I suppose you can blame Barbara Bach for tonight's line up. It was only a few weeks ago that we did Bach To Bach Night, whose Island of the Fishmen had a definitely fishy Atlantis element to it. And the boys were right, it just didn't seem like a proper Atlantis movie without the legendary Doug McClure in there somewhere, so I felt compelled to oblige.
That's the story behind Warlords of Atlantis anyway, Raiders of Atlantis is a different kettle of fish. Directed by our old friend Ruggero Deodato, it's one of those films that I'd heard about, eventually got, watched about half after coming home late one night, laughed all the way through, duly ejected the disc and placed it in the that's for Zombie Club then pile on my shelf. And it looks like today's the day.
This Zombie Club is brought to you by Jim in association with the Super-Instamatic Barb-o-tron scultpo-helmet from Atlantohair, everyone's favourite hair salon beneath the Sea
Warlords of Atlantis (1978)
Plot Doug McClure, Cliff from Cheers, that bloke from The Spy Who Loved Me and a big rubber octopus.
Jim "I'm right back there, 12 years old, brilliant!" announced Zomblee, and how right he was. Welcome to the days of high adventure, where this time a big 70s haired Doug McClure ("and he's got rather robust sideburns," - Zomblee) is on a nautical expedition with his buddy Charlie, Charlie's professor dad, and assorted crew members including Cliff from Cheers, the guy who plays the Captain of the submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me (hence forth labeled Spy Who Loved Me Guy) and, of course, a token cabin boy, ("Cabin boys by rule are not allowed to wear shoes." - Rawshark). And the purpose of this voyage is to test out Doug's new deep see diving bell, which has a hole in the bottom, although that's apparently okay (Doug demos this to Spy Who Loved Me Guy by chucking his coffee off the side of the boat and then holding his mug upside down. Go figure).
Naturally, things don't go to plan. On their first dive Doug and Charlie stumble upon a large golden totem pole thing which, when hoisted back up the boat, causes an instant mutiny. The mutineers promptly shoot the professor and cut the cables to the diving bell, which mean, as Rawshark pointed out, "they're screwed then, aren't they?" Well, no, actually it appears that disturbing the golden statue has also awoken probably the coolest giant rubber octopus in cinema history which, after much comedy rubber tentacle fighting, drags most of the crew and Doug's submersible down through a wee hole in Ocean floor to the lost continent of Atlantis.
And it's down there that things go very Sunday afternoon creature feature matinee. We get back screen projected stop motion monsters, guards with big domed helmets, guys that carry giant spikes around, natives selling cannonballs and warlords with the most ridiculous haircuts imaginable. "The higher up you are in this society, the more outlandish your hair style," noted Rawshark, which is probably why Charlie looked real worried when the warlords bought out that crystal helmet that unnervingly looked like something out of Play Doh Barbershop. Still, the future history montage they showed him was pretty cool ("I assume you don't have to pay copyright on footage of Adolf Hitler?" - Rawshark) before Doug turns up in the nick of time to rescue him. And then, with the help of a couple of locals, they all try and make a break for it, back to the surface.
What a rip roaring start to the evening.
If you had to live in Atlantis, what would you do?
“I’d make the spears.” – Zomblee.
“I’d be a guard with one of those domed helmets.” – Jim.
“I’d be the guy selling the cannonballs.” – Rawshark.
Zomblee Within the opening frames of Warlords of Atlantis it’s quite clear that it’s time to revert back to being about 12 years old again. The great advantage here is that we’re now in our 30’s, so we’re allowed to smoke and drink while watching this piece of genuine Doug McClure gold that you previously thought could only ever be shown on Bank Holiday Mondays, back in the day. And let me tell you folks, this movie holds up really well in an endearingly ropy kind of way. The highly enjoyable watery adventures of Doug, Cliff from Cheers and ”the righteous dude from The Spy Who Loved Me” (his real name is Shane Rimmer, also in Superman II & III, The People that Time Forgot, Star Wars (!), The Human Factor and, err, three episodes of Coronation Street). We also have a stock Irish idiot (Derry Power) along for the ride, who has a ”mortal fear” of just about everything, including big monsters, one of which gobbles him up at one point (“Ah, his mortal fear of big monsters seems to be justified…” - Rawshark).
So, Doug and German-born Carry on veteran Peter Gilmore end up in Atlantis with a salty seadog crew (”Shiver me timbers!”). The head honcho down there with the bad haircut (Michael Gothard) takes a shine to Gilmore’s alpha-male qualities, and tries to recruit him to their ranks. What these humourless Atlantis folk don’t bargain for is the well-sideburned McClure, who starts a fight with some guards for no reason (apart from impressing that chick he fancies), rescues Charlie before he’s brainwashed with a funny helmet on his head (”Will that helmet automatically cut his hair, Atlantis style?” – Jim), fights some rear projections and a flying fish attack (yes, really) before a random escape in the underwater ”contraption”. Then it’s back up to the boat for some mutinous shenanigans before the final octopus attack (”I love seeing people getting thrown into the water! I want to be thrown in to the water in a film!” Rawshark).
