It was while watching Flight from Paradise, an obscure Italian post-apocalyptic film mostly about not much of anything, that I finally realized what it was that Logan’s Run had been missing. Camels! Sure, it had Farah Fawcett-Majors, cool models, ice cavern, large robot, Sandmen, Carousel and a ruined Washington D.C. and Flight from Paradise had none of them, but it did have several dopes cruising around on dromedaries!
The camels play an integral role in the movie since they are the only things that stand out among the routinely grubby destroyed Earth sets, hap-hazard world building (they have the technology to communicate with each other through advanced wall-sized view screens, but can’t or won’t travel to each other’s sectors through the connecting tunnels our heroes discover and get lost in?), and the tepid tale of Theo and Beatrice who wander aimlessly outside their underground city blundering from one dull crisis to another. (Further proof of this is that the poster, the single most awesome thing about the film, prominently features the villains majestically astride their humpy steeds.)
Theo and Beatrice have what we would call an internet relationship. They spend the end of the world video chatting and hoping they will be selected by some robot or computer to be compatible so they can be together for real. Their chance comes unexpectedly one night when Theo finds a videodisc of his father’s, plays it for Beatrice and is treated to a montage of clips from Earth’s past. In addition to the expected mishmash of stock footage of nuclear explosions, starving kids and penguins, he also sees a map of his own city with the tunnels laid out that show he and Beatrice how to finally meet.
Stupid, horny kids being what they are, Theo and Beatrice quickly find themselves locked outside of the city in the irradiated wasteland. Quickly picking up a small dog they name Bear (who is strangely dressed in a shirt and pants), they engage in the expected antics of a couple of sheltered underground punks out and about for the first time. They don’t know what a dog or a tree is, accidentally take a harrowing ride in a minecart, and fall through the floor of a destroyed building into a department store where they get some new clothes. It’s pretty much like Mad Max meets Career Opportunities.
Theo’s father is a councilman and asks Thor, the head of security to go out and rescue the kids without telling anyone else because if others found out they were outside, they would never be let back in or face execution because of the possibility of contamination. Thor agrees since he figures he can use this as way to blackmail the father later.
Thor and his men ride out on their camels, equipped with flamethrowers and search the ruins of the city for the kids and set fire to any mutants they find. But guess what I learned from watching Flight from Paradise? Mutants are people, too! Just more icky!
While Thor finds Theo, Beatrice is taken in by friendly mutants. Following some bad news from the underground city, Thor and Theo have a falling out when Theo attempts to hit Thor with his flute case while Thor responds by whacking him in the face with his motorcycle helmet. It’s called the law of the jungle, Theo. Thanks for playing though.
Thor returns to the city without either kid, but is advised that he’s been exiled and stripped of his position. Even worse, he’s been stripped of his pimped out camel! Nothing left to do for Thor, but hurry back to the escape boat the mutants are boarding for one last ditch effort at injecting some life into the movie. (Much as he did in his rescue mission, Thor fails as this as well.)
Not merely content with delivering a dull slice of life after Armageddon, devoid of even the trashiest thrills you can usually count on these Italian sci-fi fubars for (there’s no grotesque monsters, no gore, no colorful characters, and no action, only a single silly scene of two women half-heartedly battling in a gladiator competition while suspended in harnesses), Flight from Paradise, saves its biggest unnatural disaster for the utterly pointless narrator part of the movie.
The beginning, parts of the middle and the end of the film feature a really old guy telling this story to a young boy. It adds nothing to any of this other than causing a giant distraction when you find out that the elderly narrator is played by the entirely unrecognizable screen legend, Van Johnson! These sequences do nothing but slow a movie that was slowly writhing around like a hunchback mutant with the creeping crud, to a complete stop!
With nothing really going for it other than as a curiosity to see not only Van Johnson in perhaps his absolute worst Italian movie (see also Delta Force Commando II: Priority Red One or Concorde Affaire ’79 for starters) and Horst Buchholz as Thor (his role in The Magnificent Seven seems like several lifetimes ago), Flight from Paradise easily lands with a thud at the bottom of any list of post-apocalyptic Italian films behind such films as Exterminators of the Year 3000, Shocking Dark, 2019: After the Fall of New York and even 2020 Texas Gladiators and Urban Warriors. Total camel spit.
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