FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 20, 2007

future's so bright, it looks like 20 years ago

Let’s get a few things out of the way up front concerning Ronald Moore's 1985 cyberpunk-lite thriller Future-Kill:

-Yes, the HR Giger-designed poster art is the most terrifying thing about the film.
-The “future” of Future-Kill is actually the mid-‘80s.
-The novelty of seeing Texas Chainsaw alums Edwin Neal and Marilyn Burns reunited in a cyberpunk-lite thriller, coupled with the film’s earnest charm pretty much overshadows all the big fat shortcomings- for me, anyway.

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from Future-Kill, but whatever it may have been, the movie certainly delivered something completely different.

Wait, I do know what I was expecting: a post-apocalyptic slasher movie. Yeah, that’s it! When the title FUTURE-KILL appeared on the screen in a computeriffic font one letter at a time- each letter accompanied by a “pew pew!” sound, natch- followed by the sight of a metal-clad, mohawked Edwin Neal, I was sure I was in for a post-apocalyptic slasher flick. Somehow, though, the film got lost on its way to Pismo Beach (must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque) and turned into a…a…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Neal stars as Splatter, a psychotically violent member of an anti-nuke group known as The Mutants. The Mutants, peaceful as they may be under the leadership of Eddie Pain (Doug Davis), are hated and feared by the conservative population. They’re totally like the X-Men, you know? Except instead of being “real” mutants and having powers and flying around and shit, they just put on too much eye makeup (it draws attention to their cause, man!) and live in the ghetto.

"Why I oughta..."

Before you can say “Omigod whoever would have thought that someday there would be so many anti-nuke protesters that they’d have to splinter off from the rest of society and form their own community? And omigod again, Edwin Neal looks like the love child of the Ultimate Warrior, Wez from The Road Warrior, and Patti Smyth from the video for the song 'The Warrior'!”, however, Future-Kill changes course and becomes a wacky ‘80s frat comedy.

Say WHAT?!

Yes, here we are at a rockin' frat party, complete with inflatable dolls, nerds, keg stands, and the item I now covet most in the whole entire world, a Deep Throat pinball machine.

No frat party would be complete without nutty hijinks, and boy oh boy, does Future-Kill deliver! When our heroes (I couldn’t be bothered to learn their names, sorry) tar-n-feather the leader of a rival house, their “punishment” ties the disparate movie halves together: the boys are forced to don some primo Toyah Wilcox-style makeup and head into the ghetto to kidnap a Mutant. Golly, kidnapping sure is fun!

Unfortunately, The Frat Boyz cross paths with Splatter before they can nab their target, none other than Eddie Pain himself. Splatter kills Pain in a bid to take over the Mutants; he blames the murder on The Frat Boyz and the chase is on. The Boyz then have to find their way home, battling their way through strange turf. After revealing this major plot development, let’s take a moment to run through our “warrior”-related checklist, shall we? So far we’ve got nods to:

- The Ultimate Warrior
- The Road Warrior
- “The Warrior”
- The Warriors

If only we could tie A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors into this somehow…

I’d also like to mention that “Splatter kills Pain” sound like something out of American Gladiators: To the Extreme! Where’s Zap when you need her?

Anyway, at this point in the proceedings, yes, Future-Kill comes to resemble The Warriors quite a bit- there’s lots of running around empty, poorly-lit streets and punching. Sadly, the bad guys in Future-Kill (with the exception, perhaps, of Splatter himself) resemble nothing so cool and badass as The Baseball Furies from The Warriors; rather, most of them look like the Super Mario Brothers in “heroin chic” eye makeup.

The Frat Boyz save a Mutie Hooker from rape at the hands (and…err, the penises) of some crooked cops. Reluctantly, The Mutie Hooker decides to help The Frat Boyz find their way home. On their journey, of course, everyone learns that underneath all the abused Maybelline products and the Izod polo shirts, we’re all the same. We all have feelings and dreams and hearts that sometimes ache.


Mutie Hooker takes The Frat Boyz to see Dorothy Grim- yes, folks, it’s Marilyn Burns…and she’s not afraid to poke a bitch with an oversized novelty fork.

Grim agrees to help The Frat Boyz only if they’ll help her get rid of Splatter once and for all- et cetera et cetera, gooey denouement.

So…Future-Kill. It’s…well, what is it, exactly? ‘Tis an odd duck, to be sure. I mean, it’s half frat house comedy, half cyberpunk-wannabe-Warriors ripoff. There’s an explanation for this, courtesy of Edwin Neal in an interview on the DVD- the first draft of the script was too short, so they padded it out…with comedy.

I said it explains it…it doesn’t, however, excuse it. Why didn’t the filmmakers pad out the script with more Splatter antics, rather than keg party antics? I guess that’ll remain one of the history’s mysteries.

Then there’s Marilyn Burns and Ed Neal in their getups, which, after having seen them both in Chainsaw...I could only smile a little and shake my head more. Awesomely bizarre. There’s also an obligatory club scene, wherein we’re treated to two songs by some no-name punk-lite band and Grade-A ‘80s dancing. While the scene only serves to slow down the proceedings, I’m sure that if I’d seen this when I was in 8th grade- when I wore my Fuzzbox cassette down to a warble- I’m sure I would’ve crowned this flick the Best Movie Ever.

Despite its numerous flaws, despite its general silliness, I still found myself enjoying Future-Kill. Why? I’m not quite sure. Was it the Texas Chainsaw alums? Was it the “pew pew pew!” title placard? Was it the Escape From New York-like plonky synth soundtrack? It could be all of those things, or it could be none of them. While watching, though, I got the feeling that the impetus behind this movie was someone simply declaring, “Hey! Let’s make a fucking movie!”…and then they all got together and they did it. I like that. Wait, that’s the key- Future-Kill’s got moxie!

And eye makeup. Lots of eye makeup.

I give it 5 out of 10 “Cannnn yooooou dig it?”s.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that would have been prime MST3K material back in the day.

Excellent work as always, Stacie.

Anonymous said...

This is one for our 80's teen sex comedies thread on the forums if there ever was.

S said...

I must OWN this movie!! I hope (but doubt) that it can be found on region 2 dvd!

Anonymous said...

When I was a teenager, in the '70s, our family had a couple of pinball machines. I pretty much had my fill of them back then - but now that I know that a Deep Throat pinball machine exists...well, let's just say I HAVE to own one. Just the possibilities for jokes warrants its purchase. I mean, they almost write themselves...

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Wow. You and Ken Begg reviewed this movie in the same week. What are the odds?

Stacie Ponder said...

David- thanks for the link. The planets seriously aligned on this one. I'd never heard of this so-called "Ken Begg"...what an incredibly thorough review! And I completely agree with what he called Ed Neal's "Robin Williams-itis"; I just wanted him to stop with the wacky voices.

This movie is, undoubtedly, terrible. But who says you can't enjoy a terrible movie? :D

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Ken is a god of overly thorough reviews. That FutureKill review is a short one for him.

Amanda By Night said...

Toyah Wilcox AND her makeup are boss.


I did Future Kill many years ago and remember nothing now. It's definitely up for a re-watch.

Awesome review!

Anonymous said...

That Deep Throat pinball machine popped up (no pun intended) in another Texas lensed "TCM Alumni" thriller titled Mongrel. It was directed by TCM production designer Robert Burns.

Just some random info.

Unknown said...

I couldn’t be bothered to learn their names

I've watched (and even written about) (and hell, even liked) so many movies like that.