Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Land of Doom - 1986

"Land of Doom" - 1986
Dir. by Peter Maris - 1 hr. 27 min.

Title Sequence (I guess even YouTube has it's limits)

by Clayton Hollifield

If you ever wondered what would happen if you jammed "The Road Warrior," an educational film against rape, and "Return of the Jedi" together, and then filmed the resulting script on a budget of zero dollars, here's the answer.  And don't be fooled by that "unrated" status either.  Unless you get off on swearing or a cast costumed at a leather sex shop clearance sale, there's not much to warrant that rating here.  No, we're in no-budget, blockbuster knock-off film hell, and we're in it together.

To make an hour-and-a-half story short, some sort of worldwide war has thrown the world into chaos.  Everyone rides custom motorcycles and dresses like Demolition, and spends their time raping and looting.  In the midst of this hellscape, a capital-s Survivor named Harmony (Deborah Rennard) comes across an injured man, Anderson (Garrick Dowhen).  She's skeptical, but they end up travelling together, largely on the promise of a utopia that he doesn't quite know where it is, but swears he can find.  As it turns out, Anderson was booted from the Raiders (the bad guys who run things, not the football team, although it holds up as an NFL analogy as well) for trying to make them less rapey and looty, which means that they eventually get caught and have to bust out of the Raiders' stronghold.  This is where the Star Wars nonsense comes in: Anderson and Harmony succeed based on help from some short, hooded figures from the desert (that would be Jawas, if my memory serves).

So you've got a film that roughly (very roughly) approximates the look of the two highly successful "Mad Max" movies (up to that point - and I like to forget about the third one anyways), but is stripped of any of the oil industry criticism, or any point.  The action is brutal, in the sense that it's so bad that it took me out of the story repeatedly (see the scene where Harmony bashes a would-be rapist in the head with a rock.  Or perhaps I should say that in the absence of a gimmicked rock, she gently touches him in the head with a real one, and gently touches the ground near his head over and over again, with lethal results).  The actors point guns at each other, but they rarely visibly fire.  It would have improved things immeasurably if the actors had just made "pew pew" noises instead of relying on realistic sound effects.  The explosions are real, but not really connected to the action (watch the edits).

I'm of two minds about movies like this.  There's a certain amount of amusement in the fact that someone thought this was going to be awesome, and the crew made this film to the best of their abilities, and we still have the results that we have.  There's no shame in failure if it's the result of honest effort, and it certainly feels like that.  At the same time, it's just not a good movie.  And to some degree, laughing at people who actually made a (bad) movie feels shitty.  It's cringe-worthy, like watching a sporting event where someone who clearly doesn't belong on the field ends up on the field.  You know that something awful is about to happen, and the fact that no one's going to step in and stop it from happening just makes it worse.  Watching "Land of Doom" makes me part of the group of people who didn't do anything to prevent the carnage from taking place.

1 / 5 - NF Streaming


  1. I am watching this movie on a free channel even as I write. I've got to say your review is right on, and I'm only 40 minutes into it. The locale looks like a southwestern US desert but my memories of National Geographic magazines gives me the impression from the look of the caves carved into the cliffs and from a few of the minor cast members' names that it was filmed in Turkey. (Insert joke here.) Maybe filming there helped keep the costs down.

  2. Thanks - the scenery was actually really nice. You're probably dead-on about the Turkey thing. Hope you got a few more giggles out of it than I did!