In the 80s Road Warrior rip-offs almost became a genre of their own with such titles as Battle Truck, Hell Comes to Frogtown, and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn littering the cinema landscape, but today’s entry is easily one of the most blatant.
Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo, Exterminators of the Year 3000 is an Italian-Spanish production that tries its best to present a post-apocalyptic future, using the standard barren desert locations, but what it failed to provide is a decent hero or even anti-hero to walk said wasteland. In Mad Max II aka Road Warrior, Mel Gibson’s character was your standard taciturn lone anti-hero, the kind that would often crop up in Westerns and who would grudgingly end up helping a group of settlers or travellers from a band of nefarious villains, but in this movie, our “hero” is Alien (Robert Iannucci) and he’s pretty much an asshole for the films entire running time. During the last act he does finally attempt to do something noble, but aside from him claiming to “Have a soul” we are given no reason for his change of heart.
As the title states, this movie takes place in the year 3000 where after a nuclear war has ruined the ozone layer mankind is finally running out of water. Bands of marauding bikers and dune buggy enthusiasts prowl the wastelands looking to steal water from anyone they come across. The leader of the vilest Exterminator gang is Crazy Bull (Fred Harris) who has a score to settle with Alien for stealing his supercar.
The main story deals with a small group of people who have managed to survive up in the mountains, but soon their crops and animals will perish as their wells are finally drying up. A member of the group had been sent out to bring back water from a secret location but never returned. Tommy (Luca Venantini), the eleven-year-old son of the missing man, stows away aboard one of the trucks on the second mission to retrieve water. This mission also fails as they encounter the Exterminators and are all killed, all except Tommy who remained in hiding with the map to the water’s location.
Tommy eventually runs into Alien and after the kid rescues him from a crashed car and gives him some of this water Alien just walks away, refusing to help the kid. This is Alien’s modus operandi for the bulk of this picture, where Mad Max was a total badass Alien is just an ass. At one point the two are captured by the Exterminators and Alien tells Crazy Bull that if they give him a bike he’ll tell them where the huge store of water is. He gets on the bike and then tells them “The Kid knows where it is” and motors away leaving the boy in the clutches of these psychopathic outlaws. As the gang proceeds to try and torture the information out of the eleven-year-old boy we are left wondering. “Are we actually supposed to like Alien, at all?” Our asshat of a hero does return to rescue the kid but only after the Exterminators have ripped his arm off while trying to draw and quarter him between two motorbikes. It’s lucky for all concerned that Tommy just so happens to have a bionic arm and Alien is able to duct tape it back on.
Alien brings Tommy to an old “friend” who used to work for NASA (Allan Collins) and is able to properly repair Tommy’s bionics and even amp up the strength level of the arm. They also run into a beautiful woman by the name of Trash (Alicia Moro), who Alien once had a relationship with until he abandoned her in the middle of the desert surrounded by enemies.
That Alien agrees to join the mission to retrieve the water for Tommy’s people is only surprising in the idea that these people would actually want this guy along. And he almost immediately tries to betray them and steal the tanker truck once he finds out the location of the water. When Trash tries to stop him he chains her up and tries to leave her alone in the middle of the desert and only relents and brings her along because the tanker truck has been rigged so that only she can get it started. Just how many acts of dickishness and betrayal must one commit to no longer be considered an anti-hero and actually become the villain?
This is not a good movie. This is barely a “So bad it’s good” movie, the acting is terrible almost across the board with the horrible dubbing not helping any. The stunt driving is maybe the film’s only redeeming area as some of the crashes and bike jumps are pretty impressive. Sadly there isn’t enough of it during the film’s 90-minute running time to make it worth the slog.
What is worse is that when the story finally rolls to a thudingling dull conclusion it manages to render the entire film pointless. Alien and Trash find the location of the water at this strange facility rigged with all kinds of booby-traps and manned by mutants in A.I.M. outfits, but later after they fight and defeat Crazy Bull’s forces the water in their tanker truck is accidentally drained out by Shadow (Beryl Cunningham), his chief henchperson.
When our heroes return to the facility to refill the pissed-off mutants self-destruct the place… and then it begins to rain. Our heroes cheer as the clouds roll in and rain pours down despite the fact that now all that pain, death, and destruction you had to endure is now moot. That’s just genius storytelling.
That the filmmakers thought that changing the desire for gas in Road Warrior to water here was enough to give this film its own identity is a joke and the punchline of “It all meant nothing” did not help. There are no real likable characters in this movie and aside from a few nice stunts, there is barely anything here to recommend. This is a film solely for post-apocalyptic future aficionados.
Exterminators of the Year 3000
As Road Warrior rip-offs go this has to be near the bottom of the barrel. The anti-hero is a complete jerk and it’s hard for me to say this but sadly a bionic armed kid isn’t enough to make this worth your time.