Anybody else besides me miss the days when any reasonably successful — and reasonably cheap — movie genre birthed scores of Italian knock-offs? Yes, whether it was westerns, crime flicks, zombie movies, or Hitckcockian-style thrillers, there was always an Italian who figured he could do it quicker, cheaper, and—most importantly—bloodier. The runaway success of Mel Gibson’s “The Road Warrior” and John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York” were no exception, and soon there was a mini-deluge of Italian-made post-apocalyptic sci-fi ultra-macho exploitation fare playing grindhouse theaters and drive-ins from coast to coast. While the best-remembered of these are Enzo G. Castellari’s two entries in the field, the brilliantly absurd “1990 : Bronx Warriors” and the even more OTT “The New Barbarians,” for my money the funnest, weirdest, and most jaw-droppingly insane of the bunch is veteran exploitation director Sergio (“Mountain Of The Cannibal God”) Martino’s 1983 trashterpiece “2019 : After The Fall Of New York.”
Set in—oh, to hell with it, you can read the title — our story centers on the tough-as-nails Parsifal (Michael Sopkiw), who is sent into New York to retrieve the last fertile woman on the face of the Earth. The human race, you see, has been rendered sterile due to a nuclear attack from the dastardly EURAC organization, a world government of sorts that encompasses all of Europe, Africa, and Asia and was at war with the Pan-American confederacy, a rival superstate that I assume consisted of North and South America. The Euracs “won” the war by nuking our hemisphere and are now occupying it, as victors of a conflict tend to do.
Unbeknownst to the Euracs, however, the Pan-American confederacy have reconstituted as a sort of underground government-in-exile and are planning on staging a comeback—just not here. They’ve got a rocket ship loaded and ready to blast off for Alpha Centauri, they just need the one fertile female still alive to get the human race up and running again on its new home. For his trouble, Parsifal has been promised a place on the rocket and, presumably, a crack at the lady in question he gets there.
Parsifal is assigned a couple of assistants in his quest in the form of a guy named Bronx, who lost his family in the Eurac attack, and the mysterious, quiet, ultra-tough Ratchet. Along the way, they pick up a few stragglers, as well—the beautiful Giada, to whom Parsifal has taken a shine (his best line to her has to be “If love meant anything in this world, you’d be the one I loved”), a dwarf named Shorty (there’s creativity for you), and the mutant leader of a band of ape-men (the always-great George Eastman). Their journey through the remains of New York takes them primarily through one sewer after another, encountering a tribe of rat-eaters, Shorty’s band of midgets, and the aforementioned ape-dudes, as well as one nasty force of Eurac soldiers after another, each with an increasingly bizarre array of pseudo-futuristic weapons at their disposal. Oh, and after they find the girl (who is never named—oh, and sorry to give away that big plot point—and she’s in suspended animation, to boot), they make their escape in an armored-up early 80s Oldsmobile (or Buick, or whatever) station wagon. The Euracs fire everything they’ve got at them and seldom score a direct hit, while ape-boy manages to lop of four of their heads in one go just by chucking his cutlass out the window (of what could well be a Cutlass station wagon). Who needs numbers when you’ve got such a clear aim advantage?
The special effects for this film are so mind-numbingly stupid they’ve got to be seen to be believed, especially the low-rent obvious model shot of a post-nuke New York that they linger on in detail in the opening credits. And the music score? Man, synth-cheese doesn’t get any better than this! Suffice to say you’ll know within moments why composer Maurizio De Angelis went under the pseudonymous credit of “Oliver Onions.”
Oh, and somebody does get a go at our sleeping beauty fertility goddess—and it’s not Parsifal. Suffice to say I’d feel unclean just mentioning who does the “honors,” so I won’t.
The good folks at Media Blasters have seen fit to preserve this gem for posterity on DVD, and it features a nice, clean anamorphic widescreen transfer, a 5.1 surround remix, trailers and promo art, and interviews with Sergio Martino and actors George Eastman and Hal Yamnouchi—all in Italian. It’s recently been made available as part of their bargain “Post-Apocalyptic Collection” Triple Feature Box Set along with the two previously-mentioned Castellari classics, making this set a definite must-own item. Get some cheap beer and pizza and kick back and watch them all — just be prepared to have your IQ drop a few points in the process!