(AH, WAR IS HELL)
VOICE: The sun is rising and scorching sunspot radiation down upon the UNFORTUNATE heads of those outside. The wheezing and rattling of the DEAD and INFECTED is going to start again soon. My radio CRACKLES as the sun SCRATCHES its mark across the airwaves like a KOSMIC VANDAL. My MIND wanders back to the past. In darkened rooms where stories played.
(GOD SAVE MRS ETHEL SHROAKE, LONG LIVE MRS ETHEL SHROAKE)
The Bed-Sitting Room (1970) brought the absurdist humour of Spike Milligan and John Antrobus to the AFTERMATH of WORLD WAR III, which lasted exactly two minutes and twenty-eight seconds. Peace treaty included. Starring Milligan, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Arthur Lowe, Ralph Richardson and the whole of the population of Britain, this comedy of British people trying to find a semblance of normality in a world where one could quite easily mutate in a Bed-Sitting Room is an acquired taste like all of Spike’s work, but its skewed glance at what Britain once was always makes me chuckle through clenched teeth and tears.
In 1975 came another quirky expression of humour after the BOMB.
A Boy And His Dog is the story of the Post-WORLD WAR IV world of the eternally sexually frustrated Vic, the boy (Don Johnson), and his telepathic mutt, Blood, in their sardonic quest wandering the wilderness for females, popcorn and OVER THE HILL. Vic is tempted to go DOWN UNDER by a girl named Quilla (Suzanne Benton) whose scheming father (Jason Robards) wants Vic to artificially inseminate the whole female population of the underground town, Topeka and leaves Blood, injured, and above ground. Lambasted for its alleged sexism, this comedic and surreal film has become a somewhat forgotten piece in the Post-APOCALYPSE jigsaw.
Then something else altogether more brutal stirred in the real DOWN UNDER.
(IT’S THAT RAT CIRCUS OUT THERE, I’M BEGINNING TO ENJOY IT)
The Mid-Seventies brought its own crises, social upheaval and counter culture: PUNK.Its pretend battle cry of “ANARCHY!” blended in with the spikes and leather grind of HEAVY METAL and permeated throughout POP culture from the seminal Brit comic 2000AD to the bedsits of a thousand potential record labels and fanzines. George Miller’s 1979 feature, Mad Max (1979) and its sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) put the throttle down full FUCKING blast and seemed to blow DUST over everything else. Pre-Catholic lunacy leather clad Mel was the coolest anti-hero on Earth besides Johnny Alpha as he drove like a demon to avenge his wife and child while around him PUNKS raped and pillaged their way around a Third World War stricken Australia in search of precious oil. In 2006, the co-scriptwriter James McCausland wrote in an article on peak oil and the ’73 oil crisis –
“George and I wrote the script based on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late”.
Mad Max 3: Beyond The Thunderdome (1985) was a huge success but with its bigger budget, Tina Turner’s legs and a whiff of sentimentality, it seemed to have lost the rawness that made the first two films so unique.
Throughout the Eighties and Nineties there were the oddities such as Carpenter’s iconic and satirical conspiracy 1988 invasion flick THEY LIVE (I personally find this to be a FRIGHTENING documentary and includes the best fight scene in cinema, bar none) and Escape From New York (1982) showing a bleak and volatile society where CITIES have become nothing less than prisons.
James Cameron’s 1984 The Terminator brought TECHNO-FEAR to the masses and spawned a thousand Austrian Accent imitations. Gilliam’s pandemic fantasy 12 Monkeys (1995) was interesting (even with Pitt’s hammy Jack Nicholson impression) and both films hung on the old staple of TIME TRAVEL and the PARADOXES that would be involved to create a new FUTURE.
Of course, with the good comes the bad and some films should have been aborted like a RADIOACTIVE CRACK BABY. The utterly wretched Waterworld (1995) was a dead fish that even Dennis Hopper could not save. Drowning like a naughty kitten was too good for it. There was also the turgidly vacuous Tank Girl (1995)which should have stayed a hipster comic. That is all the space I am going to waste on those two.
