• Aftermath, The

    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: January 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Steve Barkett
    Cast: Sid Haig, Lynne Margulies, Steve Barkett, Christopher Barkett, Alfie Martin
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    One man wrecking crew Steve Barkett is the man behind 1982’s The Aftermath. He not only wrote and directed the film but he produced it, edited it and played the lead. He’s also all over the extras on this release, detailing its history in interesting ways.

    As to the story, when it begins a spaceship returns to Earth to find that in its absence, nuclear and biological war has devastated the planet. Where there were once ‘normal’ humans, the cities are now filled with irradiated mutants… it’s a land where only the strong survive! Out of this chaos emerges a man named Cutter (Sid Haig) who essentially becomes a cult leader of sorts, turning some of the mutants into his own personal hit squad. They set out to murder any of the men that they can, taking the women back with them and turning the children into slaves.

    Cutter’s got a good thing going, for a while at least. The inhabitants of the spaceship? The main guy’s name is Newman (Steve Barkett) and he’s not about to take this lying down. He’ll defend his woman, Sarah (Lynn Margulies), and a young child named Chris (played by Steve’s actual son, Chris Barkett) to the death.

    The Aftermath is an ambitious low budget sci-fi/action hybrid that, while guilty of biting off more than it can realistically chew, turns out to be a lot of fun. The idea borrows from Planet Of The Apes a fair bit and throws in elements of The Road Warrior at times, so maybe it isn’t the most original concept ever brought to the silver screen, but it’s as entertaining as you could want it to be. The mutants sort of look like zombies and they get a fair bit of screen time. The makeup effects work is effective enough and the very seventies looking costuming is kind of cool in a retro sort of way.

    The movie might wear its low budget on its sleeve (the space ship interiors look like an office with some bright buttons strategically placed about) but there are plenty of interesting moments here, some of which work really well. Case in point, after Newman and his fellow travelers crash in the ocean near the California shoreline they head towards land where they think they see some sunbathers on the beach. As they get closer, they realize these are not sunbathers but corpses fried by the radiation that’s torched the Earth. The burned out and rundown buildings that make up the cityscape are done using optical effects of the era, so again, not the most convincing but they have their own charm and contribute to what is actually a pretty decent atmosphere of dread and desolation. The action set pieces and shoot outs are well done, plenty of squibs were clearly on hand, and the editing does a good job of cutting these scenes together with a nice flow. The score from John Morgan is also very good, giving the film an epic soundtrack off of which to present its story.

    As to the acting, Steve Barkett is a decent enough leading man. He’s noble but tough, he isn’t completely ripped the way you might expect but more of an everyman type, which makes him a decent fit for the part. Lynn Margulies is fine as the love interest but, in which will come as a surprise to probably no one, it’s Sid Haig who steals scene after scene. He laughs the way crazy, maniacal bad guys tend to laugh when overplaying parts like this, and he brings that awesome screen presence of his to the movie in a big way. Any time Haig is on screen, the movie is gold.


    VCI brings The Aftermath to Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. VCI’s press materials out that the film was “remastered in 2K high definition in 2017 from the original 35mm cut camera negative and was step frame copied one frame at a time for the ultimate in clarity and color values,” which sounds great, right? The picture has some problems. Colors look really good here and the image is definitely clean, but there are long stretches of the film where grain completely disappears and the image appears to have been blasted with DNR. The weird thing is, the entire film isn’t like this. There are equally long stretches where grain appears and looks pretty natural – which is just plain odd. For this reason, detail is inconsistent. Some shots look really good, others are waxy and hazy. Some occasional compression artifacts also pop up here and there and contrast is uneven. Better than what DVD could provide? Yes, you can compare it to the DVD included in this release if you like, but this still leaves plenty of room for improvement, which is a shame as it sounds like a fair bit of work went into getting this cleaned up and restored.

    The English language LPCM 2.0 soundtrack is okay, despite a few minor issues. The soundtrack, which is really good, is a bit high in the mix at times and can occasionally bury the performers. Additionally, there are a few spots where the audio appears to be a bit out of synch. That said, most of the time the dialogue is easy enough to understand and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Optional English language subtitles are provided.

    The supplements, which are many on this disc, begin with an audio commentary track from Steve and Chris Barkett. This is a pretty interesting track with the two participants talking about how the film was very much a family affair. They also talk about the budget, the effects work, the casting of the picture, working with Sid Haig and Lynn Margulies, where the story ideas came from and a fair bit more.

    In the Original Laserdisc Extras section we get fifteen-minutes of archival material taken from that older release wherein we’re treated to interviews with various members of the Barkett family that were involved with the picture as well as composer John Morgan and producer Fred Olan Ray. These are worth checking out and quite interesting.

    Also on hand is a student film directed in 1972 by Dan Gilbert entitled Night Caller, which stars Steve Barkett. This short runs twenty-one minutes and it’s an enjoyably dark little film with an enjoyably dark ending. It’s an entertaining post-apocalyptic story that actually contains elements similar to those explored in the feature attraction. A one-minute text introduction opens the short. VCI has also included a nine-minute promo to advertise their upcoming release of Empire Of The Dark, currently undergoing a restoration to make it suitable for release. Empire Of The Dark was also written and directed by Steve Barkett, who plays the lead alongside Christopher Barkett, and it looks like it has the potential to be kind of great.

    The disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, the option to listen to the original score separate from the movie itself (in LPCM 2.0 format), animated menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the film. As to the sleeve insert, one side is the cover art shown above while the reverse side provides some notes on the movie and information on the supplements.

    The Final Word:

    The Aftermath is a pretty cool movie, an enjoyable mid-eighties mix of post-apocalyptic dystopia, sci-fi clichés and action movie hijinks performed by a decent cast. Lots of entertainment value to be had here. As to the disc itself, VCI’s transfer leaves room for improvement but the supplements are interesting.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!