Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em (1988)

Somewhat unsurprisingly, most post-apocalypse themed movies tend to focus on the downside of the event. After all, it's hard to depict nuclear war without spending at least some time on radiation sickness, starvation and nuclear winter, making most of these films something of a downer. Not so Ray Boseley's SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM, an energetic piece of ozzploitation which tries to look at the positive side of armegeddon, namely that it's the perfect excuse for one last kickass party.

This short (48 minutes), nearly plotless film focuses on three survivors of a nuclear strike on Melbourne, Australia. One day, while scavenging the blasted countryside for supplies they stumble across a bomb shelter containing some forty survivors and a year's supply of food and alcohol. The group decide to forgo any attempt at adapting to the nuclear wasteland. Instead they'll throw a farewell bash, blowing through their supplies in a few days (after which most of them will be dead from radiation poisoning anyway) and then go out with a literal blast. They even somehow acquire a live band (the Aussie band Blue Ruin) in order to help make the party memorable, even though no one is expected to survive. The majority of the film shows the party in progress, with the revelers drinking to excess and basically just partying like it's 1999.

The most surprising thing about the film is how poignant it manages to be despite it's anarchic tone. Relationships are made, goodbyes are expressed and a good time is had by all, yet the promise of death is never far from anyone's minds. Maybe the reason why the film manages to ultimately be so touching is because their fates are treated in such a matter of fact manner. These characters are doomed from the very first frame of the film and they all know it. Their determination to at least go out on their own terms increases their likability quotient a good bit and gives them an advantage over more pretentious post-nuke movies such as THE DAY AFTER. SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM is a pleasant surprise, both funny and touching, while at the same time prodding the viewer into examining how he or she would act under the same circumstances.

For more overlooked films and a/v visit Todd Mason's blog.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a bit more successful thus than THE BED-SITTING ROOM, too (at least the film version).