||WOWWOWWOWWOWWOWWOWWOWWOWWOWWOW--The Raiders Of Atlantis may come as close as you’ll get to finding a color companion piece to The Creeping Terror, its delightful stinkiness is that profound! And considering CT is my hands-down favorite junkfilm, there is no higher compliment.
With so many goofy aspects, it’s difficult to choose a place to start. May as well begin with the hilariously shameless title, huh? Not only did the scripters “borrow” a reference to a little picture concerning a certain Lost Ark, but Atlantis’ denouement contains a scene where the heroes have to make their way through a treacherous enclosure lined with all sorts of ornate booby-traps.
Ordinarily, such a rip, er, “tribute” would be a massive groan-inducer; however, when you take into account the above is only a small part of the whole and the rest of the film has absolutely nothing to do with “the other Raiders,” it is actually quite enjoyable encountering yet another out-of-left-field turn in a movie that has more swerves than a cobra in a hula contest.
The Raiders Of Atlantis is the film equivalent of a hoagie. “We’ll throw in a little bit of this (currently popular element) a little of this and a little of that and that--not to mention cheese, baloney and a few hams--and even though sauerkraut, cole slaw and melted marshmallows don’t ordinarily go in the same sandwich, what the hell.”
In the first of 47 reminders it’s the Eighties, we meet our action-loving male leads, two buddies, Mohammed and Mike, one black and one white (hello, Beverly Hills Cop…and Lethal Weapon…and 48 Hrs…and….), who can’t peel a banana without a melee ensuing.
Seems a Russian submarine with a nuclear payload--this was in the good old days, when the Commies were designated provocateurs in all global threats--hit bottom near Miami, and in the course of a mission to recon the sub, the assigned scientists discover a mysterious tablet they struggle to decipher but believe may be proof of the existence of Atlantis. With remarkable timing, radioactive material leaks from the sunken craft, an event that, as any school child could tell you, always causes domed “lost continents” to rise to the surface. And, well, well, well, unbeknownst to her, the pretty unattached female with the research team appears to be an Atlantian queen.
Or high priestess.
Naturally, the resurrection of Atlantis triggers a band of locals--theorized to be descendants of the vanished tribe--to go into full Mad Max mode, terrorizing the neighborhood in tricked-out cycles and heavily customized 1940s American cars they apparently had in double-secret storage their entire adult lives until this cataclysm (along with the leather wardrobes and kabuki face paint that almost disguises the fact most are Filipinos.)
This army is led by a businessman suddenly inspired to wear a clear glass bubble over his head; Fearless Leader never speaking, simply jerking a stick forward to signal “attack.”
And pounce they do, as our band of heroes run so hard for cover, it causes broad daylight to instantly turn into nighttime, and vice versa when they dash to another locale. Say, that’s some damn fine running, when either the power of your footsteps effects the rotations of the planet or you went so fast, you broke the time barrier!
Luckily, there are rifles, pistols and explosives lying around in the buildings Mo, Mike and the egghead quintet select as shelters. Better still, they’re the sort of firearms that never run out of bullets, allowing the shooters to indiscriminately spray 20 rounds into foliage until an Atlantian stunt man takes an acrobatic spill to the ground.
(Guess it never dawned on any of the good guys to take a shot at the baddie commander. Then again, the fact that his head looks like it’s enclosed in a gumball machine may have spooked them.)
After about 70 real-time minutes of gunfights, it’s time for Honky Hero to rescue Pretty Lady, and, thankfully, the most advanced, intelligent civilization ever on Earth has decided their watertight dome should be left open when the base is under attack.
As Whitey winds his way through the aforementioned booby-trapped corridors, we learn the captive now occupies a remote room appointed with numerous video panels displaying odd faces and symbols (or was it the set of that last Gary Numan video?), and she’s undergone a full clothing, cosmetics and hair makeover…all of which she doesn’t have minutes later when the leads make their escape by helicopter…which Mike--who has never been at the controls of a copter before--is able to fly, due to having observed what the previous pilot did.
Gal no longer within their grasp, the infamously industrious Atlantians say “Screw it, we’re doomed” throw their continent lifter into reverse and sink back into the sea.
Utterly ridiculous, you say? Damn straight, it is. Defiantly, so.
The Raiders Of Atlantis is professionally produced, sufficiently budgeted and well-acted, with a very likable lead duo and excellent dubbing on the mostly Italian support cast--yet still manages to be a marvelous mess!
It is as though a fifth-grade boy with a vivid imagination but no concept of storytelling or elementary moviemaking was bestowed a birthday gift by an insanely wealthy (and insane, period) oil sheik: free reign to order the grown-ups on a film set to do anything the kid wanted; and after seven days of this, all the footage would be edited together.
“I know, we’ll film some guys with funny outfits, driving those motorcycles that look like Big Wheels…and some of them will look like my favorite, Paul Stanley of Kiss…and, and, and then we’ll have a bunch of explosions, but film it in the dark so they look more awesome…and the people will be under mind-control from aliens…no, wait, they’ll be from that country that disappeared after they built the pyramids in Egypt."
That’s the real beauty of RofA: scenes exist, somewhere between barely and not remotely having anything to do with each other. And things occur without explanation or any logical reason. They just do.
Why does that square decide to don transparent headgear? Why do Altantians want to wipe out the rest of us? Since when has Atlantis been a stone’s throw from South Beach and the size of Gilligan’s Island? Who knows?
Oh, and most everyone gets killed. Some of them perhaps multiple times.
There's a boatload of junkfilm reviews--most illustrated in the crazy new COLOR medium!--at ManorOnMovies.com. You are invited.