Another feature of...
The last city still stood.
With this *cough* dramatic narration, our tale begins. It’s read over a shot of a metropolis, one looking surprisingly intact for being "the last city." Also of note is that it looks remarkably like a city from, say, the 1980s. Yet since the R.H. is established as occurring in "’33", then it must at least forty-odd years since that period. Perhaps an ‘80s ‘retro’ look is the current fashion. Eventually, to be fair, we do see some wreckage. In our pre-holocaust era, this would merely be a burned out or abandoned section of town. Looks can be deceiving, though. Here in the future, apparently, these ruins mark the devastation wrought by the, well, you know.
Aficionados of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will recall our subject with some affection. One of the earliest shows during the program’s cable run, Robot Holocaust quickly established itself as a fan favorite. Tom Servo, surveying any desolate field or cityscape, would for years to follow solemnly intone the final section of the above narration.
The opening credits are accompanied by a rather poor synthesizer score, one that all but shouts "1987!" Then, after a quick establishing shot of one of the *cough* few intact buildings, we cut to the ‘inside’ of it. Strangely, although the outside of the building looks, well, almost as it might have looked before the Robot Holocaust, the interior is a shambles. Here a pair of gladiator-type dudes are scuffling before a rather desultory audience of raggedy, albeit surprisingly clean, spectators. The monotonous music, meanwhile, continues apace. In composition it suggests one who studied the early musical scores of director John Carpenter, but failed to learn much. Also watching is Torque, a robot who’s not exactly going to cost Robbie or Gort any sleep.
Working through the crowd is Klyton, a robot pickpocket (!). Luckily for him, someone appears to have warned his victims beforehand to studiously ignore his obvious depravations. Therefore, even though he appears quite clumsy and to be in the sight line of numerous people, this robotic Raffles manages to fleece some of the enrapt audience. Apparently, he’s also been programmed with a Benny Hill modulator. This causes him to brush the rear of a female in the audience, after which she mistakenly slaps the guy standing next to her. This is pretty funny, but it works better when the brusher is wearing a fake arm cast. Also, we can only lament the lack of an ensuing sped-up chase sequence.
The match goes on at some length. I guess it’s to establish the horrible brutality of life after the R.H. Although a less charitable soul might posit that it’s meant to cheaply pad out the film’s expansive 80 minute running time. The camera soon pans to a man, Jorn, and his daughter, Deeja, who has ‘female lead’ written all over her. At this point the Narrator returns, explaining that these remaining humans are "known as Air Slaves." Aside from them, there are only the "forces of the Dark One." Gee, there’s an original moniker. He’s "the evil being that controls the very atmosphere that sustains them."
We cut to a guy wrapped in your standard post-apocalyptic furs, entering the area. He’s presumably one of the mysterious nomads the Narrator is babbling about. You know, the ones who dwell in, what else, the "Wastelands." These, unsurprisingly, are rumored to have developed an immunity to the poison air. Apparently entertainment is as hard to come by these days, because he also pauses to watch these two mooks have at one another. As he does, Klyton goes for his belt pouch. However, this fellow proves no easy pigeon. Perhaps a hardscrabble existence in the Wastelands has given him supra-normal reflexes. Or maybe the fact that Klyton is standing almost fully in his sight line has something to do with it.
We’re now about five minutes into the film. Apparently the producers are worried that we might not be finding it sufficiently goofy yet. Therefore, the nomad hits Klyton’s handy deactivation switch and begins speaking to him telepathically (!!). I’m not even going to go into whether telepathy would allow you to communicate with robots. Our Hero, for certainly he must be such, mentally orders Klyton to explain what is occurring here. (Good luck!) "I will give you a five second activation to respond," he projects. Here the film rather unwisely cuts to a close-up of the robot. This allows us a good look at the rather inadequate costume with which he is, uh, realized. Switched back on, the obsequious automaton quickly toadies up to Our Hero, declaring the fellow his master.
Klyton spills the beans. Need I mention that he comes equipped with an echo-y voice that makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying? Why do filmmakers always assume that the voice will be the last thing perfected on robots? The match, Klyton explains, is a fight to the death. Although at the rate things are going, the loser will be the one who first dies of old age. The Dark One apparently calls forth the two strongest Air Slaves on a monthly basis, and has them fight to the death. After one dies, the winner is led away. He is told he’s to receive a reward, but instead is secretly killed. This is the Dark One’s clever mechanism for bumping off the strongest of the humans, so as to prevent a rebel leader from arising from their ranks.
Klyton, apparently an Expositor 3000™ model, continues filling us, er, I mean the hero in. See, the Air Slaves’ labor fuels the Power Station, which is also the Dark One’s HQ. The Power Station cleans the city’s air, so as to keep the Air Slaves alive to, well, fuel the Power Station. This ‘air cleaning’ appears to be a neat trick, given that the city isn’t sealed off in any way. Klyton, meanwhile, explains that he is merely a "poor freebot." (I’ll say! Oh, wait, he means ‘destitute’ poor, not ‘inspiring scornful laughter’ poor.) As such, he is forced to steal for his mechanical upkeep. I guess maintaining a bunch of criminally inclined freeloading robots is another of the Dark One’s ingenious mechanisms for keeping the Air Slaves in their place.
We cut to the Power Station, which looks much like a really bad matte painting. Inside, striding through a cloud of dry ice (some things never change) comes…hmm. OK, she’s a big breasted chick, wearing a long feathered headpiece, a Spandex bodysuit, a brief leather skirt and knee-high boots. Oh, and she has a whip. Suddenly a loud, echo-y voice is heard. It’s the Dark One, and the woman is Valeria, his sadistic henchgirl. She answers, and we quickly discern that we’re in the presence of the film’s worst actor, and by quite a stretch. Nor are her extraordinarily stilted line reads aided by her Schwarzeneggerian-thick German accent. "Somethink’s wrong, I can sense it," she says. She approaches an equipment bank, one sporting a glowing yellow ball. This, apparently, is her interface with the Dark One. Or something. In practice, the Dark One addresses folks as over a PA system, while they answer while glancing up at the ceiling.
Back at the fight, one of the gladiators is finally going down. Torque orders the victor to slay his defeated opponent. At this, protests are heard from the ‘crowd.’ Which seems sort of odd, given that these bouts supposedly take place on a regular basis. Said protestors, meanwhile, almost make me reconsider my designation of Valaria as being the film’s worst actor. Almost. Torque re-orders the death, at which point Deeja steps forward. "Stop," she commands. Were the woman playing her in any other movie, she’d most likely earn the worst actor award with this one word. Here, however, she’s simply outclassed. "This is no contest, it is murder!" Deeja exclaims. Perhaps she believes that this will prove a surprise to Torque and he’ll say, "Gee, you’re right, what was I thinking?"
Torque instead responds by firing a warning shot with his laser weapon. I think. He’s got a gizmo in his hand, and it makes a ray-gun noise. Either they forgot to overlay a ray-beam effect in post-production, or else they didn’t have the budget to do ray-beams at all. Which, considering some of the cheap ass movies I’ve seen with laser beam effects, would be saying something. For heaven’s sake, people, at least scratch the film negative! Also, I’m not sure why Evil Overlords in a Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia would bother firing warning shots at all. If the idea of the gladiatorial bouts is to reduce the number of troublemakers, you’d think they’d shoot down protesters as well.
