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The Aftermath (1982) - Blu-ray Review

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Aftermath (1982) - Blu-ray Review

5 beers

I’m not sure anyone should hold a gun to the back of Sid Haig’s legendary bald head.  There’s always Hell to pay later.  Thankfully, the lasers in The Aftermath are not set to stun.  Long neglected, it is now time to welcome a true cult classic into your blu-ray library.  Mr. DeMille, The Aftermath is ready for its close-up.

All the white people have gone ka-razy in this bombastic ode to the cinematic fantasy wonders of the world that were once orchestrated by Max Steiner and Bernard Herrmann!  Make no mistake; filmmaker Steve Barkett (Dinosaur Island, Dark Universe, Empire of the Dark) is one of my cinematic idols.  His films are dedicated and fierce, sacrificing any thought of limitation due to money, and all about challenging minds and expectations.  And, alongside the wonderfully engaged soundtrack musings of composer John Morgan, they absolutely ROCK.

And The Aftermath, full of mutant marvels and scorched cityscapes that predates the themes exorcised in The Road, is a certifiable Cult Classic that is far deserving of its 2K HD restoration from VCI Entertainment.

Leave it to Dick Miller to tell us exactly how the world as we know it ends.  No more food.  No more water.  No more help, he says via a recording.  Mindless mutant monsters are what remains of the earth’s civilizations after several nuclear blasts wipes us out and the skies – especially when it thunders and rains – pour down nothing but a steady pulse of violent red rays. 

This is the dispatch he records for filmmaker Steve Barkett’s The Aftermath, a wonderfully gonzo low-budget flick that Barkett produced, directed, edited, starred in, and co-wrote with Stanly Livingston of My Three Son’s fame in 1982.  The B-grade flick was made on a dime and it shows, but the award-winning talent featured here – including Star Wars’ effects artist John Wash and Academy Award winners Robert and Denny Skotak – give the film added depth and visual determination.

For one small band of tired astronauts – Newman, (Barkett), Williams (Jim Danforth), and Mathews (Larry Latham) – their homecoming, after a yearlong mission in space doing who knows what in their tiny rocket, is not going to go as expected.  It will; however, be a memorable one because there will be nothing but phenomenal matte paintings and Styrofoam models of scorched cities to greet them.

It won’t be a hero’s welcome at all.  No parades.  No confetti.  Not even a rescue boat.  Their reentry – as they sway back and forth in their tiny cardboard constructed space capsule – is already a bizarrely silent procedure.  Where are all the people, they wonder before crashing into the Pacific Ocean, losing a member of their crew, and swimming to shore.

It is there that the truth is discovered.  Sunbathers on the beach – three of them to be specific – have been caramelized to a crispy shell of hard ash thanks to some heavy nuclear radiation.  Well, shit.  What a greeting.  And ravaging through the Hollywood Hills is a gang of evil dudes, led by Cutter (Sid Haig), who prefer their women helpless and kill all the dudes they round up. 

But lurking in the shadows and attacking at night are armies of what is left of us.  Wigged out, hollowed out, mutants.  So our NASA survivors, after coming to a fundamental disagreement in how to go forward, set up camp at some dead (and very rich) dude’s hilltop oasis before roaming the burned debris of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas around it.  Scavenge or rebuild?  In your choose your own adventure sorta way, The Aftermath rolls out and super serious in its duty to entertain. 

Our beefy Barkett, complete with a heavy stache, was born for this.  He’s well-versed, pleasing to women, and speaks softly about intelligent things facing this brave new world.  He is also well armed and ready to defend what remains of the world and its survivors from the despicable plans of Cutter and his fiends. The resulting B-grade movie is raucous, violent, and supremely bold in its limited budget undertaking to present the world as one big fallout zone.  It was originally banned in the UK and labeled a ‘Video Nasty’ upon its 1982 release but has gone on to be awarded with a very deserved cult following.

Barkett, seeking shelter from the red skies above, blasts his way into a super special museum where he meets The Curator (played by the celebrated Forrest J. Ackerman) and his ward, Christopher (played by Barkett's real-life son, Christopher Barkett).  There he gets the rest of the scoop on what happened to the Earth and he, alongside Sarah (Lynne Margulies), must outwit the very smart and very heavy-duty Manson-like charms of the vicious Cutter. 

Haig is damn brilliant in his dastardly role, dripping vitriol and rage, as he and his followers continue to kidnap and rape while crossing the burnt out fields of the west coast.  He is a living legend and delivers yet another standout performance here.  This extends to Barkett as our Homer-esque adventurer in this strange new land. 

This Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack featuring a new 2K transfer of the movie from the original 35mm print is now available to own from VCI Entertainment.  It comes highly recommended. 

Aftermath (1982) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
95 mins
Director
: Steve Barkett
Writer:
Steve Barkett
Cast:
Steve Barkett, Lynne Margulies, Sid Haig
Genre
: Sci-fi | Horror
Tagline:
Mutants - A Savage Encounter
Memorable Movie Quote: "Whatever had killed these people, it had done it so quickly."
Theatrical Distributor:
VCI Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
1982
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 23, 2018
Synopsis:A spaceship returns from deep space to find the Earth in “The Aftermath” of a nuclear and biological war. The streets are filled with mutated survivors feeding off the weak and a Manson like figure called Cutter (Sid Haig, “Lambata,” “Galaxy of Terror,” “Diamonds are Forever”) is reigning terror down on all others. Cutter and his gang of mercenary thugs, are systematically murdering all the male survivors and enslaving women and children.

Most of his targets are easy, but all that changes when Cutter confronts astronaut Newman (Steve Barkett, “Empire of the Dark,” “Dinosaur Island,” “Dark Universe”), and the woman Sarah (Lynn Margulies) he finds and falls in love with, and the young child Chris (Christopher Barkett, “Empire of the Dark”). What follows is a cat and mouse game of violent and spectacular proportions with no less than Earth’s survival in the balance.

Aftermath (1982) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: VCI Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray
- January 23, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

With an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and a strong Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, VCI’s 2K restoration of this cult classic is to be envied.  Crashing onto home theater systems with a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer sourced from the original 35mm print.  The new transfer is hard around the edges and, while some details are missing, presents the film better than it has ever looked.  The red are strong and the blues are deep.  Black levels are also very strong throughout.  Please note that the majority of the colors are pretty reasonable and while some do change every so slightly from scene to scene, one must possibly fault the quality of the original film and not the new transfer itself.  Grain is present throughout giving the transfer a nice texture.  Flesh tones are pale and shadows darken the edges of some of the close-ups.  Overall, this is a solid release that should whet the appetite of those patiently waiting for Empire of the Dark’s forthcoming release .

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Steve Barkett provides a rousing commentary to go along with his film.  Fans will not want to miss this at all as it is the long out-of-print Laser Disc commentary

Special Features:

Alongside the director’s commentary, fans get video sourced – from the original Laser Disc release – supplements featuring bonus interviews with Fred Olen Ray, Steve Livingston, composer John Morgan, and Chris Barkett.  There is a theatrical trailer, an Empire of the Dark promo (as the Blu-ray is forthcoming), and the film’s original soundtrack!  A short, Night Caller, is also included.  It stars Barkett, too. 

  • Original Laser Disc Extras (14 min)
  • The Aftermath Trailer (3 min)
  • “Night Caller” (21 min)
  • Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (70 min)
  • Empire of the Dark Promo (9 min)

Aftermath (1982) - Blu-ray Review

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