On May 15th of this year we are going to be introduced to the fourth installment of the Mad Max series: Mad Max: Fury Road. From the looks of it, it promises to follow the same tone and storyline of the original. But if you can’t wait until May to see some apocalyptic mayhem then Scream Factory has a new release that might be right up your alley: Exterminators of the Year 3000.
“What is Exterminators of the Year 3000?” you might ask. Good question. I had never heard of it myself. Basically, EOY3K (as I will be calling it) is a 1983 Italian-produced direct rip-off of The Road Warrior. It’s a classic post-apocalyptic tale of survival where nobody is ever 100% good and even the bad guys are not totally evil when you put them in the right context. Before I go further, here is a brief overview of the film:
In the future the Earth has become nothing but desert and water is a precious commodity. Civilization has crumbled and humans gather in small groups to try to survive. Their main goal becomes to find sources of water to keep them alive. A lone survivor named Alien meets a young boy whose father disappeared searching for water. Alien takes a liking to the boy and his group and after discovering a map that supposedly leads to water he leads a hunt to find the water paradise promised on the map. Along the way they fight gangs of motorcycle-riding marauders and get captured by super-bad guy Crazy Bull. They manage to escape but Crazy Bull finds out about the map and now Alien must continue the search for water with Crazy Bull and his gang on their tail.
If this sounds very familiar it should. The Road Warrior had very much the same plot. Take The Road Warrior, replace fuel with water and Humungus with Crazy Bull and you have EOY3K. That said, that does not necessarily make this a bad movie; in fact, it’s pretty fun. First of all, this film makes no apologies about the source material. It never tries to be something that it is not. In that, it fully commits to the movie that it is. This movie offers low-budget sets, costumes, and actors but seems to make the best out of all those shortcomings. The film also offers its share of violence and brutality to be sure and the acting is not as bad as would be expected. One thing that can be said of this movie is that it is full of stunts. Really well-performed stunts. Motorcycles, cars, you name it and they’re flying all over the place. Explosions left and right without looking silly or fake.
Now, as far as the presentation there are some pros and cons. Even in blu-ray the quality is not what most people have become used to seeing. However, whenever you consider the source material it is the best job possible was done. If you look at previous DVD releases this version is a HUGE step up. The blu-ray has pretty good image detail, the coloring is nicely done and it is stable throughout the whole film. Also, considering the subject material and color palette of the film it seems to me that make a too clean version would take away from the movie. It needs to be shown as dirty and gritty. Although, there is no 5.1 audio mix on this release the sound is pretty consistently clean. There is an absence of any deep bass on explosions and such but not so much that it should bother you (unless you have a system that usually shakes the whole room). I must warn, however, that even though the lead actor is an English-speaking American the film was made in Italian and dubbed back into English so if dubbing bothers you this might not be your favorite film to watch.
There are some fun extras on the blu-ray as well:
• Audio Commentary with Actor Robert Iannucci
• Interview with Actor Robert Iannucci
• TV Spots
The best bonus feature is by far the Audio Commentary with lead actor Robert Iannucci (who played Alien in the film). It’s over 30 years later and Iannucci has a lot of interesting stories to tell from his first major acting gig and is happy to share them openly. He talks about shooting in Spain, stunt work, the language barrier, working with a child actor, and much more. It’s a good extra commentary that fans will love.
In all, there is not really a lot I can say about this film. It seems like most people are either going to love it or be repelled by it from the first moment. That said, I think there are a few groups that are really going to love this movie. First, of course are the existing fans, but aside from that if you are a fan of apocalyptic movies, car movies, Mad Max movies or gritty cult movies you are going to love this. If, as this reviewer is, you are one of those people that loves mockbusters that are clear rip-offs from blockbuster movies you are really, really going to love this movie. Long before The Asylum brought us rip-off films like Transmorphers and The Da Vinci Treasure producers in Italy were doing a much more fun job of it. I highly recommend.
Exterminators of the Year 3000 is available from Scream Factory March 3rd.
Fun Fact: The original Italian title of this film was Il giustiziere della strada, which translates to The Highwayman. If that doesn’t speak to its Road Warrior heritage I don’t know what does.
Photo Credit: 2T Produzione Film/New Line Cinema