It is Star Wars month as we move closer and closer to the release of the latest film in the Star Wars franchise. I chose a few weeks back a favorite scene from the very first Star Wars which came out in 1977. This favorite scene is the first of three that make up the three specific scenes I love from Star Wars: A New Hope.
This second favorite scene also shows up in the early part of the film. The first scene I chose showed the wow factor of the space battle and capture of the Rebel Alliance frigate and the introduction of one of filmdom’s greatest and most iconic villains in Darth Vader. This latest chosen scene introduces us to his polar opposite in the young Luke Skywalker on the planet Tatooine.
It’s a scene that focuses on the hope and dreams of a young man stuck in a place he knows he doesn’t belong. He believes that he’s meant to be doing something more important and we find out later on in the film that his feeling is correct. It helps that the scene was helped by the score of one John Williams whose musical track playing in the background — aptly titled “Binary Sunset” — gives it a sense of longing and a promise of a better future.
There was…oh wait, does this sound familiar? Did you just read those two lines and get hit by a sudden feeling of déjà vu? Well, that might be because I used those exact same lines to start my review of the 1965 Italian sci-fi film, The Tenth Victim.
They’re still applicable for this review though. In many ways, the 1984 film Warriors of the Year 2072 (a.k.a. The New Gladiators) is a loose remake of The Tenth Victim. (I imagine some critics would say it’s more of a rip-off than a remake. What you label it will probably depend on how much tolerance you have for Italian exploitation films in general.) Of course, Warriors of the Year 2072 draws inspiration from more than just The Tenth Victim. A Clockwork Orange, Escape From New York, the Mad Max films, Blade Runner; bits and pieces from all of them show up here.
Even if you didn’t already know it, you might be able to guess that this film was directed by Lucio Fulci. The film features Fulci regulars Al Cliver (of Zombi 2 fame) and Howard Ross (of New York Ripper fame) in supporting roles. Cinzia Monreale, who had her throat ripped apart in Fulci’s The Beyond, appears in a cameo in which she again has her throat ripped apart. (Actually, she just hallucinates having her throat ripped apart and is seen alive afterward, as if Fulci himself is saying, “See, it’s all just film trickery. Nobody really gets hurt in my movies.”) Finally, and most obviously, a character graphically loses an eye. It’s simply not a Fulci film without some sort of graphic ocular trauma.
The film also features a theme that would show up in a lot of Fulci’s post-New York Ripper works. Warriors of the Year 2072 is about the role of violent entertainment in both maintaining and destroying society. Which is not to say that the film really has that much to say about it. Thematically, Warriors of the Year 2072 is all surface level but those themes are still present.
As for the film itself, it takes place in the year 2072, so at least the title is being honest with us. The world is now run by competing television networks. The American television network has the highest rated show: Kill Bike, in which men on motorcycles battle to the death. Cortez (Claudio Cassinelli), the program director for Rome-based WBS-TV, is ordered by the station’s owner, the mysterious Sam, to come up with a program that will be more popular than Kill Bike. At first, Cortez tries to put on a show called The Danger Game, where people are forced to hallucinate dying in violent ways. When that show fails to beat Kill Bike, Cortez decided to just rip-off Kill Bike…
And let’s just stop a moment to point out the obvious. Neither The Danger Game nor Kill Bike would feel at all out-of-place on television today. Remember Fear Factor? How different is The Danger Game from that old show?
Anyway, Cortez’s new show is basically Kill Bike with a twist. The motorcycle combat will now take place in the Roman coliseum and the contestants will all be convicted murderers awaiting execution. Fortunately, the very popular star of Kill Bike — Drake (Jared Martin) — has recently been convicted of murder! It’s convenient how that worked out…
As we discover through the magic of slow motion flashbacks, Drake was returning home one night when he discovered that his wife had been murdered by three young men who all appeared to be doing a bad impersonation of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. The three men were then murdered and Drake was convicted. However, Drake insists that he’s innocent and, even when confronted by laughing hallucinations of the three men, he refuses to attack them.
