2019: After The Fall of New York (1983)
By: Mr Intolerance on September 24, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Shriek Show (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 96 minutes
The Movie
Director: Sergio Martino
Starring: Michael Sopkiw, Valentine Monier, Roman Geer, George Eastman
Screenplay: Julian Berry, Sergio Martino
Country: Italy
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Sergio Martino's riff on Escape From New York, 2019: After The Fall of New York is a fine example of the Italian post-apocalyptic genre, and another string to the bow of this rather versatile director, probably better known for his giallo flicks such as Case of the Scorpion's Tail.

Set against a cardboard cut-out New York skyline (seriously, look at it), the basic story here is that of mercenary Parsifal (named after the Arthurian knight of the same name – he had to retrieve the Grail, to bring the land back to life – rather heavy-handed on the symbolism) – a Snake Plissken wannabe if I ever saw one (and what male growing up in the eighties didn't want to be Snake Plissken? I even had Kurt Russell's mullet) - who's sent into New York to discover the last fertile woman alive, all other women having been rendered infertile after the nuclear holocaust.

The opening credits show us a model of the decaying New York that wouldn't be out of place in Thunderbirds, albeit a slightly more gothic version, and rather inexplicably, a man playing a trumpet. Then, because the producers think we're thick, or possibly because of a shortfall in the screenplay, we get the following voiceover:

"Since the nuclear holocaust, twenty years have passed. The leader of the Eurac monarchy, the powerful Euro-Afro-Asian unity who pressed the fatal button, claims to have won the conflict. But planet Earth has been reduced to a garbage-strewn radioactive desert inhabited by humans devoid of all hope for a future. Radiation could not have been worse. A few deformed creatures developed in the immediate post-war period, then…nothing. For nearly 15 years now, not one human child has been born. New York City: a huge pile of waste and rubble is under the control of a Eurac military force. With the help of mercenary hunters, the Euracs are, with deadly efficiency, steadily exterminating the locals, and using the healthy ones for every conceivable kind if genetic experiment in a desperate attempt to find the key to survival, to the continuance, of the human race."

Grim stuff, eh? Basically, we're fucked! The Eurac soldiers look like camp Kendo instructors with their facemasks and capes, but they certainly don't fuck about when killing off the locals with their laser-crossbows (oh yes), and their mercenary hunters are equally vicious, armed with flamethrowers and any nasty spiked instrument they can get their hands on. Cue: carnage.

We suddenly skip to the Nevada desert on the same day for a bit of Deathrace 2000 action, with our boy Parsifal in his car, the Exterminator. The cars are decked out in an almostThe Cars That Ate Paris-style with spikes, cannons and armour – think Mad Max 2 on crack. There's an odd kind of faux-medievalism on display here, mirroring that of the horse-riding Euracs, with the use of personal armour, too, but I guess that just emphasises the Arturian vibe you establish by naming your hero Parsifal. Parsifal wins, of course, just to prove to the audience what a hard-arse he is. Martino certainly doesn't stint on the action here. It's a good thing. As a matter of fact it's kind of like the movie is being directed for people with the attention span of a goldfish, and it works fine in that way. The clown that hands out the rewards for the death-match is creepy. Real creepy.

Bored with that action, Parsifal (who has an uneasy resemblance to Tom Cruise, if he let himself go a bit) fucks off on his three-wheeler with Flower, the girl he won for killing the other dudes. The bad guys turn up (you can actually see the wires holding their aircraft up! Ed Wood would be proud), and Parsifal is captured, bushwhacked by some real arseholes.

We inexplicably move locations to Alaska (although it looks more like Antarctica…). Parsifal has been kidnapped by the Pan-American Confederacy, the enemy of Eurac, and they want him to get to New York City to find the last fertile woman alive. Why Alaska? Because it's the least contaminated of all the areas in America. Snake, I mean Parsifal, is given his mission, along with two sidekicks and sent off to do the dirty-work of the PAC. It's worth pointing out that Parsifal is no Snake Plissken, and his superior is no Lee Van Cleef. The carrot for our boy? A ticket on a spaceship off of Earth headed for Alpha Centauri, to start the human race anew. That or death, anyway. Parsifal rather obviously chooses to do the job.

Our homeboys infiltrate the Big Apple via the sewers, and the fight scenes begin again. Huzzah! I hate being made to wait. Various problems ensue for our boys, and then: enter the Rat King in one of those wonderful "what the fuck" moments we all crave. And then let's all eat some dead rat  - yum-yum! The rat-killers are raided by the Eurac narcs and our boys find their job that little bit more difficult. There's some trademark Martino ultra-nasty around this point – it's all goodness.

So then, it becomes an escape movie, with Parsifal trying to get the kids out of the lair of the Euracs. I love a good shoot-out. And there's the added bonus of never knowing "is the woman fertile or not"? In other words, is the whole process worthwhile? The Euracs seem to think so, and spend their time trying to get Parsifal and his crew, big time.

And then we get the surprise (and he literally comes out of nowhere) entrance of everybody's favourite exploitation star, George Eastman as the half man, half gorilla Big Ape. That's right folks, we have a character called Big Ape – how cool is that? Big Ape runs a camp of half-men/half-gorillas just like him (some more gorilla than his rather feeble appliance make-up would indicate), also opposed to the Euracs. And when they go on the run from the Euracs, all bets are off.

When our gang find the fertile woman, she's encased in some kind of carbon-freeze, and the only way they have to get her out of there and back to civilisation is… a station wagon! Oh, the humanity… But Big Ape has other ideas. So we end up with the lusty desires of a man/ape hybrid, Parsifal's orders, or the evil machinations of the Euracs. Who will win? Who will succeed? Watch the mother-licker and find out.     
The 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 tranefer is good without being great. Clear without being crystal. Yeah it's in its OAR and all, but it shows its age at times.
English 5.1 and stereo tracks are provided, but what the fuck is with all the crackle and pop? The video is pretty good, but Jesus Fucking Franco, the soundtrack is abominable. Can somebody give Shriek Show a boot in the arse for giving us something so awful?
Extra Features
A staggeringly small package to the point of being completely underwhelming. There are interviews with Sergio Martino, George Eastman and Hal Yamanouchi and then there's the original theatrical trailer and an art gallery. That's it. I've come to expect a little more than that from Shriek Show – this just seemed, well, lazy. The interviews are interesting – Martino seems almost bitter that Italian cinema fell behind the US technology-wise, Eastman's amnesia about his own career is amusing, Yamanouchi seems to be maybe taking the whole thing a bit too seriously – but it's not what you'd call essential.   
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
A great film – hugely entertaining – hampered slightly by the awful soundtrack. Of all of the post-apocalyptic films I've seen, it makes the least use of slow-motion action scenes and homo-eroticism (probably because Enzo G Castellari isn't directing it…), so for that reason alone I'm giving it a high score. Otherwise the entire genre could be seen as being about a bunch of leather bummer-boys, and that would be churlish.

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