Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hubrisween 2016 :: R is for The Raiders of Atlantis (1983)

Okay, Boils and Ghouls, try and wrap your heads around this six-pack of pure whackadoodlery as somewhere off the coast of Florida, clandestine efforts to raise a swamped Russian submarine by the CIA uncover some strange and ancient artifacts on the ocean floor. And so, they bring in (under protest) Dr. Cathy Rollins (Scola), an archeologist, who identifies them as most probably originating from the lost continent of Atlantis. 

And then, when an attempt to re-float the sub goes staggeringly awry, the radiation leaking from the sub’s contingent of nuclear missiles triggers the now no longer dormant, and no longer lost island of Atlantis to rise from the water and surface, destroying the platform the operation was working from.

This catastrophe, in turn, activates a signal somewhere inside the domed island to the mainland, activating a horde of Atlantean sleeper agents / Road Warrior cosplayers, who lay waste to the Keys and most of southern Florida, who come into direct conflict with a trio of soldiers of fortune (Connelly, King, Rassimov), the archeologist, and several other survivors of the doomed sub expedition and whatever stragglers they manage to pick up after they land in what little is left of Little Havana. And from there, wind up in a fight for the lives. *whew* Got all of that? Good.

Now, I think the reason Atlantis sunk in the first place was due to a backfiring “Solarnite” solution to end a long and bloody civil war between the parentage of that gang of slaughtering marauders and some ancient astronaut science professors. And now, the leader of these Mad Max-wannabes (Baron) are after Dr. Rollins because, apparently, she deciphered an Atlantean Rosetta Stone, which will unlock the secret to all that ancient and deadly technology, which will allow the sons of Atlantis to once more rule the world. That is, if the world-ending fail-safe doomsday device doesn’t activate first to prevent these renegades from getting their hands on it first too also.

Fair warning, The Raiders of Atlantis (1983) -- a/k/a Atlantis Inferno a/k/a Atlantis Interceptors, is nowhere near as coherent as I’m making it out to be as most of that summation is based on conjecture and conjecture alone. See, after an opening reel that will leave your eyes spinning as your brain tries to process just what in the hell is going on, the film settles into a pretty creepy groove as the survivors make their way through the burnt out, corpse-ridden streets and razed buildings (-- special shout-out to the scene with a ghostly strung-up corpse that keeps swinging into a jukebox, causing it to skip and play the same snippet over and over again, drawing our heroes in to make the grisly discovery), and have several running gonzo firefights with the raiders -- finding a handy Rite-Aid stocked to the gills with weapons, ammo, and plenty of store-brand liquor for Molotov cocktails.

The thing is, the film is actually better when it’s making no damned sense at all. Directed by “Roger Franklin” -- one of the many pseudonyms of Ruggero Deodato, the film’s still several notches above your usual, run of the mill Italian Road Warrior / post-apocalyptic knock-off. While growing up in Italy, Deodato was close friends with the son of Roberto Rossellini and, spurned on by his love of cinema, went to work for his friend’s father. This led to a lot of assistant directing gigs for Rossellini and several other spaghetti-genre stalwarts; the sci-fi nuttery of Antonio Margheriti [The Wild, Wild Planet trilogy (1966)] and the brutal westerns of Sergio Corbucci [Django (1966), Navajo Joe (1966). And feeling he was ready to take the helm on his own, Margheriti gave his protege a push by quitting on Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964), which earned Deodato an uncredited promotion.

And after helming a few more features, Deodato focused on directing television for most of the 1970s until a nasty divorce sent him spiraling into a very dark place, which sent him off into the jungle for a string of highly controversial cannibal atrocity films [Jungle Holocaust (1977), Cannibal Holocaust (1980)], where the director seemed hell-bent on competing with Umberto Lenzi [Eaten Alive (1980), Cannibal Ferox (1981)], who inspired this notorious genre-offshoot with Man from Deep River (1972), to see who could out-snuff and out-gross each other the most both onscreen and at the box-office.

After that, Deodato tried his hand at an American slasher movie with House on the Edge of the Park (1980), his unofficial sequel to Last House on the Left (1972). And then, perhaps looking for a change of pace, the director latched on to direct this flick; an oddball combination of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Road Warrior (1981) and The Bermuda Triangle (1978), with several signature Deodato touches of flare that, somewhat surprisingly, come off as oddly sanitized.

There’s some amazing stunts and a couple of groovy kills, including one full body burn that is downright disturbing in a ‘how the hell did they pull that off without someone dying’ and a nifty decapitation sequence; but considering how many people are gunned down the film is practically bloodless with nary a squib detonation, which is strange when considering the gruesome reputation of the man in charge. Then again, with that large a body-count, this might have been due to budget concerns.

Admittedly, the last third of the film is mostly wheel-spinning as it turns into an Indiana Jones pastiche while the group tries to rescue the kidnapped Collins off the booby-trapped island of Atlantis itself, and the climax makes no sense whatsoever. Thus and so, The Raiders of Atlantis is completely bonkers and a hoot to watch. It gets kind of repetitive as wave after of wave of goons are gunned down, but trying to piece together the plot is half the fun, earning itself a hearty recommendation from me. 

What is Hubrisween? This is Hubrisween. And now, Boils and Ghouls, be sure to follow this linkage to keep track of the whole conglomeration of reviews for Hubrisween right here. Or you can always follow we collective head of knuckle on Letterboxd. That's 18 down with eight to go! Also, CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! OMIGOD THE CUBS WIN!

The Raiders of Atlantis (1983) Regency Productions :: Regal Films :: Prism Entertainment / EP: Maurizio Amati / AP: Alex Tiu / D: Ruggero Deodato / W: Tito Carpi, Vincenzo Mannino / C: Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli / E: Vincenzo Tomassi / M: Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis / S: Christopher Connelly, Gioia Scola, Tony King, Ivan Rassimov, George Hilton, Bruce Baron

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