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Boy, if we have learned anything from cinema in the 1980s its that when the shit hits the fan, when someone brings the nuclear assault on our sorry asses, whatever is left will look like rural Australia or Turkey, you have to modify your automobile/motorcycle/semi-truck/helicopter/bicycle to a fucked up version of its once normal self and your ass will forever be on the run from the guys who somehow survived in the basement of the leather bar. "What were you doing during the Apocalypse?" "Oh, I was getting anally schupped at Tyrone's on the Waterfront, and you?" It really started in 1979 when some unknown named Mel Gibson stepped onto the screen as Max Rockatansky. Max was "mad" because some of these faggoty leather dudes offed his family. We've all seen it, it's a classic and of course, it spawned a couple sequels and there's still talk of a third. But along with the sequels there's a list of rip-offs, inspired bys and homages as long as your leg. LAND OF DOOM (LOD) is one of those, more akin in story to MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR than the original LOD aka THE LAST WARRIOR WOMAN puts a female in the lead role even though she is flanked by a Max-type leading man.

LOD begins with a rampage on a village in a remote desert. The raiders are bedecked in the required amount of leather, their rice-burning bikes adorned with what seems to be ornamental iron shields and such, which seem to flap in the breeze like spray painted cardboard. The raiders have a single notion, kill the men and fuck the women. And they do. Most of LOD's budget you will find was spent on this opening sequence, things explode, there is a healthy number of extras, from rape victims to murderous pillagers and it all just kind of works. We get our first glimpse of our heroine, Harmony, as she hides and watches things play out in her village. When it all finally calms down she makes haste to leave the village, of course she is spotted and has to take a couple guys out with her crossbow. She escapes into the night. When she decides to bed down in a deserted cave type space, she happens upon a man with a nasty wounded leg. He offers her quarter and they share a little beef jerky--no, not that kind. Anderson, who lacks the rugged looks of Mel Gibson, comes off as a likeable guy upon Harmony's initial meeting, but she makes it clear that she ain't down with men, all the ones she knows just take what they want from women. Anderson pulls his handy sawed-off from its thigh holster and blows a snake off the wall behind Harmony's head--hmmm, maybe the Anderson is a different kind of man?

The next morning, Anderson explains to Harmony his plight, it seems since the Apocalypse Anderson has worked to have a democratic type society were folks work together for the betterment of civilization. Of course some dickhead named Slater prefers his post apocalyptic lifestyle to be ripe with the raping and pillaging, Anderson has somehow screwed up Slater's face, he wear a half-mask and some sort of bionic style arm as well. He also looks like he might weight 150 lbs dripping wet with rocks in his pocket, has a rather poofy head of reverse skunk style hair, and minces about rather gaily while spewing orders at the leather clad set of S&M flunky followers. But let's not let that get in the way of our "drama" between our two leading men. Harmony doesn't care about any of this shit and decides to head out on her own, she don't need no stinking, injured man to slow, her down. Finally after pausing for a couple beats at the doorway, she gives in and the couple on their way to magical place Anderson has heard about were everything is peachy keen. But to get there they will have to hike across mountains and they don't have any food or water, but hey, they'll get there, after all they both have great hair.

Who are this pair on finely couiffed, post-apocalyptic peaceniks. Harmony is captured in all her early 80s grandeur by actress Debbie Rennard. A quick check of Debbie's career will shed some light on why she is so good at hating men, wearing a headband and using a crossbow. Well, Debbie was a DALLAS (you know Who shot J.R.?) regular doing hard time as the bitchy cumstress Sly Lovegren. No doubt seasons of peeling Larry Hagman's drunkened mitts from her round ass gave her the tools necessary to handle the anti-man swagger of Harmony without too much introspection. Debbie is also known for her role in Mr. Van Damme's A.W.O.L aka LOINHEART, where she is the lady in charge of an underground prize-fighting set-up. Debbie is also married to Paul Haggis, a name familiar to TV watcher folk as the director behind the late 80s hit THIRTYSOMETHING.

Garrick Dowhen, LOD's Anderson, well his career hasn't featured any plumb roles. After a couple lines in Ed Moinaro's JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (which fetured Kristy McNichol as a flutist with a gimp leg) he landed LAND OF DOOM. After LOD, his big vehicle was the mini-series CROSSING, based on the Danielle Steel novel. It had Dowhen pounding the boards with the likes of Jane Seymour and Cheryl Ladd. Maybe that was enough to have him die a happy man because short of a small part in the abysmal APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR directed by Alan Smithee. Who is Alan Smithee you might ask? Alan Smithee is the common pseudonym for directors who film was clearly taken away from them and recut heavily against their wishes. The Directors Guild contract generally does not permit a director to remove their name from a film. The only exceptions they make are cases in which a film was clearly taken way from a director and altered to the point of being no longer the director's work. If the DG approves a directors appeal to them the credit then given is Alan Smithee, it is certain that film is not what the director intended and more likely than not, it will suck ass. Mr. Dowhen's last film did that for sure.

Harmony and Anderson make their way across the desolate expanse of their barren waste world and there is no doubt they need some grub. They decide to stop at a local domicile to see if they might borrow a bite. The owner seems cordial enough and offers them some grub. When Harmony decides to take a visit to the little girls room she is accosted by a balding, ulcer faced and hungry crust. Harmony doesn't have much trouble doing him in but what she finds is a smoke house full of humans, the two men are cannibals. When she gets back to the dinner table, Anderson is just getting ready to chow down on a little man steak. Harmony tries to get Anderson's attention before he grubs downs but can't and finally throws the stew on the host before they have to kill him. They steal some canned veggies and we are given shots of pickled eyeballs and human brains before our loveable couple head back to the hills.

