Scream Factory takes on Italian exploitation with their Blu-ray of the post-apocalyptic EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000.
In the year 3000, nuclear bombs have depleted the ozone, resulting in a water shortage that has made the life-giving resource a premium. With their own supply dwindling and the few animals and plant samples dying off, the surviving populace of a city are beginning to lose faith in their senator (Eduardo Fajardo, DJANGO) who has sent out one of his men with a tanker in search of water. When the man fails to return after a week, his biologist wife Linda (Anna Orso, GENTLEMAN KILLER) and son Tommy (Luca Venantini, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) worry that something has happened to him while others think he has found water and abandoned them. The senator reluctantly John (Luca's father Venantino Venantini, THE BEAST IN SPACE) decides to go in search of water with a tanker and two armed cars, and Tommy smuggles himself aboard. When they are ambushed by Crazy Bull (Fernando Bilbao, THE RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN) – "Charge! Once more into the breach, you mother-grubbers! Let's purloin that water!" – and his band of exterminators, John entrusts Tommy with the map to an underground spring before he is killed. Wandering through the desert, Tommy happens upon ex-gang member Alien (Robert Iannucci, YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE) trapped in the wreck of a police car after having his own souped-up exterminator car stolen. Tommy rescues him in exchange for finding him a tanker so he can find he water source and take the supply back to his people. Alien has every intention of welching on the agreement, even throwing Tommy and his secret to Crazy Bull and his gang to escape them, but sees dollar signs when he realizes Tommy is telling the truth. Alien plans to double cross Tommy after he leads him to the water, but he finds opposition not only from Crazy Bull, mutants and death traps protecting the water, as well as Alien's ex-girlfriend Trash (Alicia Moro, SLUGS: THE MOVIE) who wants revenge on him and has come to share Tommy's ideals for the future of the Earth.
Director Giuliano Carnimeo was a journeyman filmmaker who got his start in spaghetti westerns (EXTERMINATORS was shot in Almeria where many of the westerns were shot) – usually under the name Anthony Ascott – and dabbled in action, sexploitation, giallo, and horror, often with middling results like the dreadful RATMAN. EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000, on the other hand, is a very entertaining rip-off of MAD MAX with the usual desert car chases, gunplay, and pyrotechnics, as well as some comic relief that is actually chuckle-worthy. Despite the usual uneven dubbing – with familiar voice actors like Edward Mannix, Susan Spafford, and Pat Starke – the story remains compelling if not exactly original, with even Venantini the younger turning in a more moving secondary lead performance than his less demanding work as the terrorized youths in CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE; although the scoring of MIAMI GOLEM's Detto Mariano which depends on a simple spaghetti western-esque leit motif goes a long way. Alan Collins/Luigi Pigozzi (BARON BLOOD) is on hand as a former astronaut turned Mr. Fixit Papillon for all things biomechanical while the always fetching Beryl Cunningham (THE SNAKE GOD) plays Crazy Bull's spike-gloved second-in-command. Italian daredevil driver/stunt coordinator Sergio Mioni (STUNT SQUAD) and his son Riccardo (JEWEL OF THE NILE) have small roles while stuntman Geoffredo Unger (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE) served as assistant director. The cinematography of Alejandro Ulloa (HORROR EXPRESS) is occasionally striking but free of the diffusion that made other works by him sometimes atmospheric (THE CRAVING/NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF) and other times gauzy (CONQUEST). The film was produced by Camillo Teti (THE KILLER IS STILL AMONG US) and Ugo Tucci (Fulci's ZOMBIE) who got their start as production managers on ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE (they would both produce Walerian Borowczyk's THE ART OF LOVE the same year).
Theatrically released stateside by New Line Cinema in 1985, EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 made its VHS bow via Thorn/EMI and again in the nineties by New Line Home Video. Code Red released the film on DVD in 2010 in a "Post-Apocalyptic Edition" utilizing the fullscreen tape master but adding on an audio commentary with star Robert Iannucci, as well as an interview with the actor, a theatrical trailer and TV spots. Scream Factory's Blu-ray features a 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that appears to accurately render the film's deliberately restrained color scheme with reds (bloodshed and digital displays) standing out nicely against the more muted wardrobe and set design (the disc's interview featurette ported over from the Code Red disc should give viewers an idea of how earlier transfers looked). The mono audio is finely rendered in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Whereas earlier transfers of the film have superimposed their credits over shots of the post-apocalyptic landscape and the opening action, the new HD transfer features the credits over a one minute and ten second black screen before the opening shots and scenes as if the technicians transferred the high contrast title elements and did not attempt to digitally overlay them over the intended sequence. Nothing seems to be missing (unlike some foreign tape releases of Italian films where the titles were printed on black and the scenes over which they were meant to appear sometimes lopped out).
Extras are all ported over from the DVD edition starting with the audio commentary with Iannucci, moderated by Code Red's Bill Olsen. The commentary is preceded by a minute of silence since the titles appear ahead of the film rather than over the opening scenes. The commentary gets off to an aggravating start with Olsen saying that other releases of post-nuke Italian movies did not sell well, and that he is putting this one out to prove it. He spends much of the track making fun of things while Iannucci tries to focus on the details including the cars, the stunts and effects (and their safety), although he admits that in some scenes he was just following the script rather than having a clear concept of the character's motivations and character arc. Olsen remarks that Carnimeo is better known for westerns and sex films than action, and that the film is "messed up" in that it has a sort of western feel (although that cross-pollination of genres is what often makes Italian exploitation interesting).
The featurette "Boogie Down with the Alien" is an interview with actor Iannucci (17:42) which is more informative than the commentary (or at least more concise in relating background on the film). The Ohio-born actor recalls that the Italian production company contacted his agent because of his Calvin Klein print work, and that there was no audition for the part. Since all of the performers would be dubbed anyway, Carnimeo did not care that the English dialogue was not always grammatical. The language barrier prevented him from interacting with much of the cast, and that his agent advised him to pull a power move to ensure that he would actually get paid the remainder of his salary. He mentions being offered another Italian film but was finishing school at the time (the interview's editors suggest the film was AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK). He currently has a small custom sportswear line. Also included are the film's theatrical trailer (3:51) and two TV spots (0:30 + 0:10). The cover art reproduces the international poster art (also seen on the Thorn/EMI VHS) while the interior includes stills and a reproduction of the Australian poster). (Eric Cotenas)
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