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  Aftermath, The Apocalypse YeeshBuy this film here.
Year: 1982
Director: Steve Barkett
Stars: Steve Barkett, Lynne Margulies, Sid Haig, Christopher Barkett, Alfie Martin, Forrest J. Ackerman, Jim Danforth, Linda Steigler, Laura Ann Barkett, Larry Latham, Carole Scott, Nelson Ackerman, Eric Caidin, Dick Miller, Mark Crum, Danny Dutton
Genre: Action, Trash, Science Fiction
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future, and off Planet Earth a trio of astronauts making a return journey home discover that things are not as rosy as they were when they left. They can find no signs of life, no Mission Control, not even any television or radio stations broadcasting, and wonder what could possibly have befallen the world. They decide they have to land anyway, to brace themselves for what is effectively a crash, exacerbated by their instruments unhelpfully exploding on re-entry. One survives, Newman (Steve Barkett), who washes up on the shore and finds himself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where outlaw gangs roam and victimise the wandering citizens who are left...

The number of times the name "Steve Barkett" appears in the opening credits, along with some other Barketts, should alert you to the provenance of The Aftermath: yes, it was vanity project time, and this low-budgeter has been troubling home entertainment enthusiasts ever since it was released in the early nineteen-eighties. It began as a home movie project in the late seventies but director (among other duties) Barkett was "unhappy" with what he created and chose to take another run at it a short time after, which was what video renters of that decade would be faced with should they have given this a go, most likely based on the cover art, reminiscent of Mad Max and others.

From Robot Monster and its ilk onwards it has proven pretty cheap to make a post-apocalypse science fiction entry, and so it was here, on about the same level of accomplishment though not as consistently amusing. Genre movies were littered with examples of amateurs wishing to make their mark for posterity, and some of those would graduate to decent levels of professionalism, but there are always those for whom obscurity knocked, and though Barkett went on to a career behind the scenes in television, and indeed directed one more film released around ten years later, he will never be mentioned in the same breath as your Tobe Hooper or Sam Raimi and the like.

That was because of one element: Barkett was plainly obsessed with being a star filmmaker, with as many strings to his bow as possible, and that was his downfall as this looked like an hour and a half of one major ego trip, needlessly narrated by himself, no less. He wanted to bring his family into this, so his son played the kid Newman meets up with to try to survive, and various other members of his clan showed up in differing capacities, which begged two questions: first, why not just make a home movie for his kids, and second, why, if this was for his little ones to enjoy, did he include so many rape scenes and instances of gory violence? What on earth did he tell them when they were sat around watching this? Did he fast forward those trashy sequences? It was as if his lust for glory had trounced any vestiges of good taste.

I mean, Sid Haig played the main villain, Cutter, and he was not exactly well known for holding back in his evildoing when it came to the roles he was usually cast in, and so it was that too much of this included material that someone more rooted in the industry would either have handled better, or simply been wise enough not to include at all. With Barkett in almost every scene and hogging the camera when he was, he quickly became ridiculous - not for want of trying to be ingratiating, but you could well understand why so many who risked watching this were deeply unimpressed with his focus on how great he wanted you to think he was, by the end a gun-obsessed Charles Bronson wannabe. He had some connections to the then-fan community, so effects man Jim Danforth assisted and appeared, and superfan (and latterly exposed sex pest) Forrest J. Ackerman had more to do as a museum curator than his usual cameo appearances, though perhaps more interesting was the female lead, Lynne Margulies who was comedian Andy Kaufman's last partner, and here suffered the ignominy of Barkett seducing her for a non-rape scene. Really, if you weren't laughing, then this held no appeal for anyone outside of the director's circle of family and friends. Near-non-stop music by John Morgan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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