Could it be that someone is framing Drake? Of course! But why…
Well, before we find out the answer to that, we watch as Drake is brought to the coliseum and is trained in gladiatorial battle. He immediately makes an enemy out of the head guard, the sadistic Raven (Howard Ross, who is hilariously over-the-top). He also bonds with the other gladiators, one of whom is named Abdul. Abdul is played by Fred Williamson, largely because it’s not a mid-80s Italian sci-fi dystopia without Fred Williamson.
Warriors of The Year 2072 cannot compare to Fulci at his best. This is no Zombi 2 or The House By The Cemetery. At the same time, it’s definitely better than most of the films that Fulci made after The New York Ripper. Fulci was a supreme stylist and, as a result, Warriors of the Year 2072 is always watchable. Even when you don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on, you still can’t quite bring yourself to look away. Yes, the special effects are nothing special. And yes, it’s obvious that futuristic Rome was just a miniature set. But the cheapness of the film gives it an odd charm. It’s the cheapest future imaginable and somehow, it actually feels appropriate. Why do we always assume the future will be sleek and shiny? Maybe it’ll look like cardboard, like in Warriors Of The Year 2072!
Warriors of the Year 2072 is a campy, frequently silly, and oddly entertaining look at the future of the human race. If you’re a Fulci fan or a lover of Italian exploitation cinema, track it down.
Well, it wouldn’t be right to let a Star Wars month go by without reviewing two of the most infamous Star Wars knockoff movies. This is the Turkish one best known for its training montage. I swear I haven’t heard the theme from Raiders Of The Lost Ark more times in my life then I did watching this movie. The movie is like watching something sci-fi fans in 1982 would have made by mashing together their favorite stuff. The two main things it combines are Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.
A voiceover provides the setup of the movie while it literally shows footage from Star Wars in the background. I’d make a joke here about the effects looking better than the special editions, but I’m not that much of a fan. Oh, and it goes on for quite awhile it seems. Let me try to paraphrase here. People left Earth and scattered across the galaxy. A struggle to discover the secret of immortality ensued. Despite all this talk about people leaving Earth, there is apparently still an Earth tribe. However, then it says Earth was destroyed. Okay, whatever. Wait, maybe I can’t paraphrase this cause it makes NO SENSE!!!!
Okay, all you need to know is here’s Cüneyt Arkin who apparently also wrote the screenplay for this.
After getting shot down by stock footage from Star Wars, they find themselves on a desolate planet with this bad guy who looks like he belongs in a Turkish Flash Gordon movie.
They begin to wander. His friend thinks they might have landed on a planet inhabited by nothing but women. Turkish Captain America thinks he’s a ladies man in this. They see stock footage of the Sphinx, Pyramids, and hieroglyphics. Then the voiceover kicks in saying they were seeing things that look like another civilization that must have fought an unknown power and enemy millions of years ago. This part made me think of Stargate. Of course it doesn’t take long for them to attract some attention from some weird skeleton-like creatures. And this movie doesn’t disappoint. You get to see plenty of Cüneyt Arkin and Turkish Captain America leaping all over the place.
When you’ve fought weird skeleton things, you just gotta follow it up with reject sand people.
Then they spot the people of this planet. There’s this guy…
who jumps off there for reasons I still don’t understand. Now we meet Turkish Robbie The Robot.
Oh, and Turkish Robbie The Robot doesn’t mess around.
After several of these Turkish Mad Max: Fury Road guys…
kill some people, Arkin and his friend decide to really fight. All you need to know is there’s a blonde with a kid that you’ll see throughout the movie and the bad guy from Turkish First Blood and Turkish Rambo is here as their leader.
After a little conversation, their leader drops the bomb on Arkin and his friend.
Yep, the 13th tribe. This is apparently a piece of Earth controlled by “the Wizard”. The Wizard being the Flash Gordon guy.
Since this is by the same director of Turkish First Blood, there are of course zombies for, um, reasons?
A fight ensues and Arkin and company are sent to go to the “Green Valley” cause, well, I have no idea what this line means, but here it is.
Yep, you apparently need strong body and believer head for fighting with Nimrod.
After the bad guy severs the heads of several zombies, he creates Turkish Abominable Snowman.
