Monday, September 28, 2009

Raiders of the Damned (USA, 2005)

Raiders of the Damned, from 2005, is (unsurprisingly enough) the only film of director Milko Davis, a director that was probably so busy searching for his anus while on set that he forgot he was making a film…. The result is a film that has a great and promising (if derivative) title that promises a lot but that is also a film in search of a coherent plot or story, populated by actors in search of talent. But to put all the blame of Davis is perhaps unfair, for as inept as his directorial skills seem to be, he did not toss together the supposed film script. If there really was one – the film comes across more like a half-dozen half-baked ideas tossed together in some semblance of order – then the writer Mike Ezell must carry some of the blame for this incoherent mess. Raiders of the Damned is indeed one of those rare films that gives bad films a bad name – at the moment. Truth be told, the film simply hasn’t aged enough. In another 15 years, when it looks as vintage as it does incompetent, this film could easily become an example of classically bad film, along the lines of Robot Monster (1953/trailer) or Santa Claus Conquers Mars (1964/trailer/full movie on Internet Archives). But right now, in 2009, a mere four years since this thing went straight to DVD, Raiders of the Damned still stinks.
The core concept of Raiders of the Damned is a crossbreed of two popular low-budget genres, the post-apocalyptic and zombie film. During some future war a viral weapon named Agent-9X was used; it killed the body but not the brain, so the world is now populated by thinking, flesh-eating zombies – or at least it is on the other side of a humongous wall. (Although the zombies all seem to be on the other side of the wall and people can obviously walk around above ground without being infected, the few human survivors – mostly military and scientists in white coats – seem to prefer living below ground in bunkers.) Dr. Wells (Elijah Murphy) and his assistant Stephanie (Amanda Scheutzow) fly over the wall in a helicopter to experiment with a new zombie-killing chemical, but when they fly too low they get shot down with a catapult and are captured by the zombies, who are under the command of the zombie Colonel Crow (Thomas Martwick – who is much too young to be a general). Crow avowed aim is that he wants Wells’ help in finding an agent to stop the gradual decay of the living dead bodies, but truth be told, he really simply wants to pork Stephanie (who ends up spending most of the rest of the film in a wedding dress). Back in the bunker, whacked-out Dr. Lewis (Richard "Yes, I can sink even lower than Webs (2003)" Grieco) sends out a rescue team consisting of squad leader Crenshaw (Gary Sirchia), Gena Kane (Laura Zoe Quist), Trejo (Laurie Clemens) and Flex (J.C. Austin). Using some sort of anti-matter distortion device (!), they pass through the wall and go search and destroy. Despite supposedly being professional soldiers, they can’t even seem to be able to tie a knot, which results in Flex having to carry Trejo around until the film has been padded enough for her to be able to walk normally again (as for Flex, although he is strong enough to carry her around, most of the time thereafter he is continually winded and taking rests – at least he does until he dies). Whatever.
The rest of the film, like everything leading up to this point of the non-action, alternates between more nonsense and hogwash and offers no concept of continuity or logic or anything that remotely indicates that a brain or talent was involved in the production, but it is exactly this total lack of any redeeming factors or ability that makes Raiders of the Damned in any way entertaining. It is its total ineptitude that makes it amusing, if only slightly so. There is so much too trash about this "film" that to do so would take longer than to watch the movie itself. Still, give it another couple of years and it could probably be shown as a double feature with any number of Golden Turkey classics…
Raiders of the Damned does get a single plus point for having the best use of a spoon scene since the one in Deranged (1974), but aside from that the two films are in no way comparable.

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