Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Apocalyptic Appendix N, Part 2

Thundarr the Barbarian - This closest we'll probably ever come to a Gamma World cartoon.  The opening shot with the shattered moon, overturned cars and boat jutting out of the water left an indelible mark on my young mind.  The show had some incredible pedigree - it was created by the inimitable Steve Gerber, and comics legend Jack Kirby did production design.  With a striking visual style and beautiful animation, this is one that you cannot miss.  It shows on the Boomerang channel quite a bit, so keep an eye out for it.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Starring Gil Gerard, this series ran from the end of the 70s into the early 80s.  Developed by Gary Larson, who later went on to create Battlestar Galactica, the show was an update of the classic comic strip from the 1920s.  The original TV pilot/movie was a bit different than the "swashbuckler in space" show it became.  In the pilot, Earth has been destroyed by nuclear war, and the remains of civilization live in insular cities.  Buck Rogers, reawakened after hundreds of years in cryostasis, wanders outside the clean confines of New Chicago into the ruins of the shattered city.  There he is attacked by a band of hideously deformed mutants who live in there.  They chase him through the streets until he gets to a graveyard, where he is saved in the nick of time.  Overall, the movie was better than the show, and this scene had a big part in that.  I wish they had kept that around for the series. 

The Twilight Zone, "Time Enough at Last" -  One of the classic episodes of the wonderful series, this and "A Little Peace and Quiet" stand as my favorites.  Burgess Meredith stars as a man who just wants to have time to read, but is surrounded by anti-intellectuals, from his boss at the bank to his horrible wife.  They mock his love of reading, and make his life miserable.  He goes down to the vault below the bank to read on his lunch break, and is knocked unconscious by what he thinks is an earthquake.  Emerging from the vault, he finds that the world has been devastated by a nuclear war.  Finally he has the time to read.  There is a twist at the end that, if you haven't seen it, is worth the watch.

The Last Man on Earth - I mentioned this in reference to Omega Man, but this is the best of the adaptations of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.  Even though Matheson himself didn't care for it and had his name removed from the credits, it was a stark, unflinching portrayal of the horror that comes from the notion of the world having moved on and left you behind.  The ending was wonderfully bleak, and the black and white footage was an inspiration for George Romero when it came time for him to create the Night of the Living Dead.  It's in the public domain at this point, so it should be easy to find.

Wizards - Written, directed and produced by Ralph Bakshi, this is a cult classic from 1977.  The world is destroyed by a nuclear war started by terrorists, killing most of the human population, and mutating most of what's left.  Elves, faeries and dwarves return from hiding, though, and make a peaceful life for themselves.  The Queen of Faeries gives births to two suns, one good and one evil.  They fight over the kingship when their mother dies, and the evil one, Blackwolf, is driven into the wastelands where he founds an army of mutants.  These mutants are led back to the kingdom, but lose interest and wander off before they can be victorious.  Then Blackwolf finds a secret weapon, propaganda films from Nazi Germany, which inspire his mutant legions, and all bets are off.  Both the art and tone of this film vary widely, and at times it's tough to tell how seriously you're expected to take it, but it's a film that is well worth the time spent, and deserves it's cult favorite status.

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