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Post-Nuke Review of STRYKER (1983)

Posted on March 22, 2015 at 10:37 am by Dylan Reynolds

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Hello!  My name is Dylan and this will be the first of a weekly-ish series of reviews I will be doing focused on the wonderful world of trashy/ sleazy filmmaking. 

For the “first phase” I was inspired by the ape-shit response the MAD MAX: FURY ROAD trailer(s) have received as well as recent news that the long threatened ESCAPE FROM N.Y. remake/ reboot/ re-whatever is in the pipeline once again.

Therefore from now and until Fury Road’s release in May I’m going to try and watch as many “Post Nuke flicks” as humanly possible and share my thoughts…

STRYKER (1983)

Stryker-FrontFirst- for a little bit of context: The release of two influential exploitation films back in ’81 (Road Warrior and Escape from N.Y.) opened the floodgates to the sub genre of the “post-nuke wasteland action/ adventure movie” (with other acknowledged precursors such as ‘75s Death Race and Boy and His Dog).

I have always been fascinated by this trend and the sheer amount of imitators that can be attributed to it. Granted- there has been plenty examples of low budget indie/ exploitation films seemingly coming out of nowhere- becoming huge hits and then spawning an assembly line of clones. The most obvious example being Black Christmas / Halloween and the subsequent “slasher cycle” of the early 80s.

But for me what always stood out about the “post nuke movie” (especially the “Mad Max rip offs” from the 80s) is how specific the aesthetic carried itself from film-to-film- i.e. barren wastelands with roving gangs of marauders sporting S&M/ Heavy Metal inspired fashion (leather, chaps, mohawks) and riding around in bizarre demolition-derby style vehicles with impractical “design enhancements” like spikes and flame throwers.

Stryker-3One can almost imagine that these stories take place in the same world/ universe as Road Warrior… after all, the wasteland is a big place, right?

So what better way to kick things off than with the filmmaker that made more “Mad Max rip-offs” than anybody? With financing from the likes of Roger Corman- Filipino schlock auteur Cirio H. Santiago dabbled in every exploitable genre for the better part of the 70s and 80s- especially action and war movies.

But today he is perhaps best known for his series of post-apocalyptic flicks that kicked off with STRYKER and continued with WHEELS OF FIRE, the awesome EQUILIZER 2000, THE SISTERHOOD, DUNE WARRIORS, and RAIDERS OF THE SUN. We will be visiting these movies and Mr. Santiago in future reviews- so for now let’s get right into his inaugural post-nuke effort…

The movie begins with stock footage of an A-bomb explosion and a standard narration for the genre- setting up a world where civilization has collapsed and the survivors fight over precious resources. What I enjoyed about this particular opening is that most of these movies get pretty deep with the backstory whereas this flick basically sums it up with “no one remembers how the war started and it doesn’t really matter” and then gets right into the action.  Check out the opening:

The thread-bare plot comes together over the next twenty minutes or so between bad post-sync dubbing and non-stop gun fights and car chases. Instead of gas/oil everyone is fighting over water (predating the McGuffin of subsequent Post-Apocalyptic flicks like Waterworld and Tank Girl) and there’s this Amazon Warrior chick (who’s a fox, naturally) that knows the location of the last natural water spring and is chased/ captured by a band of nasty Road Warriors lead by a guy who dresses like a pirate and has a hook-for-a-hand.

Along comes a “man of few words”-a bad ass dude named Mad Ma-… uh, I mean Stryker who sets out on a quest to save the woman and then protect the tribe that guards the water spring. It all culminates with the Road Warriors trying to take control of the water spring and Stryker rounding up all his wasteland buddies to make a final stand.

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There is a brief flirtation with some deeper themes when Stryker debates with the current leader of the “water spring tribe” of whether the “evil and corruptible” are in fact the one’s that control the water- i.e. have the power. So by defeating the supposed “bad guys” are they in fact becoming them? But obviously this movie isn’t too concerned about any deeper meaning and drops the philosophical discussion and gets right into the action-packed third act.

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The dialogue and plot are minimal and even though there’s basically wall-to-wall action the scenes get pretty repetitive pretty damn quick and do little to conceal their low-budget trappings. On the plus side- all the effects and stunts are practical and there’s a certain low-fi charm to the proceedings. It’s a solid (if unremarkable) B-movie that’s a fine example of the 80s post-nuke genre and a great way to begin the column!

Check back next week for my next post-nuke review of HARDWARE.

    • Richard Westcott

      So my question is; Watching these films and most recently “Last Man on Earth”, why is everything gas powered? Why not solar? It’s in the future…don’t you think battery technology as well as solar panel efficiency must be solid right? Maybe I need to dig a little deeper.

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