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FUTURE WAR - 1 Slime
Unrated
Copyright 1997 Cine Excel Entertainment
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 1 January 2009

The Characters:  

  • The Runaway - He only speaks "Bible," but he can kick the snot out of a cyborg or an Allosaurus.
  • The Runaway's Bloody Pectorals - I think that Schrödinger's cat caused them. I hate that cat. I can't wait for it to die. Stupid cat.
  • Sister Ann - She is a nun, but not a nun, and some nun when the sum of nun was none (when Catholicism meets quantum mechanics - next on "Geraldo").
  • Fred - He's big and he's black. You know that means that he is right. He is also dino chow. That just ain't right.
  • The Cyborg - Would somebody please tell this guy that dressing up like his favorite character from Hard Rock Zombies is not cool?
  • Romero - What happened to his butt?
  • The SWAT Team - "Our advanced tactics and weapons are useless against prehistoric animals!"
  • The Cyborg Master - Robert Z'Dar! That has got to be the worst cyborg costume that I have ever seen (well, except for the other cyborg in this film). It is ridiculous. His face looks like a catcher's mitt swallowing a microscope.
  • The Dinosaurs - They wag their tails like dogs when angry and explode after they die. Who'd have thunk?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

The movie begins with the three main characters nervously carrying weapons and creeping through "tunnels." When they find what they are looking for, it is pretty obvious why they were nervous: it is an Allosaurus. The predatory dinosaur chases the trio back to a wooden ladder where it eats the beefiest member of the group (it's never a good idea to be the biggest steak in the store). Obviously, the story that brought us to this point needs some explaining. The rest of the movie is largely that explanation; I do not think that it helps. In fact, the rest of the movie is even more confusing and absurd than the opening scene.

I need to tell you that the main characters are a big black man, a guy wearing a flannel shirt, and a nun with a gun. No, this is not the start of a joke. This is the movie.

So, how did we get to Sister Ann, Runaway, and Fred chasing and being chased by dinosaurs? That is the crux of the question, isn't it? The answer is surprising. It is also unique, even in the realm of b-movies. Yes, I am stalling. That is because you are going to laugh when I finally tell you what is going on.

Okay, this is what is going on: a race of highly advanced cyborgs traveled back in time aboard their spaceship and kidnapped humans from Earth's past. They also captured dinosaurs from the late Jurassic period that they then trained as bloodhounds. Whenever a human slave gets loose, the cyborgs sic the dinosaurs on them.

You're laughing, aren't you?

We would not have a story here unless one of the human slaves escaped while the time-traveling starship was near present-day Earth. Well, there is a riot on the ship, and of one of them escapes. I do not know what caused the mutiny, but imagine that a bunch of slaves who live in constant fear of becoming dino snacks probably have a whole list of reasons to riot (unlike sports fans).

I still have no clue why fans break windows and burn vehicles in their own town when their team wins.

Anyway, Runaway gets away and lands on Earth. The cyborg overlords then expend a huge amount of effort to kill or retrieve the escapee. Why? To dissuade other slaves from using the spaceship's escape pods to get away? Just tell the rest of the drudges that Runaway was hunted down and fed to the dinosaurs. Actually chasing after him and killing him wastes fuel and time (well, I guess time-traveling cyborgs have the latter in spades). Still, just letting Runaway rot on Earth seems like a good plan.

The first place that Runaway goes after stumbling out of the California surf is an empty cardboard box factory. Workers outside the plant are interrupted in their highly important task of stacking empty cardboard boxes as Runaway dukes it out with a pursuing cyborg. The action soon moves inside the factory. Did you know that empty cardboard boxes should be refrigerated? I did not know that. Nor did I realize that, if you only have one room to work with, changing it by rearranging wooden pallets, stacking empty cardboard boxes, or hanging clear drop cloths is the way to go. The film uses this one room (in a big old building) over and over. At one point I swear that they just stacked pallets in the middle and had the characters walk in a circle around the pallets.

During his stay in the ubiquitous room, Runaway encounters one of the dinosaur bloodhounds. He dispatches it with a knife before stumbling into the street where Sister Ann hits him with her car. Poor guy, he survived a pitched battle aboard an interstellar spacecraft, unguided reentry into Earth's atmosphere, a cyborg hitman, dinosaurs, and then a nun with a driver's license just about kills him.

Sister Ann feels sorry about running over Runaway. She takes him to Fred's house and dresses him in a flannel shirt. Wow, I bet that made him feel better. Actually, it does (well, mostly he feels better because the community medical practitioner bandages him up). It is still funny to see him in that flannel shirt. Then Ann dons a flannel shirt. Later on other characters are seen wearing flannel. Everybody in this movie seems to love flannel. If you had to describe this movie in one word, it would be "flannel."

