October 19th, 2006
Based on a novella by Harlan Ellison. Directed by LQ Jones.
Post-apocalyptic sci-fi in the vein of Tank Girl and the original Mad Max. Featuring the young Don Johnson, who would go on to star in the long-running TV series Miami Vice.
This is good fun, and very dark. After WW4 the earth’s surface is a desert populated by armed bands of roving men and man/dog teams, seeking food and sex. Vic (Johnson) and his dog Blood have the huge advantage of being able to communicate with each other telepathically. In this partnership, Vic provides the food and Blood sniffs out the females.
Like Tank Girl, the film breaks for a campy sequence as Vic goes underground to meet another bunch of survivors who are trying to sustain the culture of Topeka, Kansas, as a totalitarian dictatorship. The underground people are much more cultured than the anarchic surface rovers, in a manic Norman Rockwell kind of way, but living in darkness has left them unable to reproduce.
The surface/underground dichotomy is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, but in reverse. Wells placed the effete aristocrats on the surface, where they were preyed upon for food by the subterranean Morlocks.
(I read The Time Machine as a child. I was pretty sure there were Morlocks in my bedroom closet.)
It’s slightly odd to watch a future vision crafted in 1974. The people in this future aren’t pierced or tattooed, there isn’t a dreadlock in sight, and they don’t miss computers or microwaves because they have never heard of them.
The movie is well done, so well done that I never doubted the character of the telepathic dog for a moment. Recommended for what it is: a smart, dark, funny tour of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, mostly unmarred by dumb fight scenes, car crashes, and special effects. Johnson has an appealing, clueless vitality, but the best actor is the dog.
Here is a review by Jack Sommersby, who likes it more than I do: http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8394&reviewer=327