Saturday, December 17, 2011

Movie Review: Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell

This movie, made by the fine folks who made the Toxic Avenger, takes place in the wasteland of Tromaville a couple of decades after nuclear annihilation wipes out most of the planet in a single day. The radiation kills most of the humans and mutates many of the survivors, but apparently plenty of them seem to be unaffected. The heroine, who was a very small girl when the world went up in flames, grows into a beautiful, sexually frustrated young woman who just wants to wash her clothes while wearing a bikini and not get raped while doing it. The film starts with a voice-over of a breathy young woman trying to display sex appeal in the middle of nuclear devastation without anything remotely sexy on the screen. I give her credit for trying, at least. No names are mentioned during the intro, or indeed at any point before the closing credits.

The first scene after the unconvincingly-dubbed introduction shows a young man named Marn. He’s the hero, because his face is conventionally attractive. He is hunting a Siberian Husky, presumably for food. When he fails to kill it with his crossbow, he chases after it and is promptly attacked by a enormous dinosaur-like worm with a mouth full of teeth. Despite the worm’s considerably greater mass, Marn is able to fight off the beast by hiding behind trees, a few weak-looking punches and kicks, and a couple of strikes with his trusty 6” hunting knife. The blend between live-action and special effects actually wasn’t all that bad, especially for such a low-budget film; but the weak acting and plot really hurt.

The second scene introduces the heroine into the action. Lea, the titular nymphoid barbarian, is dressed in what looks like a denim bikini that does not leave all that much to the imagination. For somebody who has no razor blades and no access to a Supercuts, let alone a real hair salon, her smooth skin is remarkably hairless while her lustrous head of hair always clean and nicely done up in a style popular in the 1980s, which is when the film was shot. Obviously, her beauty and general cleanliness must be her amazingly useful mutant power. She is, at least, convincingly muscled for everything she ends up doing in the film. Regardless of this, she is washing her clothes by the edge of a lake, enjoying the water, when three men sneak up, intent on kidnap and rape. She fends them off for a while, hitting fairly hard, but her assailants keep getting back up. Just as she’s about to have her clothes ripped off, Marn comes in and saves the day. The both of them fight off the three would-be assailants for long enough for a mutated croc to come out of the water, steal Lea’s long-johns out of her hand, then eat the hapless assailants. In fact, every single time Lea ever encounters a monster, if anybody else is around, the monster will attack the other guy instead of her. Clearly it is her other invisible, highly-useful mutant power.

At Marn and Lea’s camp, she tends to his wound and we get the first audible dialog of the film, some 15 minutes in. For a woman who is supposedly sexually frustrated and aggressive, she is remarkably patient, snuggly, and uninterested in anything remotely sexual. For anybody hoping for occasional nudity to go with the occasional gore in the film, you can forget about it.

The next day, Marn and Lea break camp and go off on a journey to find a better place, presumably someplace where she can wash her clothes in peace. They wander through a variety of landscapes that all feature remarkably unmutated plants and trees. They end up at the beach, where she playfully wrestles with him in the water. 

Cue the cut to the next scene to introduce... the bad guys. We have mutants looking for treasure on the same beach, playfully throwing rocks at each other until they get into a fight about all those painful rocks they’ve just thrown. The solemnity of the fight is undercut by the score, which plays a couple of bars from the theme song of the Three Stooges, specifically the Three Blind Mice part.  Several bars later, in strides their boss, Clon, interrupting the fight by hitting the combatants. He’s wearing soft leather armor, which looks interesting because it's all black -- plus there’s a skull on each shoulder and an obviously fake skull on the cowl. Yes, it is a cowl on armor. Please, don’t ask. His mutation is obviously his protruding teeth. He and his minions end up going off in search of Lea and Marn, who were there a short while ago and obviously need to suffer for not being as ugly as these freaks.

The rest of the film involves the couple getting split up, finding each other again, and losing each other again, all while encountering mutants of various stripes, finding occasional artifacts of the world before the disaster, being chased by Clon, and somehow not getting killed by a variety of hideous dinosaur-sized mutated animals. When Lea wanders off and finds ugly stone castles, the nasty-looking art -- monstrous faces, protruding giant ribs, an oversized human skull -- makes you wonder who the architect was and why they bothered. Then you have to ask how anybody was able to actually build these things after the apocalypse and why they’d listened to the architect. Throughout it all, the monsters never try to eat the heroine.  Clon, who beats up Marn routinely, inexplicably does considerably worse than Marn against apparently the same dinosaur-like worm despite stronger attacks and better hiding skills, going so far as to lose an arm.  Plus, the occasional giant mutated beast erupts from out of nowhere despite a clear lack of enough local food for it to survive long enough to wait for tasty humans.

The film ends with a climactic final battle, Lea and Marn versus Clon. When Lea tries shooting Clon with a gun at point-blank range in a narrow corridor, and successfully fires the thing while pointing in the right direction, she misses completely. Marn takes the gun away gently, presumably until she can get in some practice at the shooting range. The action moves outside of the castle they were fighting in, onto the cliff face right below. Right below the cliff is bubbly brown water containing what look like mutated rhino beetles, sensing the action up above and eagerly waiting for a snack to fall. Marn gets hurt, Lea gets winded, Clon (who has apparently grown his arm back) gets eaten by the beetles, and then there’s a couple of minutes of credits where the characters names are, as promised, finally presented.

The movie has uneven sound quality, very little talking, and a lot of beautiful landscapes that shouldn’t be anywhere that normal after a nuclear disaster that turns animals into giant beasts. It stinks. That said, it doesn’t stink in all ways: the special effects were actually reasonably good, even if sometimes poorly executed; some fights were decent, closer to realistic than cinematic and containing appropriate levels of gore, whether an ear is half-bitten off or an eye gets poked out; and most of the clothing was made appropriately scrap-like and tattered, or from skins that resembled something an animal might wear when it’s walking around.

To call this movie a turkey would be an insult to the fine bird I ate on Thanksgiving. I rate it three flaming bags of poo. Despite this, if somebody were to show a marathon of Tromaville movies and has a bunch of friends ready to give it a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style razzing, it could be good fun. Otherwise, do something more constructive, like playing Farmville. Don’t waste those 82 minutes of your life. I for one will never get them back, and I dearly wish I could.

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