Raiders of the Damned (2007)

Long before Milko Davis made his mainstream debut to worldwide streaming audiences with the fun apoc-when-animals-attack romp, Tsunambee (first released in 2015, but rebooted in 2020 to streaming), he made his micro-budgeted streaming debut with this retro-zom feature starring Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street fame (Lifepod, Art of the Dead). Sure, this movie is old. But you know the older stuff is our jam at B&S About Movies, especially when it evokes the Italian ’80s apoc’ers and zoms of yore. So, with the news of Milko’s newest flick, Phantom Patrol on the horizon, well, let’s get to reviewin’, padre!

However, before we get started: this review has Six Commandments of the Wasteland as told by Lord Humungus. Don’t trip over the burning V-8 carcass on your way to the petrol compound — and obey in fear of the wrath of the Wez:

  1. Thou shalt not speak of Neil Marshall’s walled-up frackslop that is Doomsday . . . besides, that came a year later.
  2. Thou shalt not speak of Luc Besson’s junkhole Lockout . . . besides, that’s not until 2012.
  3. If thou shalt EfNY-evoke, at least err to the side of the cooler, Xavier Declie-starrer, The Survivor, which came before.
  4. Thou always must refer to apoc-movie god Michael Sopkiw’s turn as Parsifal in 2019: After the Fall of New York.
  5. Thou is permitted to speak of Joe D’Amato’s Endgame and Lucio Fulci’s Warriors of the Year 2072.
  6. All ’80s Spanish-cum-Italian Eurasian George Romero undead knockoffs are permitted.

Okay. Now that you understand the B&S About Movies apoc-headspace . . . on with the show.

World War III, via a nuclear weapon spiked with a biochemical agent known as Agent 9-X, has rendered the Earth a wasteland — with humans reduced to battling the armies of the walking dead. The chemical agent’s side effect: the dead need to consumer human flesh to stop their decaying process. Since there’s no cure: an infected human turns over within a day. While there’s no way to kill the zombies, humans have been successful in quarantining the dead in a Liberty Island-styled perimeter.

The humans outside of the zomrimeters — thanks to Dr. Wells (a one-and-gone Elijah Murphy) and his lab assistant (an also one-and-done Amanda Scheutzow) — have synthesized a Paraquat-type destroying chemical spray to kill the zombies.

During a helicopter run to test the agent, the zombies were able to shoot down the copter via rock catapult (these zoms can also use crossbows and swing swords), leaving Wells and his team the prisoners of the zombified Colonel Crow. Crow, of course, must be stopped: he’s militarized the zombies (some have a nice, ’70s cloaked-skeletal Amando de Ossorio vibe) as an organized army planning an all-out offensive against the survivors.

To get them out, Dr. Lewis (a really hamming-it-for-the-hell-of-it Richard Grieco; caveat: he’s gone after the first 30-minutes) recruits our ersatz Snake Plissken (but we’d rather err to Micheal Sopkiw’s Persifal from, yes, 2019: After the Fall of New York*) in the form of war criminal Captain Dewey “Chopper” Crenshaw (played by Gary Sirchia; kudos for not resorting to the oft-apoc used “Stryker”) to lead a platoon into the quarantine zone. His mission: rescue the doctor and assassinate his ex-superior, Colonel Crow — who put Crenshaw behind bars in the first place. To get them through that wall (thank god for cinematic junk science): the loopy Lewis designed a techno-trinket that opens portals through solid matter.

As with Aliens before it: Crenshaw’s squad has their “Ripleys” in the form of Lieutenant Gena “Razor” Kane (director-in-her-own-right Zoe Quist) and Roxanne “Trigger” Trejo (Laurie Clemens Maier, in her debut; a dozen later, under-the-radar shorts and indies). Crenshaw, of course, has his own, close-to-the-vest plans for Wells and his assistant, Stephanie — as all of the we-love-’em post-apoc fights and Italian zom-peplum, ensues. Yeah, if you want a film with zombies cognizant enough to build catapults, fire cross-bows, and swing swords: this is your movie and a bag o’ chips.

