Ruggero Deodato you may know from as the director of the infamous 'Cannibal Holocaust'. It's a powerful, visceral film that is a prime example of exploitation filmmaking. His follow up, 'House on the Edge of the Park' was another great example of a brutal movie with an unrelenting tale of home invasion. After making two films with unrelenting violence I guess Deodato decided that he needed to make a ridiculous, completely absurd film about Atlantis rising from the ocean.
Mike (Christopher Connolly) and Washington (Tony King), who insists on being called Mohamed, are mercenaries who are the best at their job. After kidnapping an old man for some unnamed colonel, the two take their payment and head on their boat for a little vacation in Trinidad. While journeying out to sea, a helicopter circles the vessel pissing off the crew of Mike, Washamed and their boy servant, Manuel. The chopper is carrying Dr. Cathy Rollins, an expert in Spanish languages, to a government research station in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The crew is composed of nuclear scientists who are trying to raise a Soviet submarine from the ocean floor.
On land, however, a group of a-typical post-apocalyptic cyber punks have taken to the streets, slaughtering the citizens of Miami. Their leader, a pleasant fellow by the name of Crystal Skull rules the violent gang. Suddenly an earthquake moves the oceans, and an island breaks the surface. There are trees, and mountains, and the island looks to be enclosed in a bubble similar to that of a vending machine toy. The research station is being taken down by the force of the water as Mike and his crew brave the storm in their boat, and they miraculously make it through. As the boat sails on, Mike and the gang run across survivors from the station and they head for land not knowing the horrors that have unfolded on shore.
In the early '80s there was a wave of Italian produced post-apocalyptic movies that came on the market. 'Atlantis Interceptors' is one of the better of the bunch as Deodato plays with many different genres to really make one ridiculously fun film. From action to comedy, to horror and thriller Deodato borrows heavily from many other films. You see shades of 'Escape from New York', 'The Road Warrior', and even some James Bond type of elements. A solid foundation, but the film also has a pretty well crafted original story. Just over-the-top enough to be absurd, but handled well enough that it isn't awful. The acting isn't that bad considering other films of its type. Tony King is solid comic relief, and does well at being that sarcastic asshole throughout the film.
The acting, being better than I expected, I was let down by the lack of violence that I've seen in other Deodato films. Many movies in his catalog are littered with gore that it was interesting to see a 'less is more' attitude to the violence. This is one area that would have improved the film as the gang, while raising hell on the beaches of Miami, doesn't really get to shine. The villain, Crystal Skull isn't really as fleshed out as you would like. He's the sort of character that really needs to be malicious and terrifying. We get a guy decapitated, and another guy spiked to death in a jungle trap. Other than that, we don't see this gang really be all that terrorizing other than slicing one or two people up with swords.
The soundtrack was another downside of the movie as the disco jams just didn't really fit the tone of the movie. It's awkward actually, and takes away from this Atlantis rising world. Thankfully you can excuse the soundtrack because there are some great action sequences with shoot-outs, motorcycles and Mad Max style cars.
As a cult movie though, 'The Atlantis Interceptors' is a real blast. It's nothing that will change your view on post-apocalyptic movies, but solid performances, over-the-top action really elevate it to something better than it really should have been. It won't be remembered as Deodato's best, but it's a fun way to spend an hour and a half.
'The Atlantis Interceptors' is currently available in the Grindhouse Experience Vol. 2 DVD Box Set. It's loaded with 20 other fantastically shitty films ranging from 'Jaws' knockoffs to foreign superhero films. It ranges about $20, and is really worth your time if you're looking for some bad movies.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Trash Bags