Friday, May 22, 2015

Empire of Ash (Canada, 1988)

Full movie
Empire of Ash:
Aka Maniac Warriors. A lot of films tried to ride on the wave of the original Mad Max films — Mad Max (1979 / trailer), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981 / trailer) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985 / trailer).* Few are still remembered today and some, like this one, a relatively late entry in the genre, weren't even noticed when they came out. (Oddly enough, for a film that no one has ever heard of, it not only spawned a real sequel, Return to Ash III [1989 / trailer] aka Last of the Warriors, but was re-released at one point as a pretend sequel to itself as Empire of Ash II [1988]) — so, in other words, you can watch both Part I and Part II by watching Part II above.
* Of which only the first has aged gracefully. One wonders what the new Mad Max flick, Fury Road (2015 / trailer) is going to spawn for imitations. Where is The Asylum's version? Did we somehow miss it?
We stumbled upon Empire of Ash in a "For Free" crate at a second-hand shop full of crap like David Cassidy and David Hasselhoff CDs — and while we were left speechless at learning that there even was any such thing as a David Cassidy CD, it was the DVD to this movie that really caught our eye: even amongst all that competition, Empire of Ash looked so terribly trashy, so terribly cheesy, so terrible bad that we had to have it. And now that we've seen it, all that we can say is that it met all our expectations and more. Empire of Ash is indeed truly an Empire of Trash. If you like laughably terrible acting, ugly men and overly made-up babes in bad 80s style, maladroit direction, and ridiculous action interspersed with gratuitous nudity and out-of-the-blue scenes that do nothing for the already incompetently told all-over-the-place narrative, this film is for you. It is truly one of those kinds of films that are so bad that it is truly entertaining — despite the occasional dead kid, the concept of which we have learned seems to really disturb some people.
As is the nature of post-apocalyptic films, the events in Empire of Ash take place after some great disaster, assumedly a plague that has caused civilization as we know it to collapse. The tale at hand occurs in a new "nation", for the lack of a better word, called New Idaho, which is ruled by religious fanatics who, going by the "warriors" sent out to patrol the well-paved by-ways and backroads of the incredibly green and fecund-looking forest landscape,* consists primarily of overweight rednecks in leather and motorcycle babes with mile-high teased hair and 80s make-up. When they aren't busy killing LARDS — for "Leukocytes Acquisitors for Remission of Disease", of course — they amuse themselves by hunting and killing all the normal folks who just want to live their own way or wish to leave the religiously oppressive New Idaho. (So, basically, the "warriors" spend their time killing everyone.) LARDS, in turn, when they aren't busy running around out in the open so as to be easily shot, kidnap healthy normal folk and drain them of their blood, which the LARD folk need in order to survive. Basically, no matter which way you turn in Empire of Ash, you're fucked.
* Considering how little "ash" is found in the landscape, the name of the movie is totally inappropriate, Empire of Green is more like it.
Sounds like the framework conditions for a passable plot and movie, but instead what you get is an admittedly violent but completely bungled (usually) unintentional comedy full of what-the-fuck moments and plot turns that usually leaves you laughing on the floor, or at least giggling in your seat. The gratuitous nude shower in a stream scene by the lead female good girl, Danielle (Melanie Kilgour, below) with beautiful brown areolae and eternally perfect make-up, is great, and so desperately needed so that the lead male good guy, Orion (Thom Schioler, above, of Xtro II: The Second Encounter [1990 / scene]), can be kidnapped by LARDs, thus giving way for the female lead to sneak into the LARD city and shoot everyone up and free Orion, an act needed to lead up to one of the most lifeless love scenes ever — a series of events made all the more logical by the fact that Orion basically kidnapped Danielle at gun point and up to her gratuitous shower scene was holding her hostage.
Every event that occurs in the movie — like Danielle just happening to have a trunk full of weapons hidden in the forest despite the fact that she and her sis and grandpa are just passin' through — leads to another similarly logical event. Like when, for example, at one point the big bad girl with teased mile-high blonde hair (Michele Chiponski) gives her orders to her second-in-command decked out in super-skimpy S&M gear (a scene including a shot from just below her butt and between her legs) before, out of the blue, doing a "sexy" dance to the moon. Yep, Empire of Ash is a class act.
Characters come and go and fall out of the sky in Empire of Ash, so you do have to listen a bit to follow what happens and who is who, if you even want to bother. As to be expected in a movie like this, characterization is null, painted instead in broad brushstrokes by non-actors who were probably hired because they were for free. (And indeed, the cast is large — and game: there be a lot of lithe female no-names showing flesh in this flick. Luckily, the men remain dressed, as most are so beefy and hairy as to really be physically unattractive even when dressed, so nekkid they might have made the film vomit-inducing. No Dad Bods here, only Bad Bods.)
Special mention must be given to the Rocket Launcher (David Gregg, who popped up a year later as an extra in Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders [1990 / trailer]), a concept so daft we loved it: he walks into two scenes with a ridiculous piece of head gear from which he launches rockets — not because it make more sense than using a real rocket launcher, but because he can. (He returned in the sequel.) The deep point of the movie is a cringe-inducing remake of Born to Be Wild (original) used for the big final showdown in which five people wipe out all the bad guys, a showdown staged so badly that half the time it looks like the bad guys want to die and thus keep running into the line of shooting on purpose.
Empire of Ash is pure, unadulterated zero-budget exploitation trash: it evidences zero talent across the board — directional, thespian, editing, scripting — but for that has a lot of umph, nudity, and faith in itself. We loved it, particularly since it does have flashes of total inanity. Empire of Ash is a primer for how not to make a good film, and a ludicrous piece of celluloid shit perfect for anyone who likes wasting time on ridiculously entertaining crap.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...