Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone ★★½

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved the whole 3-D gimmick. Movies, books, comic books, photographs, etc. I even have a collection of glasses. During the second 3-D wave of the early 80’s I was too young to see any of the choice titles I really wanted to watch: Friday the 13th, Jaws, Amityville, Emmanuelle 4. But then Spacehunter came out. In Quebec it was rated “For All”. But the good stuff was rated age appropriate 14 or the holy grail (to me) 18. It was a weird system, many R Rated films in the US were tagged For All or some PG films were labeled 14 or 18. To this day I can’t imagine why Private Benjamin was rated “18”. (!) So, Spacehunter was finally a 3-D movie I was able to see. I was fortunate as a kid, my dad took me to the movies pretty much every weekend during that time. I realized how lucky I was when it became apparent that most of my friends rarely went to see first run features, usually getting to them years later on network television premieres. No lack of titles to choose, but my problem was now convincing my dad to see Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone in 3-D. It took awhile but he finally relented. I remember the excitement on our way downtown, riding the Metro. I think it was playing at the Cinéma de Paris, a theater of great notoriety in my view. Caligula played there, and driving by one evening and seeing a line going around the block in conjunction with my mother saying “oh, that’s a bad movie!” and seeing that blue background movie poster with the bleeding eye copper coin, I knew at that moment the movie must have been something special. (And it was and still is!). As for Spacehunter, from elation to disappointment in the blink of an eye. I stared at the marquee and I couldn’t believe. I don’t remember what title was now showing but it wasn’t Spacehunter. It had done its run. I was gutted, my dad felt bad and we probably ending up going to the Loews 5 and watched something else. It obviously wasn’t very memorable since I’ve no recollection of the rest of the day. Before you knew it the fad was over and 3-D was done (for now) and life went on. Over the years I’ve gone to 3-D film festivals and revivals and watched all the “classics” that I missed the first time around. One exception, I still haven’t seen Spacehunter on the big screen while wearing those goofy glasses. One day…

As for the movie itself, it’s a big budget cheapie produced by Ivan Reitman and the Canadian horror duo of Dunning and Link. Elmer Bernstein does the score and TV stalwart Lamont Johnson sits in the chair. Molly Ringwald is truly annoying in this, and Michael Ironside plays a mutant cyborg. He would have been more menacing as himself instead of this getup, courtesy of Thomas Burman FX. One of many Road Warrior post apocalyptic rips, but one of the few that isn’t Italian. The art direction is too bleak for its own good, saturated in blandness. I don’t particularly like the movie but I somehow still find myself  rewatching it every few years. I don’t know why.

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