Shitty Movie Sundays: The Raiders of Atlantis, aka The Atlantis Interceptors

The Italian invasion continues here at Shitty Movie Sundays. I don’t know who is responsible for either buying or selling the rights to these dogs, but whoever it is, I would like to thank you. It would have been easy to let films like Escape from the Bronx, or today’s flick, The Raiders of Atlantis, fade into total obscurity. But someone, somewhere, signed a deal to make sure flicks like these continue to survive on internet streaming. Whether or not this person is a shitty film lover like myself or a rights holder gathering up pennies, I salute you.

The Raiders of Atlantis, from 1983, was directed by Ruggero Deodato from a script by Tito Carpi and Vincenzo Mannino. The film is yet another Italian ripoff of successful action/sci-fi flicks. In this case, Deodato seems to have taken his inspiration from The Road Warrior.

It’s the near future, 1994. Off the coast of Florida a salvage team is attempting to raise a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine from the ocean floor, à la the Hughes Glomar Explorer. In some way that is never explained adequately, radiation leaking from the sub causes the lost island of Atlantis, encased in an airtight dome, to rise from the seas.

Meanwhile, back on the mainland, native Atlanteans, who had been living in Miami in secret, take the reemergence of their homeland as a sign to put on motorcycle leather, trick out their cars and bikes with spikes and stuff, and turn Miami into a modern wasteland. What a wild plot!

Christopher Connelly and Tony King (who, according to the internet, is currently the head of security for hip-hop group Public Enemy) play Mike Ross and Washington, a pair of hustlers with a boat, as best as I can tell. They were out on the ocean when Atlantis reappeared, and pick up survivors from the wrecked salvage rig. They next make a beeline back to Miami, only to find that the city has been sacked so severely by the Atlanteans that it has turned into a Filipino village. No joke, there. While there was some footage shot in Miami, the bulk of the location work was done in The Philippines. That makes this flick’s Miami resemble something out of Apocalypse Now rather than Band of the Hand. Either way, substituting a Filipino town for Miami and not expecting anyone to notice is sublimely shitty filmmaking. This is the type of stuff I look for in shitty movies.

Unlike many other films of this ilk, there aren’t any slow spots to speak of. Deodato doesn’t appear to have been into things like setup and exposition. His priority in this film was action. Whenever his film threatens to get bogged down by some time-wasting aspect of film, like dialogue, Deodato makes sure that some baddies pop up out of nowhere to wreak some havoc. The amount of action in this movie may not seem impressive now, what with superhero movies out there, but back in the early ’80s this flick would have been considered way out of balance. But, what else was Deodato supposed to do? Count on his cast to act their way through a nonsensical screenplay? Hell, no. A few of his contemporaries would have done well to learn from Deodato and throw in some additional violence when things got slow.

The film moves from Filipino Miami back out to the risen Atlantis, and all the while Mike and his group are pursued and attacked. Apparently the Atlanteans are looking to take over the world, and they can’t do that as long as these particular people still breathe.

They really are a sadistic bunch. Led by a villain aptly named Crystal Skull (Bruce Baron), these are the types of barbarians that are usually reserved for post-apocalyptic flicks. The important thing is that there are an endless supply of them for the main cast to slaughter.

For a movie that is mostly bottom feeding trash, I was impressed by its swiftness. It’s rare to see such a low quality b-flick that doesn’t have horrible pacing. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but there was some competent filmmaking going on, here. Good lord.

But there was also awful acting, cheap effects, intellectual thievery, and just plain shitty filmmaking. I may have enjoyed this film more, but I have to admit that Alien: Resurrection is a better movie.

As a further note, some of this movie’s shitty bled over into its accessibility features. If one happens to stream this flick on Prime, turn on the captions. They are completely different from what is being said. They don’t change the plot or anything. Rather, it’s more like whoever made the captions was using a poorly translated version of the original Italian screenplay, and wasn’t bothering to listen to the actual movie. Extraordinary.