Whoops Apocalypse (1986) – Film Review
Director: Tom Bussman
Cast: Loretta Swit, Michael Richards, Ian Richardson
By Roger Crow
Forty years ago, Andrew Marshall and David Renwick’s series Whoops Apocalypse was a mildly amusing Sunday night sitcom about political shenanigans and an assassin called Lacrobat (John Cleese).
With a cast including Barry Morse and Rik Mayall, it was an okay slice of escapism, and by 1986 a movie version was crafted. I’m guessing that’s the last time I saw it, and it’s a curious beast watching it again after all these years. Loretta Swit, looking fabulous, plays the US President whose mettle is tested with a potential Third World War.
Peter Cook (who looks about as animated as a Thunderbirds puppet) is a barking British PM who thinks pixies are to blame for the country’s problems and launches a lemming-like scheme to improve the jobs market by having folks throw themselves off a cliff.
Sadly most of the gags land with the same sort of leaden impact. The supporting cast includes Christopher Malcolm, the Snowspeeder pilot who rescued Luke and Han in The Empire Strikes Back, and Doc Martin’s Ian McNeice, a year after featuring in the masterpiece Edge of Darkness. A relatively fresh-faced Alexei Sayle also does his best with the material, but it’s an uphill battle.
Oh, and also good to see the much missed Herbert Lom, even if he is sold short by the material.
Michael Richards, later to find fame in Seinfeld, is pretty annoying compared to Cleese’s assassin Lacrobat, and Clifton James repeats his role as a redneck sheriff, as seen in a couple of Bond movies and Superman II.
At a little over 90 minutes, it will feel more like 90 hours, especially when the utter, utter genius that is a potty mouthed Rik Mayall turns up for a badly dubbed OTT SAS scene, which results in a blood-soaked mess.
If you make it to the end, listen out for John Otway’s closing song, then go and find his extraordinary documentary ‘Otway: The Movie’, which is 100 times more entertaining.
Extras include an interesting interview with Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, who reveal how they created the original show, and the chance meeting which led to the movie version.
They discuss how they rewrote the story to take in elements of the Falklands War and the rise of Princess Diana. Naturally it’s far more fascinating than the main feature. Ken Russell and Jim McBride were in the running to direct at certain points, before advert director Tom Bussman landed the job.
There’s also a look at the making of the movie itself, including an interview with genius production designer Tony Noble, who went on to work on locally shot movies such as Awaiting and Solis.
So, in short, bad movie, great extras.
• Brand-new interviews with writers Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, actor Daniel Peacock, production designer Tony Noble, boom operator Chris Gurney and special effects supervisor Peter Hutchinson
• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Limited edition booklet written by Llewella Chapman
Whoops Apocalypse is released on Blu-ray by Network, £17.99