This month we are going
to cover one of the few movies in the Grave Diggers International collection
that is liked by every member of the company. That's right, it is
the post apocalyptic Tank Girl.
Tank Girl is a comic created by British cats Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett,
no published by Dark Horse Comics. Only Itchyfinger and Vince have
have actually read it. We all feel that this 1995 flick has a lot
going for it.
First off, lets start off with the cast. In the lead role is Lori Petty, who made her name in A League of Their Own, but cut her teeth with the butch looking tough girl act in the flick In the Army Now with Pauly Shore. You can't go wrong with a hot chick in the lead . . . she does something for several of the men at GDI (and one of the women). The other hot chick is her partner Jet (Girl), played by Naomi Watts, who starred in the 50's red paranoia flick Matinee. One of Tank Girl's allies is a creature called a Ripper, and one of the is played by Ice "Mutherfuckin" T. He has been is a lot of groovy flicks including New Jack City (where his acting was good), and CB4 (where his role was small, but the flick was absolutely hilarious).
The lead villain (and only one of merit) is played by Malcolm McDowell. I don't even need to get into his credentials, I mean he did Caligula and A Clockwork Orange, but my favorite flick with him in it was Blue Thunder. He doesn't play a very menacing bad guy, but hey, you have to pay the bills somehow.
Credits outside of acting that need to be mentioned are that all of the Ripper costumes were created by Stan Winston, premiere creature creator. The flick was directed by Rachel Talalay, who you may not recognize by name, but had a hand in some groovy horror flicks. She directed Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and produced Nightmare On Elm Street 3 and 4. Welcome to prime time bitch. I also have to mention that this flick has a really rocking soundtrack with artists including Bjork, Ice-T, L7 and Portishead.
So listen up cause I'm only gonna tell ya once.
The flick starts, much like the inappropriately dogged Judge Dredd with collages of the comic books all with a groovy song playing in the background. Just seeing these comic book images tells us that they hit the nail on the head when casting Lori Petty in the lead. She tells us that a giant comet slammed the Earth and the whole civilization went to hell. Also there hasn't been any rain in 11 years. Rebecca (Lori Petty) gives us a little narration, telling us about the Rippers and about the heavy hitters of the flick, Water and Power. Now you just know she is going to go at it with them. She lives with these renegade dudes. After some awkward attempts at character building, and a little look at Malcolm McDowell trying to be devious while explaining his goal, W&P attack them, killing most of them and taking Rebecca prisoner. Oh and some cute little girl (who you absolutely know is a plot point).
I have to note right here that every time they do a jump cut to another scene, they usually do it with a scene from the comics that matches the jump cut. Anyway, at W&P, Malcolm McDowell spouts some poetry and then sends her off to work in the water mines. I'm not quite sure how you mine water. We also get to see Jet for the first time. They have her in that nerdy look, but she's also hot. She is a mechanic. Rebecca tries to escape with some music in the background that is from Shaft. This is where she gets her first exposure to a tank. Her and Jet meet again and become friends. Rebecca wants to escape and all the time Malcolm is watching. So he tortures her.
Then he decides to use her as bait to capture the Rippers. But all of the W&P guys get wiped out by them, Malcolm is majorly injured (like missing an arm injured). The good news is that Jet has escaped and the two of them are on their own. Rebecca now has a tank (conveniently left behind by W&P) and Jet has, well, a jet. Later, Malcolm has some kind of surgery that involves a mechanical arm and some Asian dude cutting off his head. More on that later, kay!
Back with Rebecca and Jet, they find some post apocalyptic craft store where they fix up the tank and jet in a series of comic book collages. It is possible, though Vince feels otherwise, that there was just too much in this scene. In this place they find out that where the little girl was taken. Cool part about this is that the place she was taken to is a fancy brothel called Liquid Silver. I've said it before and I'll say it again, governments may rise and fall, but whorehouses will never die. Of course this is just another clever trap laid by Water & Power. Boy are they sneaky.
The two girls arrive and end up rescuing the little girl. But the best part of this scene is where Rebecca makes the Madame do a thirties style song and dance routine to the song Let's Do It (under gunpoint of course). It's kind of cheesy, but I really dig this scene. In fact, this scene sums up why we all like the film and probably why most people didn't like it. It's campy. It's not supposed to be serious. It stayed absolutely true to its comic book origin, again like the failed Judge Dredd and the successful Men In Black. Of course Water & Power have to break in, spoil the whole thing and kidnap the little girl again. Oh and Malcolm McDowell is not dead, just a sillier villain.
So in a burst of logic, Rebecca and Jet go looking for the Rippers for help against W&P. They find them by getting captured. Okay, here's the scoop on the rippers. They kind of look like a cross between dogs and kangaroos and were some kind of experiment to breed super soldiers. Their leader is some sort of Jack Kerouac guy, but the best thing is that Ice-T is a member. A determination on what has to be done with them must be made. First, we go through some more character building, in order to give us some background on the Rippers and their lost leader Johnny Prophet. In the end they decide that the two girls must pass a test to fit in with them. The test is to go find out what W&P is up to.
Under the cover of a Bjork song, they just waltz in pretending to be photographers shooting a W&P calendar. All right, this was a little too much for even those of us who worship this flick. I mean if the workers they were shooting pictures of looked good, then maybe they could have sold this as a bone to throw at the chicks. After all, this was a girls in control kind of flick. Apparently the director agreed that the scene was pointless because the girls simply hijack the shipment to find out what's up. She is Sarah Dyer's Action Girl. Some good Mad Max semi truck action here, but in the end Rebecca gets the job done (and nearly goes off of a cliff). Needless to say, they are allowed to join the Rippers.
Oh and Rebecca sleeps with a Ripper named Booger.
When they check out the crates, they find out that the only thing in the boxes is the body of Johnny Prophet and do the Rippers get pissed off. Now it's time for some ass kicking. They develop a plan to take out Water & Power headquarters that includes the use of a paraglider. What are ya gonna do. Jet takes command in the jet and gets the Rippers inside. Of course, like everything else that has happened in the flick, Malcolm McDowell knows what's going on. Apparently there are audio/video monitoring devices spread all over the place. What results is a lot of gunplay, slashing and neck snapping. This is what makes an action film great. During this fight, the Jack Kerouac guy gets killed and Ice-T goes off!
During the fight, Rebecca goes after the little girl, who is being given some sort of water torture. What's the deal with all of the water abuse. If it is so scarce, then why are people doing water torture, holding people in freezers. No wonder there is a shortage. Naturally we have one of those final battle scenes between Rebecca and Malcolm. Here's the kicker, the bad guys head is actually a hologram. How the hell is that possible. The fight isn't too bad considering it's between an old man and a skinny chick. It ends with Rebecca shooting big cans of beer at Malcolm with the tank. She hits a bucket of water and it shorts him out. Afterwards, Jet gives this dude who was molesting her in the mines a lead enema.
Rebecca rescues the girl and everyone lives happily ever after.
There are numerous sites out there on the Internet covering Tank Girl. Most of them are for the comic book, which is really good. The best overall site is the Tank Girl Site, where you can get the scoop on everything, including lengthy bits of information about scenes that were cut out. The comic is currently being carried by Dark Horse Comics, and you can buy there.