Review: Raiders of Atlantis

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Directed by:
Rugerro Deodato
Category: Trash Cinema

Stupid, silly and completely ridiculous, Raiders of Atlantis aka The Atlantis Interceptors seems to have been made in the era of the "let's make as many Mad Max ripoffs as we possibly can" craze of the Italian Trash Cinema genre with not a single coherent thought or idea. Throw in a bit of Indian Jones, Escape from New York, Assault on Precinct 13, The Warriors and even Night of the Living Dead (??) and you have Raiders of Atlantis, one of the biggest mish mashes of late 70's to early 80's action, adventure, sci-fi and post apocalyptic films of that time
With that being said, this film really was a helluva lot of fun beginning with probably the coolest and most completely out of place opening theme song I've ever heard for a film like this. The fact that this is an Italian Post Apocalyptic Trash flick with a theme song that sounds like it could easily be Earth, Wind & Fire during there disco heyday only makes this thing much more badass. That song (Black Inferno) is so wrong for this film, but so awesome! I've never heard of The Inferno Group, but i'm almost tempted to see if this soundtrack even exists. If not, then maybe The Inferno Group have some stuff out similar to this. In either case, the song ruled!
From my childhood in the early 80's, I remember this as Raiders of Atlantis. Though in other countries it appears to be known as The Atlantis Interceptors. I'm assuming they were trying to capitalize on the Indiana Jones craze at the time and thought putting "raiders" in the title would spark more interest. That's just a guess though, but it worked for me and it just makes the title sound cool.

The thing that I'll always remember more than anything about this film is that my buddy Gabe had this poster in his room forever. This was back in the day when video stores would give away new release posters to make room on the wall for newer ones. All you had to do was ask and they usually had a bunch sitting behind the counter. I remember getting my Delta Force poster this way. Funny thing is that I don't remember if we actually "saw" this film or not. We just thought the poster looked awesome. So as I watched this yesterday I have to be honest, none of it rang a bell, not a single frame. Which is fine because it was like watching a brand new movie that I had never seen.

Miami, Florida 1994.
Two Vietnam vets and several scientists face an extraordinary battle for survival against descendants of Atlantis' original race, when the Lost Continent emerges in the Caribbean following radioactive leakage from a sunken Russian nuclear submarine. Calling themselves "Interceptors", the murderous Atlanteans set about reclaiming the world by killing everyone and destroying everything in sight. It is up to Mike, Washington and Dr. Cathy Rollins to uncover the secret behind their existence and use it against them in order to stop the Interceptors' apocalyptic rampage.

Now this was directed by Rogerro Deodato, most famous for having directed one of the most shocking horror films of all time, Cannibal Holocaust. I will say, I was a little worried because he has directed a lot of films in almost every genre, but not a lot of them are very good or even decent. Most recently I attempted to watch one called Lone Runner, a kind of Lone Ranger adventure film. Probably one of the worst films I have ever seen. It was so horrible that I couldn't even finish it. The horrendous opening sequence shoulda tipped me off, but I thought "what the hell, let's see where this goes". Horrible people, and extremely painful to watch. I still have no idea what kind of film it was trying to be or who in there right mind would fork out the cash to produce such crap. Maybe on paper it sounded cool, but somewhere along the way the translation from concept to execution was lost. So as cool as Raiders of Atlantis sounds and looks, I was still a little apprehensive because of the Lone Runner debacle.

I'm extremely happy to say that despite a lot of it not making a lick of sense, Raiders of Atlantis was so much fun and extremely well executed. There is a lot of action and excitement happening right from the get-go and Deodato films it all really well. The only complaint I would really have is when he switches to hand-held here and there. It always looks cheap when they do that, especially during this period (Remember, the steady-cam hadn't been invented yet). But those scenes are few and far between and for the most part this film looks really good. Much, much better than all the other Italian productions of the post apocalyptic genre during this period anyway. And believe me, there were a lot of them. So many that as much as I love watching them, I'll probably never be able to get to all of them unfortunately.

There are a lot of issues with this film, but it's got a lot of things going for it also. The issues? The incoherent script, massive plot holes and ridiculous villain. So this bad guy is dressed like he's a biker with a leather vest and no shirt, only he doesn't look like a biker. He wears what is supposed to be a crystal skull mask. Only it looks nothing like a crystal skull or anything remotely close to it. Rather, it looks like he's wearing a glass fish bowl on his head and I'm sorry, but you just can't take this clown seriously. And I'm not gonna get into the logistics of why most of the film doesn't make any sense because it would take forever. If you want to have a good time, you'll just have to roll with it. One of the things on the plus side here is the frequent action, which is done surprisingly well. A standout sequence is an "Assault on Precinct 13" style siege during the middle of the film. The cheesy sound effects like when an Atlantean gets shot and yells or just the laser sound effects when "anything" scientific happens are hilarious, but actually work here. The same can be said for the cheap effects and model work. Cheesy and lame, but it works.
Christopher Connelly, who plays the main character Mike, is also a standout. The guy is a natural for this kinda role. He could be the guy next door, but also be the lone hero when the situation calls for it. Everything from his voice, to his charisma and amazing ability to do most of his own death defying stunts really makes Raiders of Atlantis much more of a badass film. I'm telling you, I couldn't believe some of the shit he does in here. The guy has been in a lot of films in a lot of different genres switching from television to low budget films but I can't seem to find any information on being a stunt man which is surprising because it looks so effortless for him. You really have to see it to believe it. Sadly the guy was taken from us way too young at 47. I would have loved to have seen him in a lot more of these kind of films.

Sadly, this thing has never gotten an official DVD release. The VHS version that's been out since 1983 is full of horrible pan and scan work. The cropping is just plain shitty. I lost count on how many times shit happens just barely "off" screen. So I would love to one day see this thing get a decent release, even if it came without special features, just an Anamorphic Widescreen edition would be sweet. I really hope it happens one day because I'd be all over it. Do a little digging and you'll find a copy out there, it'll be well worth the effort.


  1. Great review. This looks like a lot of fun! also: It is unfortunate that the VHS is so terrible.

  2. It really is. Much better than most of these kinda flicks that came out around this time. The insane amount of action and the lead guy here really save this one. I can get you a copy if you ever want to watch it. Just let me know.

  3. I will definitely let you know!

  4. Hey - the theme is indeed amazing. it's from Italian soundtrack masters Guido and Maurizio Angelis, aka Oliver Onions.


    They also did the amazing "Goodbye My Friend" from a flick called Street Law starring Franco Nero (and Henry Silva, if I recall correctly) which can be found on the album Beretta 70, a compilation of tunes from 70s Italian cop movies.

    As for the movie Raiders of Atlantis, it was fine, but the trailer is one of the best i've ever seen. Pretty much all of the best scenes from the movie concentrated into a minute-long film.


  5. Allez: Thanks for the info! I'm telling you, I love this soundtrack. I'll have to track down that Beretta 70 album some day. And I agree, the trailer rocks.

  6. Hey, I don't know if you're still checking this blog, but the theme for this movie was done by Oliver Onions, an italo disco group also responsible for the theme from Yor: The Hunter from the Future and a mess of other Italian movie scores (they're kind of like a cut-rate Goblin).