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Raiders of Atlantis (1983)

The God-fearin’ folks say the good lord presents himself to you in ways you may consistently fail to realize. And they may be onto something, because for some reason, Ruggero Deodato’s 1983 film, Raiders of Atlantis, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Deodato being God’s favorite director and all.

I find it baffling that Deodato’s more genre-centric, American knockoff films tend to be the most inaccessible in terms of actually getting a hold of them. For instance, you can see the picture below of eBay asking me just how many Cannibal Holocaust DVDs I wanted to buy.

But if you ever wanted to watch a good copy of Raiders of Atlantis or his Friday the 13th-esque camp slasher, Body Count (1986), you’re shit out of luck. I have no clue as to why things like The House on the Edge of the Park (1980) remain in the horror/genre consciousness, while these other artifacts languish in obscurity. There could be a rights issue; it could also be there’s not a decent enough print existing to restore. Either way, it’s an injustice.

The quality of Deodato’s films vary from movie to movie, but there’s no denying he’s a master craftsman. Even in the sharp cheddar cheesefest of Body Count, there are some of the best directed scenes in the slasher genre. And as unpleasant as Cannibal Holocaust and The House on the Edge of the Park are, they are incredible films. I’m definitely of the opinion Cannibal Holocaust is a masterpiece—I just never want to watch it ever again. Therefore, I guess it should be no surprise Deodato was a damn fine action director as well.

Ah, Raiders of Atlantis. What sweet manna from Heaven you are.

I don’t know just what the fuck this film is (other than being a total Road Warrior rip-off), but it kicks major ass. Also known as The Atlantis Interceptors, Christopher Connelly (from Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby) and blaxploitation journeyman, Tony King star as two mercenaries fleeing to Trinidad in their boat and coming across some scientists attempting to raise an old Soviet nuclear sub off the ocean floor. While lifting the sub out of the water, (I think) the radiation leaks, releasing the real City of Atlantis from the ocean depths. And its citizens are pissed.

A giant island rises out of the sea, and from it, roving gangs in great Road Warrior garb driving motorcycles and awesome souped up cars with spikes. Because the lost society was so advanced, they also have shotguns and helicopters. They go about decimating the population of (I think) Miami, and it’s up to the mercenaries and team of scientists to stop them.

I should mention that this plot synopsis gets us all the way up to the half hour mark. From here on out, it’s pure action and outrageous violence. People are rammed with spikes, shot, set on fire, decapitated—some poor woman gets a large dart right through the mouth. There’s a boss righteous set piece with the survivors driving a bus while the Atlanteans give chase with a helicopter. It also has an ending so bizarre it gives The Visitor (1979) a run for its money in true, undistilled bonkers assness.

Don’t expect any of these proceedings to make a lick of sense; don’t expect David Mamet levels of dialogue; but above all, don't expect your ass to still be there by the end, because it’s gonna be blown away. Raiders of Atlantis is the type of film I created this blog for, the type of thing I want to showcase so it’s never forgotten. Luckily for you, it’s on Amazon Prime right now (and YouTube for you cheap bastards). Unfortunately, the quality of the Amazon Prime video isn’t great, but it is in widescreen. It’s just really dark looking—there are scenes shot in broad daylight on the ocean where you can’t even see the actor’s faces, in line with old VHS quality.

Final item of note: I’m very partial to the scene where the team’s helicopter is being pulled to the Atlantis island with a tractor beam, and someone remarks about there being no sign of civilization. The head scientist chimes in, “Maybe they learned to live without building eyesores and ruining the environment.” A lovely sentiment to be sure, but perhaps a bit misplaced while being targeted mercilessly by the same murderous cosplayers wielding guns, grenades, cars, and helicopters.

Second final item of note: The Atlanteans are led by Humungus from Road Warrior—er, I mean Crystal Skull (pictured below).

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