Riding on a crowded subway at the height of rush hour is nothing compared to being forced to eat sewer rats off the end of a skewer. At least that's what I kept telling myself as I basked in the entertaining glow of 2019: After the Fall of New York, a post-apocalyptic thrill ride that has more villainous, ponytail-sporting brunettes than every Hollywood film that it purportedly "borrows" its ideas from. Oh, and I don't mean to imply that I like riding the subway during the hellish period known as "rush hour." On the contrary, I would much rather live in the radioactive wasteland that's depicted in this film's universe. Why is that, you ask? Well, for starters, everyone is sterile. Which is perfect, as I'm always getting chicks pregnant; they don't call me the Reverse Creampie Champion of South Central Ohio for the nothing (check their non-existent website if you don't believe me). In a world without babies, who do you think would come out on top after the fallout had cleared? If you said those pesky Europeans. You would be right. You wanna know why the Europeans rule what's left of the world? It's simple. No, it's got nothing to do with their healthy attitude toward sex or their obsession with soccer. Remember that brunette with the ponytail I alluded to earlier? You do? Excellent. You see, she's a woman, and she plays an important role in the daily operation of Eurac (a Europe run alliance that includes Africa and Asia). Sure, she's not the biggest cheese in the drawer where the cheese and other cheese-related products are kept (that distinction goes to some bald motherfucker), but at least she has a hand in running things. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Pan American Confederacy, a small yet determined group of Americans who hope to recapture the ground they lost to the Eurac, in that, they have no women working in positions of power. At least none that I saw hanging around their antiseptic Alaskan compound.
In hindsight, maybe the Americans don't have any women. Hold on a second, that doesn't make any sense. I'm sure there are some ladies kicking around somewhere. Unless they were all killed while being experimented on. Typical male thinking. Oh-no, women can't get pregnant! What are we going to do? I know, let's perform experiments on them–you know, in order to find out what's wrong with them. Never once thinking to themselves that it's the defective sperm floating around inside their testicles that's the problem. No matter what the reason is, I think it's safe to say that I'm reading way too much into the film's imaginary take on gender dynamics.
Look at the once flourishing city of New York City, it's skyline is a smoldering shell of its former self. Who's responsible for this? The Eurac monarchy, that's who, a powerful Euro-Afro-Asian alliance who rained nuclear hellfire on the city. Claiming what's left of Manhattan as their own, the Eurac, and gangs of local mercenaries, like, the Harlem Hunters, scour the streets, armed with crossbow-style rifles, spiky clubs, and flamethrowers, in search of New Yorkers.
You can spot them by looking at the pus-laden lesions on their faces.
The idea is to wipe out, exterminate, if you will, the last vestiges of human life in the city, so that the Eurac may set the stage for their new society. Only problem is, there hasn't been a human baby born in over fifteen years. Anyway, the flamethrowers look cool and the crossbow-style rifles fired by the Eurac cavalry sound eerily similar to the phasers used in The Beast in Space.
As the Eurac cavalry and their flamethrower-wielding allies cleanse the streets of Manhattan, Parsifal (Michael Sopkiw) is about to engage in some vehicular combat out in the Nevada desert. A bloodsport, complete with prizes and a punk-friendly audience, the no-nonsense Parsifal battles other cars, most of which are equipped with cannons; think of it as a live action version of Twisted Metal: Black. Speaking of demented clowns, I want the female clown automaton who repeats the line, "To the victor: long life and happiness," after Parsifal destroys/kills all the other drivers. What do you mean, you want it? Exactly that, I want to own the the creepy female clown automaton from 2019: After the Fall of New York; the herky-jerky way she moved, the eyeball on top of her head and the deadpan manner in which she spoke was very appealing to me.
One of the rewards for winning the car war is a brunette sex slave named Flower (Siriana Hernandez), who he puts on the back of his three-wheeled motorcycle, and proceeds to hit the road.
Deciding that owning a brunette sex slave isn't all it's cracked up to be, he let's her ride off on a horse belonging to one of the guys Parsifal puts out of his misery by the side of the road (they were coughing up green slime as a result of drinking radioactive water). Zapped by a stun gun (the prop master who worked on Barbarella just called, he wants his rayguns back), Parsifal wakes up in the secret hideout for the Pan American Confederacy, which is located somewhere in Alaska. What do they want with Parsifal? It would seem that the president (Edmund Purdom) knows the whereabouts of the world's last fertile woman, and wants Parsifal, of all people, to bring her back so that they [The Pan American Confederacy] may start producing babies again.
