Monday, January 30, 2017

Death Run, Before The Walking Dead

Though it has waned since then, the 1980s were a hot time for the anti-nuclear movement.  Helen Caldicott of Physicians for Social Responsibility was a frequent speaker at college campuses reminding students that one nuclear bomb could ruin their whole day.  Just as fervent was the pace at which films hit the screen depicting apocalyptic wastelands after the nuclear holocaust.  1987's "Death Run" is our feature today.  Though Michael J. Murphy, the film's writer and director, probably had no idea his work would inspire the hottest television show decades later, "Death Run" (made in the United Kingdom) may have done just that.
With nuclear war imminent, a scientist (Kay Lowery) puts her son Paul (Rob Bartlett) and his girlfriend  Jenny (Wendy Parsons) in cryogenic sleep for 25 years.  The lovers wake to a world decimated by nuclear war. Bad news: Merry old England is populated by mutant zombies with pulsating sores on their faces and an evil tribe headed by a Nazi, bisexual, deformed warlord called the Messiah (Patrick Olliver). Our youthful lovers are captured by the Messiah's tribe. The Messiah is a Negan type figure and proceeds to brutally rape Jenny in a most awkward scene.  Thanks to a tight leather mini-skirt babe named Barbara (Debbi Stevens), Jenny, Paul, a man known as Hero (Eddie Kirby) and herself escape;. Uh oh, the world outside Messiah's city isn't that much better.
As our quartet flee from those pulsating zombies and Messiah's henchmen, they take refuge with a camp of rebels.  Double uh-oh, these aren't rebels, and they proceed to eat Jenny ( worries, she was kind of annoying).  Horrified, the now trio realize they must return to the city and kill the Messiah.  Their plan is far-fetched, but just may work.  To succeed, Paul must be captured and be put through the dreaded Death Run!
What does the Death Run have in store for Paul? Did Jenny have good taste?  Will blonde, futuristic bimbo Barbara be more to Paul's liking?  No spoilers here, but as cheesy and basic as this plot is, fans of The Walking Dead will note plenty of plot devices utilized by the hit AMC show.  Plenty of gore and neat looking pulsating zombies keep this film watchable.  For those of us disappointed in season 7 of "The Walking Dead," "Death Run" is a fabulous alternative.

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