostrates himself. Korvis immediately capitalises on the situation (helped no end by the fact that donning the contamination suit has somehow made his voice loud, booming and re-verby). He tells Leiz that as "Prezzydent", he will free the Plugarts from the Frauls (typical politician – promises, promises), and that there will be "neggie machos, neggie toys". (Hmm, he seems to have dropped the "neggie seeders" line. I guess that wasn’t a "core promise". [Author’s note: regional joke.]) Leiz looks thoroughly horrified at the thought of "neggie toys". We will give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he fears unemployment, not – unemployment. Korvis then pumps Leiz for information. This is one of the film’s most incomprehensible passages, but we gather that Leiz tells Korvis that Vena is away "proving herself" and that Lynka, the new Tiara’s best friend, is off getting seeded. Korvis warns Leiz not to speak of their meeting, and sends him back to Comb Frisco.

Outside the Comb, Lakella is waiting for Vena with Morha and Freyha. The Tiara rides up, demonstrating the outcome of her exploration of the cave: "Thunder rocks! I made them," she adds, which seems rather unlikely. She explodes a few more of her homemade grenades, terrifying Morha. "You broke the regs! You will bring the curse upon us!" she hisses. "You fear me, not the curse!" sneers Vena, who seems to have discovered a sizeable chunk of attitude lying around in that cave, too.

Back at Camp Reagan, the Plugarts are busy "trying to turn the machos into men. We had a long way to go!" Gruss comments. This is possibly because the de-machoing process consists of nothing more than forcing the former slaves’ heads into troughs of water. At that rate, they’ll want to go back to the Frauls. Suddenly, Gruss and Relk (another man) hear a strange noise, and see an even stranger figure. After a moment of terror, the creature in gold pulls off his headgear and---- "It’s Korvis!" exclaims Gruss. Gee, no kidding! Korvis demonstrates the ghettoblaster, then tells his followers that he has "hot weaps from the Merkins" – although why there should have been a stash of hand-grenades and flare-guns in Reagan’s bedroom is beyond me. (Hey, maybe---- Nnnno, I think I’ll let that one pass….) At this moment, Aargh The Awful, who has been hanging around Camp Reagan and stinking up the joint, discovers something else from the Merkins.

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #12: air-freshener.

Yes, indeed! And smelly old Aargh The Awful goes to town with it, spraying it all over himself, including onto his butt and directly into his eyes. Comedy! (We notice, BTW, that this is very generic air-freshener. I guess even the Product Placement people have their limits.)

Korvis meets with Gruss and Relk. He tells them his plan to kidnap Lynka from the seeding camp, and use her as a hostage to force a meeting with Vena. In this way, much nuken might be avoided. They will also destroy the camp itself, and free the seeders. (Boy, I bet they’ll be grateful!) Gruss expresses doubt that Vena will meet with a Plugart even under these circumstances. Korvis suggests slyly that she might, however, meet with the Prezzydent! All this time, the other men having been playing with the "hot weaps", and now the inevitable happens. Korvis, Gruss and Relk run outside, finding a single, smoking foot, and the rest of the band cringing behind a wall in utter terror. Korvis tries to explain that it was mis-use of a weap that caused the explosion – "Neggie spirits! Neggie curse!" Gruss has been glancing through the pilfered issue of "Warlord", and in its mystic pages, finds instructions for the correct use of a grenade. He hurls one, and it explodes at a safe distance. "That’s fan-plastic!" exults Relk. Suddenly, Gruss undergoes a strange conversion, becoming convinced that Korvis really is "the Prezzydent". "Follow the Prezzydent! Follow the Prezzydent!" he begins chanting, working the others up to the same level of enthusiasm. (Hmm, sounds to me like Gruss is angling for Vice-Prezzydent – and believe me, he’s fully qualified!)

Soon afterwards, Lynka is about to undergo her Ordeal. Another Fraul reassures her that they picked her out a "clean one", but this doesn’t seem to cheer her up much. We soon see why: the seeding ritual involves the Fraul being roped to the bed. (Let’s see: within a slave-owning society with a forced breeding program, we have a ritual that involves the member of the ruling class being tied up, and the slave being left free. Yeah, that’ll work!) The seeder enters---ah, walks into the room, covered from head to foot in a robe. And they, er, get right to it; and after a while, it would seem that Lynka is getting into the whole experience rather more than a dedicated Fraul should. However, she is kept from completely betraying her principles when coitus interruptus of a more than usually abrupt nature occurs. Gruss and Relk storm into the room, "freeing" the seeder (in more ways than one) and capturing Lynka. The seeder slowly pulls the hood from his face. He is – A Very Pretty Plugart Indeed. Lynka gives a big relieved smile. I mean, she might be facing a hideously painful death at the hands of her mortal enemies, but at least she wasn’t doing it with an ugmo, or anything.

That night, the men storm Comb Frisco, terrifying the Frauls with flares, music from the ghettoblaster, and a contamination suit on a pole. There is much screaming and running around. One of the Frauls faints. Yeah, right. The men giggle madly at the women’s reaction, conveniently forgetting how petrified they were in a similar situation. Typical. The ghettoblaster stops emitting anonymous rock music, and mysteriously produces the 1812 Overture instead. The hidden Korvis, who apparently found one of those "talk through your radio" jobbies in Reagan’s bedroom as well (no comment), then addresses the Frauls. He speaks directly to Vena as "the spirit of the Prezzydent", and orders her to meet him at the edge of the Contam. If she does so, Lynka will be returned safely. If she disobeys, it will be "like the Merkins and the Commies!" For a big finale, the mock-Prezzydent is blown up with a grenade. The Frauls are left in a quandary. Vena believes what she has seen and heard. Morha, however, pours scorn on the idea of the Prezzydent being a Plugart, and dismisses the whole display as a "Plugart trick". (As usual, the Bad Guys being right does them no good at all.) She encourages Vena to attack the Plugarts. Vena refuses, announcing her intention of "following the Prezzydent’s commands!" (Is this girl Furstlaydee material or what?) Morha and Freyha take the opportunity to further poison Lakella’s mind against Vena – although what the two hope to gain from their treachery is never exactly clear.

