Three astronauts; Walker, the commander; Jordan, the doctor; and Howe, the other guy watch helplessly from a secret NORAD space station as the world is consumed in a nuclear holocaust. Sixty days later, they return to Earth, only to find that the last remnants of humanity have become violent, depraved, and lost most of what it means to be human.
Def-Con 4 was written and directed by Paul Donovan, who would go on to create the TV series Lexx. Like Lexx, Def-Con 4 seems to revel in the seedier aspects of human nature. After escaping from the wreckage of the station, Howe is chased by cannibals and taken prisoner by a large man in a kilt, who keeps a young woman in a school uniform locked in his basement.
The young woman is named JJ. She’s played by Lenore Zann, who is famous for doing the voice of Rouge in the ’90s X-Men animated series. More recently, she ran for political office in Nova Scotia. Her opponent leaked a topless picture of her taken from her appearance in The L Word; this backfired horribly, and led to Zann’s victory.
Anyways, Howe, JJ, and Vinny (the guy in the kilt) become allies, of sorts, when they are taken prisoner by Gideon, JJ’s former boyfriend. Gideon has taken control of a small shanty town by use of assertive aggression, and a few military officers still loyal to his dead father. It’s strange, the nuclear bombs seem to have destroyed every building on Earth, but didn’t knock down a single tree.
The race is on to escape from Gideon’s clutches and find a boat that can take them to Central America, which Howe believes to be somewhat less contaminated. All the while, the last nuclear bomb from the NORAD space station continues its silent countdown.
Tim Choate, who played Zathras in Babylon 5, does a good job with Howe. He has the occasional emotional outburst, such as when he receives the final message from his wife, which come off very convincing; strong, but not melodramatic. But then, after landing, he says that he’s accepted that she’s probably dead (even though he doesn’t know that for sure) and never mentions her again. The character drama, while done well, doesn’t effect the character or the plot in any real way.
JJ is almost animalistic when we first meet her, like a slightly more talkative Nell; but she was a student just two months ago, and we never get any insight into what what changed her so drastically. Vinny is a complete mystery. For all we know, he could have been living in the woods for years before the bombs dropped.
The story is fun, in that post-apocalyptic B-movie sort of way. It’s colorful and creative, and shifts directions a few times, keeping you guessing at what will happen next. It’s not deep and you can easily poke holes through it, but this is a highly entertaining B-movie, and I’m surprised it doesn’t have more of a following.
Def-Con 4 is presented on a double feature DVD with Hell Comes To Frogtown from Image Entertainment. The video quality is very good, on the same level as Frogtown. This is a great presentation of two fun movies for a relatively low price.