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Hipster Holy Grail: Future Hunters / Deadly Quest (1986)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews

Future Hunters has all the tropes and B movie touches I expect out of a low-budget Cirio Santiago production, so I can't give it any special accolades for taking me by surprise or otherwise pushing the envelope.  Which, in its own way, is kind of a first for me; I think Future Hunters has the distinction of being the first good-bad movie that I've felt was only average in its good-badness.

My Rating: 3 / 5 (Novice Bad Movie)

The Plot Summary

Apologies up front: this week's plot recap is going to be a lot lighter and more scatterbrained than usual.  I'd love to attribute that to the movie's plot being a bunch of nonsense - and it is, no doubt about that - but nonsense hasn't really stopped me before.  If anything, I appreciate a fair bit of plot mayhem.  No, this week the problem was simply that I've had to wrangle kids and watch the movie in half a dozen micro-bursts, so my attention span was limited.

No matter.  Future Hunters is not the sort of movie that requires so much.  Actually, the light plot kinda makes it perfect for watching as part of a drunk group.

The movie opens in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Narration informs us that the world is in a state of ruin, but it can be changed by a magic artifact.  Cue a lone warrior - whose name I never picked up, so I can't credit him properly, but I'll call him Bad Bax - traveling the wastes in a kick-ass custom Minterceptor car.  Bad Bax engages in a car chase or two with some leather daddies until he eventually works his way to a fort / compound / archaeological site of some sort.  He fights more leather daddies, then goes into what appears to be an old church / shrine / cave type thing, and grabs a spear point off an altar inside.

The screen flashes and he is suddenly transported through time to California in the 1980s.  The movie suggests that it's Los Angeles, but the church / shrine / cave place is still there and seems to be part of an isolated historic building in the desert. Michelle (Linda Carol), an ambiguous academic type, is studying this place and is joined by her boyfriend, Slade (Robert Patrick), an ambiguously macho type who may or may not have gainful employment.

Slade is pretty bored with the site and seems anxious to leave, but Michelle wants to stay longer.  They bicker for awhile.  Then a pack of wild rapists shows up, knocks Slade out, and harasses Michelle.

At that moment, Bad Bax teleports inside the temple, carrying the spear point, and comes outside.  He sees the rapists getting ready to tackle their prey, then beats the shit out of them.  Unfortunately, one of them shoots him, and he is mortally injured.  Slade wakes up just then, as if he had been specifically waiting for the least opportune time, and helps Michelle load Bad Bax into their car.  Then they drive off toward the city proper to get help.  Unfortunately, Bax has lost too much blood already and he knows he's doomed - but before he dies, he gives Michelle the spear point.

Michelle and Slade continue to bicker over the course of the next few scenes, which involve them speculating as to what the spear point is, where it came from, and what to do with it.  They are harassed by some thugs to hand over the spear.  Later we'll learn these guys are Nazis that have a proper military regime in full sway, but who somehow have kept this a secret from the rest of society.  Slade is in favor of handing over the spearpoint, but Michelle refuses since Bad Bax told her it was important and needs to be kept safe.

Thus begins the longest stretch of this movie.  It's basically the same scene over and over: Michelle and/or Slade encounter some Nazis who want the spearpoint, they argue about it, and then there's a fight and/or chase until Michelle and Slade get away again.  The only welcome break from this is when they randomly go to a Shaolin temple of some sort and Slade gets his ass kicked by a monk.  I'm not sure what that part has to do with the rest of the movie, but it ties in somehow.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the spear point is part of the Spear of Destiny, and the rest of the spear is hidden in the Amazon somewhere.  Michelle and Slade have to keep both parts out of the hands of the Nazis or else they'll use it to gain magical powers and bring about the Apocalypse.  You'd think that in a situation like this, the best thing to do would be to destroy the spear point.  Like, melt it down to nothing, or encase it in concrete and chuck it into the Pacific somewhere.  But, no, they decide to do the stupidest thing possible and go off in search of the rest of the spear so they can make it easier for whoever is obviously following them to steal it later.

