A low budget but good-looking US/Turkish MAD MAX 2 rip-off in which the hero this time is a woman who has a pathological hatred of all men - that is until she meets the charming and courageous male lead Anderson, who of course comes to make her love him. It's cheesy stuff to be sure, and although it follows very closely in the steps of MAD MAX 2 it cannot come close because the budget and cast and crew just aren't skilled enough. Although lacking, this American production (making a change from the usual slew of Italian imitations) has its moments and offers up plenty of action fun for undemanding fans.
Director Peter Maris (who incredibly also directed the PHANTASMAGORIA horror video game back in the mid-'90s which was pretty popular) knows his roots but his direction, although he tries, is nothing above average. At least the film is in focus and well-lit at all moments, something that can't be said for those B-movies at the lower end of the spectrum. When somebody can create a near-professional look out of an almost-amateur production, they deserve credit.
We're off to a good start with a well-choreographed attack on a small village by a gang of pillaging outlaws, who proceed to murder all the men and rape all the women. The only person to escape is Harmony, a man-hating female warrior armed with a nifty crossbow (which I don't think she actually shoots anybody with). Harmony is played by Deborah Rennard (A.W.O.L.), although it's clear her future lies more in the likes of American soap operas such as DALLAS. However, Rennard invests Harmony with a feisty hard edge, and is definitely someone you wouldn't want to mess with. It's good to see such a strong female role in a world in which the women are most often helpless victims (cf. any number of slasher films from the past two decades).
At this point we are introduced to the myriad of villains, who all like to wear black hockey masks in the style of Jason Voorhees and who quite possibly have cornered the market in studded leather, as seemingly each and every one of them is dressed in this particular style of homoerotic outfit - sounds familiar huh? The chief villain is Slater, and we know he's the boss and not somebody to be messed with as he's got a mask on his face and a bionic arm to boot. Sadly the acting of these delinquents is pretty bad, but not the worst I've seen. The bad guys ride around on modified bikes with huge plastic fins at the front, vehicles also ripped from MAD MAX 2 except on a much smaller, cheaper scale.
Harmony escapes from their clutches and makes her way to a cave in the mountains where she discovers the mortally wounded Anderson. He teams up with her for a long trek across the mountains in search of a new land, and soon forget about his apparently serious injuries! Anderson is played by Bruce Campbell look-alike Garrick Dowhen, and although he's not up to the jolly charm charisma that Campbell would bring to the role, Dowhen does fine as a low-rate imitation. Thus begin the many adventures that the pair have, forming a close bond all the while.
Oh, and did I mention that the Jawas from STAR WARS make a surprise appearance too? What this film has to recommend it are mainly the authentic mountainous locations - filmed in Turkey no less! - which really give it a nice background on which the action can play out. Obviously this was shot out in the desert outskirts somewhere, and the frequently wonderful scenery adds a lot to the enjoyment of this movie. It's particularly impressive in a scene in which Rennard senses that she's being watched, and that eerie feeling successfully transfers to the viewer as well. There's plenty of light action to pass the time too; none of it is particularly violent (apart from those head-smashings!) or stylish but it's fun enough in a limited way.
Sadly, where this film also lacks is in the special effects department - there aren't any. Most of the effects are limited to bloody make-up jobs on the various injured parties or gun-shot victims. One memorable scene shows a village exploding many times in which the explosions are repeated and shown from different angles. I guess it's pretty cheap to buy explosives and blow the heck out of a run down shack somewhere, but still at least this gives the impression of a big budget. The biggest example of this film's lack of budget comes at a scene where Anderson and Harmony are captured by the villains, who knock them off their bike by stretching a rope across the road. Obviously stunt actors couldn't be found for this stunt so we simply hear the sound effects instead.
The movie is gore-free, apart from a singular brief moment of somebody having his fingers chopped off with an axe. The biggest disappointment of all comes in the anti-climactic ending, though, so steel yourselves for it. It very much looks like either things were left intentionally open for a sequel (which never happened) or that they just ran out of money filming suddenly and had to finish it quickly. I have to say that it's unforgivable to end a movie in such a way, with most of the bad guys surviving and the good guys making a hasty getaway. Surprising too, but in a bad way. However, I am an undisclosed fan of these MAD MAX 2 rip-offs, so LAND OF DOOM will nonetheless get the thumbs up from me, as I enjoyed it in a mindlessly watchable way, although it's far from the best of this particular genre.