EMPIRE OF ASH II (1988)
aka Empire of Ash
Article 5004 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Michael Mazo and Lloyd A. Simandl
Featuring Melanie Kilgour, Thom Schioler, Frank Wilson
What it is: Canadian Mad Max
It’s after the apocalypse, but isn’t it always? After her sister is apprehended by a dictatorial cult of religious zealots to use for breeding purposes, a woman joins forces with a mysterious loner to rescue her.
The “mysterious stranger” in this one is one of the more blatant imitations of Mad Max that I’ve encountered in the many imitations of THE ROAD WARRIOR that I’ve seen. This one has a very low reputation (3.8 rating on IMDB at the time of this writing), but I think it’s a little better than that; there’s some energetic camerawork on occasion, some of the stunt work is decent, and it has a couple of interesting ideas. However, it really doesn’t have enough of a story to sustain the length of the movie, so we get lots of scenes of the various factions of the world (the religious zealots, a set of mutants who kidnap people for their blood, groups of ordinary people) fighting with each other for no other reason than to fill out running time. Though it seems competent at times, there’s a pall of dreariness over the proceedings; quite frankly, most of the actors come across as being bored out of their skulls. The only time the movie ever becomes fun is when a couple of eccentric survivalist veterans show up; if the movie had been built around them, it would have been much more entertaining. The movie is known both as EMPIRE OF ASH and EMPIRE OF ASH II; it was released originally under the first title, and then rereleased under the second title; maybe they figured that no one saw the first release, so who’d be able to tell that the second was the same movie? There is a real sequel called EMPIRE OF ASH III.