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  Raiders of Atlantis falling falling, black inferno
Year: 1983
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Stars: Christopher Connelly, Gioia Maria Scola, Tony King, George Hilton, Ivan Rassimov, Mike Miller, Bruce Baron, Michele Soavi, Giancarlo Prati, Maurizio Fardo, Mike Monty, John Vasallo, Lewis A. Cianelli, James Demby, Audrey Perkins
Genre: Horror, Action, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Where to begin? Mere words seem inadequate when faced with such an utterly unhinged cine-spectacle. In a nutshell, Raiders of Atlantis is an ultra-gory, disco-themed, mystical, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, action, jungle, horror adventure. It’s one of the wackiest Italian exploitation efforts of all time. Strap yourselves in for a wild ride.

It’s the early eighties and the end of the world, baby! A Russian submarine sinks and the radiation from its nuclear missiles revives the lost island of Atlantis. The glass domed super-city rises from the ocean looking like a Ken Adam creation from The Spy who Loved Me (1977). A mysterious storm shorts out electrical equipment across the world. Inhabitants of neighbouring islands break out their hair dye and eyeliner and slaughter everyone who doesn’t resemble an extra in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981). Enter our heroes: happy-go-lucky, gun-toting mercenaries, Mike (Christopher Connelly) and Washington (American football star, Tony King), riding their speedboat to a disco ditty by “Oliver Onions” (gasp, not THE Oliver Onions!): “Falling, falling… black inferno!”

The boys rescue a handful of survivors who claimed to be a scientific research team, although they’re dressed like members of Miami Vice. Among their number: Professor Peter Saunders (suave, giallo star George Hilton, atypically cast - and quite good - as science boffin), wild-eyed Bill Cook (Ivan Rassimov - another Italian exploitation vet. It’s like a reunion!), and glamour-puss, Dr. Cathy Rollins (Gioia Maria Scola) - an expert in “pre-Columbian dialects”. Since when did Columbians enjoy linguistic supremacy? Has anyone told Tony Montana? Cathy deciphers the arcane secret behind the Atlanteans’ power and is duly kidnapped. So Mike leads a heavily-armed posse in pursuit (“Rolling, rolling…black inferno!”), stopping off at a coastal town where they stumble across the aftermath of a gory massacre, with the place overrun by post-apocalyptic mutant bikers in leather pants. Their leader, the mystical, masked Crystal Skull (Bruce Baron) rolls in on his private tank, staffed by topless, Chinese punk girls.

Pretty soon, the macho mercenaries are on the run and lost in a jungle hell where native assassins track and kill them one by one. Cathy is imprisoned inside a gleaming, futuristic city where the silver jumpsuit wearing, Atlantean Gods plug her into their brain drain gizmo. But Mike won’t quit, racing to Atlantis for a showdown with Crystal Skull and a deadly, Egyptian sarcophagus that fires lasers from its eyes. It ends with face off between the all-powerful Gods and Mike’s M-16, a sinking continent and a UFO soaring into outer space. “Falling, falling… black inferno!”

Wow. Raiders of Atlantis is bezerk from start to finish. You’d have to look to Hong Kong fare like Fantasy Mission Force (1982) or Golden Queens Commando (1984) for anything comparable to its breakneck insanity. Cult film fans know Ruggero Deodato for his sadistic, yet fiercely intelligent horror fare: Cannibal Holocaust (1979) and House on the Edge of the Park (1980). Yet his best films are more obscure: the sexy swashbuckler Zenabel (1969), the dynamic cop thriller Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976), and certainly this movie, also known as The Atlantis Interceptors and I predatori di Atlantide. Ostensibly part of the post-Mad Max, Italian film craze for post-apocalyptic sci-fi, the film is more off-kilter than the over-rated 1990: Bronx Warriors (1982), and ranks among the more imaginative examples of its genre, alongside Joe D’Amato’s Endgame (1983) and Enzo G. Castellari’s The New Barbarians (1982).

As the title suggests, Deodato works in Indiana Jones elements, together with riffs on zombie movies, Warlords of Atlantis (1978), and his own cannibal adventure epics. He’s an inventive filmmaker, arranging bloody corpses in artful poses, staging a high-octane car chase involving motorbikes, a bus and a helicopter, and doling out dollops of gore including a memorably graphic decapitation. It isn’t always coherent (near the climax, Cathy appears in Mike’s helicopter wearing a serene smile on her face, with no explanation how she got there), but surreal narrative quirks work in its favour. Italian exploitation vet Christopher Connelly and Tony King share an easygoing chemistry as our wisecracking heroes, and despite the bloodshed and nudity the tone is oddly light-hearted. So kick back, enjoy and sing along: “Rolling, rolling… black inferno!” Guido and Maurizio De Angelis’ score is rather catchy. Then again, so is influenza.

Click here for the trailer
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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Ruggero Deodato  (1939 - )

Italian director best known his ultra-violent horror work, but whose filmography takes in many genres over a 40-year career. Worked as an assistant director on a variety of films during the sixties, and made his first credited directing debut in 1968 with the superhero yarn Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen. Throughout the following decade Deodato made erotic dramas (Gungalar, Waves of Lust), musical comdies (Man Only Cries for Love), and comic book romps (Zenabel).

It was Ruggero's horror films that gained him an international reputation however. The trashy Last Cannibal World was followed by 1980's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and the likes of House on the Edge of the Park, Cut and Run and Bodycount were popular amongst video audiences during the eighties. Other films during this period include the action fantasy The Barbarians and bizarre thriller Dial Help, while Deodato's work during the nineties was largely confined to Italian TV.

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