In the future, US civilization has collapsed, and the country is ruled by a religious dictatorship headed by reverend Jimmy Joe. Artie and his petty criminal brother Joe are trying to get by in this desolate world. They meet Mila and Blaise, who are looking for protection on their trip to the desert for a digging excursion. Artie and Joe eventually realize that the sisters are seeking to find an artifact that could restore justice and peace to the country. It’s a dangerous endeavor, however, as Jimmy Joe’s henchmen are also close by doing some excavations of their own.
Comedic takes on the post-apocalypse genre were not very common in the early years of the genre, even though one of the founding movies of the genre, A Boy and His Dog, already contained a heavy dose of absurd humor. More light-hearted takes such as Radioactive Dreams and Night of the Comet followed in the 1980s when the genre became really popular. And then, in 1989, Rising Storm came out.
Rising Storm‘s setting is a fairly traditional post-apocalyptic/dystopian setting, with a slightly satirical take on TV evangelicalism and capitalist consumerism. The visual style of the movie is firmly rooted in 1980s fashion and design. The sets and costumes are goofy and flashy, as if the art director of a Cindy Lauper music video dumped his props on the set. This makes for a somewhat unique style as compared to the usually bleak visual presentation of post-apocalyptic movies. Everything is put together a bit lackluster, though.
Zach Galligan of Gremlins and Waxwork fame has one of the lead roles in the movie as Artie, but his character is not really interesting or particularly important to the story. The most noticeable protagonist is Artie’s brother Joe, portrayed by Wayne Crawford. He is a petty, impulsive macho that tells bad jokes all the time. John-Rhys Davies gives an entertaining performance as crazy and thoroughly evil chief of the bad guys security force. Overall, the acting quality is decent, but not overly engaging.
The action scenes are fairly standard, with a few bloody shootouts and explosions, and the obligatory desert chase scene with an armored vehicle and dudes in black uniforms on motorcycles. Editing is very choppy, so not much effort was invested here either.
In general, the movie has a rather uplifting vibe. Every character, including the bad guys are fairly laid back, and even disfigured mutants are living rather peacefully side by side with regular humans. There’s also plenty of juvenile and mostly harmless humor. One of the arguable highlights is a scene that includes beans and farts. And the addition of classical music from Wagner and Beethoven at inappropriate moments is also an easy way to score a few cheap laughs.
Rising Storm is a thoroughly low-budget affair without much ambition to leave a lasting impression. It’s still has a trashy charm as a goofy slapstick version of a post-apocalyptic genre movie, but only if you’re able to enjoy even the simplest of jokes.