Jorn tries to get his daughter to settle down. She’s a spunky one, however, and grabs up a knife. Hmm, young woman with knife vs. robot with laser pistol. Not to mention that knives, even big ones, don’t seem like tremendously functional anti-robot weaponry. I know who I’d put my money on. The woman, obviously. After all, she is the movie’s Obvious Female Lead. The spectators go nuts at Deeja’s defiance, chanting "the winner," whatever that means. As the film has an entire 80 minutes to fill, Torque takes his time preparing to blow her head off. Eventually we cut back to the Dark One and Valaria. At his command, she hits a switch which cuts off the air. I guess that’s why the Dark One needs a flunky – it must be difficult for a disembodied voice to throw switches.
Back in the auditorium, the humans start collapsing. All, that is, except for Telepathic Nomad Dude (TND), Deeja and Jorn. The latter orders Deeja to pretend to faint, so as to appear like the others. She argues with him, but eventually complies. Oddly, Torque appears not to catch on to this, despite the fact that they are speaking at a normal volume and standing about five feet away from him. After Deeja falls, the voice of the Dark One is heard. Addressing Jorn, he demands to know who "stands against the forces of the Power Station?" A better question might instead be, "Why didn’t you pretend to faint too, schmuck?" Jorn replies that he’ll talk only if the atmosphere is restored. The Dark One accedes to his wish. (See previous note re: Overly compliant Evil Overlords.) However, he also orders Torque to kill the gladiators. Here I can confirm that Torque’s weapon fires the traditional blue cartoon beams.
The Air Slaves start recovering. Again, with Torque standing practically next to them, Jorn orders Deeja to lose herself in the "crowd." Considering the, uh, crowd on hand, that would prove quite a feat. Deeja, crossing the line from Spunky to Infuriatingly Stupid, at first refuses. Finally, though, she obeys and walks off camera. Er, I mean, loses herself in the crowd. This attended to, Jorn turns (?) to reply to the Dark One. "And now, Old Man, who are you?" the entity demands. I guess the future doesn’t see many old folk, as this guy appears to be well south of fifty. "I am but a simple man, Dark One," he replies. This line might have worked better had he pretended to faint, too. Not getting any satisfaction from Jorn, the Dark One orders Torque to take him to the Power Station. Meanwhile, how come nobody noticed that TND also remained standing? He was right by the others, and there’s never any indication that his telepathic powers shield him from being observed by robots.
Deeja makes to follow after her father, but TND intercepts her. She basically asks him where he gets off. Klyton, speaking for the stranger, identifies him as Neo. The robot explains that the nomad is immune to the poison air, which surprises her. Hello!! He was standing there the whole time, five feet away from you!! This is definitely an Idiot World, one the viewer could enter and seize control of within, say, fifteen minutes. Not that you’d care to. Anyway, Neo soon addresses Deeja and the others via normal speech. What the deal with the relayed-via-robot stuff was, well, you got me. Here’s what Klyton says: "He speaks to me telepathically, to address you, until he is sure you will side with him." Uh, OK. Neo reveals that he plans to (duh) overthrow the Dark One, quickly receiving support from the *cough* crowd. By the way, Neo’s telepathy is never mentioned or utilized again, thus proving to have no plot relevance whatsoever.
Under Neo’s questioning, Deeja reveals that Jorn has created "a small device which subverts the Dark One’s atmosphere control." This incriminating revelation, I should note, to a guy she met roughly five seconds ago. Said device is revealed to be a shiny little doodad above her ear. (??) Neo, meanwhile, has been sent by the "Rebel Society" from "what you call the Wastelands." He himself is putting in a Worst Actor bid, although he also is clearly overmatched by Valaria. Still, he’s definitely the worst actor ever to play a character named Neo in a science fiction film. Which is saying something, now that I think of it. Hearing of his immunity to the atmosphere, Deeja asks if he is of "some kind of hybrid race." "You could say that," Neo responds. And indeed she can, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. Hybrid with what, exactly?
Continuing on with that thread, the one which makes no sense whatsoever, Deeja posits that, "Now that you know of my father’s device, you need us as much as we need you." Neo responds by pointing out the slight flaw in this argument: His people are already immune to the atmosphere, you moron! Hellooo! Still, he admits, the device could be used to free the Air Slaves from the Dark One’s power. Meanwhile, Neo’s searching for a comrade of his, who he believes is also being held at the Power Station. With help, he promises, they can rid the city of the Dark One and reclaim New Terra. Hmm. New Terra. Now that I think about it, doesn’t that name indicate that this is set on another world? One colonized by humans? Or am I thinking about this more than the screenwriters did?
"And so, the new band of rebels set [sic] out on their journey towards the Power Station," the Narrator explains. "A dangerous trek, through the desolate Wastelands." These prove, at least initially, to be a littered meadow overlooking the City. Since I see what looks rather like the Chrysler Building, I can only assume that this was shot on some tract of land in Jersey. Meanwhile, Neo, Deeja and Klyton have been joined by a couple of Air Slave Guys. Which makes me wonder why the latter aren’t dead. Is the Dark One supposedly cleaning up the air in the Wastelands? If so, that’s pretty nice of him.
Now, savvy B-Movie fans know that many Post-Apocalyptic flicks are actually de facto Sword & Sorcery pictures. (As opposed to the zillions of Mad Max rip-offs.) They are often set in economical ‘wasteland’ areas (i.e., deserts). The breakdown of technology has forced the adoption of pre-industrial weaponry and clothing. Mutants spawned of radiation replace dragons and trolls and such. Bands of thieves and cannibals are often encountered. And both genres often involve quests that ultimately lead to a series of unconnected, time wasting ‘adventures.’ So as our heroes head across the Wastelands to seek out the Power Station, I could only be reminded of, say, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom.
Therefore it’s unsurprising when the group enters a well-tended park area (in the ‘Wastelands’?) and we see, that’s right, mutants hiding nearby. In case this proves over our heads, the Narrator fills us in: "Strange mutants live in the Wastelands, posing a threat to all that travel there." Yeah, thanks for the info, dude. Still, here’s some pointers. First, the intrinsic nature of ‘mutants’ dictates that you needn’t bother referring to them as ‘strange.’ Second, well, yes, what else would mutants be doing than posing a threat to travelers? That’s practically their job description. Third, ‘wastelands’ generally don’t sport neatly trimmed grass or recently paved and edged walking paths.
The group penetrates deeper into the park, er, the wilds and find a weathered sign warning no men allowed. (This features a ‘man’ silhouette, like that used to indicate a men’s room, surmounted with one of those red slashed circles. It’s by far the closest thing to wit in the film.) Buffs will recognize this as the hallmark of a man-hating Amazon community. Sure enough, a quick pan reveals the party surrounded by a bunch of war painted and primitively armed women. They bear all the traditional markings of their kind: Neatly shampooed and styled hair, white, shiny teeth, copious mascara and oddly clean and well-tailored clothing. And, needless to say, they are all fairly attractive and in their twenties.
