Atlantis Interceptors (1983)
By: Mr Intolerance on November 10, 2011  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Analog Man can not live on DVD and Blu-ray alone. In this ongoing column we blow the dust off our VCR's and travel back to an ancient time where VHS tapes ruled the earth. Our mission? To re-discover those forgotten gems that are yet to receive the digitally enhanced 7.1 channel surround sound treatment...

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Stars: Christopher Connelly, Marie Fields, Tony King, Mike Miller, Ivan Rassimov, John Blade, Bruce Baron, George Hilton
Screnplay: Vincent Mannino, Robert Gold
Country: Italy
External Links
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You mention the name Ruggero Deodato to most people who are into cult films and they'd say, "Oh, isn't he the filth-monger who made Cannibal Holocaust?" And, well, they'd be right. But that's doing the infamous Italian director a great disservice, as he has actually made a whole load of top-notch films spanning a wide range of genres – action/adventure (Cut and Run), polizia (Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man) and this, his post-apocalyptic opus Atlantis Interceptors (aka Raiders of Atlantis, which was maybe an attempt to capitalise on a certain film from about the same time starring a certain bull-whip cracking, fedora hat-wearing archaeologist). One thing that Deodato always brought to the screen, especially in his hey-day, was a visceral raw edge, a nasty, brutish violence which always seems at odds with his somewhat more urbane persona, when you see him interviewed.

Now Atlantis Interceptors came out at the height of the Italian post-apocalyptic boom of the early 80s, a bunch of movies (and more of them than you think) making the most out of the success of films like Escape From New York and Mad Max 2, and pretty much right off the back of Deodato's meisterwerk Cannibal Holocaust – does it live up to such stiff competition? Well, yes and no. It's obviously nowhere as bleak and grim as his own previous film, and it doesn't play as straight as the other two aforementioned films, but will you watch it and have a grand old time? Fo' shizzle, ma nizzle.

Set in Miami, Florida, in 1994 (I love a film that's set in the future that's now our past – let me see your hi-tech...), we get the film opening to a bunch of unconnected stock footage of the city, with an emphasis on the harbour – and what is quite possibly the worst theme song ever heard by mortal ears. Our two protagonists, one white, Mike, one black, variously Washington or Mohammed (depending on who's talking to him), are kidnappers and general ne'er-do-wells, and they're into the action just as quickly as you could hope, kicking arse and stealing some old dude from a house that looks more like the place Pink Floyd did that concert film from in the late 60s, for a great big wadge of loot. Do they have a propensity for violence? You'd better believe it, suckah! So, like all of Deodato's heroes, their morality is dubious to say the least.

Mike and Washington take it on the lam for a while, getting a boat and heading for Trinidad, but things never work out so well for the heroes of post-apoc films. Oh yeah – the apocalypse hasn't actually happened yet, that's still in the wings, waiting for the right moment to occur, and it ain't no post-nuclear armageddon, either, no, it's much crappier than that. A helicopter that buzzed our boys beforehand lands on a platform in the middle of the Carribean, loaded down with a saucy archaeologist – immediately the audience starts to think, "Hmm, why would a boobalicious egg-head be taken out to the middle of nowhere to what appears to be a military operation?" We're smart folks, us exploitation fans.

A relic has been found, some 12,000 years old, by the fellas on the platform, and saucy Dr Cathy Rollins is on deck to decipher its mysteries, and the rig they're on just happens to be on the course Mike and Washington happened to be on, on their way to the West Indies. Dr Rollins seems to think that the relic tells of the whereabouts of Atlantis, geeky Dr Sanders seems a little perturbed by this, for no readily apparent reason, and is a little consumed by his own job, investigating a Russian nuclear sub that went down in the same post-code as the rig they're on, and which the US government wants raised to the surface.

