Film: Future War

"From the future traveled a master race of cyborgs. They made abductions from Earth's past. The dinosaurs were trained as trackers. The humans were bred as slaves. Now a runaway slave escapes to a place his people call heaven... we know it as Earth."

If someone were to combine The Terminator and Jurassic Park, with a fraction of the formers' budgets, while throwing in religious overtones just to spice things up a bit, you'd get something close to Future War, a direct-to-video gem (for a given value of "gem") featured on a season ten episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The story concerns "the Runaway," a slave who escapes his cyborg masters' spaceship and crash-lands just off the coast of California. Two cyborgs and a pack of dinosaur puppets are dispatched to recapture him. The Runaway kickboxes one of the cyborgs to death and takes down a dinosaur puppet, but is then unceremoniously hit by a car driven by Sister Anne, a hooker/ganger/druggie-turned novitiate nun. Anne takes him back to her home, a half-way house inhabited by overweight men, and nurses the Runaway back to health. With him choking her and all, they seem to be hitting it off, but their growing bond is interrupted by a dinosaur puppet attack that claims one of Anne's friends.

Anne and the Runaway make a break for it, and wander around the streets and ride on a train for a while. Anne's having second thoughts about the whole nun thing, but the Runaway quotes verses from The Bible, which mostly seems to confuse her. Then the pair are picked up by cops and tag along as a SWAT team combats another one of those dinosaur puppets. The heavily-armed specialists get their asses bitten off until the Runaway takes down the threat with a stab to the jaw, and in gratitude, they haul him back to the police HQ for questioning. Fortunately, the remaining cyborg tracks the Runaway there, and our kickboxing hero is able to escape in the carnage, thrashing the cyborg in the process.

Our heroes reunited, Anne calls in some favors and enlists the aid of her former clients/gangmates/customers to raise a small army to combat the dinosaur puppets. Since said puppets are known to congregate near water, the last half-hour or so of the film takes place in what is meant to be a water treatment plant, which the gang blows up after suffering heavy losses. At the end, Anne's final vows are interrupted by the second cyborg showing up for one last kickboxing match, but the good guys win, Anne becomes a nun, and her halfway house "scores" a new counsellor.

Not at all to be confused with the incredibly obscure film Future War 198X.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.


