Friday, 29 September 2017


1983, USA
dir. Lynn Littman
cast: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris

The Wetherlys are an average small town American family, struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Dad was in LA when the missiles hit and never made it home. Mum has to watch her kids sicken and die of radiation poisoning, while trying to keep things going.

Contemporary with films like Threads and The Day After, Testament features none of the scenes of mass destruction, mass panics or looting but is equally as harrowing, albeit in a much more quiet, restrained fashion. The family dies off one by one, and she has to bury her kids in the back garden, stitched up in bedsheets. At the same time, it does show the how people really come together in disasters- the town pulls together to try and survive, orphaned kids are cared for and people start looking out for each other. That said, the end scene where the mother considers ending it all it for her and surviving kid by gas themselves in the garage is one of the most wrenching in any post-apocalypse movie.
Not as iconic as Threads, but equally as harrowing.

Turkey Shoot

Turkey Shoot (aka Blood Camp Thatcher, Escape 2000)
1982, Australia
dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith
cast: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Roger Ward

In a future Australia on the verge of anarchy after a holocaust, political dissidents are sent to “re-education” camps. At Camp Thatcher, the most notorious of these, the governor and friends use the inmates in brutal hunts.

The plot's the standard Most Dangerous Game hunted-turning-the-tables-on-the-hunter schtick, but with some ridiculously over the top deaths- exploding arrows to heads, a hairy mutant who looks like a refugee from Carry On Screaming gets cut in half by a bulldozer, heads get shot clean off, hands severed and so on. If you believe the stories, live ammunition was apparently used in some scenes to save money and keep the actors on their toes and the hand severing scene came close to happening for real after one of the actors missed her cue. A classic piece of Ozploitation trash.


Virus (aka Fukkatsu No Hi)
1980, Japan
dir. Kinji Fukasaku
cast: Sonny Chiba, George Kennedy, Bo Svenson, Henry Silva, Chuck Connors, Masao Kusakari

A genetically engineered virus is accidentally released, killing off vast numbers of people. As governments bicker, hospitals are overwhelmed, martial law is declared and soon the only survivors are international outposts in Antarctica, who now have to cope with being the last people on Earth. This throws up other problems for them, such as there being 855 men and only 8 women. Worse than this, they realise that an earthquake could set off the USA's automatic retaliation system (which had been armed by a belligerent general in his death throws played with characteristic bad assness by Henry Silva), launching a nuclear strike at the USSR, whose own automated system would then fire off their missiles, including one aimed at the Antarctic, where they were convinced the USA had a secret base. A couple of scientists travel to Washington DC to try and disarm the system. They fail, and nuclear war ensues. The surviving scientist treks the length of South America to re-join the survivors of the Antarctic colony.

A lavish Japanese production, this was the biggest budget Japanese film of it's time, with a cast of Western actors used alongside the Japanese with an eye to breaking into Western markets. Unfortunately, the film never got a full release, eventually make it to TV in a heavily cut down form. Most Western versions are 108 minutes as opposed to 156 minute original. Most of what excised are scenes with the crew of the Japanese station (including a powerful scene where they make radio contact with an orphaned child in the USA) and the final trek to South America. The shorter version still makes sense though does feel hurried. It's a real shame as it's actually a good movie; the story's compelling, the cast give good performances (and it's a stable of great contemporary b-movie stars) and it actually has the budget to show the martial law, piles of burning bodies and so on most films only hint at. The film's now public domain and is a poundshop DVD staple, but it's worth tracking down the full version.