Empire of Ash

It’s the year 2050, and the world has become a wasteland after a fatal virus has ravaged the human race. Those few that have survived are forced to fight against a powerful warrior empire that seeks total control over the new world. The price of freedom in this New World is death. In a desperate stand for true civilization, the last of the warriors for freedom wage an all out assault against the evil empire.

Another of the endless post-apocalyptic dramas out there that for a change lays the blame for the end of mankind at a “plague”, and not a nuclear war! The film starts with some survivors having a meeting about a band of vicious killers who are targeting them for no reason other than to have complete control over “New Idaho”. Half-way through their meeting, these killers (led by William Smith in a cape) show up and sure enough shoot the lot of them, apart from a mother/son combo who manage to get away, and the group’s leader (an old guy) and his daughter (a hot blonde), who are captured by Lucas and his posse (which includes an apparent lesbian second-in-command), and taken back to their headquarters (a castle on a bridge) to be held prisoner and interrogated.

The daughter just happens to be the surviving son’s girlfriend and he is most distressed about leaving her. He tells his mother that he wants to go back and save her (he “knows” she is alive, even though he didn’t see her get captured), but while they are on the run some more of Lucas’s band of merry men, all done-up in the usual leather-n-chain outfits of the post-apocalyptic era, appear and kill mom. Luckily for sonny (his name is Harris), a seemingly-random tough-nut woman out on a joyride in her futuristic jeep spots the commotion and saves Harris from the same fate as his mother, by blowing the evil gang away. She (Danielle) befriends Harris and takes him back to her hide-out, which is an open camp run by two Vietnam-vets. They are planning an assault on Lucas’s fortress, and Lucas knows all about it. That’s why he wants Harris’s girlfriend’s father, who is knowledgeable in their whereabouts and wants to send out his gang to kill them before they can do the same to him. He puts the daughter in all kind of perilous situations (including what appears to be lesbian rape from the second-in-command!) to make him talk, and once he does, the second-in-command blows his brains out. Then, after she and the gang is sent out to find the vets (or “arms dealers”) and Danielle, etc, Lucas reveals his big plan for the daughter – he wants her to carry the baby of his own father to keep their little “tribe” going into the future and honor his father’s wishes! Once that bizarre revelation is out of the way, the movie kicks into more high-gear with endless action sequences and mind-boggling scenes.

Watch Harris, Danielle and the vets battle cannibal survivors of the plague, Lucas’s army and boredom as they play strip-poker with two blondes (who keep losing and must strip, of course)! They also have a prisoner, who was the arms expert of Lucas’s gang, and a computer that talks with a female voice and can fly a helicopter just from sitting on the seat. There are copious amounts of action, which are all horrendously executed, thanks to the films low, low budget. People get shot without squibs (well, some of them), and in most cases the explosions are little more than sparks and smoke cannisters, while the same people are shot over and over again. All of the gunshot sound effects are almost muted, and you can barely hear the damn things go off, while every other sound is loud as day. That was a real bizarre element of the film. The acting of course is pathetic, and the old guy who is supposed to be Lucas’s father is clearly middle-aged and wearing excessive make-up and a terrible wig. Check out the bogus abrupt ending, and the “futuristic” cars that are totally trashed on the exterior, but have perfect engines and tires. Oh, and thankfully the hot blonde daughter (Claudia) is spared her “rape” by the old fool in the nick of time. The girls and the wacky action sequences might be enough for you to enjoy this film, but it’s certainly an odd-ball!