Subversive Cinema // 1984 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 31st, 2006
If by "future," you mean the "mid-1980s."
One part National Lampoon, two parts Bananarama, Future-Kill is a fine example of '80s trash, though it falls just short of being compelling '80s trash.
In the future, New Wave hairdos have made a glorious comeback and nuclear arms have leapt back to the forefront of the hippie consciousness. A gang of anti-nuclear "mutants" (they're not really mutants) have taken to the streets to protest nuclear weapons, but their demonstrations are usually accompanied by violence and fire. This is thanks to the instability of Splatter (Edwin Neal, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), one of the more powerful mutants around and the one most prone to applying physical pain to passersby. Splatter has clad himself in some crazy metal armor and likes to beat up prostitutes in his spare time. He's a bad dude.
Meanwhile, back at Animal House, some frat boys have been sent to the mutant stomping grounds to kidnap one of the protestors' leaders as a prank. But when the overzealous college boys run into Splatter, the night's plan quickly goes down the tubes. Splatter wastes the mutant leader and pins the slaying on the frat boys. Now lost in a strange world, with psychotics on their tail, the boys must survive the night and maybe learn a little lesson or two about not judging a book by its cover.
If that plot description sounds like The Warriors, that's because it is the plot description of The Warriors. Essentially, Future-Kill is a half-assed aping of the Walter Hill classic, just with a lot more gore, bare breasts, and weirdly juxtaposed sophomoric humor. If it were a little worse and a little hokier, then it might be worth checking out just for its schlock value. As it is, Future-Kill is neither good nor bad enough to earn those coveted cheese points.
However, there might be something else at work here to attract viewers. If Future-Kill fails to impress as a whole, the surreal juxtaposition of raunchy frat-house comedy with hardcore sci-fi horror is something I haven't seen before. It really feels like two different movies with two vastly different tones were scrunched together. The first 30 minutes is comprised of "zany" college hijinks as two frat houses war against each other, resulting in one guy ending up tarred and feathered and a couple of others finding themselves in bed with a topless fat woman. Breasts, cornball sound work, and actors hamming it up like their lives depended on it -- not what you'd expect after taking a peek at the bad-ass H.R. Giger artwork that adorns the cover of this DVD. Fast-forward a bit and the film takes a neck-snapping turn of atmosphere, exemplified by the brutal, bloody murder by one of the frat boys at the hand of Splatter. Like that, we're into the second act, full of misogyny, stabbings, and nudity of a less playful nature.
Here, Future-Kill wants to be an action film, but action scenes are limited to a bunch of jerks pretty much just running around at night. Slowing the pace down is a prolonged concert sequence full of horrible music, but the flick manages to regain some juice at the very end, in a neon-blasted chase scene in a nuclear laboratory, leading to a sweet ending death scene. No spoilers, but it's a crowd-pleaser, jammed with lingering shots of a melting face spurting fluids.
As for the presentation, I have no doubt Subversive Cinema did its best, but the source materials for this film must really blow; the picture is horrible, with night scenes (the most predominant in the movie) grainy and soft. Two extras of note: a fun, self-deprecating commentary with Edwin Neal and Ronald Moore, and a 30-minute interview with Neal. Bios, trailers, and a slick poster of the cover art finish things off.
Future-Kill sports a few inspired moments, but sits in that awkward place of being crappy but not gleefully crappy. Don't let the cover fool you; this film is one-third harebrained college comedy, and not a very funny one at that.
The future looks boring and hard to see. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Subversive Cinema
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Director's Commentary
* Interview with Edwin Neal
* Reproduction of H.R. Giger Original Artwork