Michael Gothard who plays Atmir is the effeminate warlord with that hair (”More of a warlady than a warlord” - Rawshark) – you may recognise him from other flicks that include For Your Eyes Only (these Bond references just keep coming at ZC), Lifeforce and The Devils. He wasn’t in Coronation Street, sadly; perhaps his lack of humour would have been more suited to the highly depressing Eastenders. I’m not going to depress anyone with my morbid trivia the way I’ve done in recent ZC’s though, so if you want to know what happened to him, just look him up on imdb.
”How do you grow sideburns that curl up? Mine just fall down”, Rawshark told us when confronted with the mighty sight of Doug McMighty Sideburns McClure. I really don’t know, Rawshark, but I’ll bet you everyone in Atlantis started growing them after he made his miraculous escape.
”The last thing I remember is that monster attacking the ship!”
Rawshark Yay – it’s Bank Holiday Monday, it’s the middle of the afternoon, and it’s raining outside – time for a jolly 70s action adventure with Doug McClure, affectionately made infamous by The Simpsons’ Troy McClure (”You may know me from such films as…”). This one is Warlords of Atlantis, the one with the diving bell, the underground city of Atlantis, and the monstrous octopus attack at the end – and you know what – it’s still great fun 28 years after it was made.
When Doug and Charlie find a ”big gold wine bottle stopper” (Jim) underwater, the ship’s crew mutiny over the bounty, but are soon snatched from the ship and taken to Atlantis by a huge octopus. Luckily everyone survives the long deep dive and emerge unto a land inhabited by Warlords with bad haircuts and fish-faced warriors. There, the doorways are triangular (prompting a discussion on how best they would work – on hinges? Revolving? Or do they just slide open with a ‘ppsshhht’ sound?), and animated monsters (”look, a massive muddy monster splashing about!” – Zomblee) who ravage the seven cities of the lost continent.
It turns out the Warlords are actually from Mars, and are cunningly using hypnotic world history footage, particularly of the Nazi era, to take over the world. Luckily Doug McClure is on hand to save the day, get the girl and ward off the attack of the flying fish (”like piranhas on Red Bull!” - Zomblee). The girl turns out to be mighty handy with a gun (”I like chicks who shoot shotguns whilst showing a lot of leg” - Jim) and the crew swim to the diving bell to return to the Earth’s surface. One final octopus attack sequence later (accompanied by all three of us making the ‘Dong!’ sound effects as the octopus uses the big gold wine stopper thing to smash up the ship), and our heroes are finally free to row back to shore, with a story that will no doubt keep them in free dinners for life.
Ok, it may be missing the touch of Harryhausen in the monster sequences, but with Doug’s robust sideburns, and lots of other b-movie stars hamming it up to high heaven, Warlords of Atlantis entertains as much today as it did in the rainy, grey British Bank Holidays during the early 80s. Ah, it’s good to be a kid again.
”Yes father, it’s a plachyderm.”
Director Kevin Connor
Cast Doug McClure
Runtime 92 mins
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Raiders of Atlantis (1983)
Plot Christopher Connelly (from Bronx Warriors) and Wash, err, I mean Mohammed (from The Last Hunter) take a boat ride and end up fighting tonnes of Mad Max type people on some Island somewhere.
Rawshark It’s a change of tone for the second film tonight, as Ruggero Deodato tackles the Atlantis myth by mixing in a lot of action with post-apocalyptic Mad Max warriors and mystical tablets. It’s 1994, and a team of scientists off the coast of Miami are attempting to raise a sunken Russian submarine. Unfortunately, it all goes tits-up when there is a radioactive leak, which results in the re-emergence of a domed Atlantis, complete with pretty awful FX (”Oooh – small water! It’s micro-carnage!” - Zomblee).
The few survivors (including as Jim pointed out, Washington from The Last Hunter aka Tony King) wash up on a nearby island where the inhabitants have all been slaughtered by a vicious group of Mad Max warriors, led by ‘Crystal Skull’ who wears a transparent skull mask. After 50 minutes of so of aimless wandering, we finally find out that the warriors, known as The Interceptors, are the descendants of Atlantis’ original race, and have now set about (wouldn’t you know it) reclaiming the world as their own by killing anyone they see.
From here on in, the film becomes a mixture of Escape From New York, First Blood and Assault on Precinct 13 as our small band of heroes led by Christopher Connelly and Tony King, fight back with the aid of wires, guns, flame-throwers and Molotov cocktails. We get one cool decapitation, burning bodies, blades on wheels and arrows in both the neck and the mouth, plus one standout stunt sequence featuring a helicopter drop onto a bus during a full-blown shoot-out. As Jim says, ”the Italians can really do these things well”.
