“World Gone Wild!? What’s that about?”
Don’t ask me. I just watched the movie and I’m not particularly sure what the point of it all was. Released in 1987, World Gone Wild is one of those films that was made to capitalize on the post-apocalypse boom of the 70s and 80s. Basically, imagine a Mad Max film that sucks and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what World Gone Wild is like.
There’s been a nuclear war. Civilization has collapsed and now, there are just tiny outposts of humanity who are trying to survive. It hasn’t rained in decades. Old-timer Ethan (Bruce Dern) is in charge of a town called Lost Wells. He remembers what rain was like and he also remembers what rock music used to sound like, too. As for Lost Wells, it’s one of those dreary little desert communities that always tend to pop up in movies like this. Angie (Catherine Mary Stewart) teaches the community’s children in an abandoned school bus. They have a bunch of books on etiquette. One little girl can recite every word ever written by Emily Post. That gets annoying fast. Emily Post didn’t live on a school bus in the desert.
That etiquette doesn’t do much good when it comes to protecting Lost Wells from Derek Abernathy (Adam Ant), a cult leader who dresses in all-white and who wants to take control of Lost Wells away from Ethan. (In a somewhat clever twist, it turns out that Ethan learned how to become a cult leader by reading a book about Charles Manson.) Knowing that the majority of the people in his town are too obsessed with Emily Post to fight off Derek and his army, Ethan recruits a group of mercenaries led by George Landon ( who is played by Michael Pare, who looks like he was absolutely miserable while shooting this movie). George and his men agree to protect Lost Wells from Derek and, in the process, they regain some of their lost humanity and they start to believe in the possibility of rain. Or something like that. Fortunately, one of George’s mercenaries is played by the supercool character actor Anthony James. He doesn’t get to do much but hey, it’s still Anthony James and Bruce Dern in the same movie! Yay!
For a film called World Gone Wild, this is a strangely low-key affair. Even the most unimpressive of Mad Max rip-offs will usually have an exciting car chase or two. At the very least, there’s usually a big battle where people sacrifice their lives for the future of humanity. In World Gone Wild, the mercenaries pretty much just go to Lost Wells and then wait for Derek to come back. And when Derek returns, there’s a few explosions and some gunfire but that’s pretty much it. Neither side really puts up much of a fight, which leads me to wonder if Derek really even cared about Lost Wells.
On the plus side, the film has got Bruce Dern, doing his wild-eyed old-timer bit. That’s always fun to watch and, if nothing else, Dern appears to be having fun in this movie. At the very least, he’s having more fun that Michael Pare and Catherine Mary Stewart, both of whom seem to spend the majority of the movie looking for a way to make a quick escape. And I suppose the film does win some novelty points for casting Adam Ant as the main villain, even though Derek ultimately turns out to be not much of a threat.
In the end, World Gone Wild‘s greatest strength is Bruce Dern. He’ll make you believe in the rain again.