"What kind of areolas does she have?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/03/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Def-Con 4 (1985)...does the title have any significance? I'm glad you asked...it means Defensive Condition, and the associated number is `graduated to match situations of varying military severity', ranging for 5 to 1. Def-Con 5 means normal peacetime readiness, Def-Con 4 normal, increased intelligence and strengthened security measures, Def-Con 3 increase in force readiness above normal readiness, Def-Con 2 further increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness, and Def-Con 1 maximum force readiness, or, put your head between your legs and kiss it good-bye. Just to give you a frame of reference, since its inception, the highest level achieved to date has been Def-Con 2, and that was during the Cuban missile crisis in the early 60's. Knowing that the lower the number, the higher the threat, I would have thought a film about the post apocalypse using a defensive condition level for its title would have gone with Def-Con 1, or at least 2...produced, written and directed by Paul Donovan (Self Defense, Norman's Awesome Experience), the film stars Tim Choate (Ghost Story), Lenore Zann (Happy Birthday to Me, Visiting Hours), Kevin King (Night School), Kate Lynch (Meatballs), and veteran character actor Maury Chaykin, who's probably most recognizable appearing on television's `A Nero Wolfe Mystery' series, as the title character.
As the film begins we see two men and a woman circling the Earth in a secret American defensive satellite of love (decked out with a number of nuclear warheads) called Project Nemesis (strange name for a defense satellite). Their purpose is to provide some kind of first response capability (I think), but when the fecal matter hits the fan (World War III), they balk, and things planet-side go downhill pretty quickly (talk about your dereliction of duty). So now what? Do they return to a contaminated Earth and try to find a safe haven? Or float around in space until their life support runs out? The decision is soon made for them, as the capsule begins a re-entry sequence apparently on its own, and they find there are survivors, but they seem pretty inhospitable (radioactive contamination will do that to you). After one member of the crew gets ate up by mutants (exposure to radiation is often known to cause cannibalism, especially in cruddy sci-fi films), Howe (Choate) sets out to find a boat (to sail to a safe haven), but only finds an armed, kilted loner named Vincent (Chaykin), who lives in a bunker made of sod and tools around in a modified bulldozer left over from an A-Team episode. Oh yeah, he also keeps a girl named J.J. (Zann) under his floorboards. The two make a deal (in Vinnie terms, it went down like this, `I'll make you a deal on the food- you give it to me, or I'll kill you.'...such the negotiator), but are soon captured by a local, brutal, militaristic, Lord of the Flies-like tribe headed by a petty preppy snot named Gideon (King). Turns out he may have been responsible for the satellite returning to Earth, as he needed something they had for his plans. Our three, plucky wanderers Howe, Vincent, and J.J. (who happened to be involved with Gideon at some point), along with the female satellite crew member Jordan (Lynch) find themselves condemned to death for crimes against humanity. Normally chances of survival would appear slim, but given the ineptitude of tribe, escape seems imminent. The name of the game is survival, by any means possible...
I saw this film some 15 years ago, renting it from a local video store, drawn in by the cover art (as I'm sure most were), only to find said cover art was the most exciting thing about the feature. The film has a great many faults, shoddy script, terrible acting, extended periods of inactivity, to name a few, but it's not entirely bad. The plot was somewhat intricate, and easy to follow, but did feature a great many gaping holes. The production values were relatively decent for a low budget film, but I was annoyed at the lack of mutants. The only effect I could see of the recent holocaust on the survivors was that most everyone was just dirty...no festering pus wounds, boils, mutations, moles, or even scabs. Seems to me if radiation was so prevalent, there'd be more indications displayed on the survivors...oh well...the biggest hurting comes in the form of the acting (the script doesn't help)...Choate, the man with the quickly receding hairline, is not hero material, not matter how much he's played up that way. On the satellite he was in a constant state of spaz, and once on the ground, it wasn't much different (check out the scene where he's trying to commandeer a sail boat, guarded by two armed men...it's truly funny). He ultimately comes off as an incompetent whiner you wish to see suffer some horrible fate. And whose idea was it to put the portly Chaykin in a kilt? He's certainly no Mel Gibson, and more than once we are flashed with either a full moon, or his twig and berries...yuck...I will say he did have one of the best lines in the film (see my title), occurring when he was questioning Howe about the quality of the mammaries (with great detail) of the female astronaut left back at the capsule (she had a concussion). Apparently Vinnie was developing an under the floorboard harem, as one woman wasn't enough. In terms of post-apocalyptic thrillers, Def-Con 4 rates pretty low, but it does have it's smarmy charms, meager as they may be...
Anchor Bay provides a sharp looking anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer, along with fairly respectable Dolby Digital 2-channel mono sound. Extras a minimal, including a trailer and a mini-reproduction of a poster for the film, which displays the tagline `The Last Defense. The Last Hope. The Battle For The Future Of The World Has Begun' ...um yeah (no one ever sold a film by understating it)...
