Being the hard-core aficionado of post-apocalyptic sci-fi/action features that I am, I naturally was pretty pumped at the prospect of finally seeing this extremely rare, forgotten and elusive genre entry after taping it in its uncut entirety off of cable. I didn't really know what to expect, since this was given a spotty release by Columbia and received extremely negative reviews by the handful of critics who bothered to see it during its fleeting theatrical run. After viewing it I can now say it's neither the best nor worst of its type. Instead, it rates as a strictly middling affair that basically does the trick but never totally amounts to anything truly special or resonant. The plot set-up is standard, but serviceable enough: Following a devastating nuclear holocaust the world has thoroughly degenerated into a bleak, harsh, desolate and dangerous hellhole where all hope has been lost, food is scarce, and vicious vulturous packs of roving ragtag psycho freaks called "ravagers" loot and kill with merciless abandon. A scuzzy band of filthy no-count "ravagers" led by ruthless sleazoid Anthony James viciously rape and murder the lovely wife (bewitching blonde Alana Hamilton) of cagey, cautious, constantly on the move loner Richard Harris, who narrowly avoids getting bagged himself. Harris makes a risky and arduous trek across the dry, barren, perilous wasteland, befriending both a lovably crackpot army sergeant (a delightfully dotty Art Carney) and a sassy lass (ravishing brunette Ann Turkel) during his journey. James and his grimy gang doggedly pursue Harris every step of the way. Harris and his newfound friends discover a heavily fortified redoubt run by benevolently jovial and avuncular dictator Ernest Borgnine. James and his foul flunkies close in to attack the fortress. Donald Sanford's neatly realized script keeps the story moving and further offers a provocative theme addressing the difficulty of regaining hope in the wake of a severe catastrophe which has rendered the world a most feral, unkind and godforsaken place. Unfortunately, Richard Compton's uneven direction runs hot and cold throughout, thereby scuppering a good deal of the sound script's potential. The film gets off to a cracking start, sags a lot at mid-point by becoming much too dull, talky and sluggish, but luckily gets back on thrilling track with a genuinely rousing conclusion. The cast is uniformly solid: Harris does well as the plausibly rumpled and rundown survival-weary protagonist, the ever-slimy lanky beanpole James makes for a splendidly scurvy villain, and both Turkel and Hamilton are quite charming as well as real easy on the eyes. Seymour Cassel as a doomed blind lawyer and the always dignified Woody Strode as a shrewd survivalist contribute nifty cameos. Fred Karlin's stirring score and Vincent Saizis' grungy cinematography are likewise up to par. Tasty trivia tidbit: Gilda Texter, the cute blonde naked girl on the motorcycle in "Vanishing Point," designed the ratty costumes. Alas, the often painfully poky pacing, infrequent outbursts of reasonably effective, albeit rather bland action, much too tame violence, and, most damagingly, a restrictive PG rating which prevents the picture from completely achieving the raw, gritty, no-holds-barred ferocious tone this baby desperately needs to fully work prevent "Ravagers" from being an all-out knock-your-socks-off winner. If it was only more lively and down'n'dirty nasty in both its content and execution then "Ravagers" would have rocked. As it is, very flawed and imperfect, but not without a few substantial merits, it's passable, but altogether nothing terribly potent or spectacular.
Drama / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Drama / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
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In a post-apocalyptic world divided between two groups called the Flockers and the Ravagers, an adventurer and his "pleasure girl" try to find their way to a rumored safe haven called the Land of Genesis.
November 8, 2021