Runaway quickly learns English, largely because the Bible is a sacred story shared by the human slaves of the time-traveling interstellar cyborgs. Do you know how hard it is to convince a nun that you are for real when half of your sentences are quotes from the good book? Anyway, while Runaway keeps repeating the phrase, "Greater love hath no man than this..." over and over (like a devout Catholic version of Rain Man) the dinosaurs are still on the fugitive's trail. Every time an Allosaurus and an L.A. resident meet, the police are called in to pick up the pieces. How do you stop a dinosaur from eating its away across town?

The police scratching their heads over the attacks is pretty funny. First, because they think it must be a bear or a mountain lion. Second, because the markers on the map are all in a perfect line. The dinosaur is obviously munching its way along like some sort of prehistoric Pac-Man. Where will the creature strike next? How about grabbing a ruler and a marker and drawing a straight line across the map? Does that sound like a plan to stop classic Jurassic Pac-Man before it reaches the park, man?

The dinosaurs are pretty funny, because they are supposed to be large, but the puppets are not. To make that work they hold the puppets close to the camera, while the actors stand far away (often surrounded by empty cardboard boxes). If this sort of forced perspective special effect sounds like it would look silly - you are correct.

Eventually, a dinosaur eats the employees of a...wait for it, wait for it...empty cardboard box factory. The SWAT team is called in to deal with the rampaging creature, but the Allosaurus devours the police officers. Shotguns and assault rifles are useless! The only thing that can stop a cyborg-trained dinosaur is Runaway and his knife. Lucky for the citizens of Los Angeles that Runaway hears about the attack; he goes after the prehistoric predator. The slave-turned-warrior dispatches the dinosaur, but the police then place him under arrest. Why? I do not know why. Maybe the cops realized that Allosauruses must be extinct, so Runaway killing one of them violated some bizarre California endangered species law.

Have you ever been to southern California? If a desert tortoise breaks into your house and urinates on your living room carpet, then you get fined. Bizarre place, California. Weird animals, those tortoises.

The only reason that the script needed Runaway to be tossed in a cell was so the Cyborg Master could show up and embark upon a "Terminator"-inspired rampage through the police station. Soon as that happens, Runaway rejoins Sister Ann and Fred, and the flannel party continues.

To stop the dinosaur attacks, Runaway and his friends are going to need serious firepower (why is a mystery, because Runaway seems to do really well with just a knife). Military weapons are easy to get via the black market, but the protagonists need money. Runaway is an escaped slave; he doesn't have any money. Sister Ann is a nun, almost; she doesn't have any money. Fred had money, but he spent it all helping people. Nobody has the money they need to buy the guns, and black market weapon dealers do not take Visa. Thus, it is rather fortunate that a random mustached fellow in a convertible pulls up to the curb, says hello to Ann, and then hands her a bundle of cash.

Sister Ann is obviously a member of the Holy Enlightened Order of Deus Ex Machina (the patron saint of screenwriters who have written themselves into a corner).

That my friends, is why the film started with a big black man, a nun with a gun, and a guy wearing flannel being chased by a dinosaur. I am not sure that explaining the unlikely course of events helped, but that is the truth, and the truth must be told. Even if time-traveling cyborgs change history by going back in time and kidnapping my great-great-great grandmother.

The funny thing about this movie is that somebody could make a condensed version. It would last less than sixty seconds. Let me describe it to you. Workers wearing flannel shirts carry empty cardboard boxes around a room. The cameraman holds a dinosaur puppet up in front of the camera. A nun screams. Suddenly a kickboxer leaps into the room and does splits. The attacking dinosaur puppet falls over and explodes. A man with a telescope eyepiece glued to a black eyepatch stiffly trundles across the room. The kickboxer grins at the camera and says, "Greater love hath no man..." The end.

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Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Flannel is what caused the dinosaurs to become extinct.
  • FTL starships have manual transmissions.
  • Van Damme isn't the only guy who can do a split.
  • Sometimes the only way to really help someone is to hit them with a car.
  • Forry Ackerman is the last descendent of a tribe of cavemen who, quite unfortunately, were the favorite food of Allosaurus fragilis.
  • Killing a dinosaur is illegal in California.
  • Styrofoam is not the sort of stuff you should be using to build a security door.
  • 85% of the residents of Los Angeles own one or more flannel shirts.
  • Breaking a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary is retroactively 1000 years bad luck.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - I was wondering when somebody was going to explain something.
  • 8 mins - Gosh darn these opposable thumbs that make us the targets of time-traveling oppression.
  • 14 mins - Oh no! The corridor of empty cardboard boxes is a dead end! You are trapped! TRAPPED!
  • 21 mins - He is eating ice cream. Why does he get to eat ice cream? I want some ice cream.
  • 25 mins - The newspaper on the floor is there in case he needs to go to the bathroom.
  • 27 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A TELEVISION!
  • 41 mins - They sure did get their money's worth out of those empty cardboard boxes.
  • 52 mins - Yeah, you are a "tool" all right.
  • 61 mins - Does flannel travel in herds or something?
  • 75 mins - I never knew that making a new nun was so exciting!

