01 November 2009

Warriors of the Apocalypse

This has got to be some of the coolest box art ever, not just because I'm a shallow heterosexual man, but because it is epic and looks like it should be airbrushed on the hood of a lowrider. Courtesy of C.W. Taylor.

Philippines – 1985
Director – Bobby A. Suarez
Lightning Video, 1987, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 28 minutes

It is profoundly amusing to me that there is such a distinct connection between post-apocalypse films and the iconic heavy metal band Judas Priest. This is in large part due to a common design aesthetic of the time popularized by Priest’s frontman Rob Halford. Thanks to the tough guy image of heavy metal and bikers, spikes and leather became symbolic of rebellion and would only upon later revelation assume its distinctly ironic caste. Warriors of the Apocalypse takes this not-so-coincidental association so far into the realm of mythology that it defies belief.

The only survivors of the nuclear holocaust are an intrepid tribe of Leathermen led by a rugged and glistening bear named Trapper. Emerging from the desert wastelands half starved and dehydrated from weeks of marching, the Leathermen embark on a longshot quest to make the world into a fantasy-metal headbangers paradise.
Their first mission is to secure a steady supply of righteous eats and cool fresh water. To do this they employ the assistance of a permed Asian man who promises to lead them to the Magic Mountain.
Their epic quest is interrupted however by a tribe of Guinean pygmies. When they are cut down by the Leathermen’s eager gunfire the pygmies resurrect each other and attack again; and are gunned down and resurrect each other. Finally they return with reinforcements; Norwegian amazons in Bo-Derek wigs. Their mere appearance (and impressive marksmanship) robs the Leathermen of any will to fight and they are quickly captured. The band are dragged to prison in the Pygmazon village which features its own giant Maya pyramid and evil bikini queen.

If your mind is a little bit blown by all this wacky genre mixing, you’re not the only one. Upon escaping from the skull-cave-jail-with-electronic-spaceship-style-bars and fleeing into the jungle, the Leathermen take a pause to de-compress all the insane sensory input with some of the local toke-ables. Needless to say this leads to their prompt recapture.

I’ll admit I’m having a hard time not just synopsizing every insane element of the entire plot. It is too mindboggling to make real sense of, and it only gets stranger from here on out. An extended fertility ritual, a nuclear power plant operated by lepers, and a climactic eye-laser and secret rock-throne weapons-console-battle all lead to the sudden ascension of the Leathermen to a position of metal-sovereignty over the Amazonian groupies and pygmy roadies. Coupled with the radical absurdity of Cirio Santiago’s equally post-apoc and amazon laced Future Hunters, Warriors of the Apocalypse further compounds my belief that Filippino films are just awesome fucking nuts. Even if I’m not quite sure that the plot is linear in the traditional sense of the word, it is definitely memorable. Just ask these guys, they remember the whole thing.

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