While Mr. Leonard Maltin may rate this one as a Bomb in his movie guide for those that care to look, he has a line in his mini review that had me wanting to see this for years. He talks of Richard Harris living in a post apocalyptic world looking for civilization. The catch phrase is, “Instead he finds (Ernest) Borgnine.”
Simply put, I gotta see it and thanks to the internet, I finally have and while Maltin was a bit harsh in his assessment, there are much better films of this variety. That and this film doesn’t change the fact that I’m a fan of both leading actors.
The opening credits are presented to us over what looks like the forbidden zone backdrop of Planet of the Apes. Harris’ voice kicks in as narrator telling us the Earth has few survivors left. The oceans are poisoned and nothing seems to grow on land to sustain life. With no food, the remaining population scavenges for food that is mainly of the tin can variety. It’s while looking for food in the opening scenes that Harris is followed back to his hidden love nest with Alana Stewart. Ravager and well known screen psychotic Anthony James follows at the head of a gang of killers.
It won’t be long before Harris is left for dead and his girl apparently raped before being murdered. Harris will be back to knife one of James’ men prompting the crazed looking actor to lead his men on a cross county journey to seek vengeance and kill Richard. Not sure if I missed something but the loss of this one man has really set James off. I’m almost assuming it was his kid brother because James strikes me as a character less inclined to chase Harris across untold miles for vengeance on one minor gang member.
Harris` trek will bring him across the path of Seymour Cassel briefly and gain him a sidekick in Art Carney. Carney is the scene stealer here and is easily the film`s bright spot. Art is playing a mixed up aged soldier who has a bomb shelter full of food. When Harris is ready to move on, Carney believing Harris is his Commanding Officer, tags along.
Thankfully for Harris they run right into a rather bizarre group of cave dwellers. Think of a warped hoe down with a Deliverance type of musical hillbilly band. It`s here one can trade for whatever is considered a hot commodity. Speaking of a hot commodity, Harris promptly trades off half of his tobacco supply for a roll in the sack with lovely Ann Turkel. Much as she did in real life, Turkel falls for Richard in the script as well and now he has two tag alongs as James closes in on him.
Enter Woody Strode and a settlement of people Lorded over by ……………. yup, Ernest Borgnine. It`s Dick vs. Ernie at the supper table before James crashes the party leading to an all out battle that turns bloody and explosive before the final credits roll.
Harris was nearing the end of his prolific era as a leading man by this time and it would be another ten plus years till he found himself revived on screen thanks to his noteworthy turn in The Field. Still, he did have Tarzan the Ape Man ahead of him with Bo Derek that must be seen at least once in a lifetime if not twice. Ravagers was also the final of four films he did with real life spouse Ann Turkel as his co star. Liz and Dick they may not be though the four films they did make together are probably more enjoyable as a whole when considering some of the snore fests the far more famous couple subjected us to.
For the record, the other three titles are Golden Rendezvous, The Cassandra Crossing and one I`m not overly fond of, 99 and 44/100% Dead.
In the end this Richard Compton directed flick that is rather bland on the post apocalyptic feel gives us Harris, a suitably aggressive Borgnine and lovable Art Carney who looks to be having a whole lot of fun with his elderly misguided military role.