Their putative leader is Nyla. She wears a push-up bodice and furry white leggings, like some post-apocalyptic Jennifer Beals. Nyla scornfully addresses Our Heroes. "Who is this woman who walks through the She-Zone with male scum?!" Neo, showing that he is somewhat lacking in the diplomatic arts, answers for Deeja. Unsurprisingly, however, our Amazon leader will only speak with his distaff companion. Deeja replies that they seek to rescue her father. Nyla sneers that "no man can be trusted." Yada yada. You know the drill. Then Nyla starts fielding some questions from the Air Slave Guys. (So much for that "I only talk to women" policy.) We learn that the tribe captures men who stumble into their territory. These are used to breed new Amazons, and then disposed of. Well, duh! That’s how all man-hating Amazon tribes function! Tell us something we don’t know. Like, for instance, where all the Amazons under the age of 18 and over 25 are kept.
Nyla points to Kai, a loinclothed dude tied up between some trees. "He is the last man who ventured into our territory," she jeers. "He has mated with all of us who are ready to conceive, and will now be destroyed." Actually, I know some guys who wouldn’t think that a half-bad deal. Air Slave Guy #1 asks if Kai has any voice in his fate, leading me to believe that he’s missing the whole ‘amazon’ thing. Since the tribe generally removes the tongues of their male captives, though ("Men chatter so," Nyla explains), I’d guess not. In an enraged display of male camaraderie, ASG #1 heatedly draws his sword. Neo warns Nyla not to start anything. There is, he warns, a hidden laser pointed at her head.
Rather than risk that he’s bluffing, Nyla asks what he wants. He demands a fair fight for ASG #1, and she agrees. We see an Amazon stick a knife into the ground. "A knife is placed in the ground," the Narrator explains. (In case we were confused and thought the woman was trying to stab the Earth to death.) "The battle of the warriors begins!" This proves to be a less than epic contest. ASG #1 and Nyla rush for the knife, which she gets to first. Meanwhile, her Sisters cheer her on. I have to say, I’d have thought the leader of a post-apocalyptic amazon tribe would be a little handier with a knife. Luckily, in case the audience is confused (a pretty good bet), blaring music sounds so as to cue the viewer that all this is ‘exciting.’ After a bit of grappling, ASG pins Nyla down with the blade to her throat. However, he’s quickly shamed into leaving the She-Zone when the Amazons begin taunting, "Ooh, so you beat a girl! Big man!"
Actually, Neo stops ASG before he finishes her off. In response, Nyla declares that by the laws of her tribe she now belongs to him. Which seems like a weird law for an Amazon society, but what do I know? Then there’s some pointless exposition. For instance, like the Nomads, the Amazons are immune to the poison air. So, in other words, if the Air Slaves get whacked, it really doesn’t matter, because there are already tons of immune people running around. Also, Nyla notes that when the Dark One sends his ‘transbots’ (?) against her people, "we cut them into scrap." Which is odd, as most of the Amazons wield wooden tridents and spears. These wouldn’t seem so hot a weapon against robots armed with laser weaponry. Of course, those little Ewok dudes were able to decimate Imperial Guard troops of a galactic empire, so anything’s possible, I guess.
Neo commands her to lead them to the Power Station. This seems a little rude, as it was ASG #1 who bested her. Anyway. She agrees, but promises to kill them once her debt is paid. Neo also demands that Kai be freed and accompany them. Nyla is confused by this, wondering what help he could possibly provide. Neo responds that this is simply an act of "human charity." "Men," she disgustedly replies. "They’re all useless and crazy!"
We cut to Valaria, walking on high heels through a bank of, naturally, dry ice fog. Why the Power Station generates or uses so much dry ice is left to our imaginations. "Deep in the Power Station," the Narrator explains, "lies the Pleasure Machine. A reward for those who loyally serve the Dark One." This proves to be a person-sized cage with a swing-open door. Valaria enters, and we quickly perceive that this device won’t be providing any pleasure for us in the audience. Of course, to be fair, we don’t serve the Dark One.
Soon a topless man and woman appear outside the Pleasure Machine, holding up the inevitable static electricity globe. (For some reason, the makers of these things persist in believing that they look ‘futuristic.’) Meanwhile, a bare-breasted Valaria sticks her arms out between the bars and caresses it. Thus they manage to rip-off both the Orgasmitron and the Pleasure Orb as seen in Woody Allen’s Sleeper. This goes on at excruciating length, and the attempts at creating an ‘artistic’ montage effect ain’t helping any. Nor are the clumsy attempts the topless couple make at interpretive dance. Or Valaria slowly turning around in circles inside the confines of the Pleasure Machine. Fans of MST3K’s Space Mutiny will be able to call to mind a similar scene involving dancing space witches who also utilized static globes and a bad montage technique.
We are saved when the Dark One interrupts Valaria’s session, thus gaining our eternal gratitude. Apparently Valaria’s usage of the device was unauthorized. Still, the scene gave us a look at her garbonzas, so mission accomplished, I guess. Or am I being too cynical here? In any case, this is one of those films where a pair of exposed ta-tas proves woefully inadequate in rousing even the most meager audience interest. The only thing that would excite us right now would be the words "The End" appearing on the screen. Sadly, these aren’t slated to arrive for another hour or so.
Torque enters with Jorn and the pouting Valaria is ordered to interrogate him. The *cough* actress playing Valaria tries to do a Bondian Femme Fatale kind of thing here, but can’t remotely pull it off. She, for instance, offers him pleasure or "worlds of pain beyond your imagination." We can only hope that lines that were stale before the Robot Holocaust are now post-apocalyptically fresh. Predictably, Jorn refuses to talk. "I am losing patience, Valaria!" yells the Dark One. Since the ‘interrogation’ has been proceeding for all of about thirty seconds, you’d think he could display a bit more forbearance. Valaria orders Torque to take Jorn to the Crystal. Which is the kind of sentence I never really saw myself typing before I started writing these reviews.
The Crystal proves to be that yellow globe which I guess represents the Dark One’s interface, or something. The Narrator comments that "At the Crystal, Jorn can see that the Dark One is aware of the Rebels’ every move." I’m not sure exactly how he sees this. After all, we can see the Crystal, too, and it’s completely blank. Valaria tries to get him to talk by threatening Deeja’s life, but he still refuses. "Torque," she Teutonically commands, "take him to the Room of Questions." Wow. Room of Questions. How ominous.
Back to our adventurers. Neo is on to their being monitored, and intends to lead them through an underground passage. This will shield them from the Dark One’s view. These "underground caverns" prove to be some old access tunnels. Wow, there’s an original twist. Meanwhile, we see some of the mutants following them. "The mutants continue to follow the Rebels," the Narrator explains, "even as they enter the underground caverns." Yes, and the Narrator continues to explain things that are quite evident on the screen. It’s like watching one of those movies where all the events are described for the visually impaired audience member. Also, I can’t help noticing that the mutants, much like the Nomads and the Amazons are obviously immune to the poison air. I’m telling you, I hope the Dark One has some kind of back-up plan, here.
