I’ve never been a huge fan of post-apocalyptic cinema. I have the utmost fondness for A Boy and His Dog, have a morbid fascination with Tank Girl and have at least nostalgia associated with the Mad Max series (yes, even the third one). That said, it has never been a genre that I’ve been intent on scouring the depths of or even stridently opposing. I just don’t really care about it. And, enter the Italian 1983 flick Exterminators of the Year 3000, a film that I had never seen until 2015 yet had heard enough about prior. But never enough – especially never enough positive – to make me overcome my disinterest in the post-apocalypse. And then it arrived at my doorstep.
Exterminators of the Year 3000 is a film that I mostly have come across due to its director, Giuliano Carnimeo, who is responsible for one of my favorite giallo films The Case of the Bloody Iris. Carnimeo has never been a major figure of Italian genre cinema, despite versatility and the occasional success, but his work is solid albeit hard to identify. His work on Exterminators is aesthetically drab – it sort of has to be – but technically sound, with it appearing to be a much higher budgeted film than it likely was all while maintaining a sort of no-frills charm. It may not hold a candle to the style of Iris, but it doesn’t really need to. This is meat and potatoes genre cinema that, while substance may not exactly be in high order, doesn’t need an eccentric pallet or fancy camera work to get by.
Carnimeo’s film concerns Earth in the year 3000, go figure, where everything is basically a fucking desert. It’s pretty much the opposite of Waterworld – and very much like 2014’s Young Ones – and will make you want to avoid the beach for a while. As with plenty of other post-apocalypse narratives, people were dumb and angry and caused some nuclear war which ravaged the planet and turned every survivor into a crazy person that either does or doesn’t ride a motorcycle. And you’ve got characters named Alien and Crazy Bull, which is about as clear as a sci-fi/western mash up as you can get.
The film doesn’t really work though. It’s fun, at times, but it seems to have greater ambitions than Carnimeo is up for. The action is fairly one-note, though violent, and nothing is all that novel. Following the likes of the Mad Max films, it feels very recycled and not in a way that’s charming or seemingly out of homage. It just seems forced and rushed. That said, it can be fun when it gets going and some of the stunt work is on point. Plus, every line that the horribly dubbed Crazy Bull says deserves to be quoted until the year 3000. That has to count for something.
Scream Factory have brought Exterminators of the Year 3000 to Blu-ray for, what I can tell, is the first time. Results are pretty uneven, which is a shame since I’m sure this one has diehard fans, but it’s likely to be expected. The film is over 30 years old and I can’t imagine that anyone has been taking the best care of its pre-print materials (if at all) and I have no idea what this transfer was sourced from, but whatever it was it couldn’t have been in good shape. The image is very soft, almost to the point that you have to wonder if it actually is meant to look that way, and there’s damage and debris that appears from time to time. It does maintain a decent level of grain, so I don’t suspect major unnecessary scrubbing, but it leaves a lot to be desired for clarity and vibrancy. Granted, this isn’t aesthetically pleasing material to begin with, but I can’t imagine that this is a faithful replication of the 35mm print when released.
Audio is in DTS HD 2.0 and in English. This was an Italian film in the 80s, so you can guarantee plenty of dubbing. And it’s pretty much all badly done. The sound does a good enough job with the dialogue but when the action and score kick in, it’s a pretty mixed bag. There’s no real fidelity to speak of and it seems unbalanced. I know the limitations of a mono track, and I’d welcome them over a poorly done 5.1 remaster any day, but this seems off to me. At least the score is awesome though.
Supplements include a commentary with actor Robert Iannucci, which from what I listened to is far more interesting than the movie itself, as well as an interview with him that goes over some of the same ground. A couple of trailers are also included and are welcome.
Exterminators of the Year 3000 certainly didn’t make me any bigger a fan of its genre, but I had fun with it for 90 minutes. Fans of the film should be happy that it’s available in HD, but aware of what they’re getting. I know that Shout are capable of better work than this, provided the materials are made available to them. But without any information regarding that, it’s hard to know what is at fault here. I’d love to see them start including liner notes as to what materials are being used for transfers, like Criterion and Arrow do, but until then we can only judge the work. And this is sub-par, unfortunately.