There's more fighting / chasing / traveling scenes until eventually they're in the Amazon and have been caught by the Nazis.  (This is for like the seventh time or something.)  Things look bleak, but then - surprise!  Angry jungle folk - I think that may be the most tasteful way I can describe them - appear out of the wilderness and attack the Nazis, thus giving Slade and Michelle a chance to run away again.  They escape and wind up in a cave inhabited by a band of merry dwarf warriors.  I, uh, I'm pretty sure that's what actually happens here.

So, the dwarf warriors help them out and get them through the jungle to the cave where the rest of the spear is, but there's one last catch: the cave is protected by Amazons.  They won't let anybody into the cave unless Michelle can defeat their best warrior in a boxing match to the death on top of a rickety log placed over a pit of hungry alligators.  Michelle is a shitty fighter, but she manages to win nevertheless, and at long last our heroes can re-assemble that stupid fucking spear.

Naturally, the head Nazi shows up just then to demand that they hand it over.  Now, here's where a better movie would pay off something clever that had been set up earlier to give our heroes an out.  Like, maybe there would have been a scene earlier where we saw them get some C4 or we set up that the head Nazi has a bad peanut allergy, and Slade has a Payday in his pocket, or literally anything.  But Future Hunters has no time to set up or pay off anything, so instead of this confrontation being tense or interesting, it basically goes like this:

Nazi: Give me the spear so we can use it to rule the world!
Slade: No! [Stabs Nazi]
Nazi: Ach!  Blood loss - my one weakness! [Dies]

And then there's an earthquake because the spear's power has been unleashed or some bullshit.  The tremors appear to wipe out the Amazons, but Michelle and Slade are okay.  So they kiss.  The End.

What I Liked / Didn't Like

There's a lot of arbitrary, pulpy antics in this that make it a fun watch.  Y'know - Nazi punching, Amazonian duels, a dwarf Resistance, that kinda thing.  If I was able to kick back and watch this all in one go with the right frame of mind, I'd probably be giving it a higher recommendation.

Maybe.  I don't know.  It's hard to describe, but I couldn't shake a "been there, seen that" feeling throughout this whole thing.  Some of that feeling is clearly because I definitely have seen it before - the obvious rip-offs of The Road Warrior, Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones, etc.  Some of it is undoubtedly due to my own cynicism.  But neither of those things fully explains it.

The cast and direction must be partly to blame.  The movie treats its material far too casually.  Even for a B movie, it takes too much for granted.  Like, couldn't the characters pretend that they're seeing something strange instead of just rolling with the punches all the goddamn time?

For that matter, there's also a bit too much of it.  The movie is an hour and forty minutes long.  That's ridiculous, considering what type of movie it is.  This is the sort of thing that should be eighty minutes even at most.

I'm also not too happy about the constant threat of rape.  It's like the movie thinks it's a punchline or something.  "Hmm, the female lead has been detained again.  Now what?"  "Welp, guess they might rape her."  "Ha ha, you're right!  They might!"

On the other hand, Future Hunters mercifully stops short of any penetrative assault, settling instead for some completely tasteless nudity and groping.  It's not icky enough that you'd put off a group by watching it, so I'm happy to lump this one under the Novice Bad Movie category, where casual bad movie fans can easily find something to like.

How Much Hipster Cred Is It Worth?

It gets a middle of the road 30 point obscurity bonus for having under 300 ratings on IMDb, plus a 10 point pedigree bonus for Cirio Santiago's involvement.  I'll give it another 5 point bonus for having one of the many countless fake Bruce Lees in it (this one is credited as "Bruce Li," but per the IMDb trivia, is actually "Bruce Le"). I don't think I can give it my full recommendation bonus of 30 cred, but it's definitely the sort of thing that you might try to share with a crowd.  I'll say that's worth 15.  And what the hell, I'll give it another 15 points for the overall hipsteriness of its subject matter.

That adds up to a respectable 75 hipster cred out of a possible 100.

Where You Can Watch

I watched a copy from Youtube, but it appears to have been pulled.  I'm out of ideas for where to get it - besides eBay - so maybe just keep checking Youtube every couple of weeks and see what happens.