It’s been a while since I’ve done an entry in the Daily Grindhouse here at the Shattered Lens. (And please, no snarky comments about the definition of the word “daily.” I’ve been doing such a good job of controlling my temper lately…) So, I figured I’d correct that oversight by taking a few moments to tell you about The Raiders of Atlantis, an Italian film from 1983.
(If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love Italian exploitation films.)
On many a Saturday night, I have gotten together with my fellow members of the Late Night Movie Crew (including TSL’s own Patrick Smith) and we’ve watched movies with titles like Samson Vs. The Vampire Women, Cruel Jaws, and Space Raiders. Whenever it’s my night to pick the movie, I’ve always been tempted to select The Raiders of Atlantis. In many ways, it’s the perfect film to watch with a group of snarky and outspoken friends. The film is action packed, it features a lot of over-the-top melodrama, the pace is relentless, and the film is so defiant in its refusal to follow any narrative logic that you can’t help but respect its defiant soul.
(If Raiders of Atlantis could talk, it would say, “I do what I want!” before giving the finger to anyone complaining about not being able to follow the plot.)
I’ve come very close to picking it on a few occasions but then I always remember just how violent this film can be. By the standards of Italian exploitation, The Raiders of Atlantis is actually rather tame but it still features a lot of people dying in a lot of disturbingly graphic ways. People are set on fire. People are graphically shot in the face. One unfortunate woman gets a dart fired into her neck. Heads roll, literally.
The Raiders of Atlantis tells the story of what happens when a bunch of scientists on an oil rig accidentally cause the lost continent of Atlantis to rise up out of the ocean. A Caribbean island is conquered by an army of heavily made up, motorcycle-riding, mohawk-sporting “interceptors,” who claim to be the descendants of the original inhabitants of Atlantis. Led by the evil Crystal Skull (Bruce Baron), the Interceptors are determined to kill everyone who does not possess Atlantean blood. When they’re not randomly killing, they’re searching for an artifact that will … well, to be honest, I’m not sure why they wanted that artifact but they certainly were determined to find it.
Who can stop the Interceptors? Well, how about Mike (Christopher Connelly) and Washington (Tony King)? They’re two mercenaries who just happened to be nearby when the continent of Atlantis rose out of the ocean. Along with a group of scientists, an escaped convict, and a random bald guy in tuxedo, it’s up to Mike and Washington to save the world!
(Washington, incidentally, has just converted to Islam and spends most of the movie demanding that Mike call him by his new name, Mohammad. I imagine this is one of those subplots that would be abandoned if the film were remade today.)*
So, as I said before, The Raiders of Atlantis makes absolutely no sense but that’s actually a huge part of the film’s charm. This is one of those relentless action films that truly does seem to be making it up as it goes along. There’s something very enjoyable about seeing how many movies The Raiders of Atlantis can rip-off in just 98 minutes and you soon find yourself thankful that the film didn’t waste any time trying to justify itself. The film may not be traditionally “good” but it is flamboyantly bad and, in many ways, that’s even better. Maybe you have to be a fan of Italian exploitation cinema to truly understand.
Speaking of which, if you have any experience at all with Italian exploitation, you will immediately recognize half the cast of The Raiders of Atlantis. You may not know they’re names, because these actors frequently changed their Americanized screen names from film to film. But you’ll definitely recognize the faces and one of the more enjoyable aspects of The Raiders of Atlantis is that you get to see all of these familiar faces together in one movie.
For instance, Christopher Connelly is best known for starring in Lucio Fulci’s ill-fated Manhattan Baby. Tony King gave memorable performances in both The Last Hunter and Cannibal Apocalypse. The cast also features giallo and spaghetti western mainstays George Hilton and Ivan Rassimov, along with Filipino Z-movie veteran Mike Monty. Stefano Mingardo, who appeared in a handful of violent actions films, shows up as an escaped convict and livens up every scene in which he appears. Even Michele Soavi, years before he would direct the brilliant Dellamorte Dellamore, appears in a small role. Unfortunately, George Eastman is nowhere to be found but still, The Raiders of Atlantis is worth seeing for the cast alone.
The Raiders of Atlantis was directed by Ruggero Deodato, who is best known for directing such controversial films as Cannibal Holocaust and The House At The Edge of the Park. Raiders of Atlantis is nowhere close to being as extreme as either one of those films. If anything, it feels like a more violent than usual SyFy movie.
The Raiders of Atlantis has apparently slipped into the public domain and, as of this writing, it’s been uploaded to YouTube. You can watch the trailer below. This trailer not only captures the feel of the film but it also features the film’s enjoyably vapid theme music.
*And why not remake it!? Chris Pratt and Tyrese Gibson could play Mike and Washington.