Sunday, May 30, 2021

Afterman, The (1985)

... aka: After Man
... aka: Mundo Nefando (The World of Horror)
... aka: Sex 1999

Directed by:
Rob Van Eyck

I've seen my share of post nuke trash flicks (one of my favorite exploitation subgenres), but this one from Belgium is certainly something special. And by special, I mean gloriously perverted! Long after a nuclear war, a bearded man (Jacques Verbist) who's been living in an underground shelter for his entire life has finally run out of options. He's alone, running low on supplies and soon going have to leave his sanctuary and venture out into a changed world whether he likes it or not. He's so desperate for food, he's reduced to eating a maggot off of his dead mother's frozen corpse, which is being housed inside a walk-in freezer. And since he's also desperate for sex and his mother's body is just kind of lying there, well, you probably get a good idea of what else he's been up to. When the computer systems start going haywire after warning him to evacuate, he finally opens the doors and heads out.

It's a harsh, cold climate outside with brown, polluted water. The man spots a half dozen men off in the distance and runs to greet them. However, his happiness at finding other survivors is short lived when the leader headbutts him, knees him in the crotch, bends him over, pulls down his pants and rapes him while the others hold him down and jerk off (!!) As if that isn't bad enough, he has to follow that up with a raw sewer rat for dinner.

The man ventures on and ends up at a run-down building which houses an indoor pool. Inside are two women who are surprising well-kept considering the whole world being destroyed thing. After a lesbian sex scene lasting for five minutes, one of the women finally gets off after drowning the other one. Seeing how that chicks clearly isn't worth messing around with, the man continues on his quest.

His next stop is a farm run by a big, sadistic bald man (Nick Van Suyt, star of Lucker the Necrophagous) and his wife. They keep a female captive (Franka Ravet) locked inside an outside cage covered in chicken wire who's fed scraps and used for labor and sexual purposes. The man is captured when he attempts to steal eggs, thrown into the cage and is basically treated the same way the woman is. He's forced to use his bare hands to pick up manure, is beaten with a stick and gets tied to a tiller like a cow and whipped. The man finally has enough, clubs the farmer over the head and escapes. The slave girl follows. At first, the man tries to chase her off and refuses to share food with her, but after she proves herself by saving him from a quicksand bog, he has a change of heart. Soon the two are fucking on the forest floor, snuggling by the campfire, foraging for nuts, laughing and becoming a normal loving couple.

Of course, being a legit couple in this post-apocalyptic hellscape full of murderous degenerates reduced to their basest of needs for sex and sustenance isn't the easiest thing to pull off. Flesh is a hot commodity, in more ways than one, it turns out. While squatting in an abandoned greenhouse for the night, some cannibalistic thugs beat up the man and kidnap the girl. She finds herself tied up and kept prisoner, where she and some other ladies are plumped up with porridge until they're ready to butcher and serve. The man finds them, rescues his girl and unties the others. One of the feral femmes then rips the eyeballs out of her captor's head with her bare hands!

After getting chased through the woods by some more punks, our destitute duo find themselves being taken in by a sect of monks in a gated monastery. There, they bathe, beautify and bone, in that order. Next thing the man knows, he's being forced to give one of the men-of-the-cloth a blow job (!!) and is forced to take communion by sipping wine, getting down on his knees and kissing the ass of a male torso statue by the homosexual monks. Even worse, their cemetery is quickly filling because the monks are also ripping out the hearts of those they're offering shelter to as human sacrifices. To what? Who knows! The last bit has our couple "saved" by a rich woman (Dora Raskin), who takes them back to her castle, seduces the man with a little footsie fun at the dinner table while her Asian servant plays piano wearing a mesh top and nearly drives the female half of the couple to suicide.

While this shapeless film is little more than a series of vignettes featuring our leads wandering around trying to survive one dangerous encounter after another, this is kind of compelling almost in spite of itself. And it's actually refreshing to see a director who appears well aware of his budgetary restraints and tries to find no-cost ways around them. Most of this is shot outside or in available abandoned buildings and the entire film is nearly dialogue-free so that the amateur cast isn't quite as obvious. To help make up for the nonexistent production values and lack of special effects, he crams in as much sex / nudity and violence / gore (including someone impaled on spikes and a pitchfork through the neck) as possible. While that doesn't make this Mad Max, it does keep the film bleak, sleazy and entertaining; perhaps even deceptively low-concept.

Many years after the fact, the director made a pair of sequels: Afterman 2 (2005), which speculates what would happen if Osama Bin Laden took over Europe (!!) and Afterman III: The Global Warming Disaster (2013). This and many of the director's other films were covered in the documentary Forgotten Scares: An In-Depth Look at Flemish Horror Cinema (2013), which also features an interview with Van Eyck. This title was never given a U. S. video release but was released on VHS in other countries like the Netherlands and Japan. A 25th Anniversary Edition is now available on DVD.

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