The Noughties on the other hand brought with it a slew of worthwhile efforts not seen since the Sixties, such as 28 Days Later (2002), a film that added a new slant to the zombie movie and showed that normal humans are even more frightening than the INFECTED that they are running from. This film also heralded a new wave of zombie flicks that continues today (one might say that has been done to DEATH. Boom. Boom.) including a decent remake of Dawn Of The Dead (2004) and Romero’s own Land Of The Dead (2005) starring Dennis Hopper back from the DEAD, so to speak, as well as the emergence of the Zombie Comedy genre with Shaun Of The Dead (2004) followed by Zombieland (2009). Zombies went well and truly gone mainstream with even Channel 4 in England showing Charlie Brooker’s splENDid Dead Set (2008), a zombie story set in a reality TV show and AMC’s tense and mean adaptation of the comic, The Walking Dead (2010). Please, no more.
A cinematic treat of note is the intelligent, almost BIBLICAL, Children Of Men (2006) by Spanish director Alfonso Cuarón with some thrilling action scenes and genuinely gritty sets, in a story concerning the worldwide infertility of women and the consequences on a species knowing it is going to die.
Of course, there are also the big budget studio efforts trying to cash in on the FEAR of being alive in the END TIMES, sorry, I mean the 21st Century.
2012 and The Day After Tomorrow were the tritest of the lot. The former based on a misunderstanding of a Mayan prophecy, the Apocalypse has finally gone fully sooper-dooper SFX mainstream entertainment. World War Z (2013) starring Brad Pitt was amusing not only to see U.N. trouble shooter Pitt stumbling aimlessly around a tiny depressed Welsh village like a disaster tourist, but also for a scene where Israel lets pitiful Palestinian refugees in to its territory out of the kindness of its falafel-eating heart. That one had me in stitches. The best recent biggie of all, Elysium (2013), by South African Neill Blomcamp of the masterful District 9 (2009) fame, tells of a world sharply divided between the haves and have nots as the world’s rich loaf around avoiding death in a space station above an Earth that has been left to ruin and an America where immigration has pushed Spanish to top English as the lingua franca. Matt Damon plays a victim of chance determined to stay alive. Suffice to say both Pitt and Damon save the world in true Hollywood fashion and life goes on as we all hold hands and sing One Vision.
(IT’S THE ENGINES, CAP’N. THEY CANNAE TAKE ANYMORE. )
We are now living in a Sci-Fi world of our own making; with portable communication devices and a worldwide communication network. We have everything we WANT at our fingertips. (Note: WANT, not NEED) Computers are everywhere and are so ingrained in our way of life that most are INVISIBLE. We can enter into VIRTUAL worlds of our own making and live out our fantasies however high or tawdry. Our species life expectancy is longer now than at any time in the past. Bubble-headed TV shows designed to take the worries of the big bad world away from us. Ice cream in a thousand flavours in the average supermarket.
We should be happy.
But we are not.
Especially the French.
It all comes at a price.
New viruses appear monthly to make us wash our hands in ANXIETY; our species is breeding so rapidly that if every family in the world had the lifestyle of the average American family, we would need five Earths just to support us; there are CCTV cameras on almost every street corner for our “safety”; our governments are playing with our money willy-nilly and getting away scot free; the proliferation of WMDs to so-called “rogue states” is imminent and the tendency towards WWIII seems to be going UP and DOWN like a zombie STRIPER’s rotting knickers; our society is based on a fundamental resource that not only POISONS us and our environment but is depleting fast, and as for Climate Change (or is it AGW?), well, as for Climate Change … The jury is out on that one, I am afraid.
Tornadoes in Derby?
A Lovelockian tragedy just around the corner?
Is it all just a scam to justify the eco-fascism of AGENDA 21?
Do YOU believe a word Al Gore utters?
The PARANOID VOICE sees the Post-Apocalyptica all around HIM and has to admit that HE does not feel much HOPE for the future, no matter what the sound-bites tell us.
However, the VOICE is not worried.
HE is a JOYFUL PESSIMIST.
NATURE may sneeze and off some of us tumble, but when Rome begins burning HE will be on HIS veranda with a Strawberry Daiquiri, searching for HIS violin.