Nyla cautions the rest of the party to be quiet. They are entering the section of tunnel infested with "sewage worms." (Personally, I find it strange that ‘sewage’ worms live in this spiffy clean tunnel, but what do I know?) To much audience amusement, these prove to be rather obvious hand puppets which pop forth from holes cut into the walls. They are decorated so as to resemble eyeless, bucktoothed snakes, but their puppety origins are only too evident. Nyla explains that the worms are blind, detecting their prey through sound. I’m not sure as to why they’ve adapted this way, given that the passage in which they live is extremely well lit. But there you go.
The problems with this ‘adventure’ are numerous. For instance, the party sports bladed weapons. Why not just hack the worms down one by one and clear the passage? This should be easy as the worms can clearly only come forward, oh, I’d estimate the length of a man’s arm. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if they just walked down the center of the passage, the worms wouldn’t be able to reach them. Then there’s the fact that the menace here looks like something from an eighth grade drama production. If that. Nyla notes to the others that she wished they had some bait with which to distract the worms. Then Klyton says something, and the party simultaneously turns to look at him. Because he could be the bait, get it? Comedy!
Neo decides that they should "chop our way through." Well, duh. However, one of the Air Slave Guys gets bit up by a worm. Gee, too bad he decided to hug the wall so that a worm could easily glom onto his neck and smear stage blood on it. This isn’t the technique I personally would have used, but hey, different strokes, right? Anyway, again, one can’t help noticing that Our Heroes keep hugging the very walls from which the worms are protruding. Further attention is drawn to this when they cut in a shot of the cowardly (ho ho) Klyton running, that’s right, straight down the middle of the passage. Here it’s evident that in doing so he’s beyond of the range of the worms to either side. At the very least, the worms have to extend fully outward to get at those such positioned, which would seem to make them easy pickings for those wielding swords. Meanwhile, Nyla is learning *yawn* grudging respect for Neo, despite the whole he’s-a-man thing. Gee, wouldn’t it be ironic if in the end she sacrificed herself to save him?
This peril surmounted, the group exits the ‘caverns’ and reemerges outside. Now, am I missing something, or wouldn’t this mean the Dark One could track them again? Anyway. Nyla declares they can rest. Klyton, we now learn to our horror, is the film’s designated Comedy Relief character. In other words, the one we come to loathe most vigorously. "A rest? What I need is a tune-up!" he ‘hilariously’ moans as they exit the tunnel. The characters bend down to grab some water from an adjacent pond ("Look at all this water," Klyton kvetches. "I’m sure to rust my microcircuits!"). At first, they somehow fail to notice the copious air bubbles erupting to the surface. These might be more dramatic were they not patently ‘achieved’ by having someone blow into a hose whose other end is underwater. Nyla is asked what’s down there. "You don’t want to know," she replies. I guess no one wanted to know, because the scene cuts away and we never find out.
Back to the Power Station. Sure enough, the adventurers have been spotted again, and Valaria is informed. She is unconcerned by Our Heroes’ approach, due to their security contingent of Transbots. The Dark One reminds her that Nyla has had little trouble with these in the past. I’m not surprised, either, having seen them in ‘action.’ Then Valaria walks over to oversee Jorn’s interrogation. He’s hooked up to a shock generator of some kind. Specifically, the goofy kind. Learning that he’s survived Level 7, she orders that Level 9 be tried. Gee, I hope this thing doesn’t go to 11. Soon cartoon electrical beams are matted in to indicate Jorn’s distress. Ahh, the magic of post-production. Valaria then taunts him with his daughter’s imminent death. The only problem is that the actress playing Valaria is one who should never be allowed to ham it up. It’s not the worst performance I’ve ever seen (c’mon, I’ve seen Chesty Morgan movies), but it’s the worst I’ve seen in quite some time.
Back to the Campaigners. ASG #1, who was bitten by the worm, is getting worse. It’s here that the mutants finally decide to attack. About time, too. Within seconds, the wounded guy is toast. Oh, the pathos! A rather lethargic battle breaks out, punctuated by Klyton’s ‘comical’ attempts to get his ratty old laser sidearm to fire. Astoundingly, the mutants prove even more inept than our protagonists and are quickly routed. Meanwhile, a couple more are halted by an electrical wall, indicated with the same cartoon beams as those used to torture Jorn. "It’s a force field," Klyton expositories. "My only power as a freebot!" He uses this to hold off what appear to be only two mutants not slain yet, and the party skedaddles.
We go back to Valaria still taunting Jorn, and us, with her bad performance. Here, if anything, she’s worse than before. It’s like she had only a minute to study her lines before coming on camera and can barely remember what to say. Jorn is spotty here also. Maybe this was filmed at the last minute and they didn’t have time to rehearse it. In any case, Valaria threatens him with, you guessed it, "the tortures of the damned." Why not? She’s already subjecting him to the clichés of the damned. After this he will, all together now, "beg to tell me what I want to know." Ooh, ooh, now tell him the early bird gets the worm! No, wait! Uhm, that one good turn deserves another!
Back to Neo and the gang. They are now finally approaching the (laughably obvious) matte painting that stands in for the Power Station. As they walk closer, they spot "another example of the Dark One’s cruelty." Or so the Narrator assures us. This proves to be a prosthetic ‘skeleton’ crucified upside down on a cross. OK, that’s pretty bad. Still, I don’t think Vlad the Impaler has anything to worry about. The body bears a ring, which improbably has somehow remained on its skeletal finger. This identifies him to be the guy Neo had earlier mentioned he was looking for. Oh, the humanity. Out of nowhere, Klyton suddenly explains to the others that the guy was, in fact, Neo’s father. (How the heck would he know?) This, I guess, makes the scene even more poignant. I guess.
Back to Valaria and Jorn. He still *yawn* refuses to talk. Valaria decides that it’s time he met the Dark One. We hear a door open and a green light washes across Jorn’s face. I think he’s supposed to look shocked, but this actor simply can’t convey any facial expression. "And so Jorn was finally face to face with the being known as the Dark One," the Narrator adds. Yes. Thanks, but we caught that when Jorn looked forward and Valaria said "Behold the Dark One!" Still, thanks for clarifying things for us.
Neo and the others find an access tunnel, one marked with a big red sign. Following it, we’re informed, will eventually take them to the bowels of the Power Station. Man, that place is quite the fortress. The entrance predictably leads into a factory interior, which are much beloved by producers of cheap sci-fi movies. (See, again, Space Mutiny.) Nyla, who’s been acting as the group’s guide, admits that she’s never traveled this far before. Luckily, and for no good reason, Klyton proves again to have the relevant info. The passageway they’re approaching is "called the Vault of Beasts." The Dark One has set various traps along it. Oh, boy, more ‘adventures.’ Despite the enigmatic terrors which face them, the intrepid band presses on.
We cut back to where the Air Slaves are, well, slaving away. The narrator explains that their efforts "fuel the Dark One’s power supply." In a coincidence that will no doubt eventually prove handy for our heroes, one Air Slave suddenly decides to ferment a little rebellion. Actually, I guess, the guy believes that if the Dark One is monitoring Our Heroes, he’ll perforce not be able to monitor the Air Slaves. In other words, the Dark One’s security set-up is less sophisticated than that of your average neighborhood grocery store. Meanwhile, they will fill the bags holding the ‘fuel’ with sand. That way, if the Dark One does peek in, he’ll think they’re working.