The strange thing about the obvious budget constraints of LOD is the fact that each scenario that Harmony and Anderson wind up in is actually decently effective. Harmony does most of the fighting, I guess because Anderson is wounded although Dowhen seems to forget and remember to limp on an irregular schedule. Harmony bashes in skulls, cross bows and generally can handle anything her male adversaries might throw at her. LOD's cast of characters is straight out of the formula ROAD WARRIOR perfected. The odd chap, with the ultra flying contraption in ROAD WARRIOR is replaced budgetarily with an odd Turkish bloke on a bicycle, with a puppy. The scenes with the puppy crack me up because in three different sequences it's obvious that it is three different dogs, or it's the same dog and their was a space between filming the scenes which allowed the pup to grow. In ROAD WARRIOR, fuel is a main concern, in LOD, it is addressed in extreme moderation. The baddies zoom around on alcohol burning bikes Anderson lets us in on, when he and Harmony abscond on one but there isn't as much as mention in the plot to battling for fuel supremacy or anything. In ROAD WARRIOR, Max ends up with a sort of Feral Kid, in LOD the kid is replaced with Jawas, yes, you heard me, Jawas. That is the only way to refer to them. Someone got their hands on leftover Jawa outfits and put them to use in LOD. The fact that they are in a scene that also utilizes a sort of cheap insdustrial flamethrower shows that someone involved had a near moment of surreal inspiration. Was that someone director Peter Maris? Probably. I wish I had the details of how this American production ended up in some Turkish ruins in the early 80s, but I don't.

Maris a few years earlier, had a small hit with a decent little picture called DELIRIUM. DELIRIUM features a crazed vet, who is part of a group of war veteran vigilantes hired by local businessmen to clean up the city streets. The crazy one starts freelancing and it gets the cops involved. Overall DELIRIUM has moments of brilliance which gets over should in a sort of TV like cop story, but still delivers with a bit of 70s style exploitation as the killer runs ripshod through a slew of female victims. He even offs one broad when she comments on the size of his tool. He is impotent and that causes his problems with the lasses. DELIRIUM is best noted as an original Video Nasty, avoid the alternate tile PSYCHO PUPPET it's cut to pieces. Maris took a little known novel and with the help of chief writer from TV's TRANSFORMERS cartoon and off he went to Turkey. It is safe to say the LAND OF DOOM wasn't a hit for Maris but still made a decent amount of money on the video market, as a cross between RED SONJA style Amazonian fem-fighting and MAD MAX mayhem. Of course, I'm talking more about the video box art than the actual movie. The art features a read haired gal with large earrings and a leather headband garnishing a pistol (harmony is dirty blond with a small headband under her hair and she caries a cross bow) behind a muscular guy with a leather mask and a leather, studded cross bow glove extended in from him. He looks a little like Sam Jones from 1980s FLASH GORDON. The whole thing looks a little Frazetta like and sez "rent me" all over it. The girl on the box is no where in the film and the guy on the front who looks like he might be the good guy is actually a sort of toadie for Slater, he wear the same gloved apparatus but lacks the chiseled features or windblown hair. Ah video box marketing, it's an art. Over Maris does the best with what he has to work with. His effects, limited to say the least, but there is a nice finger hacking scene and the cannibal touch is pretty nifty. Anderson is cardboard as the guy looking for the rainbow but Harmony pulls it off as an aerobicized after-nuke bimbo who is just running to keep from getting boffed. My guess is with a tiny budget in an unknown country with actors who aren't that good. Maris got what he got was glad when it wrapped.

Can I recommend LAND OF DOOM to anyone other than the most hardened bad cinema-phile? Well, the Italians stake a huge claim to what many consider the best MAD MAX rehashes. A favorite of mine being the insane 1990: BRONX WARRIORS, Enzo Casterelli's crazy entry into the "after the fall of civilization" flicks. Casterelli's success probably helped LAND OF DOOM get financed, given that it was obvious that these films would make cash no matter how close to garbage they might be. There are many other films with this same theme some serious and effective others goofy and throwaway. A BOY AND HIS DOG and DESERT WARRIOR being two on opposite ends of the spectrum. LOD gets a grin and a nod from me for adding a slight bit of ingenuity to a retread premise and it over abundance of visual cheese and bad dialogue. If the years after Dubya's WW3 are as much fun as Maris's LAND OF DOOM makes it seem, count me in. I can think of a couple villages to pillage but you can't rape the willing. I just hope and can keep my thighs from chafing in all that black leather and I've got to get used to this mask and ball gag. Amazingly LAND OF DOOM is available just about everywhere, but, where's the $5.99 DVD?

Lovely Harmony gets radical.

There's that nifty little hand operated cross bow gizmo.

Slater's version of "I'll be back!" Where's the sequel?

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I wish I could think of a witty opening for Land of Doom...okay, two guys walk into the Land of Doom...nevermind.

Chris Wayne
Harmony...I like this look. .

Ladies, meet Anderson, Anderson...the ladies...

Land of Doom has some stylish customized SUV's.

Some high-tech motorcycles also grace the landscape.

And of course, state of the art vehicles like this Turkish 3-speed, even has the ShimanoTM shifter of the handlebars.

Leather anyone?

Ladies anyone?

Front teeth anyone?

This guy is trying to make a little Harmony.

Slater, try not to laugh, he's tough can't you tell? Or someone pooted in their chaps.

I just wanted you to see the back of Slater's hair-doo, er, hair don't.

Turkish heartthrob, Akut Duz, and his puppy. Can you say matinee idol? He's the Turkish Guich Koock!

We got your Jawas, there you go, nerd breath.

Any doubt what these two were doing the day they dropped the bomb?


I have no idea why she is laughing.

Anderson, you sly fox! If I didn't know better I'd say you were straight.
Brains On Film 2003