The crew of the spacecraft Nautilus returns to Earth after a prolonged mission to find the planet isn’t exactly as they remembered it due to the ravages of a nuclear war. Now in the eponymous Aftermath, evil gangs led by the ruthless Cutter (played with scenery chewing gusto by genre legend Sid Haig) are rounding up women and murdering (in spectacularly gory fashion) any man that crosses their path…and wouldn’t ya know it, our heroes are men (and have the patchy beards to prove it). That would be bad enough for our erstwhile astronauts, but they also have to contend with roving bands of mutants and violent radioactive storms. Can our heroes, along with a handful of survivors, endure the wasteland and end Cutter’s reign?
Boasting out-of-left-field gore effects, hammy postulating on man’s place in the universe, a future devoid of bras, hilariously unnecessary narration, pew pew lasers, and great appearances by beloved members in good standing of the horror biz (the aforementioned Haig, a voice over by Dick Miller, and Famous Monsters of Filmland creator Forrest J. Ackerman as the curator of a surreal museum sequence that also features excellent model and forced perspective work), The Aftermath is a hoot n’ a half! Is it’s narrative concise? Hell no! Is the acting Oscar caliber? Nope! Is it filled with monsters, madmen, violence, and a ton of heart? Oh fuck yes…and that is what makes it perfect to me!
And while all of that mentioned above is rad-ass awesome, the real selling point to this flick for me are the excellent matte paintings and miniatures that bring the ruined Earth of The Aftermath to life! Featuring top-shelf work by solid geezers Jim Danforth (who appears in the film as Williams) and Robert and Dennis Skotak (also in the film as members of Cutter’s crew…and who’s work here seemingly was a training ground for what they would provide for Escape From New York and Terminator 2), the destroyed city vistas ravaged by tempera paint-hued storms are a thing of beauty and a lost art in today’s world of CG nonsense.
Oh, and I should call out the film’s score by John Morgan…a wonderful pastiche of …but that’s not why I loved it…rather it received my admiration because it brought to mind the score for one of my favorite ‘80’s cartoons (and post-apocalyptic masterpiece coincidentally enough) Thundarr the Barbarian! In other words it got me in my nostalgia feels, and that is a splendid thing indeed my creeps!
So The Aftermath is one hell of good time, but our fine fiends at VCI/MVD have included a bomb blast of bonus material to make The Aftermath even more of a must own! First up we get a great archival (Straight Outta Laserdisc baby) audio commentary by writer/director/star Steve Barkett and his son Chris (who also appeared in the film). This chat is absolutely packed with fantastic info regarding the film’s production, and is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish! Next we get the original supplemental material from the laserdisc release of the film, which is a fun collection of various promotional materials created for the movie as well as looks at the effects utilized during production and on set stills. Bringing up the back end we have the film’s trailer, the short film Night Caller that shares many themes with The Aftermath (not to mention featuring Barkett), the film’s complete soundtrack, and a look at another Barkett production; Empire of the Dark (which also looks fun as hell…literally).
Coming ahead of the curve when it comes to the post-apocalyptic genre that was omnipresent in the early ’80’s, The Aftermath is a dark yet infinitely fun sci-fi romp with some above average visual effects and a solid cast featuring genre vets among their number…in other words, a great time in front of the ol’ terror tube!