OK, and I know this is going to sound unlikely, but this whole "fake fuel" bit is stolen from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. There a terrorist organization called Red Bamboo is based on a secluded Pacific island. Security is provided by Ebirah, a humongous lobster that lives in the surrounding waters. The Red Bamboo ships get safely past by spraying a repellent as they approach and leave the island. Said chemical is a mixture of fruits and leaves, manufactured by a slave labor force made up of natives captured on a nearby island. One of the heroes eventually gets captured and is thrown in with the slaves. There he proposes that they manufacture a faux repellent by using only the fruit and not the leaves. So they do, and the Red Bamboo ship is destroyed by Ebirah as they try to flee Godzilla’s wrath. This is all suspiciously close to what’s occurring here. Except that the Godzilla movie was enjoyable to watch.
Back upstairs, Torque is put in charge of springing the traps in the Vault of Leasts. Er, ‘Beasts.’ Needless to say, Air Slave Guy #2, who might as well be wearing a red shirt, is the first victim. A flip of a switch and the floor drops out from under him. Luckily this leads to a pit about four feet deep, one lacking any sharpened stakes or venomous reptiles or anything. Neo climbs down and helps the guy back up. Wow, that was quite a trap. How about having the whole floor drop out? Then everyone would have fallen. Or how about pipes that shoot out live steam, or acid or something. I mean, c’mon.
Speaking of c’mon, we cut back again to Valaria taunting Jorn. Perhaps her plan is to bore the information out of him. Since his will has proven so formidable, the Dark One falls back on one last option. "Let him join with me!" he commands. Since the guy playing Jorn apparently can’t make facial expressions, or has for some reason chosen not to, he widens his eyes slightly and breathes a little more deeply to portray his stark terror at this prospect.
Back in the passageway, the party finds a recently killed mutant. "How did the creature die?" Nyla asks. "We are not alone in these tunnels," Klyton responds. Which
"Keep your weapons at the ready," Neo commands, apparently so that Klyton doesn’t scoop up all the ‘duh’ points.
Valaria is next seen questioning Torque. She eventually manages to stammer out a query, asking why he had the mutant killed. As hard as it is to believe, I think her performance is actually getting worse. The corpse, Torque replies, was to divert Neo’s bunch so that they would encounter "the Beast of the Web." Gee, what could that be? And what’s with all these twee appellations? "Vault of the Beasts." "Beast of the Web." "The Room of Questions." For a bunch of robots they certainly like to beat around the bush. Anyway, Valaria approves of this stratagem. "Very good, Torque," she says. "Your programming is more advanced than I thought." This is stuttered out with all the finesse of a non-English speaker reading phonetically from a translation guide.
The Heroes are now traversing a factory/power plant-type area, only one suffused with dry ice fog to make it look ‘cool.’ Here they pause for some unfortunate dialog spouting. Air Slave Guy #2 wonders why the Dark One doesn’t "alter the atmosphere," since not all of them are immune to its deadly effects. "Maybe he doesn’t know that," Neo smiles. Uh, wouldn’t the easiest way to find out be to go ahead and see if any of them die? What’s the Dark One got to lose? Meanwhile, Nyla doesn’t care one way or the other. The vulnerable members of their crew, she notes, are "just men." This doesn’t sit well with ASG #2. "You, are the lowest excuse for a human I have ever met," he mopes.
Deeja has backed away from this ‘commotion.’ Two seconds after she’s off camera she calls for help, and we cut to see her surrounded with silly string. I think I know why they had her enmeshing occur off-camera. See, otherwise we’d be even more likely to notice that she couldn’t possibly have missed the webbing before walking into it. It’s right up there with the guy found in the giant wall to wall web in Horrors of Spider Island. Klyton immediately grasps the situation. "It’s the Beast!" he cries. "We have only seconds to save her!"
Folks, I’ve seen some mighty lame giant spiders in my time. There was that one on Gilligan’s Island. Or from Ator, the Fighting Eagle. Missile to the Moon. The Volkswagen spider from The Giant Spider Invasion. This one takes the cake, though. For all we see of it is one leg jutting from off-camera and sort of clawing at Deeja. This time, instead of a hand puppet, a primitive rod puppet is used. Neo and the others rush forward and jab their swords around the corner where the bulk of the *cough* spider is. Klyton thrusts his finger forward and sparks come out. (?) Meanwhile, Nyla frees Deeja from the tissue thin layers of ‘webbing’ ‘trapping’ her. Then they run away, secure that the Beast won’t chase them, given that it doesn’t really have a body. Man, that was…too close. Still, Valaria and Torque’s certitude that meeting the Beast would doom the entire party now seems a tad optimistic.
Cut back to the Air Slaves. The same two are still chewing over the sand-for-fuel plan, while everyone seems to be ignoring them. This film appears to suffer from what amounts to be a phobia that the audience won’t understand what’s going on. Aside from the Narrator redundantly explaining things that are we can see happening on the screen, we get endless reiterations of what the characters are doing. So, again, the Rebel Air Slave guy spells it out. If they weaken the Dark One by only pretending to stoke his power supply, then perhaps Neo’s bunch will be able to overcome him. However, the danger is that he will either defeat Neo anyway or figure out what the Air Slaves are up to and kill them all. Are we all on the same page here?
Because I’m not. If the Air Slaves provide the Dark One with his power, then how can he kill them? Perhaps the reason they keep having the characters repeat themselves is so that we won’t think about stuff like this.
Our Heroes have stopped for the night and built a fire. Since they’re inside a factory compound of some sort, I’m forced to wonder where they found the wood. Also, wouldn’t things get kind of smoky kind of quickly? Nyla is complaining, per usual. She wants to press on and start the attack on the Power Station. Meanwhile, Klyton notes that "The Power Station can not track us by night." OK, first, why? I mean, that makes no sense. Second, how does Klyton know all this stuff? Third, then wouldn’t launching the attack during the night indeed be smarter, as Nyla suggests? Instead, we are subjected to more of her grousing about following a man. She’s particularly annoyed that Deeja’s siding with Neo. "If we wake up dead in the morning," Nyla huffs, "you’ll know who’s to blame!" See, that’s funny, because if they wind up dead as Nyla suggests, then they wouldn’t be waking up at all. See? Get it?
Later that night, Kai awakens. Seeing that Air Slave Guy #2 is missing, he wakes the others. OK, why weren’t they keeping a watch? Second, why the hell is Klyton lying on the floor, apparently asleep? He’s a damn robot, for Pete’s sake! Somehow, again, Klyton (now that he’s awake) has divined the truth. "He’s heading towards the Power Station," he opines. And you would know that how? And why exactly would he do that?
