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Def-Con 4


By Tom BakerPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read

The final victory has been won. Mankind can now rest in peace.

Def-Con 4 (1985)

Def-Con 4 is a relentlessly bad, even somewhat odious 1980s nuclear Cold War Era scare film set in a post-apocalyptic Ontario or thereabouts, and featuring three astronauts aboard an orbital space station cum Reagan Star Wars wet dream. They seemingly survive the thermonuclear mayhem below and rocket back to Earth but then the woman (Kate Lynch) dies or is imprisoned or something (I forget which) and the surviving male space hero (Tim Choate) gets kidnapped by a roly poly Sawney Beane psychopath (Maury Chaykin) keeping a cheerleader (Lenore Zann) hostage in the basement.

Some Hills Have Eyes wannabes eat a severed leg they cut into convenient ham steaks (shown, and maybe one of the few cool things in this turgid mess of a movie), and our heroes (heroes?) get kidnapped and taken to the insane youngish and good-looking leader of the post-atomic bomb survivor town tyranny despotism camp thingie.

There's some business about a computer War Games AI he's trying to do something with for some reason, and he tortures some guy by holding a pork chop (actually I think it was supposed to be venison) under his nose and then dropping it into the horsepucky at his poor, unfortunate, tortured feet; and more or less the film is one long sadistic daydream it seems, but it does feature a cheerleader held captive in a pit like a Pink Flamingoes fantasy theme and so I guess that is some sort of titillating, sensationalistic plus. Also, her discovery comes about when she gets tossed some shit on a plate through a trapdoor, making sure to be polite to her fat, vaguely Scottish captor, her voice peeping up, "Thank you!"; the blackly humorous shock of it reminding you that the creator of Def-Con 4 went on to create the satirical scifi television cult intergalactic sex romp "Lexx," featuring an actress with the biggest, most extraordinary lips this side of the ever-loving galaxy. (That actress, incidentally, was Eve Habermann. The creator of Lexx, or, at least, one of them, was Def-Con 4 director Paul Donovan, who shares directorial credits here with Tony "Hellraiser 2" Randall. Randall is uncredited. I can understand why he might have wanted it that way.)

I'm not sure what the hell happens in the rest of the film, and don't give a whit.

Unlikable and turgid as the mud on the characters' post-apocalyptic shoes, Def-Con 4 was a movie I always wanted to see but never got around to for some reason; I chiefly wanted to see it, by the way, because it had such a cool videocassette box, with a sort of skeleton floating in an acidic soup in a space suit, with a weird-looking space cruiser with, like, solar panels extending.

The whole thing made you think it was going to be some terrorific horror space fiasco with mutant extraterrestrial demonoids from some interdimensional hellscape that scarf human flesh.

But no. It's just some damn straight-to-video action Mad Max ripoff snoozer, ugly and tepid and dull.

But I have ninety-seven words left. Hm.

Tell you what: I'll ruin it below for all and sundry.

The film ENDS on a boat, with the heroes (really?) sailing away into the atomic sunset, as the supercomputer AI War Games mastermind gone insane nukes the entire planet, and the credits roll. It's just like the ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, except that that film was actually enetertaining. I'm not even sure what leads up to all that; I could read the synopsis on Wikipedia, but really, is it worth stealing any more time out of my ever-dwindling stock of days to do so? What positive advantage could there be?

The film ends with:

The final victory has been won. Mankind can now rest in peace.

Yeah. The final victory was making it through to the end of this flick. Now I can rest, at six hundred words, but not in peace. I may never know peace again. But if I ever have to sit through this movie a second time, I can tell you: we'll be at Def-Con 5.


Note: In the interest of sailing back through the painful decades to my long-lost and much lamented childhood, I've elected to post the entire film of Def-Con 4 as it was broadcast on "Commander USA's Groovie Movies", a horror and bad movie host show hosted not by a ghoulish Ghoulardi or a scary Sammy Terry, but by a superhero, "Commander USA," actor Jim Hendricks. His wraparound segment was often better than the film being shown.

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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Comments (2)

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  • Edward German2 months ago

    I watched this movie back in the day as a VHS rental from a mom-and-pop video store. I thought it was just a good late-night sci-fi movie. The cover art is what had me. It is some awesome work, based on some other artwork I think.

  • Just bad enough to be unwatchable, not sufficiently so as to be fun, I take it.

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