Earth is dying a slow death. Though Mankind’s mastery of Science was great and led them to begin colonizing the stars, it was not enough to overcome that most human of failings – our inability to listen when we’d rather talk. So it was that there came a point when words were no long enough and the rockets that might have provided humanity’s salvation were turned instead to raining down Nuclear Armageddon.
All of this came as a surprise to the team of six astronauts who returned home from a five-year journey from the colony on Alpha Centauri to find irradiated wastes where mighty cities once stood and humanity transformed into savage, cannibalistic mutants. Of them, only one unnamed man lived to send word of what had become of Earth and await the next supply ship that might deliver him to salvation.
The eve of his planned departure is approaching when he has a fateful encounter with a bold young scientist and a young girl, left untouched by the radiation. Pursued by the horrifying breed of men called Death Dealers, The Unnamed Man may be all that stands between the future of humanity and the forces that brought about its destruction. But can he be the hero that is needed and still make his appointment to escape the doomed Earth?
Mix Logan and the Fallout series of games and then film it through the lens of a Western and you might wind up with something very much like Guns of The Apocalypse – the 13th film by auteur Christopher R. Mihm. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but slightly after Quentin Tarantino) Mihm was pushing the idea of a shared universe on-screen with his Mihmiverse of Movies. This is the common link that connects his work, apart from a B-movie aesthetic that mimics the likes of Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon and the many other directors whose work would be largely forgotten to the teaming masses if it weren’t for Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Mihm is in unfamiliar territory this time around, mixing classic Westerns and post-apocalyptic survival horror (two genres he hasn’t touched before) through the specific sub-genre of Spaghetti Westerns. This means that virtually every actor in the movie is dubbed – not because they need to be but as a stylistic nod to the source material. Fans of Mihm’s previous films will hear a number of familiar voices that don’t quite match up to the familiar faces, but that’s all part of the fun and an Easter Egg for the established fanbase. This is just one of the many quick tributes to classic B-movies and science fiction that eagle-eyed lovers of the genre might spot and one reason why Mihm’s movies encourage multiple viewings.
For newcomers and those who don’t watch movies for the in-jokes, Guns Of The Apocalypse proves quite engaging on its own terms. Lead actor Tyler Haines (looking something like a young Brian Blessed with his broad shoulders and bushy beard) proves an engaging presence, as does Kira Pontiff as the young scientist who turns to The Unnamed Man for help. Alice Mihm also defies the usual cliches that occur when a director casts his daughter (We’re looking at you, Francis Ford Coppola!) and performs quite well in the role of Hope.
(Yes, the movie is literally about ‘saving Hope’ – you were expecting subtlety in a movie called Guns Of The Apocalypse?)
Guns Of The Apocalypse is a success on all fronts. As a stylistic parody of its target genres, it works. As an artistic experiment outside of Mihm’s usual oeuvre of mutated animals and space monsters, it satisfies. And if you’re a Mihmiverse newbie, it might be the best film yet for cutting your teeth on the weird but wonderful films of Christopher R. Mihm.
Guns Of The Apocalypse is now available for purchase on Disc.
The earlier films of Christopher R. Mihm are available for viewing on Amazon Prime.