Only in an Italian exploitation movie could there be a conceit that in a thousand years from now, there’d be laser guns but also still 1982 Buick Rivieras. But, such is the reality you have to buy into with the Italian flicks of the ’80s. Whatever was popular got a super-low budget ripoff for the European market that maybe made its way to the US. Who are we kidding? It almost always made its way over here. This is how you get stuff like Starcrash or 1999: The Bronx Warriors. Despite the cheapie nature of these things, sometimes they can be impressive on some tiny level, which miraculously happened with the very silly Road Warrior knockoff, Exterminators of the Year 3000.
What a title! It can mean so many things. Either the exterminators are from the year 3000 OR it could mean these are the people who exterminate the year 3000 itself. How crazy and far-out would that be?!?! Likely as not, it’s just called that because it sounds cool and they decided the cars are called “exterminators.” Exterminators of the Year 3000 was directed by Giuliano Carnimeo, credited as Jules Harrison, a maestro who directed a handful of Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s and 1970s. His final two features were called Rat Man and Computron 22, so you know he’s eclectic. One of the screenwriters on the film was Dardano Sacchetti, a name that should be well-known to Italian genre fans. Sacchetti has written or contributed to almost 100 scripts since 1971, including ones like Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, Lamberto Bava’s Demons, and the aforementioned Bronx Warriors. So, needless to say, this movie had some Oomph behind it in the Italian film world.
The film takes a little bit for it to really let us know what’s going on. But, that’s not actually all that necessary. The whole opening credits sequence lasts about a minute with just white titles on a black background with no music or sound effects. Then we open on completely silent desert scene. Surely nothing bad could be happening here. Nope, just kidding. The music, a sort of shrill John Carpenter pastiche, begins and we see an old dilapidated cop car driving all over the place and the computer radio on the inside telling the police officers they’ve been decommissioned, which they ignore. They soon spot our “hero,” named Alien (played by Robert Iannucci who is actually an American despite the name) and a very long chase scene ensues after the cop steals Alien’s car and Alien has to chase in the cop car… make sense?
Elsewhere in a colony, a young boy who has no father (but really he does) exists and he gets made fun of a lot. The dad, apparently, went off to find water, which is the commodity everybody needs in this weird future world that looks like 1983. The boy joins the next group of people to find water, but it’s very dangerous because a band of marauders is out there on motorcycles and they look like they belong in that other, much better Australian movie. The boy eventually finds a trapped Alien who, despite not wanting or needing anybody in his life, decides to help the kid hopefully save his colony. Along the way, they meet a woman, named Trash, mostly so Alien can have a love interest, and an aging guy who claims to be an astronaut named Papillion.
Despite the colony settings and the few interior scenes of warehouses or whatever, the production doesn’t even TRY to hide the fact that it’s ripping off The Road Warrior. They both open with a long car chase, and there’s even police involved, only in this they’re bad guys instead of in Mad Max when they’re the good guys. The leader of the marauders, a charming bald guy named Crazy Bull, is dressed almost exactly like Wez from Road Warrior, although Crazy Bull talks a lot more. In fact, he talks so much he has catchphrase. He calls everybody a bunch of “mother-grabbers.” Yeah, this movie is rated R and the English language track uses the F word a few times, but for flavor, I guess, we have a character continually saying “mother-grabber.” Did Italian people think that’s something Americans said?
Now, I mentioned at the top that there are a few impressive things about the film. Those things are, namely, all the car chases and stunts. While not nearly as frenetic as George Miller’s direction, Carnimeo gets enough coverage of the chases that it feels a lot more expensive than it is. Plus, cars get beat the hell right up, and you can tell they’re actually crashing the cars and not just faking it for the sake of ease. There’s also a pretty awesome sequence at the end that, yes, completely apes the one in that other movie, but involves Trash driving a tanker truck (a van, really) while Alien has a showdown with Crazy Bull and his crew, which is really just a glorified demolition derby. Do you suppose he says “Into battle, my merry mother-grabbers” before the fight? Yes he does. The exterminator driven by Alien has missiles and things so it’s a pretty fair fight. Tons and tons of explosions and people getting shot commence until they finally have to try to get what water they can…
Then it just starts to rain at the end. Way to save everyone’s ass ten minutes later than would have been convenient, GOD.
Exterminators of the Year 3000 is a very silly movie. It’s only really fun in the context of it being a pretty poor attempt at a post-apocalyptic road movie, but it does have a fair amount of insane over-the-top action like the best of Italian schlock cinema. And it’s very low on sexual abuse which is usually the thing that makes these kinds of movies unbearable. So that’s fun anyway. Worth a look with a group of like-minded friends.