2019: After the Fall of New York

| October 14, 2003

I’ve seen the future, at least 16 years from now and all of mankind has been reduced to horrible wardrobe and lousy special effects make-up. At least that’s the future in the 1983 Italian film by director Sergio Martino 2019: After the Fall of New York, which by no coincidence appears to be a knock off of John Carpenter’s 1981 Escape from New York.
The opening shot of 2019 is actually photographed quite nicely. A sequence of long shots manages to capture a believable post-apocalyptic environment in ruin. It’s dark, dreary and morbid, until you begin to notice the obvious miniature models of buildings that make up the city. This is your first reminder that you are watching a low budget sci-fi action film. A mixture of genres difficult to pull off and this film fails in doing so.
Several reasons for its failure are as follows (the only reason I call it a failure is that it appears to take itself more seriously than it can possibly be):
The costume designs are simply dull and boring. Many of the street dwellers look like someone’s impression (not experience) of a punk style. The clothing simply appears to be a donation from the wardrobe department from the gay bar scene in one of the Police Academy movies. As for the character of Big Ape, what’s with the Prince Valiant look?
The score, oh my God, the score. I’ll just say think 80’s action movies. The score itself is trying to distract you from the action.
Speaking of action, there’s something of that going on here. We see a few pointless somersaults and big leaps over people and objects. Was the action choreographer the local gym coach? All the fight scenes are clumsy and unnatural, but seriously, who jumps like that?
As for the plot, after a nuclear war, two powerful organizations emerge against one another: the Euraks and the rebel Federation. The Euraks are the evil empire that have taken control of most of New York City, while the rebel Federation hires our leather headband mullet sporting bad ass hero, Parsifal, to rescue the only fertile woman left on Earth. He is reluctant to do so, but hey, its not like there’s anything else to do but compete in head to head sedan car battles and kill off deformed ugly guys. He agrees to help and is accompanied by some guy we don’t care about, although he does have a claw for a hand, and Ratchet, an old looking guy with an eye patch.
Our hero eventually discovers a love interest, is captured by the Euraks, escapes the Euraks evil empire by simply jumping over their “high security inescapable six foot fortress”, meets up with Ratchet and a dwarf he helped out earlier, runs into a group of ape-like people and is lead to the “fertile one.” Oh, and there’s a little twist thrown in towards the end that I have to admit I did not see coming, although the film makes some honorable efforts hinting at it throughout the film.
This is the kind of film that made Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fun to watch. You’ll find yourself laughing at it and wondering why or how it ever got made. Technically well made it is not, but fun to watch it can be. It is has plenty elements of the classic Italian gore made famous by many of the Italian exploitation filmmakers of the 70’s. The dvd itself gives some insight into the making of the film with director interviews.

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