Superstarlet A.D. (2000)


USA. 2000.


Director/Screenplay/Producer – John Michael McCarthy, Photography (b&w + some scenes colour) – Stephen Oatley, Music – Shelby Bryant, Tim Feleppa & John Stivers. Production Company – Guerillamonster/JMM Productions


Gina Velour (Naomi), Helen Heaven (Rachel), Katherine St Valentine (Valentine), Kerine Elkins (Jezebel), Michelle Carr (Verona), Katherine Greenwood (Velvet), Rita d’Albert (Ultramame), Kitty Diggins (Cathy X), Lydia Martini (Lois)


After the nuclear holocaust, men have been reduced to brutish animals and women have fallen into clans based on their hair colour. In the city of Femphis, brunette Naomi, who leads the Superstarlets and believes that all hair colours should live together in peace, searches old movie theatres in a quest for the ancestral stag film of her grandmother. There she finds the redheaded Valentine, an actress from the 1950s, who has just woken up in the present-day. However, her quest is thwarted by the leader of the blonde Phaywrays who desires Naomi’s lover Rachel. Meanwhile, the brunette Satanas and the redhead Tempests put their mutual grievances aside to obtain revenge on Naomi.

Superstarlet A.D. falls into a burgeoning mini-genre of sf films – the no-budget, gonzo post-holocaust film. The genre was begun with the very funny Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987) and took off with the likes of Six-String Samurai (1998) and Radio Free Steve (2000). Superstarlet A.D. has a gonzo nuttiness that is utterly whacked out. Imagine a 1950s post-holocaust film like Captive Women (1952) or World Without End (1956) that has somehow been taken over and directed by Russ Meyer.

The premise is one of the most off-the-planet in some time – after the holocaust men have become dumb brutes (where they are made up to look like The Morlocks out of The Time Machine [1960]). Meanwhile, while women have mutated into different species based on hair colour, all of whom self-consciously pastiche cinematic idols – thus the blonde Phaywrays; the brunette leopard-skin clad Satanas (a direct Russ Meyer reference). In any other hands this material – women in high-heels and big wigs strutting about uttering cod dialogue – would have formed the basis of a drag comedy but McCarthy’s intent is clearly to make an exploitation film in the full Russ Meyer sense – there are liberal nudie performances, topless scenes and lesbian love-making sequences. While this would normally condemn Superstarlet A.D. to the realms of B movie-making, it is shot through with a modern sense of satiric irony – there is some hilariously cod dialogue. There is nothing that might remotely be described as a plot – but there is occasionally that which touches in an odd way – like the quest through ruined cinemas for ancestral stag films and the heroine’s shattering disappointment to discover that her grandmother’s was a porno film involving a man.

The film is made by Memphis-based filmmaker John Michael McCarthy who has also made such cod 1950s exploitation films as Damselvis, Daughter of Elvis (1994) and Teenage Tupelo (1995). McCarthy’s other genre outings include the quite undescribable The Sore Losers (1997) and Cigarette Girl (2009) about a smoking female serial killer in a future where smoking is ostracised..

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