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From Wikipedia (Plot Summary):

The film borrows plot elements and themes from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and The Time Machine. It takes place in the year 2037, after the loss of the ozone layer has left most of the planet a desolate wasteland scattered with highly radioactive Death Zones, except for lovely wooded areas which appear when convenient for major characters to relax and bond while watching the sunset, while noting that the solar radiation penetrates more atmosphere at that angle and is therefore not dangerous.

The human population has been reduced to Crawlers, cannibalistic human underground dwellers, horribly ugly mutants who have lost most of their intelligence, speak only in grunts, and mine old garbage dumps, and a relative few Dreamers who live in Inworld, a sealed biosphere maintained and controlled by the central Infinisynth computer, where they spend almost all their time plugged in via a connector implanted in the backs of their necks, living through realistic virtual reality fantasies.

The heroine, Judy, is exiled from Inworld to search the wastelands for her father, who was also exiled when she was young; she is saved from the Crawlers only by the intervention of Stover, who believes himself to be the last "normal" human being still living on the surface, protecting himself from the deadly ultraviolet, radioactivity, caustic ground water, and Crawlers, while subsisting on a diet of small animals, such as opossums. The two are soon taken prisoner by the Crawlers, however, and brought to their underground village, where Stover is set to work mining the garbage dump and Judy is saved by the Crawlers' leader, the masked Seer (who has both intelligence and ability to speak), from being butchered. The Seer's consort, Cornelia (who also has intelligence and can speak; and rather than hideous, is beautiful but sterile), is jealous of the Seer's obvious intentions towards Judy; her attempt to infect Judy with a hideous underground mutant leech-like parasite fails, however, and as punishment the Seer has Cornelia's slave/foster daughter Claude, another Inworld runaway, pulped by a large, elaborate meat grinder constructed of parts salvaged from the garbage dump, in a quasi-religious ritual attended by the Crawler population, who all drink of Claude's blood.

In the meantime, Stover has used the blade from a food processor which he found mining the dump to escape and free Judy, only to have the two of them recaptured. He is thrown into a half submerged cage where he is invaded by many of the hideous mutant leeches. The Seer, meanwhile, reveals himself to Judy as her father, excusing his actions by saying he had done what was necessary to survive, and is additionally steering the Crawlers' culture to higher levels by using materials recycled from the garbage dump, enforced by the brutal religion he has founded; he wishes Judy to follow in his footsteps. Her initial ambivalence becomes a firm negative when he reveals the second part of his plan, i.e. that the two of them will breed a race of healthy children to continue the hereditary leadership, and she liberates Stover and excises the parasites with a sharp piece of metal. The two are captured yet again and the Seer convenes another ceremony with the determination to put them into the grinder, but she overcomes him and feeds him into the machine, only to have the Crawlers attempt to acclaim her as the new Seer. She escapes, only to have Stover (infected by the leech/slug creatures) chase after her and have his mouth explode with leech larvae onto her. Then she wakes up back in Inworld and realizes it was all an Infinisynth simulation; she is then confronted by her father, who is in actuality the old Infinisynth operator and hands that position down to her. She then wakes up again, to realize that even the final exchange between her and her father was only a simulation created by her subconscious mind and rendered by the Infinisynth system.

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