Wednesday, August 19, 2009

STRYKER (1983)

80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Hot, leggy motorcycle-riding aerobic-instructor post-apocalyptic chicks with football shoulder pads and crossbows. Sigh, I miss the 80s.


A nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-lear war; Slightly Peeved Max; a discount Randall “Tex” Cobb; The Evian Warrior; Philippine Jawas, needless but hilarious little person torture; Beyond Blunderdome; a script by Marcel Marceau; punches that echo like tin in flashbacks; a braless post-apocalypse; Richard Moll only not Richard Moll; Syd Haig only not Syd Haig; and Steve Sandor only not – oh, wait.

More details here.


Hey kids, it’s the post-apocalypse! And as explained in the ponderous opening narration, "The nuclear holocaust wiped out any semblance of rhyme and reason," which sets us up for an utter lack of popping and break dancing in the desolate radiated wastelands. But there is a big-haired chick in distress being chased by leather-clad goons in a weapons-grade Impala. But despite being clad as Skid Row sex maniacs, the goons are really after hotty’s water which is as scarce as an un-pinched penny at a Scotsman convention. Pfft, the Scots! But the goons are also aware that the girl may be hiding the secret location of a long-lost spring and endless supply of fresh water. So just as the goons pin her down, a mysterious stranger in a Mustang pulls up and offs the baddies with the help of another stranger who pulls up in a motorcycle. Mustang guy is Stryker (Steve Sandor), a man of few words (seriously, there’s about 7 pages of dialogue max in the movie), and motorcycle guy is Bandit (mike Ostrander), a man of fewer less coherent, possibly dubbed words. The three discover they have a common enemy, an Anton LaVey-ish thug named Kardis (Mike Lane) who along with his tubby Master-Blaster wannabe control the last known town in the entire nuked county. Kardish killed Stryker’s best gal, ousted the girl’s (sorry, didn’t catch her name) father into the wasteland, and cock-blocked Bandit in flashback they didn’t bother to include. So some confusing stuff follows. After the shootout with the goons, the girl steals Stryker’s car but is captured by Kardis’ men and imprisoned. In the very next scene, Strkyer is seen driving his car. Huh? He then very slowly hijacks a tanker of God-knows-what with his new pal Bandit who he’s known for about ten minutes. And then they meet some little desert people (think Death Valley Ewoks), mix it up with these Amazonian ladies who impale heads with their arrows, rescue the girl from the worst maintained prison in the apocalypse, and meet up with the girl’s Dad who has found the fabled spring that Kardis seeks. Our story kinda stops here and rests for a moment, basks in over-dramatic speeches, and takes a time-killing whiz. OK, so Kardis’ men attack the spring’s hideout and all-out war ensues. Again. When it’s all done, our heroes enjoy a dance in the rain, a gift from the Big Guy Upstairs who OK’d the apocalypse, because you see evil was defeated and the prize is a baptism of mediocrity.


No look back at 80s cinema would be complete without including a post-apocalyptic saga, most of which are extensively reviewed and analyzed by our friends at their amazing one-stop post-apoc shop Quiet Earth. Stryker (aka Survival Zone) is a relatively minor and mostly forgotten post-apoc, directed by the late Filipino legend Cirio H. Santiago, creator of such titles as Wheels of Fire, Final Mission, and the unforgettable Vampire Hookers. For the most part, the movie is standard Road Warrior-esque offering with a flair for the confusing. Characters seem to change appearance and morph from scene to scene, leading me to believe that the film may be have been two films spliced together or shot at different times. Or eras. But what really struck me about Stryker was the lack of dialogue, and what little dialogue there was consisted of awkward exposition and pompous “author’s message” filler. Wait, that shouldn’t surprise me at all. But what’s supposed to make post-apocalyptic movies work on a visceral level is the action - the gunfights and car chases and unfortunately there is very little of either in Stryker. The vehicles looks like anything you’d see parked on cinder blocks in your neighborhood, the explosions consist of lame green smoke bombs, and the borrowed tanks look like loaners from the Filipino army. Oh, wait again. On the upside, there are a few chuckle-worth moments in the film like when the tubby Master-Blaster gets doggy piled by the angry Filipino Jawas, when the leggy Amazon archers do blood-drenched yoga in the desert, and when Stryker himself finds a catchphrase, “Everyone's got their own highway to hell." And boy is he right. Mine will be paved with a thousand discarded VHS covers of every single movie I’ve seen leading me to a Movie Hell that I cannot run from nor hide. I look forward to it!

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