Vena rides out as instructed and meets the Prezzydent, who is in full lamé regalia and has his re-verb working. Lynka is released, and Vena sends her home. Korvis then promises things that are for "the Tiara’s eyes only", and the two ride off. Meanwhile, Lakella, Morha and Freyha are filling their sisters full of homebrew in preparation for a sneak attack on the Plugarts.

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #13: two Frauls are seen beating on drums wrapped in a banner that reads The Rolling Stones Farewell Tour 1989 (close, but no cigar, Dave).

Morha clashes with two of the Frauls loyal to Vena before leaping onto a platform to deliver a stirring pre-match speech. Her tanked-up troops cheer enthusiastically. Seeing what’s coming, Leiz tries to escape the Comb, and gets a knife in the back for his trouble. He rather improbably continues to crawl away, and Morha lets him. Foolish Fraul!

Korvis is showing Vena the wonders of the bunker. She is both impressed and frightened, finally demanding to know why the Prezzydent is scannen her all this. Korvis begins to answer her, but unwisely calls Vena "Fraul". "I am WOMAN!" she insists proudly. "And what am I?" asks the Prezzydent. "Don’t know. Maybe spirit. Maybe – Plugart!" "Neggie Plugart," replies Korvis, and takes off his hood. "YOU!!??" exclaims Vena in horror and pulls a knife. Korvis assures her that he only wants to talk, "About – MAN!!" "‘MAN’?" repeats Vena blankly. "Whatzit, ‘MAN’?" "I am a MAN!" announces Korvis, stripping off his contamination suit and revealing----

Interesting Things That Survived The Apocalypse #14: Chesty Bond singlets.

"Neggie macho! Neggie toy!" he adds. "Seeder?" suggests Vena, somewhat hopefully. "Neggie! MAN!! Feel," he insists, offering his forearm, "flesh like Vena’s!" Yeah, well, I didn’t think that was under debate. Vena does feel, however. And Korvis feels her shoulder in return. They establish that they have the same heartbeat, same eyes, same ears. The pair of them then feel each other a bit more. In fact, they get very touchy-feely. Then they progress to feeling up, then to copping a feel, and then, well, let’s just say that having verified their similarities, they settle down to a thorough examination of one another’s differences.

Meanwhile, the Frauls attack the Plugart camp. This wastes---ah, takes about ten minutes and is supposed to be the big climactic scene, but it is very unimaginatively staged. I really don’t have much to say about it, other than registering a protest over the number of "tripped horse" stunts involved here. (And just to add insult to injury, most of them are very poorly executed, with the trip starting well before the explosion that’s supposed to have caused it.) There is, however, an hilariously rendered "head slam", where a Plugart is supposed to be knocking two Frauls’ heads together, but carefully pulls up when they’re about eight inches apart! (I mean, c’mon! With that hair, it’s not like he could hurt them!) Some Frauls are killed, and many Plugarts. Finally, Gruss is forced to exercise his Second Banana’s Death Battle Exemption, as Lakella sneaks up on him with a spear, then waits motionless until he turns, sees her, and grabs her spear before she tries anything with it.

Elsewhere, Vena is riding slowly back to the Comb, a dreamy expression in her eyes. Cos she’s a woman, W-O-M-A-N…. She almost rides over the top of Leiz, who is still crawling along with that knife in his back. He manages to tell Vena what’s happening, gasps out, "Tell the Prezzydent!" and dies. And little boys all over post-apocalyptica breathe a bit easier.

Korvis arrives at Camp Reagan to find the battered and bloodied remnants of his band. In spite of the Plugarts’ superior weaponry, the Frauls have very nearly wiped them out. Korvis finds Gruss with the dying Amie (the "toy", remember?) in his arms. "While you were talken, Frauls were nuken!" Gruss wails. The enraged Korvis, believing that Vena has lied to him ("Cold damn lies!"), rides off to the Comb, where the Frauls too are dealing with their losses. Vena sees Korvis and walks towards him with her hands raised, facing him bravely as he draws his knife. She tries to explain that they were both tricked, and promises that it will never happen again. "Solemn swear!" "Effen right it won’t!" snarls Korvis and starts towards her. The remaining Frauls run to support their Tiara, while the other Plugarts ride up behind Korvis. Vena announces that the decision as to what will happen next, what the future will be, is Korvis’s. She removes her whip from her belt and casts it to the ground. Korvis hesitates, but is overcome by his feelings for Vena. He throws his knife down beside her whip, and the next instant the two are kissing passionately.

This behaviour rather puzzles the other Plugarts and Frauls, who can only stare at their leaders in bewilderment. Oddly, as Omniscient Gruss puts it, "the harder we scanned them, the hotter it looked!" Lynka is the first to get the idea. She spies her seeder amongst the Plugarts, and fires her crossbow, the arrow plunging deep into the ground. The seeder follows suit, his arrow plunging next to hers (ah, I think it’s symbolic). Then Mela, a senior Fraul who has been eyeing off Gruss, tosses down her weapon. He throws his gun beside it, reflecting philosophically that, "Maybe there was something men and women could do to each other besides fighten and nuken. I was gunna find out!"

And so it came to pass that the blonde-haired, blue-eyed bimbos did inherit the Earth. And those of us who perished in the holocaust before any of this could happen can only say – thank You, God!

a3k
"Behold the future of mankind!"

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