We first see Glen and Randa, two young people, frolicking naked near a stream and investigating a rusted car up in a tree—apparently the tree grew through the car. The world into which they were born is post-apocalyptic—apparently due to nuclear war—and the population of America seems to be broken up into small communal camps of people who can barely communicate with each other, let alone set up any kind of government. Glen and Randa have patched together bits of information gleaned from books, comic books, and magazines about the way the country used to be—when they see a horse, they think it’s either a dog or a camel—and Glen wants to find The City, which he thinks is called Metropolis. They meet up with a glad-handing fellow who calls himself the Magician, a self-styled clown/wise man figure who babbles constantly but makes little sense, and with a map he gives them, the two go on the road. They discover Randa is pregnant and eventually reach the West coast, which now is in Idaho, and are befriended by an old man named Sidney Miller living alone on a beach. He lets they stay in a dilapidated trailer (with the skeleton of its previous occupant still stretched out on a couch) and helps them enlarge their vocabulary by writing the names of household objects (like “stoev” and “teve”) on the objects. When Miller tells them that people used to sit and watch TV all night, they plunk themselves down in front of it, staring at the blank screen because they think they should. Glen is certain that if he could just get across the water, he'd find The City, though Sidney tells him that nothing's left past the water. There’s a birth, a death, a fire, and an Adam & Eve (with a twist) ending.
I don’t review many movies of the 70s because the end of the Production Code and the beginning of the movie rating system really does mark a distinct break between the classic and modern movie eras. But this was one I've wanted to see since I was a teenager. It's a low-budget, scruffy independent film (called "underground" in its day) which was originally released with an X rating because of the male and female full-frontal nudity featured in the opening scene. However, despite one brief sex scene later in the film, this would not raise many eyebrows today—and has indeed been re-rated with an R. It's usually described as science-fiction because of its setting in a future world, but it has very few of the trappings of traditional SF, and is more akin to EASY RIDER in its look and feel. Steve Curry, from the original cast of Hair, does a nice job as the innocent stripling Glen. He's so good, it seems strange that his acting career went nowhere. He has to carry the picture partly because Randa, played by Shelly Plimpton, is barely a character; she has few lines and aside from being pregnant plays no important part in the action. The most shocking scene in the film involves Curry grabbing fish out of a stream and beating them to death on the rocks (not an ASPCA-approved moment). Garry Goodrow is incredibly tedious as the Magician, with most of his monologues seeming improvised. It took fortitude to stick with the movie past his section (roughly the first half-hour), but things did get better. Woodrow Chambliss is effective as the old man, the only character here to have a potentially interesting backstory, and his bonding with Glen and Randa is touching without being overly sentimental. Worth seeing; the satisfying ending makes up a bit for the rough first third. [DVD]