Meanwhile, back in Miami, the sky is growing increasingly dark, some dude has decided it's time to don a rather unconvincing see-through plastic death's head mask and a bunch of dudes who look suspiciously like extras from Enzo Castellari's 1990: The Bronx Warriors have turned up astride motorbikes to ruin everybody's day. Y'see, the folks on board the off-shore rig haven't just raised the Russian sub, they've also raised Atlantis, that mythical city of the deep. And rise it does, covered with a transparent dome, with all the majesty of an up-turned fishbowl rising from a bathtub. Yep, the special effects are that good.

The use of miniatures at this point makes a Margheriti film look like a masterpiece. Anyway, that anti-climactic moment over and done with, our gang, Mike, Washington and the crew from the ruined rig (including Italian exploitation mainstay Ivan Rassimov, as chopper pilot Bill Ross) rescued by our vagabond ne'er-do-wells make a move back to Miami. But things aren't exactly as they left 'em...

Matter of fact, the open sea looks like a much more inviting place, as opposed to somewhere where bodies are strung up by the thumbs and left to hang and rot, and where burning cars litter the streets. Manuel, Mike's manservant has taken a peculiar turn and shown a rather predatory interest in Cathy, but not in the way you're thinking – she's of some importance to the folks of the risen Atlantis and their followers, and while he doesn't want to kill Mike, he will, if it gets him closer to absconding with the bodacious Cathy. Unfortunately, this is the moment that The Bronx Warriors...I mean, the Atlantis Interceptors, choose to turn up. When you're watching this, you know that violence is in your immediate future. These guys and gals look like they should be on the back of a float at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but they mean the business. Enzo Castellari, eat your nob off – in terms of post-apocalyptic homo-erotic bad guys, the Atlantis Interceptors are the most obviously gay-looking. Bad-ass they are not. Candy-ass they may well be.

It's time for Mike and his rag-tag bunch of misfits to find a way out of the mess they've landed themselves in; a siege, basically – attacked by the Village People. Night of the Living Dead this is not. Some neat gore effects later and our crew, minus one or two members, find themselves in an urban hell that I thought at first was a foundry, scavenging for weapons – luckily enough they come across a whole mess of fire-arms and ammunition. Cue: a pretty good action scene, with much gunfire, and not a few Molotov cocktails being hurled about. The dude in the plastic Death's Head mask looks less than impressed at the performance of his soldiers in their failed attempts to capture Cathy.

Mike and the gang move to some new digs, but those pesky post-apocalyptic hordes seem to keep following them everywhere they go, and the dude with the crap mask, who seems to be some kind of riff on The Humungus from Mad Max 2, alludes to the fact that the folks who live in Atlantis aren't too keen on us surfaces dwellers, and want the earth cleansed of our presence. Cue: another action scene! Huzzah! The fun just keeps on coming, laden with bullets and explosions – no-one ever accused Deodato of being a subtle director.

Mike and the gang retreat, despite having laid waste to the Interceptors, bombarded with gas-bombs. That siege-mentality just keeps on getting stronger, as the Interceptors keep on trying to, well, intercept them. Cathy is eventually captured – hey, come on, it was inevitable, and an obvious plot-device – and then it's up to Mike and the gang to try and save her. And the lead just keeps on flying...

We even get a car-chase a la Mad Max 2, with folks leaping from a helicopter onto the bus that Mike and the gang are in. Does the tension mount? You'd better believe it does – this is, despite the appalling soundtrack, one of Deodato's better efforts. And amidst a hail of gunfire – and a pretty sweet action scene with loads of bullets and explosions – our heroes, such as they are, head off to Atlantis to rescue Cathy. And that's about the point I should leave you; amidst the hail of gunfire from weaponry that has no end in a movie that you really ought to see for sheer entertainment value alone. It's an absolute hoot, and no mistake.

Atlantis Interceptors is a real hoot; an absolute whale of a time. One of Deodato's best efforts, it certainly ranks up there with the best of the Italian post-apocalyptic films, and is well worth your searching out. This is the kind of film that you need to watch with a bunch of mates and a case of beer – believe me, it'll make the experience that little bit sweeter.
Movie Score
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