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America 3000
(1986)
 

Director:David Engelbach                    
Cast:
Chuck Wagner, Laurene Landon, William Wallace


After I watched America 3000, I did some research on it. I found out when screenwriter David Engelbach was given the opportunity to finally direct a movie, he chose this script. It happened to be a script that he wrote himself back in the mid 1970s but he stuck it in a desk drawer for ten years. It should have stayed there, or been thrown in the nearest shredder. "[It was] ahead of its time," claimed Engelbach, saying this post-apocalypse drama/comedy predated movies like Max Max. Maybe it's still ahead of its time, because I can't think of any kind of approving audience around right now for this dumb movie. In fact, I think the only reason why this script got approved in the first place was that is was bought by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who were willing to finance just about anything during their reign at Cannon Films.

As the title indicates, the events of the movie take place in America during the year 3000, 900 years after a nuclear war blew the world into crap. You would think that in 900 years, the descendants of the survivors would have learned how to fashion more spectacular buildings and clothing, but everyone here lives in stone huts, wears animal skins, and gets around on horses. There has also been a shift in the position of the sexes; it's never explained how it got this way, but somehow now the women are in charge, living separately from the men in their own villages. They consider men as either slaves or seed carriers, and occasionally ride out to capture some Rasta-haired men for these purposes. (It's also never explained why the free men outside the villages don't seem that bright, and aren't able to fight back well.)

The situation starts to change when free men Corbus (Wagner), his friend Grus, and other men band together over the ruins of Camp Reagan. ("I never figured out what a Reagan was," Grus ponders in his narration.) They start fighting back, making raids against the women and their plans, though not much progress is made. After Corbus gets wounded by an arrow, he falls down a cave shaft into an old bunker, which happens to have been prepared for the American President in case of a nuclear strike. It's full of gadgets and goodies (apparently, the president liked the then over 100 year old Centipede arcade game) which all seem to work perfectly after all these centuries, and with the bunker's electricity still functioning. Heck, even the old ghettoblaster's batteries still work! With the ghettoblaster, and some laser pistols and grenades, Corbus has the stuff that will help his friends fight back! Of course, there is still the possibility that he can convince the female tribe's new leader that it's best to make love instead of war....

I think it's clear from the previous two paragraphs just how utterly stupid this movie is. It is so painfully unfunny, a sense of embarrassment can be felt from the actors doing all of this nonsense. They actually do manage to show some likeability and talent neverless, which at least makes the movie better than it otherwise would have been. Almost all the problems generated in the movie can be blamed by its script. The script tries to generate a sense of hipness by peppering the language with colorful slang; "woggos" means "crazy", "macho" means "slave", "tiara" means "female leader", and so forth. Some of this is easy to determine, but eventually so much slang has been introduced that quite a number of entire conversations make absolutely no porking(*) sense!

There are quite a number of other confusing things about the movie. There is a Wookie-like mutant character introduced later in the movie named Aargh The Awful, but his only function seems to be to jump around in the background and make various moaning sounds, sometimes swinging around the ghettoblaster while making these noises. Huh? There is also the use of voice-over narration, provided by Corbus' friend Grus. His narration seems to have been added after the movie was completed, maybe to try to make the little story there is more clear. But since there is not that many times when he has to explain things to the audience, he is reduced to making redundant narration throughout the movie. When a female guard spots one of their raids going on, we hear Grus helpfully telling us, "It was all downhill from there." And when Corbus falls down the cave shaft, Grus comments, "It wasn't turning out to be one of Corbus' better days."

Not only do we never get an explanation as to why things are the way they are, we never get an idea of how they work. It's never clear just how the women run the new society, or even sometimes how the men get by. Even for a comedy, there should be some kind of logic (crazy or not) running throughout the movie, but it all seems made up as it goes along. There are long periods of silence where it seems the characters can't seem to figure out what to say or do next. It's almost as if they see that this is a complete waste of time. Little merit is to be found anywhere; the Israeli landscape sometimes looks impressive, and there is some okay mayhem during the climax. Afterwards, though, we find out that this action climax really was for nothing. Perhaps the movie was trying to have its cake and eat it as well, giving viewers some much wanted action, yet at the same time making the ending sweet and sappy. Naturally, the two endings don't exactly fit together. Now it's usually the part of the review where I say something snappy or concluding, but I really don't want to waste any more of your or my time with this cinematic stupidity.


* In the spirit of the movie, and to make this review more tasteful, I have introduced my own slang here.

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See also: Omega Doom, Survivor, Warriors Of The Apocalypse

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