Three Astronauts return from space to find that the life they left behind doesn’t exist anymore. When only two survive the emergency landing on the coastline “near Los Angeles”, they discover that the world is an extremely different place then the one they left. Roving gangs are killing men, and taking women and children as hostages. The city itself is a burnt out husk of what it once was, and the two spacemen – Newman and Matthews – have to make their place in the world.
After being washed up on shore, and during their first night, Newman (Steve Barkett – who also wrote and directed the film) and Matthews encounter some zombie like savages who appear to have paper mache attached to their faces, and they have to fend them off with fire. Those are the first signs of life they’ve seen since their crash, and they’re not entirely sure what to make of it. Is this what humankind has devolved into? Are there others like this and will they be attacked nightly by these strange creatures? They decide the best course of action is to find someplace to hole up for a while, and they eventually both take part in a hairy chested montage of fixing up an old mansion.
Newman wants to see what is still left of civilization while Matthews stays behind. Newman takes an old giger counter along in case it comes in handy, and stumbles upon an old museum where he meets “the curator” and a young boy named Chris. The curator dies shortly after he explains that the world has been ravaged by nuclear war and germ warfare. No one is safe from the harsh environment and the bands of killers that are inhabiting the area. With the curator’s death, Newman is now left to take care of Chris, and he sees him as a replacement for the son he had that died before he left earth on his mission.
After scavenging around for supplies, Newman and Chris run into Sarah, a woman with hard nipples that show through her thin t-shirt, that tell them about the leader of a local gang that kidnapped her and many other women. Cutter (Sid Haig) is his name, and he’s going to come back after her if he isn’t stopped. Newman takes it upon himself to do the chivalrous thing, and make sure that justice is brought back to the land.
Funny thing about this movie, the two main characters – Newman and Cutter – only meet once before their final showdown, yet it seems like they know everything about each other. Newman and Matthews know every last detail about Cutter’s camp when they try to run a rescue mission – from the location, to the fortifications, to where the most private toilet is to take a crap without getting interrupted for those times when you just want to sit there, read a newspaper, and not be bothered. It’s uncanny how they know this stuff. Cutter is the same way. Even the curator can tell that Newman was an astronaut right off the bat. It’s not like he’s wearing a space suit and a helmet, he’s just some dude walking around with his chest puffed out wearing some green fatigues. Maybe he has a strut about him that just keys people off to think “Hey, that guy’s an astronaut! I can tell from the spring in his step!”
When I read the description of the movie, I thought it was going to be a sci-fi/horror film, but it’s actually a docudrama type action movie. The thing that sets the action apart is that it’s so nonchalant. In one extended action scene, Newman’s old astronaut buddy Matthews comes to his rescue by coming out of nowhere an shooting three guys that are beating the crap out of Newman. He shoots every single one of them off of Newman while they’re struggling, and is 100% dead eye accurate. He walks over to Newman and though he has just been struggling with three guys, Newman isn’t even breathing heavy. This is the exchange between the two characters:
Newman: “Why did you come here?”
Matthews: “I just did!”
*BANG* – Matthews takes a bullet to the chest and dies instantly.
How’s that for gratitude?
“The Aftermath” is also one of those movies where you see the same guy get killed 2 or 3 times because they’ve run out of extras. I mean I would have thought that they would have at least made them wear different wigs or something. The film is really low budget, and while they couldn’t afford a whole bunch of free extras, they sure could afford a sweeping orchestral score that doesn’t fit the film at all. In fact, the music made the movie seem hokey, instead of helping keep a serious vibe they were aiming for. Nothing like a tittering little flute playing in the background while your depicting a dude that’s just been set aflame.
I thought the plot of the movie was solid and exciting. Astronauts come back to Earth after being out in space for an extended stay, and the world is crumbling around them due to nuclear and biological warfare. Most of the life has been wiped out and there are a few humans left, but they’re scrambling around in gangs trying to take what little is left of the world. Even while those humans are scraping by, there are crazy zombie like creatures who have risen from the dead because “even they have to protect themselves.” The problem with great plots though is, if it’s poorly executed everything just turns into mush. I really wish that they would have explored the whole zombie idea a little more instead of just throwing them in whenever they needed to fill a hole in the movie. I think it would have been pretty cool to see the tension between Newman and Cutter with the threat of an undead attack breathing down their necks.
Inconsistencies, a rambling story, and points that are never explained are what keeps “The Aftermath” from being a great post apocalyptic b-movie, and in turn only earning 2.5 out of 5 paper mache masked zombies.
Check out this clip to see the only time a laser appears in the entire movie.
you’d think if it was so devastating, they’d use it more often.