Future War contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Subverted. A character tries to crawl in one to hide from the cyborg, but it collapses and dumps her out to be killed.
  • Battle Strip: Done in the most absurd way possible.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. While the first death that we see involves Sister Anne's Black Best Friend, the scene in question is actually a Flash Forward to the film's ending, and so the black dude in question is actually the third-to-last person to die.
  • The Cameo: The bum attacked by a dino is none other than Forrest J. Ackerman. Sharp eyes will notice his holding a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
  • Clothing Damage: Botched. During the climactic final duel, the Runaway clearly takes off his shirt.
  • Container Maze: Featured during the opening chase scene, using empty cardboard boxes. The pursuer takes advantage of this.
  • Crash-Into Hello: A rare example involving a vehicle and a pedestrian. And a nun.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Ignoring the lousy effects, let's face it, getting eaten by a dinosaur is not a pleasant way to go.
    "This has got to be the last danger you think of when you're living in a dumpster."
    • Especially since we do get to see the rather gory aftereffects of one such dino-puppet attack about midway through.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Abused to high holy hell. Anne apparently used to be a hooker and drug dealer who also had connections to a local gang, an arms dealer, and some guy who's presumably a black market dealer.
  • Explosive Leash: On the dinosaur puppets. "No wonder fossils are so rare."
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The dinosaurs are Mooks for the evil cyborgs.
  • Filler: The flashback and flash forwards smack of this.
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Ann seems to heavily doubt the Runaway's story even after a dinosaur bursts into her house and kills one of her friends.
  • Flashback: Abused. While meditating/working out in his prison cell, the Runaway flashes back through his earlier fights, including the one that ended mere minutes ago. All while shouting "Cha" repeatedly.
  • For the Evulz: According to the Runaway, the cyborgs use humans as slave labor because they (the cyborgs) lack thumbs. He clarifies that the cyborgs could totally build thumbs for themselves, but then they wouldn't have an excuse to force humans to wait on them.
  • Forced Perspective: Used to cunningly create the illusion that the dinosaur puppets are quite large dinosaur puppets. This makes the fight scenes a little difficult.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: "Cyborg" meaning "someone wearing black clothes and clown makeup with maybe a camera over one eye while moving stiffly as whirring sounds are added."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Last Cyborg is ultimately killed by one of those exploding collars.
  • I Work Alone: Sister Anne uses this line on the Runaway, which makes no sense considering she's a nun who works with a bunch of other people in a halfway house.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The Feds are interested in the Runaway's story of time-traveling cyborgs, and shut out the local police who captured him. It doesn't matter, seeing how they're all dead in the end.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: A villainous example, thanks to Robert Z'Dar of Soultaker fame.
  • Magic Countdown: Even on screen, it goes faster than it should!
    Tom Servo: Introducing new, faster seconds.
    • Yet, oddly, offscreen it goes slower than it should.
  • Motifs: Plaid. Seriously, just about every good guy in the cast is wearing some sort of plaid. Even the grizzled, overweight gangers.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Daniel Bernhardt has a lot of shirtless scenes. The workout scene in the jail cell is particularly blatant.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Always ready to help.
  • The '90s: The entire movie was clearly costumed by raiding Eddie Vedder's closet. The Bots call it "The Plaid Parade."
  • No Name Given: The Runaway is never even given a nickname to be referred to by for convenience's sake; even the credits only list him as "The Man".
  • Nonindicative Name: It's not set in the future, although the cyborgs are supposedly from there, and there's not really a war going on.
  • Shirtless Scene: Even if he has to clearly do it himself...
  • Stock Sound Effect: Often not well-matched with the visual, such as the cyborg sounding like a car's suspension when he deflects a cardboard box, or when two characters open a wooden door in a house and it sounds like a steel door on a ship or a submarine, or when we hear crickets chirping even though it's clearly the middle of the day...
  • Take Our Word for It: The Slave Rebellion happens mostly off-camera, while the audience gets static shots of generic sci-fi sets with sci-fi sound effects in the background.
    • That's because they used stock footage from a different movie which didn't star the lead actor.
  • Take That, Us: Legend has it that while working on the movie one crewmember said how fun it would be if their movie was aired on Mystery Science Theater.
    • The art director for the film actually said he felt MST3K was too lenient on the film! Talk about Creator Backlash!
  • Terminator Twosome: As a film "inspired" (ahem) by The Terminator, this movie uses a variation of this. While there's one "good" person sent to Earth, there are three bad guys, plus an unclear number of dinosaurs. Also, Time Travel may or may not actually be involved.
  • Time Travel: Implied in the "backstory," never shown.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • The Master Cyborg that the Runaway beats up in the police HQ and left pinned under an exploding dinosaur later ambles into the dam for a rematch with the Runaway.
    • Later on, after being trapped in an exploding dam, he crashes through the ceiling of the church in the finale for a third fight with the Runaway.
    • The kid Max vanishes after the dinosaur attack on the halfway house, and nothing is mentioned of what happened to him or where he went, even after he pops up safe & sound in church at the end of the movie.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Apparently the whole reason "the Masters" need slaves is because they lack opposable thumbs, although the Runaway makes it clear they could build thumbs for themselves but don't because they like forcing others to serve them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Polaris completely vanishes from the film when the FBI forcefully take control of the case.
  • Your Size May Vary: The dinosaur puppets never seem pinned down to a consistent size. In low shots they seem about the size of large dogs (the "Cuteasaurus"), while in high shots they loom over the cast. Handwaved by the opening narration, the nun does say the dinos come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, "and its masters". Doesn't explain the inconsistent size of a dinosaur in the same scene.