Post-apocalyptic action flicks, especially the Road Warrior ripoff variety, were one of the last great crazes to sweep the Italian genre film mill before its late ’80s demise. There was an obvious commercial appeal to making them: you could shoot them cheaply, using rundown locales and junker cars. However, there was also a hidden appeal for the Italian filmmakers in that it allowed them to revisit the familiar terrain of the spaghetti western under the safe guise of a newly commercial trend.
Exterminators Of The Year 3000 is a fun example of the spaghetti western as transplanted to a post-apocalyptic world. The antihero is Alien (Robert Iannucci), a “lone rider” in a desert wasteland who forms an unlikely friendship with Tommy (Luca Ventantini), a little kid and the lone survivor of an attack on an expedition seeking water. Though they have a mutual distrust early on, they’re able to unite over their hatred Crazy Bull (Fernando Bilbao), the fearsome leader of the thugs who killed Tommy’s fellow villagers. Alien is also tempted by Tommy’s promise of a secret oasis that could make him a rich man in a post-civilization world.
As the above synopsis reveals, Exterminators Of The Year 3000 wears its spaghetti western roots loud and proud. The script, co-penned by prolific Italian screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti, transplants a variety of spaghetti western archetypes – the lone warrior, a plot full of double-crosses, the roving criminal gang, the hidden treasure – into a sci-fi context. However, they keep things interesting by also weaving in post-apocalyptic elements of the Road Warrior variety, like a utopian village trying to survive and plenty of car-stunt action. The plotting is as daft as it is derivative but the disparate influences are stitched together in a fun, pulpy way.
The spaghetti western feel also extends to the filmmaking here: director Giuliano Carnimeo was an old hand at that genre and he brings a lot of that kind of atmosphere to the film, particularly in his atmospheric use of desert locations. The tight budget ensures that the action is limited in scope and realism (note the conspicuously mid-pace vehicles during a multi-vehicle chase scene) but there’s plenty of it, all delivered with comic-book energy. He even breaks out some Antonio Margheriti-style miniatures during one scene that will make fans of Italian b-movies smile. Alejando Ulloa’s cinematography gives it all a certain gritty grandeur and the synth score from Detto Mariano rips off First Blood in a way likely to amuse soundtrack buffs.
A final fun element here for fans of Italian exploitation fare is the cast of character actor vets involved in this production: Django star Eduardo Fajardo pops up as the Santa-bearded leader of the utopian village, Ventantino Ventantini appears as a would-be heroic villager and Beryl Cunningham of The Snake God has a few scenes as a fearsome marauder woman. That said, the scene-stealer of the character actor ranks is Luciano Pigozzi of Yor fame as a desert rat mechanic. Elsewhere, Iannucci is solid as the hero – and he looks kind of like a gene-splicing of Robert Foxworth and Franco Nero.
All in all, Exterminators Of The Year 3000 is a post-apocalyptic programmer that finds fun ways to deliver the goods on a threadbare budget – and its futuristic-sagebrush style ensure that it can be enjoyed by spaghetti western buffs as much as the Road Warrior crowd.