Interzone (1987): Bruce Abbott Beyond Blunderdome

Matty loses the will to live after subjecting himself to Deran Sarafian’s terrible Mad Max riff.

Shot on the cheap in Italy and awful in just about every possible way, Deran Sarafian’s sophomore feature is a dismal post-apocalyptic actioner with production values comparable to a school nativity play. Directed with all the oomph of a double glazing advert, INTERZONE’s rambling and wildly unfocused plot finds Mad Maxian drifter Swan (Bruce Abbott) wandering a supposedly ‘ruinous wasteland’ (the lush greenery of Bracciano is far too beautiful to convince) on the hunt for some hotly desired treasure, encountering love (Beatrice Ring), marauders (John Armstead and Teagan Clive), and a putty-faced cave creature along the way.  

Poorly staged and badly photographed (Gianlorenzo Battaglia’s ramshackle visuals are the antithesis of the stylish compositions that typify his pairings with Italian horror wiz Lamberto Bava on the likes of Demons (1985) and Delirium (1987)), there’s little on screen to recommend this catastrophic howler. Bodybuilding champ Clive — fresh from filing an assault charge against the Anaheim Police Department [1] — submits a game turn as the primary villainess; and a welcome dollop of zany humour occasionally — OCCASIONALLY— neutralises the dross. However, the biggest laughs stem from the thoroughly bemused look on Abbott’s face. The Re-Animator (1985) star took the assignment as a working holiday, and you can pretty much see him mulling over what to spend his pay on throughout the film’s duration. 

Shot in April and May 1986 and released by Trans World Entertainment in September 1989 [2], Interzone is most notable for its behind the scenes personnel. A veritable who’s who of Italian exploitation and American B-cinema, the film was written by Sarafian and Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi. The husband and wife team connected with the helmer during the making of Sarafian’s debut, Alien Predators (1987), which was lensed in Spain in tandem with their movie, Monster Dog (1984) [3]. Both shockers were produced by Eduard Sarlui, who also produced Interzone alongside Fragasso’s fellow spaghetti splatter icon, Joe D’Amato. 

Sarlui and D’Amato had a long and fruitful fiscal and creative union. While operating as Eureka International at the fag end of the ‘70s, Sarlui helped finance D’Amato’s infamous slasher caper, Anthropophagus (1980), the first flick the Emanuelle in America (1977)  [4] maestro assembled under his then newly formed Filmirage banner. Sarlui subsequently pitched in on several of the cult hero’s other Filmirage joints: Ator: The Fighting Eagle (1982), Endgame (1983) and 2020 Texas Gladiators (1983) when Eureka became Continental Motion Pictures; and Contamination 7 (1990), Ator sequel Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990) and the Fragasso-orchestrated Troll 2 (1990) when Trans World mutated into Epic Pictures. Incidentally, former Trans World higher-up Sunil R. Shah — who Sarlui and company founder Moshe Diamant bought out in early ‘87 — issued Filmirage’s StageFright (1987), Ghosthouse (1988), Metamorphosis (1990) and Beyond Darkness (1990) on tape stateside when he launched Imperial Entertainment with brothers Ash and Sundip. 

Italy ● 1987 ● Sci-Fi, Action ● 92mins

Bruce Abbott, Beatrice Ring, Teagan Clive ● Dir. Deran SarafianWri. Claudio Fragasso (as ‘Clyde Anderson’), Deran Sarafian, Rossella Drudi (uncredited)

[1] Best known as the titular cybernetic bounty hunter in Fred Olen Ray’s Alienator (1990), Clive rightly sued the constabulary after being grabbed in a chokehold at a strongwoman contest. A particularly moronic plod had burst into the women’s changing room and mistakenly thought the Amazonian beauty was a predatory fella on the prowl.
[2] Interzone landed on U.K. shelves via Entertainment in Video three months later, on 13th December ‘89.
[3] Sarafian and his then fiancée, Interzone ingenue Ring, were also cast in the Fragasso and Drudi scripted Zombi 3 (1988).
[4] Black Emanuelle herself, D’Amato muse Laura Gemser, appears uncredited here.

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