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note futurewar1.wav Sister Ann: "Four days ago a fire fell from the sky, and it brought a man who would change my life forever. But also came a pack of dinosaur-like creatures in various ages, shapes, sizes...and its masters. For all the questions I had about the Heavens all it brought was Hell on Earth."
Green Music Note futurewar2.wav Sister Ann: "Like the Bible says: 'My thoughts are not your thoughts.'"
Runaway: "Neither are your ways my ways. Says the Lord."
Sister Ann: "This is a con!"
Runaway: "No no no no! No trick, no lie!"
Sister Ann: "How does an alien-bred human know quotes from the Bible?"
Green Music Note futurewar3.wav Police Detective: "Dr. Tanaka, what's your honest opinion?"
Dr. Tanaka: "What's there not to believe? A race of transplanted humans bred on another planet. One of them escapes, returns to his ancestral world, and these dinosaurs and their masters are here to bring him back. Personally, I think he's nuts."
Police Detective: "I've seen these dinosaurs, Doctor. They're real. Maybe his story's real too."
Green Music Note futurewar4.wav Runaway: "Greater love hath no man than this. I want to be that man."
Sister Ann: "You are. You are."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipfuturewar1.mpg - 5.6m
Runaway is trying to explain to Sister Ann that he comes from outer space, but an Allosaurus interrupts the conversation. I love it how they run away, leaving behind the injured friend and a child. "Gotta go! The dinosaur should chase us. Hope it does! Goodbye!"

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2
Re: Future War
Reply #1. Posted on January 02, 2009, 12:29:35 PM by DavidFullam
Notice how the when the big guy gets knocked down in the clip, he briefly turns into an inflatable sex toy? Too bad Robert Z'Dar wasn't allowed to get all Maniac Cop on Runway's a$$.
Re: Future War
Reply #2. Posted on January 02, 2009, 07:59:49 PM by Jay
This film is in the MST3000 20th Anniversary Edition.... which I just got for Christmas. Should be fun...or painful.
Re: Future War
Reply #3. Posted on January 02, 2009, 10:12:19 PM by TheGreatWhiteDope
I am proud to own this, one of the very worst of the movies in my collection; not so much that it is poorly made (which it is) but also that it takes itself so seriously in ridiculous moments and is so ridiculous in its serious moments.

Great review, and no better clip to demonstrate its innate lousiness than the one with the dinosaur puppet knocking over the fat-guy puppet.   BounceGiggle
Re: Future War
Reply #4. Posted on January 02, 2009, 10:55:15 PM by WingedSerpent
The "Runaway" later goes on to co-star in the short lived lived action Mortal Kombat sereies.  For another Terminator reference-That MK series also co-stared Kristina Lokien, who would appear in Terminator 3.   There's a little trivia for you.


As a practicing Catholic, I can tell you that most of our ceremonies do not include Dinosaurs and Cyborgs.  At least not at my parish.

 
Re: Future War
Reply #5. Posted on January 03, 2009, 08:11:57 AM by Andrew
I am proud to own this, one of the very worst of the movies in my collection; not so much that it is poorly made (which it is) but also that it takes itself so seriously in ridiculous moments and is so ridiculous in its serious moments.

This film is in the MST3000 20th Anniversary Edition.... which I just got for Christmas. Should be fun...or painful.

I have yet to watch MST3K's version of this, but someone who has apparently seen both mentioned that every time they reach for "Future War" their hand is inexorably drawn to the MST3K version.

For my part, the movie is incredibly bad, but I think it's so bad that it starts being entertaining.  I almost gave it two out of four slimes.  If you are watching it with a bunch of other people, then the opportunity for everyone to talk and keep things interesting during the dead sections should make for a much more enjoyable viewing.

Still cannot figure out why the time-traveling cyborgs insist on chasing after Runaway.

Re: Future War
Reply #6. Posted on January 03, 2009, 03:29:30 PM by Greenhornet
The line that SHOULD have been in that clip:

RUNAWAY: "Let us run from the dinosaur!"
SISTER ANN: "No, let's stay with my friends, they have a riotgun and a baseball bat! Also there are knives in the kitchen, the dinosaurs' only weakness!"
 BounceGiggle
Re: Future War
Reply #7. Posted on January 03, 2009, 03:45:41 PM by Bissrok
Why didn't they just go back in time, to prevent him from escaping in the first place? I mean, I guess if you have trained dinosaurs, you're gonna want to use 'em, but still...
Re: Future War
Reply #8. Posted on January 03, 2009, 03:55:47 PM by Earthbound_X
The guy who played the Runaway was actually in the second Matrix movie.

He played one of the guys in suits, I can't remember what they were called.
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