Inspired by the likes of Escape From New York and The Road Warrior, the Italians, once the grand kings of imitator cinema, took the post apocalyptic genre and ran with it by producing some of the 80's finest low budget, wasteland warrior action films like Escape form the Bronx, New Barbarians, 2020 Texas Gladiators, Hands of Steel, New Gladiators, and 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983).
Thanks to the detonation of a nuclear bomb by some radicals, the world is a radioactive wasteland. Having rendered most people mutants and all women sterile, there seems to be no hope for mankind. But, the Pan American Confederacy traces signs of a fertile woman in New York, which is ruled by the Urak's, a militaristic empire that scours the city, eliminating the full-blown mutants, and experimenting on the less mutated to try and find a way to preserve their race.
The P.A.C. enlist expendable renegade warrior Parsifal (Micheal Sopkiw) to go into NY with a guide and some muscle and find the fertile woman, and bring her back. In exchange they will give him a coveted spot on a rocket to a pure planet. Parsifal and crew traverse the devastated city, tussling with various gangs and falling in and out of the hands of the Urak's, who catch on to the trios intent in the city. After rescuing a lass (Valentine Monnier) and meeting up with a dwarf and an apeish man (George Eastman), they find their sleeping beauty and must get her out of the city in order to save what is left of humanity.
Directed by genre workhorse Sergio Martino ( Mountain of the Cannibal God, Torso, A Man Called Blade), 2019: After the Fall of NY is a nice bit of fun, especially to b-film fans from my generation who grew up with these films. I spent many a weekend in the 80's with a stack of apocalyptic adventures, and still hold onto copies of them since the Blockbusters of this world pretty much phased out any vhs' of b-films that weren't produced in the last ten years. 2019 delivers elements from many films popular at the time, albeit much, much cheaper, like the sci fi/Dark Empire look of the Urak's, the Snake Pliskin casting reject look of Parsifal, and even cheaper muscle cars of the apocalypse than Road Warrior (honestly, the car that saves them is a station wagon). Sure, after 9/11 films like this and Escape from NY are looked at in a different context, but setting those feeling aside, they can still be fun nostalgia adventures to a time when cities lying in devastation was a thing more of fantasy.
The DVD: Media Blasters... It should be noted that this is the second release of this film. MB's first batch included commentary by some "experts/cult fans" who have worked with MB, and one of them made a rude comment that resulted in MB pulling the commentary from future releases.
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. The print is fairly clean, and pretty much free of any spots or dirt. It still has some wear and unfortunately the films budget and age do still show, therefore things like grain, contrast, and overall definition suffer a bit. But, for a film of its genre, the presentation is quite good and colors and sharpness are in great shape.
Bottom line is, it isn't going to look spectacular, because it wasn't spectacularly filmed. Rest assured, fans of the film should be very pleased with the vastly improved image quality. I still have my 2019 vhs, so I got a pretty good laugh when I popped it in and compared it. The difference is so great, it makes you wonder just how in the Hell we ever thought vhs was okay. Well, I know, we were just clueless.
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo or 5.1 Surround. Ehhh. Really these remixes never impress me too much. Yes, they add some punch and sometimes some decent faux stereo effects, but the cheesiness of the original soundtrack on films like this just cannot be covered up. That is always a thankful thing, the voice acting in the English dubbing and the 80's synthesizer score all add to the fun. Even with all of the modern coddling, the soundtrack still has some distortions resulting in a little hiss and muffle on the dialogue track. But, once again, in comparison to my vhs, it is still light years away in terms of improvement, so genre fans will be happy.
Extras: Chapter Selections--- Intro by actor Micheal Sopkiw (plus an Easter Egg outtake of this intro can be found in the extras section)--- Art Gallery of Italian lobby cards.--- Original Theatrical Trailer--- Interviews with director Sergio Martino (14:12), and actors George Eastman (5:14) and Hal Yamanouchi (4:32). Martino's interview isn't the longest because he is asked more questions, but because he answers questions and goes off on barely related name-dropping tangents (like when asked about working with the actors in the film, he quickly veers off into discussing how he was one of the first people to work with Nicole Kidman). Still he does provide some nice insights into what they accomplished on the small budgets and why the Italian film industry got left behind by not embracing new fx in the late 80's/early90's, spelling death for Italian fantasy/science fiction films. Eastman is the most down to Earth and matter of fact, whereas Yamanouchi stretches by talking about it was the existential themes and Shakespearean quality of the post-apocalypse films that attracted him.
Conclusion: If you are a fan, Media Blasters delivers. The transfer is pretty darn good, and the extras are interesting. So, if you are in need of a fix of some desert wastelands, cheap models, Renaissance Fair dressed Ape-men, helpful dwarves, super junkyard cars, and lantern jawed heroes, then this film will meet your every need.