It’s random, it’s simplistic plot makes very little sense, the tone and pace are both all over the place, yet because of it’s many mad ideas and seemingly non-stop action, Deodato’s Raiders of Atlantis is great fun, especially if you don’t take it too seriously. And let’s face it, it’s not often we take films seriously at Zombie Club. Good soundtrack too by Oliver Onions no less.
“All of you will be executed – except one.”
Zomblee Escape From New York? First Blood? Assault on Precinct 13? Any movie resembling these three sounds amazing dosn't it? Unfortunately however, Deodato's film doesn't know its arse from its elbow, and you'll be scratching your head in befuddlement when the post-apoc style Atlantis dudes appear on bikes that look leased from the set of Bronx Warriors ("I think the words you're looking for are 'quite unexpected'!" - Jim). But that's ok. Scratch you head if you like. Because you may not care once they start smashing peoples' faces in.
"This movie could go anywhere..." noted Rawshark, a comment that has surely been heard on more than one occasion in the past here at Zombie Club. Like Rawshark says, the word "random" springs to mind when watching Raiders; it feels like someone has raided the movie of any plot or logic, then beaten the editor on the head with a very blunt, heavy object, leaving him incapable of splicing together anything vaguely comprehensible. If plot cohesion is something that you’d rather see disregarded however, and you like the idea of a really daft romp depicting men who ”love riding their motorbikes around in circles” (Jim), firing endless ammo at nothing and shouting a lot, often in strange accents (Jim: ”I learn Eengleesh from a book!”), then this bizarre outing may just do it for you.
Bronx Warriors veteran Christopher Connolly is always quite passable, and his partnership with Tony King (from The Last Hunter) works well at times, and helped by some quite amusing dialogue. The cast also includes Italian movie regulars likes Ivan Rassimov and George Hilton – always great to see their ilk making an appearance, even if in gibberish like this. Hell, I can’t complain too much. After all, it’s got a machine that goes ”Ping!”
Jim You know what? This movie does do it for me, so here's my version of the plot, if you can call it that. Chris Connelly from Bronx Warriors (“He’s like an Italian Doug McClure, except he’s not Italian obviously.” – Zomblee) and his mate Wash, err, I mean Mohammed, shoot a load of guys doing a job for the, err, mob, before taking a nice boat ride where they pick up a load of survivors from, err, a research station that was destroyed by Zomblee's small water. Meanwhile a big dome rises out of the ocean, closing around them and several small islands, where loads of "Mad Max type people" (Rawshark) have started killing indiscriminately. All these events are related to a submarine running missile tests or something, which is important because that sub comes back into the film later. Yes, it's a sub-plot. Do you see what I did there?
Anyway, they're soon on land as their crew man Manuel is apparently one of the Mad Max people (“I think Manuel’s gone schizo…” – Rawshark) and they find themselves in a Florida style suburbia, where they whole up in some kind of restaurant and are besieged for ages by a constant flow of cannon fodder gang members, who ride round in circles while throwing grenades, one of which lands on a tray. (“Grenade sir?” – Rawshark) Um, but somehow most of them survive and escape to the next random location, where they battle more Mad Max type people for no apparent reason, tooled up with a shit load of weapons they luckily found in a warehouse along the way, although as Zomblee pointed out they didn't manage to find the plot in any of those crates even though they looked very hard. (“It’s not in here!” – Zomblee)
After here it gets even sillier, but in a good way. If constant random action is you thing (as it is mine), and you dig helicopter versus bus shootouts, gangers on cool bikes, ancient artifacts that shoot lasers and all that low budget sci-fi jazz, you'll have a fucking riot with Raiders of Atlantis. If you're looking for a plot however, you're in trouble. We generally lost the so-called plot regularly and ended up discussing all manner of stuff inspired by what we were seeing on the screen. Like, when is a three wheeled bike better than a two wheeled? Have you noticed how people often have ideas when they stand under light bulbs? Would you too like to go on survival weekend like Rawshark? And if a black man called Mohammed asked you to pull his finger in a wind tunnel, would you?
I don't know myself, but I do know this - I haven't laughed this much at Zombie Club in ages and I can recommend this film to anyone who’s thinking of hosting their own Zombie Club in the near future. You won’t regret it.
“It’s a base human response to ‘yee-haa’ when you shoot a helicopter out of the sky.”
Director Ruggero Deodato
Cast Christopher Connelly
Runtime 83 mins
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And so, wiping the tears of joy from their eyes, the boys grab their stuff, bleary eyed, and rush for the last train home. Me, I clear the empty glasses, still chuckling to myself. What a night, eh? I haven't laughed so much in ages. I don't care what you say, you can't beat a good old fashioned Doug McClure movie, and you can't be crazy Italian action movies that throw everything the budget will give at you, except a plot of course.
Tune in next time where first we head over to mid-70s Italy for some more Thomas Milian action, and then we got a date with a guy in a wheelchair.
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