Director/Screenplay/Producer – Charlie Steeds, Photography – Michael Lloyd, Music – Sam Benjafield. Production Company – Dark Temple Motion Pictures.
Costa Chard (The Jackal), Kate Marie Davies (Alba Killbride), Barrington de la Roche (Emperor Rameses), Dylan Curtis (Tegu), Miguel de Barros (Brogdale), Edward Carlton (Jack Deadman), Sabrina Dickens (Young Alba)
In the future, the remnants of humanity shelter in tunnels underground after the surface above has heated up due to the Earth moving closer to The Sun. Two young boys venture into forbidden tunnels where they encounter the fearsome, legendary figure of The Jackal. The Jackal tells the young Tegu he is just an ordinary human, a soldier named Jack Deadman who came down into the tunnels ten years earlier as part of a military sortie sent to find supplies of water. The Jackal now demands Tegu take him to meet Rameses, the emperor who rules the underground realm of Labyrinthia. The Jackal is in search of Alba Killbride, his girlfriend who came down as part of the military team but has been made into Rameses’ woman.
Deadman Apocalypse was directorial debut for British director Charlie Steeds. Steeds went on to make a slate of horror title, including Escape from Cannibal Farm (2017), The House of Violent Desires (2018), Winterskin (2018), The Barge People (2019), A Werewolf in England (2020), Death Ranch (2020), An English Haunting (2020), Vampire Virus (2020), Werewolf Castle (2021) and The Haunting of the Tower of London (2022).
The title left me with the vain initial hope that we might be in for an adaptation of DC Comics’ disembodied superhero Deadman. The opening credits, which lists the names of the characters the actors play, offer up evocative character names such as Jack Deadman and Alba Killbride, which also gives the intriguing suggestion that we might be in for some type of comic-book adaptation.
Stripped down to the level of plot however, Deadman Apocalypse is no different to a standard copy of Mad Max 2 (1981) that was made during the late 1980s – a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been reduced to fighting for the basics of survival; a mythic loner hero on a determined quest; a larger-than-life villainous gang-leader; a cute kid who aids the loner hero; and plentiful vehicle chases. (For a more detailed overview of the genre see After the Holocaust Films).
The difference of course is that Deadman Apocalypse is a Mad Max copy that has been made on a painfully cheap budget. The IMDB lists the film’s budget as alternately £150 and £25,000. After viewing the film, I tend to believe the former. The entire film has been shot in sets that are built as tunnels of wooden slats – the effect is akin to watching a film that has been shot in the midst of a series of livestock pens. Moreover, the tunnels never go higher than about three feet, which has the rather ridiculous upshot of necessitating that all of the characters walk stooped over or crawl. This becomes particularly absurd during the scenes where various characters engage in vehicle chases through these tunnels – for obvious reasons, they are unable to use real vehicles so the chases all take place with ridiculous-looking makeshift go-karts.
In all other respects, the film is poorly made. The acting is all by unknowns with some of it – notably Barrington de la Roche’s overwrought villain – being particularly bad. All of that said, director Charlie Steeds has made noticeable improvement with his subsequent films.