75 - The Raiders of Atlantis (1983)
Ruggero Deodato is a prolific exploitation director but he is certainly most well known for the film that nearly landed him in prison, Cannibal Holocaust. We will never cover that film on the Grindbin - mostly because we don’t like it - but we simply can’t have an exploitation movie podcast without covering at least some of his movies.
Upon release of Cannibal Holocaust, Deodato was put on trial; accused of animal cruelty and first-degree murder - only one of which is true. Despite a non-guilty verdict, Deodato was barred from making films in Italy for a few years and the film was banned.
The Raiders of Atlantis (also called Atlantis Interceptors) was his first movie after being barred from making films. It was produced in the Philippines (alluding to it being filmed during his actual ban) and is a distinct departure from anything he made prior.
Deodato’s career up until this point was an interesting one. He never settled into a particular genre of exploitation film - producing romance, action/adventure, horror, cannibal and Poliziotteschi (Italian cop/crime) films; he was always willing to try something new. Raiders is certainly not an exception.
Action, Sci-Fi, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic; The Raiders of Atlantis has it all, and it’s all bad. That’s not to say this isn’t an enjoyable film - it certainly is and gets better with subsequent viewings - but it’s stew with way too many ingredients. It’s hard to see what Deodato wanted from this movie, maybe it was the desire to finally make something after years of being forced to put the camera down, a mind too full of ideas with no particular direction to take them. The end result is something that is both confounding yet simple. At it’s heart it’s a simple action/adventure story, on the surface it’s a mess of sci-fi ideas that are never fully explained.
The Raiders of Atlantis is a bad movie, it’s a really really bad movie. There’s a number of times where actors almost look at the audience as if to acknowledge they understand what they are saying and doing doesn’t make any sense. Action scenes happen without reason, plot points are resolved by nonsensical means, exposition is removed in favor of small-talk; it’s like a child writing and directing a movie in a foreign language.
Yet despite all of its shortcomings, Raiders is a fun and interesting movie that finds Deodato making something a little less sleazy than normal. As if he took a step back, if only for a moment, and decided that he would make something a little less deplorable.