Suspicious of the president's motives, Parsifal approaches his offer with the right amount of caution. I mean, why should he trust him? After all, he's a politician. Mulling it over for a few seconds, Parsifal reluctantly agrees to go on the mission. Since the president doesn't trust Parsifal either, he assigns Bronx (Paolo Maria Scalondro), a claw-handed former New Yorker (the Eurac killed his family and made him watch) and Ratchet (Romano Puppo), an eye-patch-sporting strongman, to accompany him.
Did the trumpet player who toots his horn just out Manhattan remind anyone of the scene from Cafe Flesh where Max Melodramatic plays the trumpet during a break in the show? No? Okay, moving on. The plan is simple: Find the fertile woman, and bring her back to Alaska. However, as they soon find out, getting into Manhattan is easy. It's getting out part that is downright impossible. Though, I should say, getting in isn't that east either. Unless you consider crawling through rat-infested sewers easy.
After battling some Harlem Hunters at an abandoned bus depot (great location, by the way), Parsifal, Bronx, and Ratchet find themselves back in the sewers. It's here where we're introduced to the Rat Eater King (Hal Yamanouchi) and his merry band of Rat Eaters. The sight of the clearly demented Rat Eater King, his face covered with lesions, whipping rats with his trusty whip was the definition of badass. You see, by whipping them, the Rat Eater King stuns the rats in order that his fellow Rat Eaters can stab them with greater efficiency (a stunned rat is easier to stab than a rat that hasn't been stunned). As the Rat Eaters are stabbing rats, Parsifal notices a blonde Rat Eater poking rats like a pro. Even though I thought the bald chick with the lesions on the side of her head was the most attractive Rat Eater, I can't argue with Parsifal's choice. At any rate, before he can make goo-goo eyes with Giara (Valentine Monnier), the threesome must save a little person, who, of course, is named Shorty (Louis Ecclesia), from being killed by the Rat Eaters (they think little people are demons).
A brawl takes place, one where we get to see Ratchet's ball bearings in action (they're attached to a wire and hidden in his sleeve). Unfortunately, Parsifal and Bronx, and Ratchet are outnumbered and are eventually taken prisoner by the Rat Eaters. Forced to watch them eat rats and perform some kind of campfire rape lottery, things aren't looking too good for our heroes. Will they be able to find the world's last fertile woman in order to save humanity. And if they do find her, is it really worth making more people if this is world they're going to be born into? These and many other questions are bound to answered by the time 2019: After the Fall of New York has decided that its dolled out enough awesome to satisfy the unwashed rabble lurking in the dark.
No one will deny that director Sergio Martini (Torso) was heavily influenced by films such as Escape from New York, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Planet of the Apes (a half man half ape character named "Big Ape," played by George Eastman, shows up during the film's final third), but the cool thing about this particular film is that it manages to expand upon the films that initially inspired it. In fact, I thought this film was actually better than Escape from New York. While I realize a statement like that could be interpreted as blasphemy, the fact is 2019: After the Fall of New York is simply more entertaining and does more with the post-apocalyptic, New York City in ruins premise. And on top of that, Michael Sopkiw (Massacre in Dinosaur Valley) is just so darned likable.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the stunning performance given by Anna Kanakis (The New Barbarians) as Ania, the Eurac's second in command. Channeling the Baroness from G.I. Joe, Valaria from Robot Holocaust, and Meg Foster's Evil-Lyn from Masters of the Universe, Anna Kanakis, her giant ponytail tied to perfection, imbues her character with enough ruthlessness and paranoia to sooth my wounded soul for at least six to seven hours. As I watched Anna stomp around Eurac headquarters in her black skintight outfit, I thought to myself: Fuck any film that doesn't feature a strong, fashion forward female villain at its centre. I mean, seriously, fuck them all. If you're not going to give me what I want, like, 2019: After the Fall of New York does and then some, then I'm afraid I'm not going to watch your lame ass movie with same amount of enthusiasm. Oh, sure. I'll sit in front of you for ninety or so minutes, but my heart won't be in it.
"My ponytail is better than yours. Deal with it." ~ Ania (Warning: This line is not actually uttered in the film.)
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Special thanks to The Film Connoisseur for suggesting that my eyes and their ball-like housing make a date with this totally righteous flick.