There’s some weird stuff that happens here with dead bodies, but who cares because…
it’s time to punch some fucking rocks!!!
Here are some highlights.
Not sure why the punching rocks thing happens considering Arkin will get gauntlets later. No, not Turkish Wolverine gauntlets, but gauntlets none the less. However, I do know why this happens.
It’s cause you will see Arkin fly around in this movie a lot. They made good use of trampolines in this film.
Now while this may be gone by the time you read this because of the music used, here is the full scene in all of it’s glory!
I don’t care how they make it happen, but I want to see Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford punch some rocks. Even if it’s just an extra they do on the DVD release. This needs to happen!
Now we go to the Turkish version of the bar scene. No worries about who shot first here because it just leads to a fight breaking out with one of the saddest costumes I’ve ever seen.
There’s also this guy who looks like he got lost on the way to a Turkish Kung Fu movie.
The bad guy shows up to say this…
and take them to his lair. After traveling through some stock footage they arrive.
Turkish Captain America meets this lady who is the queen of the planet, but will play basically no role in the film. Her and the bad guy seem to think the key to ultimate power and immortality is the human brain. After explaining his plan, Arkin gets this look on his face.
Gotta give the man credit. I’ve seen in him several of these now and he does do one of the best “I’m not happy and about to beat the crap out of everyone in the room” look. And he does just that. He even severs a guys arm and stabs him with it.
Badass! Of course people move in on Turkish Captain America and he joins in the fight. Unfortunately, it’s not enough and now we get to a scene that rivals the Black Widow capture and the inclines in Turkish First Blood and Turkish Rambo for the least inconvenient character inconveniences. The bad guy tries to bury them alive. Yeah, that’s going to work with these two guys. Of course it doesn’t and they simply pop back up out of the dirt.
By the way, throughout all of this stuff is the Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Battlestar Galactica, Flash Gordon, and other popular themes on the soundtrack.
Now we’re outside again for who knows what real reason. Doesn’t matter. It means it’s time for Arkin to battle the Snowman by jumping all over the place.
Turkish Captain America gets in on the action, but isn’t very successful and gets captured again.
Now is the time for another exposition dump. This is the first of two sequences that are quite confusing. I am obviously watching this with fan subs so it could be that, but I don’t think so. The leader of the humans tells a story that basically amounts to a sci-fi retelling of how Muslims in Arabia kept science alive while Europe plunged into darkness. He says his people are from “Islam, the greatest tribe and an established community that lived on Earth.” Makes sense, it’s a Turkish movie after all. Well, at least it makes sense at this point in the film. It won’t make sense later though. However, he does say that Muslims are a guardian of religions. I’d think this is just a typo, but given what comes up soon, I’m not sure. It probably has to do with the fact that Islam is the third in the Abrahamic faiths which doesn’t exclude the stuff that came before Mohammed. Christ himself is considered a prophet. It’s most likely a part of this film’s ultimate message of unity and peace among people.
After some fighting and…
a scene that has Turkish Captain America in Turkish A Clockwork Orange, Arkin and blonde go into the tunnels to find the sword of power. This is when we get stuff that I’m really not sure of. Apparently, the faithful went underground with Jesus as their guide. This place includes Christian religious imagery too.
You can kind of think of this as Indy going through a holy place to find something at the end that will help him. Then we get a little backstory on how the Wizard emerged from these people with an obsession for immortality. I’m really not sure if this is supposed to mean the people on the surface were separate from those underground or not. It’s confusing and I would want someone like Ed Glaser who makes a lot of videos about Turkish films to explain it to me.
All that’s really important, which is something often said when talking about Turkish Star Wars, is that Arkin has the sword and is ready to deal out some justice.
Even the Cylons have trouble because Arkin can block bullets with that thing.
After the movie drops it’s English title into the film…
Turkish Captain America just casually knocks out Arkin.
Once again, all you need to know about what happens next is Turkish Captain America gets fooled and Arkin has to come to the rescue. Sadly, Turkish Captain America is killed. Arkin gets the sword of power again and melts it down into gauntlets.
