I Saw A Film!

The post-apocalypse, a land of permed hair, tribal alliances, desert settings and crossbows. Key elements are armored motorcycles and guys dressed like Legion of Doom from the WWE, along with their workout video hotties. I don’t know what the first one was, but I’m guessing it was Mad Max-adjacent and we couldn’t make enough of these in the 80s – 90s. And Just like when anything suddenly jumps up and makes money, the copy cat industry will eventually trickle down to the off-market Specialman version of Superman. This means, of course, plenty of goofy entertainment for our screens.

In this case we have a frontier lady in the form of that Cynthia chick from Van Damme’s Lionheart, as Harmony, carrying her crossbow, making her way through the aftermath of a village being pillaged and raped by a motorcycle gang of goons. This is a common “birth” of a hero motif in these films and we’re ready to watch our young, fluffy-haired beauty exact some sort of revenge for the wrongs inflicted. Soon though she’s found herself one of the least impressive of the dessert boneheads who mainly whines, shoots at her (taking out a snake, why not just say “look out for the snake?”) and follows her, like a puppy, through the criss-crossing paths of the main antagonist’s henchmen.

This is always the interesting part of these films for me, the power structure seems based on nothing but some kind of economics of totally laughable cult of personality. The field marshal level as well as the big general level of the bad guys are not impressive either physically or intellectually, so what keeps the minions around them from just usurping the positions all day? Or a deeper question might be, what resources maintain these alliances? If you’re a super evil dude in the middle of the desert after the end of civilization, what’s your first move? Do you somehow rush to fight the crowds over the leftover alcohol? Do you round up all the cute women you can find and keep them happy with hair stylists and make-up artists? Do you set up shop in the middle of a sand storm and drive dune buggies around in circles while waving your arms around like the lead vocalist for Rammstein? Do you just indulge in every childish offense like some kind of Twitter feed come to life? What I’m trying to say here is I can’t figure out what would keep the minions satisfied enough to follow the leaders. They seem uncompelling. Amenities are lacking. As soon as shit hits the fan we know that the rush on toilet paper is the first in the sequence to total societal breakdown. We also know that few folks are equipping themselves in hockey gear to hang out. I’ve played a lot of Civilization, people want amenities! Why are they still in the desert? Is it because all other places are already full of stronger and smarter people? Why not make that movie?

At any rate, we’re introduced to a disappointing collection of cannibals (just seems more effort than its worth) and pointless gang fighters leading us slowly to the eventual guy who literally seems to be sitting on a throne in a cave. But at the same moment we’re introduced to some whimsy in the form of a guy on a bicycle, carrying a bouzouki and a puppy. Aw! It’s a bit confusing. Are we supposed to be amused or agitated to some level of outrage? Two times our protagonists attempt to get a vehicle to, as the fellow says, “Get far away from here.” It seems a reasonable goal. But each time they’re thwarted the solution does not escalate. Bad storytelling, like bad living, is bashing your head against a wall repeatedly and providing no new results.

You know what to expect and there are no new revelations here. Avoid this poor carbon of a more exciting film that maybe has John Saxon in it. Finally, the crossbow. A unwieldy weapon that had its heyday just as firearms were being invented to displace it. It is awkward, hard to load (if it has any power at all it’s impossible to do by hand) and gives you one shot. Honestly there’s no cool in a crossbow even if it’s mounted on your wrist like a Wild Wild West tribute gadget, the only thing you could possibly do is accidentally shoot yourself in the mouth.

This is running free on Amazon Prime (usa) in the post-apocalypse of covid.

mad “land”? not Max?

2 thoughts on “Land of Doom (1985)

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