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Def-Con 4 (1985)

by on 2013/01/03

Def-Con 4 (1985) I have an overwhelming impulse to say, “They don’t make them like this anymore . . . thank goodness.” Unfortunately, they do. The absurd train wreck that was Doomsday was a sort of latter-day bridge between the seminal Escape from New York and this sad science fiction turd, Def-Con 4.

(Or Defcon-4, depending on which bit of the fragmented marketing you choose to punish your gaze with.)

“It’s like that Bob and Doug parody,” I commented to Gru after a while.

Mutants of 2051 A.D.” she confirmed, “and they borrowed their props from Red Green.”

Appropriate to the Strange Brew reference, I picked Def-Con for being a short piece. Oh, if only this impossibly long feeling trial could have been infinitely shorter.

It’s got Maury Chaykin (Whale Music) in it, I figured, how bad could it be? At least it should be thought-provoking, right?

Uh, no, wrong, not so much.

Okay, let’s get this over with. Three astronauts, orbiting the Earth in a weapons platform satellite, witness the outbreak of a third world war. Two months later, they return to the surface and find a post-apocalyptic Nova Scotia ravaged by radiation, invisible mutants, a nipple-obsessed survivalist, and gangs full of rejects from 1984’s Karate Kid Cobra-Kais. Their petulant schoolboy leader would give up all their earrings, eyeliner, headbands, and mohawks to find himself a “clean zone”.

Blah, blah, blah, whatever. I pretty much decided the entire narrative was the protagonist’s dying delusion. I simply couldn’t accept the only other explanation, an impossible achievement in slipshod incompetence.

It started okay . . . not great, but okay, a bit drab but “real enough”. Then came the overacting, and a disjointed plot, apparently composed of improvisation, tangents, non sequiturs, and half-baked ideas soon abandoned. And it just gets weirder and weirder as it goes, never compelling, involving, interesting, or even funny on any level. (For all of his incompetence, at least Ed Wood was entertaining.)

Fractured and scattered doesn’t begin to describe this misfire. It’s devolvingly messy-gone-wrong, and may well be the farthest plummet from something of promise to steaming pile.

Remember that show Jeremiah? Probably not, but it’s kind of like that, without any kind of redeeming qualities. It’s Mad Max (The Road Warrior) set on The Planet of the Apes, endowed with the full resources of a Beachcombers episode.

By the end I said to Gru, “I’d love to have been there when the investors were given their first screening.”

Then again, maybe not, I’ve had my fill of histrionics and bloodshed.

* *

Rated R

88 minutes

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