Now the movie just becomes an action sequence with a lot of Arkin jumping. Seriously, I think his jumping rivals the slow motion falling down in Brazilian Star Wars. All of this is going on while Earth is threatened with destruction and I guess is destroyed?
No time for that oddity. Just more action.
After defeating the bad guy, Arkin says goodbye, and flies off in the Millennium Falcon.
That’s it! It really is like watching something that was thrown together by sci-fi fans. It certainly is quite a mess, but a fun mess. A fun mess with some of the best movie scores of the time. Even if they were lifted. I do recommend this. Don’t know if I could watch it again, but it is fun to watch once.
The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics announced their picks for the best of 2015 today. In a move that many are predicting may be imitated by the Academy, they named Spotlight best film while giving director to Mad Max Fury Road‘s George Miller.
I love the Online Film Critics Society, I really do. Every year, when they announce the nominees for their end-of-the-year awards, they always seem to honor the films that truly deserve to be honored. For instance, this year, they found room to not only nominate the Academy front runners — like Spotlight, The Martian, Carol, Brooklyn, and Mad Max — but they also gave nominations to Ex Machina, Sicario, and Inside Out. Ex Machina, Sicario, and Inside Out all deserve to be in the Oscar conversation and hopefully, these nominations will help them stay there.
Here are the nominations from the Online Film Critics Society!
Best Original Screenplay: Ex Machina (Alex Garland) Inside Out (Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley)
Mistress America (Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach) Sicario (Taylor Sheridan) Spotlight (Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy)
George Pal (1908-1980) made movies full of wonder and imagination. The Hungarian born Pal got his start in film by creating “Puppetoons”, stop-motion animated shorts that delighted audiences in the 1930s and 40s (my personal favorites are JOHN HENRY and TUBBY THE TUBA). Some of these featured the character Jasper, a stereotyped black child always getting in some sort of trouble. Pal saw Jasper as closer in spirit to Huckleberry Finn than Stepin Fetchit, but by 1949 he abandoned the “Puppetoons” altogether to concentrate on producing features, beginning with THE GREAT RUPERT, a Christmas fantasy starring Jimmy Durante. Pal produced a string of sci-fi hits in the early 50s (DESTINATION MOON, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, CONQUEST OF SPACE), and began directing his films with 1958’s “tom thumb”. Having had his biggest success with the H.G. Wells adaptation WAR OF THE WORLDS, Pal produced and directed another Wells classic, the sci-fi/fantasy masterpiece THE TIME…
Awards season continues! Earlier today, the African-American Film Critics Association announced their picks for the best of 2015! They named Straight Outta Compton best picture and gave their best director award to Ryan Coogler for Creed.
Check out all of the awards below!
Best Picture: “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
Best Director: Ryan Coogler – “Creed” (Warner Bros.)
Best Ensemble: “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
Best Actor: Will Smith – “Concussion” (Sony)
Best Actress: Teyonah Parris – “Chi-Raq” (Roadside Attractions)
Best Supporting Actor: Jason Mitchell – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
Best Supporting Actress: Tessa Thompson – “Creed” (Warner Bros.)
Best Independent Film: “Chi-Raq” (Roadside Attractions)
Best Screenplay: Rick Famuyiwa – “Dope” (Open Road Films)
Breakout Performance: Michael B. Jordan – “Creed” (Warner Bros.)
Best Animation: “The Peanuts Movie” (20th Century Fox)
Best Documentary: “A Ballerina’s Tale” (Sundance Selects)
Best Song: “See You Again” – Furious 7 (Atlantic Records)
Best TV Comedy: “Black-ish” (ABC)
Best TV Drama: “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)
Best Cable/New Media TV Show: “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz)
In honor of science fiction month, check out some of these vintage sci-fi covers from Planet Comics. Planet Comics was first published in 1940 and, after 73 issues, it ceased publication in 1953. As can be seen in the covers featured above and below, Planet Comics told stories of manly men rescuing gorgeous women from bug-eyed aliens and fiendish space pirates.
By Dan Zolnerowich
By Joe Doolin
By Joe Doolin
The next three covers are by Lily Renee, one of the few female artists from the Golden Age of pulp fiction.