Could've been worse
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 03/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The post-apocalyptic genre is a cow pasture a viewer must tread very carefully through if he or she wishes to emerge unscathed on the other side. On the one hand, you have the great nuclear war dramas, films like Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove," the soul shattering intensity of "Testament," and the British shocker "Threads." You don't have to check the bottom of your shoe if you step in these brilliant movies. You're likely to hear a squishing noise, however, if you trod upon any number of the Italian post-apoc cheapies currently making their way to DVD. "The New Barbarians," "Escape From the Bronx," "Warriors of the Lost World," and a slew of other ripe patties boast terrible dialogue, totally unconvincing special effects, and actors who wouldn't know how to act if their lives depended on it. "Def-Con 4" sort of lands in the middle of these two extremes, sort of a hardened cow pie with just enough squish left in it to give a bit under your weight and thus cause some worry. Many of the things we see and hear in this film are terrible, painfully terrible, but it's just interesting enough to keep you watching for just a few minutes longer.
A trio of astronauts orbits the earth in a top-secret defensive/offensive satellite equipped with nuclear warheads when the unthinkable happens down below. We don't see the atomic exchange, a good idea on the filmmakers part since omitting the mushroom clouds saves on the special effects budget, but we do see these three characters watching television stations going off the air as well as see computer generated explosions on maps. One of the astronauts, Howe (Tim Choate), predictably agonizes over the fate of his family. Touching. The other two are thick skinned about the whole thing, especially the taciturn Walker (John Walsch). He's the can do man, apparently, and won't take any nonsense from the others. A female scientist on board, Jordan (Kate Lynch) seemingly serves as the requisite eye candy. Anyway, the three eventually head back to earth (not on purpose) in order to see what's happened to the home planet with decidedly unpleasant results. The crash landing knocks Jordan out, and Walker's acting is so bad that he's grabbed by something outside the craft and never seen alive again. It's now up to Howe to get Jordan out of the craft and search the surrounding environs for signs of life.
In no time at all Howe ends up in the grip of a dirty survivor named Vinny (Maury Chaykin), a man who lives in a filthy abode and who drives a giant bulldozer around when he's looking for astronauts recently returned to earth. Vinny doesn't take too kindly to Howe's presence, but he does show interest in the satellite's food supply. He also has a young teenage girl named J.J. (Lenore Zann) locked in his basement for reasons probably best left unsaid here. This girl, Howe, Vinny, and Jordan soon fall into the clutches of a man so evil, so beyond human morality, that he attended prep school when the bombs fell. His name is Gideon (Kevin King), and he's an arrogant windbag who somehow managed to mold a bunch of misfit soldiers at nearby Fort Liswell into a fighting force of truly banal dimensions. He knows J.J. from school, but their acquaintance isn't enough to save our heroes from a loathsome fate. Gideon is the sort of guy who likes to stage show trials where he can hand out death sentences on trumped up charges. He's also the sort of guy who'll drop a cooked steak on the dirty floor in front of a starving man and chuckle as he does so. In other words, he's got a great future in a world gone mad. But does he? Sad to say, but something came down with that satellite, an object with an activated timer on it, that says otherwise.
Most of what we see in "Def-Con 4" isn't very interesting. Right from the start the film treats us to actor John Walsch's pathetic attempts at emoting. Really, I haven't seen an actor this wooden in at least a week. He's positively painful to watch, and it's no surprise at all when the viewer feels an odd sense of satisfaction as some cannibals dine on him shortly after the crash landing. Sadly, the Howe character takes up the slack in the acting department as he cringes and whimpers his way through scene after scene. Is he annoying in the way that fingernails on a chalkboard induce cringing? Yes, but he's all we've got so deal with it. Unfortunately, we must focus on the characters' general ineptitude because there aren't many special effects to attract our attention. The movie has the idea of a destroyed world down cold, what with all the starving people wandering about in rags amidst wrecked buildings, but once you've seen one cheap post-apocalyptic world you've seen them all. There's nothing special going on in the world of "Def-Con 4," no hideous monstrosities reeking of radiation or mutated animals run amok. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
So why am I giving this movie three stars? Because the atmosphere is appropriately gloomy and there is enough gunfire and explosions to keep the movie limping along to its rather unspectacular conclusion. Besides, it's easier to appreciate films like this when you've seen extraordinarily dreadful films like "The New Barbarians." Next to the Italian post-apocalyptic genre entries, "Def-Con 4" looks like Oscar material. Anchor Bay brings this minor masterpiece (cough) to DVD with a nice picture transfer and a trailer as an extra. Alas, no commentary track to explain away the plot holes, but I think I'll get by without it. Nuclear war film completists will want to pick this up while all others should probably stay away.
DEF-CON 4...another perspective
G. Spears | 01/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Look, everything ther other reviewers said about this movie is true, but so is this: I like this movie alot. I've watched it again abad again for almost 15 years now. Yea, it's kinda B-rated (budget flick). But it's a cult classic, IMO. You've got to see it to appreciate it. Watch with an open mind. See if you can rent it 1st before you buy. If not, then ask yourself why this old, b-rated movie still commands a top selling price. See? This cult classic b-rated flick is endearing, extraordinary and mutated. :-) You'll really like it or you'll hate it. Good luck."
JONATHAN M GRAHAM | Manchester, New Hampshire United States | 07/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is rewatchable,...there's alot to be said for that. Basically a post apocalypse theme with pretty thin plot line,...but the action and "actions" or should I say post nuclear war behavior is more than entertaining and almost funny if it weren't for the very real themes concerning lack of food and killing. Definately watch this film whether you like nuke films or not."