Back in the Power Station, Valaria is checking up on Torque. "Have you freed the surveillance drone?" she inquires. Do you really ‘free’ a ‘drone’? Apparently so, as Torque responds that "It’s been caged for some time now. So it will should be very hungry." OK, either they don’t understand the function of a ‘surveillance drone’ or I don’t. And I think it’s them. Then, confusedly, she orders Torque to hang out in the tunnels and be prepared to kill the drone if need be. Why? Because all of the sudden she wants Deeja brought in alive. What makes this sort of odd is that Valaria has at least half a dozen times called for her to be killed. Nobody on the production side, however, seems to have noticed this, as her change of plans goes unremarked.
We cut to a section of tunnel containing a number of (rubber) skeletons and rusty torture implements and such. Oh, and lots of dry ice fog. Just in case you were wondering. Air Slave Guy #2 enters and meets up with the surveillance drone. This proves to be a vaguely snake-like thingie with some mechanical parts protruding from its head, apparently to explain the ‘drone’ part. And, yes, it’s a hand puppet. The camera cuts away, so ASG #2’s scream is the only indication of his horrible fate. Probably because they realized that any attack by this thing, shown onscreen, would only provoke further unintended audience mirth. So dies ASG #2, without them ever bothering to explain why he would decide to go forth alone while the others slept.
Then it’s back to the Air Slaves, still debating whether the plan is any good or not. Frankly, guys, at this point you’d been shoveling sand into the Dark One’s power furnaces (or whatever) for a good twelve hours now. So I think you’re more or less committed. In other words, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!!!
Neo’s gang is seen moving along and then it’s back to Valaria talking to the Crystal. "So," she snickers, apparently monitoring the stalwart group, "they’ve reached the Chamber of Despair." Something I think I reached a good half hour ago. Amazingly, Valaria actually has more problem with that line than any other she’s yet attempted. How is it even possible that she was hired to be in this movie? I don’t want to be crass, but the possibility that she was shacked up with one of the producers or something has to be considered. (If so, then she’s f**ked her way to the bottom, as opposed to Jerilee Randall.) Meanwhile, the Dark One evinces disfavor with her lack of results. "Dark One," she pouts, "I assure you, they are all doomed." Much to my amusement, she pronounces ‘doomed’ exactly like Inspector Clouseau would. Again, though, Deeja is to be spared. Whatever.
The Group enters the Chamber of Despair. This proves to be the skeleton laden room where ASG #2 was attacked. And, indeed, they soon spot him sitting on the floor. The odd angle at which his head rests, however, tends to telegraph the ‘shock’ about to occur. Suddenly, just when we most expect it, the sock puppet, er, Surveillance Drone clumsily ‘erupts’ from his chest. (We see many ‘startled’ reaction shots from the cast, including Klyton. Again, what kind of weird-ass robots are we dealing with here?) The reason ASG #2’s head was tilted so strangely was because his head was actually sticking through a board, against which rested his bogus ‘torso.’ Meanwhile, I guess we’re not to notice that a man’s chest would be too small to contain the creature shown here. Nor, since his ‘body’ is resting against a stone pillar, could the beast be supposedly coming completely through the body.
A *yawn* horrified Neo runs over and begins flailing at the thing with his sword. Klyton (?) and Deeja react with dismay to his assault. "The boy is dead," Nyla assures them. "He doesn’t feel a thing." Just in case, you know, the large snake-like creature bursting from his chest left them in doubt. Which, apparently, it somehow had. Anyway, after a *cough* furious attack, the beastie is sent to Muppet Heaven. Neo passes ASG #2’s sword to Klyton and they continue on.
They come to the gate that marks the perimeters of the Power Station. Nyla touches it and sparks shoot out, startling her. I’m not really sure that’s how electrical fences are supposed to function, but then I’m not an Evil Overlord. It also triggers off an alarm, resulting in Valaria ordering the cleverly named ‘guardbots’ to their stations. You know, I don’t want to disparage the Dark One’s evil reign, but I can’t help noticing that one guy with a pistol could have wiped out the entire band of heroes long ago. I mean, really, what kind of fortress, guarded with laser gun wielding robots, can be breached by a handful of goofs with swords?
The Dark One, meanwhile, is fed up with Valaria’s incompetence. And, perhaps, her impenetrable accent. Soon she’s writhing in a bunch of cartoon electrical arcs. Just as a warning, you understand. Meanwhile, Valaria utterly fails to convey her supposed agony either in her body language or vocal inflections. Which, considering that she doesn’t have any, fails to surprise us. Properly chastised, Valaria promises that Deeja will soon be theirs.
Back to the gate. The gang is trying to figure out how to get through. You know, since the gate is a series of iron bars with gaps between them, the guardbots could be now firing through them and picking off our cast. Which, I guess, is why they aren’t doing so. Because then, you know, our heroes would be dead. Anyway, Klyton if given some hard-to-follow malarkey to spout. Basically, he’s going to "readjust his circuits" to match the frequency of the electrical fence. Or maybe he’s going to modulate his phase variance to match the fence’s shield harmonics. Anyway, they’re quickly through, but Klyton’s circuits are scrambled. Deeja starts to work on him, although she warns it’ll take a while. Yeah, just like everything else in this picture. By the way, why is Klyton helping them again? What’s his beef with the Dark One?
Valaria rags out Torque for letting the group past the gate. Crap rolls downhill, I guess. Torque still trusts the ‘Iron Wall’ to keep them out, though. You know, this isn’t the most proactive Evil Empire I’ve ever seen. Maybe Torque could get off his metal ass and go shoot somebody or something. The Dark One commands that the power in all parts of the station be activated, whatever that means. Here Valaria finally notices the power gauge. "What is this?" she says. "We’re operating at only one fourth percent of capacity!" Huh? Do you mean 25%, or .025? Either way, you’d think that somebody would have noticed this before. (At this point I’d concluded that the Dark One had maintained his rule only because nobody had yet bothered to overthrow him.) Valaria assures the Dark One that the Air Slaves had been monitored the whole time, and seen to be working. Wouldn’t watching the power gauge have been a better system? Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The Dark One demands that they find out that’s going on. "Go to the master monitors," she tells Torque, "and report to me the level of energy storage accumulated from the Air Slaves." Slow down, girl! That techo-jargon makes my head spin!
Meanwhile, Deeja has gotten Klyton up and running again. Yeah, thanks. This proves (very) convenient, because Klyton just happens to be carrying some explosive to blow down the Iron Wall. Talk about deus ex machina! (Get it? Robot? Machina? Man, that’s Comedy!) Getting through proves fairly easy, as the Iron Wall is more like an Iron Door. However, the producers couldn’t afford to blow the door down, so it merely opens once the ‘explosives’ go off.
Having finally breached the impenetrable Power Fortress, the Group is confronted by the immense force of both guardbots. In a presumably ‘funny’ bit, the ‘bots look upon our screaming heroes and run away. However, the guardbots were obviously filmed at a separate time. Apparently, they didn’t know what direction our heroes would eventually be filmed coming from. So they have the guardbots stare towards one way and then in the opposite direction as well. Then the ‘bots split up and run in opposite directions, although this means that one of them would be running directly at our heroes. This is actually a pretty old technique. Producer Sam Katzman in the ‘50s would have his running crowds point in various directions, so that his menace could be cut in from any direction.
