"We're both so messed up. I don't know which one of us is worse."
- Duane Bradley, Basket Case

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She-Wolves of the Wasteland: Guy and Dolls

Usually I try to start my reviews with a small introduction or amusing story, but given the serious subject matter of today's film, I'm cutting right to the chase. Three very important observations occurred to me as I watched James Emery's character in She-Wolves of the Wasteland (Phoenix the Warrior):

1. Emery bares an uncanny resemblance to Walton Goggins (best known for his role as Shane on The Shield, one of the greatest television dramas of all time), if Walton Goggins grew an incredible mustache.
2. All of the women characters have cool, intimidating names like Cobalt, T-Bird and Neon, and his name is Guy. What gives?
3. Why are all men in most of these post-apocalyptic movies so adamantly against being sex slaves? Besides Guy, you could also cite Sam Hell from Hell Comes to Frogtown as a perfect example. Both of them make numerous attempts to escape captivity from females, and Sam even gets strapped with an explosive codpiece to deter him from fleeing. I'm all for the Bill of Rights, but would a life of "breeding" with beautiful women really be that bad of a future, especially considering the alternative? It's not like they have any male friends to complain about their wives, watch sports and drink beer with anymore - they're literally the last of their kind.

In terms of the movie itself, it's a fairly so-so entry in the genre. I'm a fan of most of them, ranging from the low-budget spaghetti 1990: Bronx Warriors and 2019: After the Fall of New York, to the classics such as the Mad Max trilogy, and the more recent but excellent Neil Marshall's Doomsday. I love the dystopic-punk asethetic that these films share; I'd like to think I too would sport a purple mohawk, eyeliner and leather chaps if I ever survived the end of the world.

In a nutshell, SWOTW follows Phoenix (Kathleen Kinmont - Halloween 4, Bride of Re-Animator) and Keela, two women trying to protect the latter's newborn son and avoid the evil clutches of the Reverend Mother, a nasty old broad who enslaves an entire population of girls and uses the strength or energy or something of babies for her own personal power (I think). Along the way, the duo encounters the aforementioned Guy, TV-worshipping scavengers, and of course, hordes of scantily-clad ladies that want them dead.

Like most B-movies, I have a soft spot for them - even if they aren't particularly good. I have trouble giving a thumbs down to any film with a gratuitous waterfall sequence, especially when the participants get murdered immediately afterwards. Following the first third of the movie, there's an inexplicable five-year interval of time that passes; yet, nothing at all in terms of story has changed besides the fact that the kid looks a little older. Maybe the producers didn't want to deal with a crying infant on set and added it into the script midway through the shoot.

But like I said, for all of the goofiness, it's still a decent - if not generic - outing. It has the often ripped-off Beyond Thunderdome scenes, but there's a reason gladiator fights are constantly copied; it's always exciting to see two opponents square off to the death in a circle full of weapons. Who cares if it isn't original? It's still fun. Hell, here's another example: Reverend Mother's righthand woman, Cobalt, collects the ears of her victims. If that's not fun, I don't know what is.

The acting leaves a lot to be desired (even Kinmont appears to phone it in), although the above average set design and costumes make up for it, helping you to ignore the horrid line delivery of most of the actresses. In terms of structure, SWOTW mostly consists of chase scene, fight, chase scene, then repeat, but it maintains a healthy dose of skin and violence to keep the pace rolling. It had a few lulls, but the silly explosions and special effects scattered throughout kept me from glancing at my watch every few minutes.

One last note about Guy that I wanted to save until the end because I suppose it's a minor spoiler; I found it particularly hilarious that he becomes a fairly important character going into the final act of the movie, then is virtually forgotten and ignored for the last 15 minutes. What becomes of our beloved anti-hero? We never learn of his fate, though I'd like to think following the events of the film, he went back to his now-destroyed shack and sat by himself in the rubble, soaking in the radiation and realizing he had it made when all he had to do was enjoy his imprisonment and have sex with hot chicks everyday.

Maybe my girlfriend is right - guys are retarded.

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