Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warrior of the Lost World (1983) – MST3K Review

This film starts with an exciting screen crawl (that looks nothing like Star Wars I tell you, NOTHING!) that explains how there was a terrible war and everyone died and blah blah blah. Out of the ashes rose the evil Prossor (Donald Pleasence) who is brainwashing everyone into a state of mellow passivity. But help in on the way in the form a mush-mouthed, robotic motorcycle riding hero known only as “The Rider” (Robert Ginty).

He is tasked by some odd floaty people to rescue McWayne (Harrison Muller). This guy is some kind of visionary who was captured by Prossor. Along for the ride is Nastasia (Persis Khambatta) the lovely daughter of McWayne. At first The Rider scoffs, because there is nothing in it for him. But eventually he stops imitating Han Solo and attempts a daring rescue. But the forces of Prossor are powerful and he’s got a deadly card up his sleeve – MEGAWEAPON! Can the Warrior of the Lost World hope to survive?

Movie Review:
After the apocalypse films were all the rage in the early ‘80s thanks to the Mad Max series. Many low budget films tried to cash in on the success and this one of those flicks. According to legend director and writer David Worth was sent to Italy without a script to begin working on the film. All he had was the cast and the finished poster. While this does explain some of the completely bizarre stuff going on in the movie, it also makes the perfect excuse for the final product.

Either way, the movie is made up of characters and scenes you’ve seen before. Knight Rider had hit television the previous year, so we’ve got a lead character named “Rider” and a talking motorcycle with amazing devices that Q from the Bond series would be envious of. While KITT from Knight Rider was a cool sounding gent, the motorcycle from Warrior of the Lost World sounds like a digitized smurf. It also has the annoying habit of repeating everything it says at least twice as well as showing it on the small screen over the handlebars. How The Rider can read this stupid screen while driving is beyond me, but hey I also don’t drive while talking on the cell phone so what do I know.

As I mentioned above The Rider is supposed to be a cool mercenary dude, with his unshaven good looks and cold eyes giving him an air of mystery. Sadly Ginty isn’t up to the challenge. His mumblings and grumblings come across like he’s had a few too many beers before filming. When he does manage to say something clearly, its pretty much whining. You end up rooting for Nastasia to just kick his butt and take over the movie. Alas, she is soon captured and our “hero” has to come to her aid.

Poor Persis Khambatta, she never really got to shine in any of her movies (but I’d argue she does a good job in Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Here she is the tough gal who is contractually obligated to fall for our leading man even though there is no evidence in the film that she finds him interesting or attractive. She’s not bad in the part, but its underwritten and formulaic.

Pleasence is always good as the villain, but it looks like Worth asked him to play the part EXACTLY like he played Bloefeld in the James Bond classic You Only Live Twice. There is really very little difference between the two characters, but Pleasence does it so well we don’t mind. And hey, he plays a nearly identical character in Puma Man too.

What makes this movie a heaping helping of awesome ‘80s is the fact that it tries to push its budget and play to its audience all at the same time. The result is some classic moments. You’ve got the “army” that The Rider proves himself to. These consist of punks, truckers, amazons, martial artists and some odd militiamen. There’s the armored vehicles with spikes on the bumpers and the huge Omega symbol painted on them. The machine guns that sport “futuristic” sound effects.  Not to mention the entertainment in Prossor’s city that looks like a Duran Duran video fused with an leather show. Some horrible dubbing appears,  and you've got the oh-so-synthy musical score. Fan’s of low budget ‘80s cheese will have a lot to enjoy here.

Also taking a page from The Road Warrior, we get some on the road action with lots of vehicles shooting at each other and chasing each other around. Some of this is filmed pretty well, giving us some good views of the action. But it lacks the kinetic drive that you find in the Mad Max movies or even Death Race 2000. And finally the movie ends with a plot twist that seems to hint a sequel. But we were spared more of Ginty attempting to kiss Khambatta by swallowing her whole face.

All in all, not a bad movie for what it is, but it could have been a lot better. Of course if it had been better then Joel and bots wouldn’t have had a crack at it.

Episode Review:  
And the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 started off with a bang, bringing us the glory of “the Paper Chase guy” as The Warrior of the Lost World. For me, Season Five is one of the best of the series. Joel’s riffing has a bit more bite to it (some believe that Mike was providing the bulk the material at this point) and the speed of the riffing is reaching its best point.

One of the things that is great about these low budget fantasy and sci-fi films of the 1980s is that they just keep on giving the bizarre and wonderful elements. These are just tailor made for riffing. One of these gifts is the talking motorcycle with its display showing everything it just said. As Crow points out its closed captioned, and probably because the digitized voice is so grating that you naturally want to block it out. This leads to all kinds of great riffs on the bike and builds up to the hilarious final battle between The Rider and the enormous armored truck named MEGAWEAPON. Joel and the bots hate the talking bike so much at this point that they are cheering MEGAWEAPON to victory. It’s a hilarious sequence.

But there’s plenty more to enjoy. The actor playing McWayne bears a resemblance to Jimmy Carter and all kinds of jokes kick in – especially since the man is running around with a machine gun for most of the film. Joel dubs him “Jimmy Carter in Missing in Action!”

Joel creates a song about the multicolored drinks served in Prossor’s Duran Duran video , sorry, entertainment club. Him and Tom sing the song to the music provided and even ‘80s it up with Tom performing the echo effect.

Of course with Trace being a huge Star Trek fan you get a lot of references to Khambatta’s role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When Pleasence shows up 40 minutes into the film, they add even more jokes dealing with bald pates.

One more sequence to enjoy is during the ceremony at the end of the film. The camera pans over a crowd of people watching, and Tom Servo gives each and every one of them a celebrity identity. It’s a hilarious moment that is sure to be in anyone’s top ten for season five.

All this and plenty of riffing on “the Paper Chase guy” and his mumbling and you’ve got a really funny episode.  Like many episodes there are a few slow moments, when our heroes are sneaking around. The guys also lose a bit of steam during the extended chase scene. But for the most part the pacing is solid.

The host segments are silly fun. The episode starts with Tom attempting to perform the intro to the show, but ends up being a blowhard, and Crow keeps interrupting him. The invention exchange has the mad scientists revealing The Square Master, a plastic square that you put on the floor to help you exercise. Joel and bots come up with candy hearts for grown ups that are really antacids and come with clever sayings like “Get Out”, “Still Mad”, “My Needs”, “Like a Brother” and “It’s Blue”. At the first break, Joel is inspired by the car chase to turn the bots into slot cars. Tom’s just doesn’t work right. At the next break, Joel plays The Rider in a skit about him dealing with his mom before the apocalypse. For the next segment Joel and bots discuss what they would do if the apocalypse happened. Turns out there would be a lot more places to roller skate. When the movie concludes Joel and bots decide to give MEGAWEAPON a call and see how’s he doing. Mike Nelson provides the voice for the hulking truck.
While I had a blast with this episode on this viewing, the first time I watched it, I found it a bit too slow in the middle. Don’t know if I put some perspective on it or what, but this one comes close to a top rating. So I give it four MEGAWEPONS out of five, with the possibility to raise it by one if I enjoy it as much next time.

This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XVI.


  1. Do you think maybe the Donald Pleasence character orgiginally was the evil "Professor" but someone said, "No that's too cliche. Hey, I have an idea! Just take out the 'fe'!"?

  2. Wow, that's a great call. That's probably exactly what happened. Especially since they didn't have a script when they started this movie.