Back to the Dark One again (and I mean again) haranguing Valaria. She mentions that there’s still another obstacle. Look, how about if we in the audience just stipulate that the heroes somehow make it past everything, just to get things moving. No? Sigh. OK, then I guess we’ll just have to watch this whole next bit. Kai is taking point, and somehow manages to walk into a quite apparent mess of wires stretched out in front of them. It’s a collection of dozens of tripwires, I guess. Now, usually you only have one of these at a time, because generally you want people not to be able to see them. Of course, in this universe people walk into them anyway, so I guess they know what they’re about after all. Luckily, Neo called for Kai to stop in time to keep him from actually setting off the trap. However, he’s now pressing against them, and the slightest, well, you know. By the way, I don’t want to be a Complaining Cathy, but I can’t help noticing that we’ve had one character ‘caught’ in a big spider’s web. And now, we’ve got another character trapped in a bunch of tripwires, which quite resembles a big spider’s web. Could we perhaps think up another sort of trap here? You know, just for variety’s sake.
Nyla advises that they let Kai set off the trap, which would clear the way for the others. Deeja reacts to this suggestion with a little girly slap to Nyla’s face. The fierce, battle-tested warrior queen reacts favorably to this. "There may be some hope for you yet," she notes. Yeah, next thing you know she’ll be pulling hair and giving Indian Burns with the best of ‘em. Luckily, Neo has seen "these devices" whilst approaching the border of the Last City. Neo asks Kai if there’s a steel cylinder in front of him, which is clearly out where everybody can see it. I always wonder why they don’t bother to change such lines on the set, after the props are built. You’d really think the guy playing Neo would say, "Hey, you know, I can in fact pretty obviously see the cylinder from here." Then the director would say, "Yeah, OK, instead just say ‘Kai, see that cylinder in front of you?’" I mean, how much work would that be?
I’d also like to note that everybody crowds up on Kai whilst this in going on, which wouldn’t exactly be how I’d play it. I guess their thinking was, "Hey, we’d better stand real close, so that if the bomb goes off we all get killed." Neo tells Kai to push button on the cylinder, but not to touch any wires as he does so. So, of course, we immediately see a number of wires get hit as he moves around. But he doesn’t ‘officially’ hit the wires, so it’s OK. Now, after Kai’s got his arms inserted through all these other wires and is grasping the actual explosive device, now Neo asks Klyton if he’s got any wire cutters. What if he didn’t? "Kai, uh, let go of that thing, without jiggling it, and then pull your hands back out from those wires without hitting any of them. Sorry." (This, by the way, this is also the first time and only time in the movie, as far as I can tell, that Klyton is identified by name.)
Of necessity, the bomb disarming requires movements that are measured and precise. In translation, that means the scene is slow, slow, slow. And, as a corollary, boring, boring, boring. Eventually, though, Kai gets the doohickey open and Neo hands him the wire cutters. This requires Kai to remove his right hand and then reinsert it, during which we see him disturb various filaments at least half a dozen times. Soon, the magic Defusing Wire is cut (at least they didn’t bother with the ‘color coding’ thing) and the last trap is deactivated. Thank goodness! Maybe now we can getting this movie finished.
Torque reports to Valaria that the energy reservoir from the Air Slaves is about empty. She is bewildered, as she had seen them working. Yep, this is quite the crew of brainiacs, here. (There are always those willing to work with even the most corrupt rulers in exchange for extra goodies and privileges. Why weren’t there some human overseers standing guard over the others? Oh, right, because then the Dark One would still be at full power and thus able to destroy our heroes. Sorry. Forget I said anything.) The Dark One gives Valaria one last chance, and she herself heads off to get a hold of Deeja.
Valaria tells Torque to summon more guardbots. A couple of them (hmm, funny how we never see more than two of those guys at any one time) soon make an appearance. One is armed with a sword, the other is wielding a mace on a chain. (?) I guess Torque is the only one to rate a laser weapon. Although why there’d be only one, or why there’s a whole city left standing in pristine shape, but no pre-Holocaust firearms to be had, remains somewhat of a mystery. Hey, that’s weird. The first two times we saw the second guardbot, he only had that mace thing. Now, magically, he’s also got a sword. Not only that, but the other guardbot, who was just shown with a regular sword, is now equipped with twin swords goofily mounted on his arms. Huh. That’s weird. It’s almost like some sort of really lame and obvious continuity error. Torque, meanwhile, confronts Neo, choosing to grapple with him rather than just shooting him. I have to say, it seems like humans would be at a severe disadvantage in a sword fight with a robot. For instance, robots don’t bleed, or get disemboweled, or tired, or, well, die. Meanwhile, Klyton ‘comically’ gets entangles in some nearby equipment. Oh, Klyton, what mischief will you get into next?
Stuff happens. Klyton gets loose, lightly bops a guardbot on the head and then goes "Oh, no!" when the guardbot turns on him. Torque begins choking Neo and does that ‘lifting him off the floor while strangling him’ thing. The guardbot with sword-arms begins twirling around in circles (not very precise ones, I might add), swords pointed outward. Luckily, none of his opponents choose to actually run up into his blades, so this proves fairly ineffective as a battle technique. Meanwhile, though, Valaria has managed to overpower Deeja and drags her off. Valaria presents her to the Dark One, who then reports that Valaria’s use to him is at an end. I’m not sure why that’d be, exactly, but you know, Evil Villains are an untrustworthy lot.
Valaria protests this, prompting the Dark One to note that (I swear!), "Life isn’t always fair." Then he continues: "Especially when one isn’t really alive." This sets up our next big *yawn* shocking plot twist. Valaria runs away, but soon is victimized when sparks shot out of a nearby piece of machinery. (?) Her ‘face’ is burned off, and, to our, uh, amazement, we see the metal underneath. See, Valaria herself was a robot! Can you believe it! Valaria. Huh! Go figure! Actually, the weirdest thing is that the metal part of Valaria’s face sticks well past where her fake skin used to be. In other words, she’s actually bigger on the inside than the outside. You know, like the TARDIS. It’s almost like her revealed ‘robot’ face is some kind of mask that they didn’t think out very well.
Robots apparently suffer from low self-esteem, because Valaria screams in horror at this turn of events. Can’t she see that she’s participating in her own oppression? Comically, this is Valaria’s most expressive moment, while her face is covered with a robot mask. Even odder, now that she’s been revealed, all of the sudden she’s given the echo-y voice that all the other robots have. How’s that work? Anyway, apparently the Dark One should have taken her out completely, rather than just burning her faux face off. You know the old saying, "Hell hath no fury like a robot scorned." So she goes over and pulls the handy Self Destruct Lever. You know. The lever that when pulled destroys the fortress of the Evil Villain. I don’t know why you’d have one of these, but a surprising number of Evil Overlords do. Maybe it’s a union rule.
