2019: After the Fall of New York

Apocalyptic bandits prepare for battle.2019: After the fall of New York is another entry into the Italopocalypse genre that ruled the Sci-Fi isles during the video cassette era.  The film stars Michael Sopkiw as Kurt Russell and generally follows the same blend of Mad Max meets Escape from New York formula that most of these films did with one exception: screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi  managed to inject a unique premise into the film.  That and one of the greatest clown robots in the history of clown robots.

This is the plot of 2019: After the Fall of New York:

In 2019, worldwide female infertility has led to the collapse of society. The Europe/Africa/Asia alliance, the last known stable nation, is deluged by asylum seekers. In response it has become a militarized police state as forces round up and murder the population.

And now this is the plot of Children of Men:

In 2027, worldwide female infertility has led to the collapse of society. The United Kingdom, the last known stable nation, is deluged by asylum seekers. In response it has become a militarized police state as British forces round up and detain immigrants.

And now, a key meeting from 2019: After the Fall of New York:

Picasso's Guernica as featured in 2019: After the Fall of New YorkAnd one from Children of Men.

Picasso's Guernica as featured in Children of MenNow, I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but the six screenwriters that adapted P.D. James’s 1992 novel might have been inspired by one of the more original premises to come out of a well worn genre.  I wasn’t able to track down much about the screenplay except that it was nominated for an Academy Award, so I’ll just have to chalk it up to one of the most incredible coincidences in cinema history.

In addition to the storyline, 2019 also features demolition derby, punk rockers, flame throwers, laser crossbows, the ubiquitous Hal Yamanouchi, the incomparable George Eastman and the most beautiful woman to ever eat rats on film.  As far as the genre goes, 2019 is one of the standout offerings despite a bit of lag in the middle, and features better acting than you would expect.  It’s too bad Oscar didn’t take notice.

In consolation I would like to say, here’s to you Ernesto Gastaldi, you should have been nominated for the Academy Award back in 1983, but I guess you were just edged out by the riveting storycraft of Diner or Tootsie.  Still we here at Costume Box Theater would like to offer you this sad synthesized trombone solo as our appreciation for your work.  Enjoy, you earned it.

1990: The Bronx Warriors

Ogre, Leech and the Riders listen to some piano music.1990: The Bronx warriors is one of the many Italopocalypse films released in the 80s to capitalize on the success of films such as the Warriors and Mad Max. It’s ostensibly about New York City street gangs, but nothing in the film comes close to resembling any that ever existed which leads me to believe that Enzo Castellari based the story on Italian gangs. If that is the case, I’m moving to Rome tomorrow.

The year is 1990 and the Bronx has been declared a no-man’s land, so basically this film could have taken place whenever. We are informed of this by a title card which is appreciated considering the abundance of traffic driving around in the background of the film, although they could have made more attemps at proofreading the thing.

The film concerns the disappearance of Ann played by Stefania Girolami Goodwin. Goodwin is Castellari’s daughter and while I would usually be first to call nepotism, she’s actually one of the better actors in the film. See, Ann doesn’t like the corporation her father works for so she does what any Manhattan socialite would do and runs into the arms of a dirt-poor ruffian in the outer boroughs. I would say the Bronx, but most of this movie is filmed in or around Brooklyn. Castellari thought thought “Brooklyn Warriors” sounded too much like a baseball team so he used the Bronx in the title instead. Good call.

The ruffian in question is named Trash and he is one of the most fascinating characters to ever grace the screen. Trash is played by Mark Gregory, who is just a finger shorter than Manute Bol, has Linda Blair’s hair stylist, moves as if his spine has been grafted to the back of his mom jeans in what can only be described as a constipated strut and might be the only person in the universe whose accent makes him sound dumber than Joe Dallesandro. And oddly, it works for him. It shouldn’t, but there is something about the combination that makes Trash a joy to behold, a sort of anti-charisma that binds the rest of this mess together.

Joining trash is Ice, played by real-life hero Dr. Joshua Sinclair, but looking here like John Lennon in a Webelos uniform and then there is Blade, who joined the Riders after being kicked out of Tom of Finland’s sketchbook for being what Freddie Mercury described as “too much.” In order to make guess-the-actors even easier, the rest of the gang was filled out with actual New York City Hell’s Angels. They also have their own drummer.

Like any gang the Riders need a roller-skating rival, and the Zombies are more than happy enough to oblige. The Zombies look nothing like zombies, which would be fine if there weren’t a gang in the film that looked exactly like zombies. The Zombies look more like hockey players on roller skates wearing Prussian helmets and red spandex unitards in lieu of uniforms. Fine, I am willing to accept that. What I can’t accept is their training compound. The Zombies compound, which is featured heavily in the film consists of nothing but trampolines and tire swings and the only training the Zombies seem to engage in is synchronized rollerskating and low-impact calisthenics. There is also not one, but two Richard Simmons lookalikes.

The gangs continue to disintegrate in terms of both feasibility and intimidation until the very pinnacle of clusterfuck is finally reached. A Jazz and Tap gang complete with canes and bowler hats:

Thank god the best gang in the world arrives to save what could have been a total waste of concept. There is no organization in the world I would rather join than Ogre (Fred Williamson) and his lounge crew.  The gang is comprised of yuppie pimps named after areas in southern California, they live in the old Renwick hospital on Roosevelt Island which they refer to as The Bronx and have a house soft rock band made up of two mimes on piano and conga drums.  They also have a mysterious member named The Leech that we learn in the beginning is “a blood freak” that would turn Manhattan into a graveyard if he could.  This character is never developed.  I’m convinced this gang exists in Rome, there is no way Castellari invented this.

Despite all of the loose ends, or because of it, or both, 1990 the Bronx Warriors is probably the best of the Italian post-apocalypse ripoff films to come out of the 80s.  A large part of this is due to director Enzo Castellari who, no matter what budget or premise he was handed, was always able to come up with something entertaining.  You can point out many flaws in his work, and many people have, but rarely is it boring.