Wow. The critics and streamers of the digital divide are rough on this script by prolific sfx make-up artist Michael Ezell (Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell; most recently for 2021’s Malignant). Look, it was Milko Davis’s first film — and probably made for less-than-under lower-five digits (maybe even less than the mid-four digits). It’s a low-budget zombie movie set in the post-apoc milieu . . . so why are you streaming it expecting The Walking Dead for the sake of the sweet baby of the Nazarene? When you know it’s low-budget: expect the worst-to-the-cheesy and just enjoy the heart and soul put into the work, okay?

Look, Richard Grieco is a righteous thespian in my book; I should be so lucky, as once an actor, myself, to have risen to the levels to be in Grieco’s shoes: a traveling thespian troubadour assisting indie filmmakers. Grieco, as does Eric Roberts these days (and lately, Bruce Willis and Nicolas Cage; see Precious Cargo and Arsenal for examples), lent a helping hand to a new-on-the-scene Milko Davis to get his debut film on the shelves. In the distribution realms: it’s all about that recognizable name on the box and Grieco got Davis started . . . and now the Mik is eight films into the insanity. That’s rad in my book . . . even if the Mik is wondering what the frack has he gotten himself into . . . and he should have went into haberdashery at Nigel Tuffnel’s House of Suits and Colanders, when it was offered to him.

Yeah, I think the zoms, here, look pretty decent and the proceedings far exceed a Bruno Mattei* or Shaun Costello or Jean Rollin or Andrea Bianchi’s zom-joint. And if you’ve seen Hell of the Living Dead, Gamma 639, Zombie Lake, or Burial Ground, with their guacamole-face paint zoms, you know what me mean. (Okay, maybe not Burial Ground. Why do I love that film so much?). I dig the whole John Carpenter Escape from New York-cum-Assault on Precinct13-evoking of it all.

Yes. I’d rather a Milko post-apoc zom joint . . . than that way-too-long, CGI’d McDonald’s zom-fast food disaster that is Zack Synder’s Army of the Dead. So, yes, Milko’s practical, in-camera effects for the win for his reminds of my beloved Bruno Mattei joints! So, uh, hellah yes: Richard Grieco for the win over Dave Bautista. Why else do you think we’ve also reviewed the Rickster in After Midnight, Clinton Road, The Journey: Absolution, and Impact Event — while reviewing no Dave Bautista’s flicks (no, Sly Stallone is our raison de revoir for Escape Plan 2: Hades and Escape Plan: The Extractors; no, Spectre was a “Bond Week” entry).

I am guilty — as was Sam Panico, the Overdog of B&S About Movies (know your obscure apoc villains), in his review of Plankton (1994) — of probably making this sound way better than it is? Well, I’ve now watched this twice (thanks Walmart cut out bins) and I love it even more because you can see there is a glisten of a rough diamond the frames. So, I was right, right? Milko is on to his sixth film with Phantom Patrol, after all. He also keeps improving his game with each of his subsequent films Tsunambee, Jurassic Thunder and Jurassic Dead.

Okay, that’s enough with the critical prattling. Let’s watch this fan-uploaded trailer — and excuse the low-rez of it all; it’s the upload, not film itself.

You can get used-to-new DVDs of Raiders of the Damned on Ebay (through multiple sellers, natch) and stream it on Amazon (again, I got mine from a Walmart Electronics cut-out barrel o’ fun; I’ve seen ’em at Best Buy, well, back when they carried movies). Eh, sorry, no freebie streams via You Tube or Tubi. Yeah, we need a free-with-ads stream!

Do you want to be a part of a Milko flick?

In November 2021, Team Milko launched a Kickstarter campaign for the production and release of his next film, Phantom Patrol. You can also learn more at the official Facebook page for Armageddon Films and Milko’s IMDb page. (Update: The current campaign has end; however, keep checking back as a new campaign will launch in the coming months to support the production.)

* Hey, we had one hell of an apoc blow out with our two-part “The Atomic Dust Bin: 10 Post-Apocalyptic Films You Never Heard Of” featurette. Join us for the radioactive fun for 20 films — and more! We had Raiders of the Damned on the long-list for it and it got lost in the digital shuffle. Too many films to write about! Hey, it took us a while to get to Future-Kill and Robot Jox, as well. But they all get done, eventually.

** Come . . . explore the works with our “Exploring: Bruno Mattei” featurette, if you dare. You know you want to. Click it, you celluloid masochist of Italian crap.

About the Author: You can visit R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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