IN THE AFTERMATH (1988)
Directed by Carl Colpaert
In a post-apocalyptic, radiation-devastated future, two survivors, Frank and Goose, are on the hunt for oxygen replenishment and filters with only 6 days worth of clean oxygen left. Kitted up in their gas masks and oxygen packs, they come across a military unit where they stumble across a hostile survivor. After a nasty confrontation which leaves Frank wounded, Frank stumbles after a little girl he sees stood in the archways but ends up passing out before he can speak with her. Upon waking up inside a medical facility, all Frank can think of is the little girl carrying the egg. Unbeknownst to him, the little girl is in fact Angel, an angel sent on a mission to save mankind, but it is her struggle to decide who deserves help and who does not that leaves the juvenile angel contemplating the right actions whilst humanity hangs in the balance.
Post-apocalyptic fantasy IN THE AFTERMATH combines B-movie live-action with footage from one of the most respected anime art movies, Angel’s Egg, which was released three years prior to this film. The mashup of captivating animation and grubby, low budget action surprisingly works together quite well though the story as a whole isn’t that remarkable. With Angel’s Egg, directed by Mamoru Ishii, a standalone, feature length film in its own right, I’d probably say that I’m more interested in seeing that now having watched IN THE AFTERMATH with the animation providing the bulk of the weight and power of the movie.
The dilapidated, crumbling wasteland wonderfully sets up the tale of survival with Frank and Goose holding onto desperate hope with their humorous exchange. However, in the latter half of the film. the direction of the live-action takes a monotonous, familiar turn as Frank and Doctor Sarah, a fellow survivor, keep themselves locked away in a hospital room with the only access to clean, filtered oxygen. A musical interlude, with Frank on the piano, is quite a captivating moment, with the upbeat tune inspiring in their time of hopelessness and appears to mimic Frank’s state of mind as he thinks about the young, unmasked girl he saw outside in the wasteland.
Angel’s story, in contrast to Frank, has much more mystery to it. A young angel, she is instructed by her brother Jonathan that she must help to save a species but she must decide who deserves help and who doesn’t. Being only 9 years old, she feels she’s too young to go out and make these decisions on her own but Jonathan instructs her that she is indeed ready and it is her duty. Her lack of self conviction finds Angel hesitating to help, concerned she may be helping the wrong soul, and, carrying her egg, she retreats to her safe haven only to realise the error of her ways.
The events which transpire are as much a test for Angel as they are for Frank, and the two must follow their hearts to be saved, as it were. This all sounds quite peaceful and harmonious and whilst their meeting generally is, the film doesn’t really do enough to make you care. Without the stunning animation, IN THE AFTERMATH is little more than a poorly scripted B-movie that offers little to the viewer. Its borrowing of another movie is the only thing of interest and sets it apart from the rest. I suppose you could say the combination of the two could push it into arthouse territory but even calling it that is a bit of a stretch.
A nice idea that ultimately falls short, IN THE AFTERMATH’s only quest it succeeds at is making me want to watch the anime of which it heavily borrowed from.
Arrow have released a 2k restoration of the film with extras including an interview with the producer Tom Dugan, who talks about the film and industry of New World Pictures at the time it was made; an interview with star Tony Markes; and an appreciation of the anime Angel’s Egg by expert Andrew Osmond, who provides more backstory on the anime itself as well as talking about the history of combining two types of films together.