Valaria taunts the Dark One with their imminent destruction, due to take place in the standard five minutes. Still, you have to give the film points for an original countdown device. It’s an analog clock with the timer hand running backwards. Of course, this is the future. Then it’s back to our still battling heroes. Tragically, Kai is cut down the Two-Sworded Robot. It’s…I don’t know. It’s like I’ve lost a friend. Good-bye, Kai. I’ll never forget you. Anyway, inspired by this horrendous act, Klyton grabs a pipe and beats the murderous robot to death. Did you know that when a metal robot is beaten with an iron pipe that it makes sound like flesh being hit? It’s true. I know because I’m watching such a situation now. (Oh, and Kai, look buddy, I know that now isn’t the time when you need people nagging on you, but when you’re dead, you should stop breathing. Just thought you should know.)
The Dark One starts interrogating Deeja. Myself, I’d be a little more concerned about the Air Slaves having sabotaged my power supply. Oh, yeah, and that imminent destruction thing. Still, everybody has different priorities, I guess. Deeja, like her dad before her, hangs tough. Meanwhile, Torque is (finally) ordered to hit the pause switch on the auto-destruct. Neo attacks him but is thrown against the wall, near the destruct mechanism. Torque (finally) draws his ray beam weapon and prepares to fire. Luckily, he pauses long enough for Nyla to leap in front of Neo, stand there waiting for three or four seconds, and then (finally) take the cartoon. Er, ray blast. As she falls, she manages to hit the pause switch, mere seconds before the auto-destruct is activated. Unfortunately, nobody informed the actor playing Neo to act either alarmed or horrified or much of anything at watching another person take a bullet for him. Instead, he watches her fall with a rather blasé, ‘yeah, whatever’ expression on his face. I mean, so do I, but then I’m not actually in the movie, I’m just watching it.
Neo is saved when the Dark One calls for Torque to head over to the Room of Questions. Yeah, whew, that was too close, etc. Meanwhile, Valaria, who’s been putzing around for the five minutes since pulling the lever, pops back up over by Deeja. "Valaria," the Dark One exclaims, "I thought we’d see the last of you." Indeed. Who’d have thought that after all those minutes of standing a few yards away she’s come back over here? Of course, it’s a robot’s prerogative to recalculate its positronic matrix, and Valaria wants back in. She notes that the Air Slaves can be forced back to work. When the Dark One asks how, Valaria posits that Deeja can provide the answer. (?!) You know, you could try the whole poison air/asphyxiation thing. Isn’t that what your whole despotic rule was founded on in the first place?
Anyway, it’s time for the big shock that they’ve been promising her. Valaria believes that by revealing Jorn’s hideous fate, the same fate facing Deeja. So awful is it, that Deeja will give in and reveal how to re-bend the Air Slaves to the Dark One’s will. (Again, what did I miss? How would Deeja know how to do that?) A door opens, and we see that Jorn is now merely a head, one sitting on a pod growing off of the Dark One (I assume), who’s apparently some kind of plant. "All that remained of Jorn," the Narrator needlessly informs us, "is a head. The rest of his body was completely engulfed by…The Dark One." Hmm, yes, that would explain why we are seeing an image of Jorn’s body being engulfed by the Dark One, with only his head remaining. Thanks for pointing that out.
This image proved quite popular with the MST3K crew. As I recall, they had a contest asking viewers what this pod-guy should be called. I think one person suggested Avocado Man, but my memories of this are a tad hazy. Valaria laughs at Deeja’s not-very well expressed dismay. She says something about the Dark One devouring her father, and thus gaining all his wisdom. Uh, then, wouldn’t he now have the information that he wanted all this time? What do they need Deeja for? And if that’s all it takes, then why did they bother questioning Jorn at all? These questions are due to remain unanswered, though. Meanwhile, Deeja faces the same fate as her father. Frankly, if I were her I’d try to run away, since there’s only Valaria guarding her at the moment. (And before Valaria popped back in, Deeja was standing around completely unattended for quite some time.) Unfortunately, though, ‘initiative’ doesn’t appear to be Deeja’s middle name.
Neo is seen running…somewhere, and for about the fourth time confronts Torque in an *yawn* epic struggle. After having his sword taken away, Neo decides that the best way to attack a robot is hand to hand. Unsurprisingly, this innovative technique proves largely ineffective. Torque grabs him in a potentially lethal bear hug, but Neo manages to break free. Whereupon he finally figures out that he can run faster than a guy in a crappy and restrictive robot costume (duh) and scampers away. Meanwhile, Valaria is preparing to cut off the good air to the Air Slaves. Amazingly, no one had suggested this before, despite the fact that the Dark One’s reign of terror was supposedly built on his ability to do jus this. Now, however, they merely intend the Air Slaves’ deaths. Seems that they believe, for absolutely no reason that I can see, that once the Dark One has absorbed Jorn and Deeja knowledge, that the Air Slaves will no longer be needed. Again, I’m not sure on what this is predicated, but whatever.
So a switch in thrown (on the same panel an the self-destruct mechanism; I mean, they’ve got an entire industrial complex, and all the doohickeys are on one panel?) and the Air Slaves start doing that, ‘I can’t breath, I’d better put my hands around my throat’ thing. This is reminiscent of a similar scene in Total Recall, except that it sucks a lot more. Anyway, Klyton is seen standing somewhere, and finally manages to get his faulty laser gun to work, and pegs Valaria. Meanwhile, Neo ambushes Torque by throwing a chain around his neck and choking him. This isn’t a technique I was aware worked on robots, so hey, I learned something today. Torque breaks free and they begin their fourteenth battle to the death. Then Neo again runs away. Torque continues to stand there for a while, allowing Neo to jump him from almost the exact same spot he jumped him from a minute ago. Man, if I’m ever being hunted by a killer robot, I hope it’s this one. Anyway, having the drop on Torque the second time, Neo manages to take him out with repeated sword blows.
Jorn, meanwhile, naturally pleads for Deeja to end his suffering. (Yeah, mine too.) She, of course, resists, because she loves him, yada yada. Nearby (I assume), Klyton is handing his ray gun to Neo. Neo walks over by Deeja and prepares to kill both the Dark One and Jorn. The Dark One cravenly, and boringly, prays for a reprieve, but luckily this isn’t granted. Deeja, standing right next to Neo but not looking at him screams, "No!", Neo fires a cartoon, sparks fly around over by the Dark One, and the guy playing Jorn slumps his head. Klyton, meanwhile, somehow knows how the Dark One’s control panel works and turns the Air Slaves’ air back on. This leads to a celebration somewhat less impressive than the ending of Star Wars.
Meanwhile, Deeja is pissed about the ‘you killed my father’ thing and is acting all pouty with Neo. As they stand right next to each, still both looking straight ahead and not at each other, which looks really stupid, Deeja explains that she’ll return to "her people," whoever those are. Neo again tries to play the "your dad didn’t want to be an avocado" card, but she replies, "No, leave me alone!" That line doesn’t really read that bad I guess, but as delivered it sounds like a petulant three year-old girl yelling at a slightly older brother who’s waving a plastic snake at her. All the while, exaggeratedly mordant piano music plays, indicating the tragic events that have forced Deeja and Neo apart.
Anyway, Neo and Klyton head off, thankfully into a future that included no sequels. The Narrator takes one last opportunity to spell out obvious stuff ("With the Dark One destroyed, the human race could blah blah blah…"). However, he forgets the last and most important bit, "And so was the audience much relieved."
|-Review by Ken Begg||