Future-Kill (V)

Future-Kill is exactly the kind of project that defies something as simplistic as a star count. It’s a terrible movie. But, at the same time it has endured. Furthermore, it retains that indescribable ability to suck you in completely—‘til you realize that you’ve inadvertently sat through the whole damn thing…again. This is the underlying thought process that is liable to send you right out to pick up Subversive Cinema’s newly minted Special Edition of Director Ronald Moore and Star Edwin Neal’s 20-year old post-apocalyptic thrill ride.

Future-Kill can best be described as the bastard son of Animal House and The Warriors. The film follows a group of Frat Boys who—as a punishment for tarring and feathering a fraternity leader—are forced into a downtown wasteland to kidnap a peaceful rebel gang leader. This would seem fine, except this group of morons doesn’t pick the nice peacenik head of the organization, instead they set their sights on Splatter (Edwin Neal), a half man/half machine mutant hopped up on a cocktail of intravenous drugs and prone to full fledged acts of bloody murder. Now the Frats are going to need all the help they can get if they ever plan on getting out of this town alive.

Shot in Austin, Texas by first time filmmaker and recent University of Texas graduate Ronald W. Moore and scripted by Moore, Neal, Producer John Best and Make-up artist Kathleen Hagen, Future-Kill was this groups attempt to establish their careers and help put Austin back on the motion picture map. Star Ed Neal who had been back working in theater since the release of the Austin lensed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974 enlisted his co-star Marilyn Burns and Special Effects artist Robert Burns to join him in this new project—which hyped their connection and afforded the film some much needed publicity. The Coup d’état for the crew was convincing cyberpunk painter H.R. Giger to design the film’s theatrical poster, lending an unbelievable air of professional credibility to what is little more than a Grade Z sci-fi flick.

Subversive treats the project like Independent film royalty, with a great transfer of a horribly lit and insanely grainy picture. I doubt the film looked any better on opening night than it does on the screen today. Audio commentary from Moore and Neal is entertaining as hell—Almost more fun than actually watching the film, is listening to Neal and Moore tell you how bad it actually is! The duo point out a lot of interesting tidbits about the shooting, including the revelation that some of the graffiti that the filmmakers spray painted in the alleyways of downtown Austin (specifically the large “Splatter” tag) remained in place for over a decade.

This disc also contains a 20-minute segment with Neal where he covers—in his own “Mel Blanc” inspired way—the history of his career. There is precious little, more entertaining than listening to the ruminations of Ed Neal and these 20-minutes feel like a lifetime of chats with an old friend. It’s nice to see Ed getting some of the recognition he deserves here and on Dark Sky’ recent TCM Ultimate Edition.

In the end, Future-Kill is probably not going to win over any new supporters. You either already love this film or you already ignored it. Chances that a group of film fans raised in the post 1980’s glut of soulless MTV styled cinema are going to be falling asses over elbows to jump on the bandwagon of this film are slim—and that’s a shame. Because, the one thing that Moore and his crew had was heart, and for that reason (and a lot of nostalgia) Future-Kill in all its Velveeta virtue is still a strangely captivating saga.

Official Score