Sometimes, these films just end up finding you. What is the plot of “America 3000”? “In 2890, 900 years after a nuclear apocalypse, warriors Korvis and Gruss stage raids to free men enslaved by the powerful women now ruling Earth.” How lovely does that sound, especially for a film released in the same year, 1986, as the original novel of “The Handmaid’s Tale”?
There is the extra layer of slime in knowing this film was released by Cannon. They had already employed the writer and director of “America 3000,” David Engelbach, to write the script of “Death Wish II” – he later co-wrote the story for the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling debacle “Over the Top.” It is quite possible that Cannon were making “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” at this point too, so “America 3000” may have received some of its budget, as Cannon tried to juggle its various B-movie productions.
Once I actually started watching the film, it appears that “post-apocalyptic” means something that resembles a mix of a medieval village, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and “The Flintstones” – the music, formed of your typical 1986 rock guitar and keyboards, sticks the film firmly into the past.
It should be made clear that Korvus and Gruss are that bit more intelligent than the enslaved men in “America 3000” because they found, as teenagers, a Ladybird-type book of ABCs, and a top hat. This appears to have been enough to elevate them away from the “machos,” or slaves, and the “toys,” who had their tongues cut out. It looks like a futuristic equivalent of Nadsat or Newspeak was attempted, but not explained, so you will find yourself listening to characters while thinking you missed something earlier, the last time your attention wandered.
I wish I could tell you why the world in the film is the way it is: we know about the “Mericans” and the “Commies,” a “Prezzydent” that will come back to lead them, and the “Great Nuke,” but why a feudal society, based on superiority of gender, with little other knowledge of what the previous world was like, has come about is completely beyond me. You hope this is a pocket of weirdness in the desert (possibly Arizona, but actually filmed in Israel), with life carrying on as normal elsewhere. It is not clear why the women, led by a “tiara” named Frisco, have full hair and make-up styling, other than as “war paint.”
It is not clear why a ten-minute sequence of brutal conflict is resolved by Korvis and Frisco making kissing in front of everyone else, as everyone discovers this is what they should have been doing all along – I refuse to believe all the women and all the men are straight. It is also not clear why there is a sasquatch-like thing called Aargh the Awful, playing with an air raid siren, and holding a boombox. Finally, for me, it is not clear how a nuclear bunker would survive intact after nine hundred years, with the electricity working, and how the D-sized batteries that must have been in the boombox Korvis found had not leaked in that time.
“America 3000” is a typical example of a cheap film made by Cannon in the 1980s. The bizarre antics on screen did detract from realising the picture was released in 1.33:1 Academy ratio – presumably, all the anamorphic widescreen lenses Cannon owned were being used by “Superman IV.” The actor playing Korvis, Chuck Wagner, thankfully still has a career in musical theatre, in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Misérables.” For a futuristic film, “America 3000” is really only of historical interest, but it is online, if you really want to find it.