This week: THE NEW BARBARIANS
Above: Sure, they got the name of the movie wrong on the poster, but with a budget as small as theirs, such matters must sometimes be overlooked.
Today's installment of 'Monday Morning Movie Madness' is a special one indeed. I first came accross The New Barbarians when the picture shown above sparked my interest during the research phase of a recent post ('Great Codpieces In History', July 15, 2009). Fred Williamson wearing a hipster headband and golden codpiece? Whoa, I had to check this movie out.
My curiosity was rewarded tenfold, as I rented and watched this epic masterpiece just yesterday. Actually, I had to watch it twice to fully digest its seemingly endless majesty. The New Barbarians is easily the best film I've seen since Starcrash (yeah, it's only been like 2 weeks, but still...).
We are immediately enticed by the beginning of The New Barbarians, which starts of with stock footage of a nuclear (or maybe atomic?) apocalypse and is immediately followed by shots of rotting corpses in Haz-Mat suits (above). 'The Year Is 2019', we are told, before being immediately launched into a magnificent carnival of low-budget wonderment, featuring some of the best and most creative costumes, weaponry, and vehicles ever known to the film industry.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT:
As is the case with most films featured here on 'Monday Morning Movie Madness', the plot is inconsequential. It is a Road Warrior knockoff, plain and simple, right down to the circled group of post-apocalyptic survivors defending themselves from a group of rogue marauders (in this case, said marauders are known as The Templars and dress as helmet-less Stormtroopers with intricately-shaved facial hair and the occasional purple mohawk). What truly sets Barbarians apart from its obvious, um, inspiration, is the brilliant aesthetic and visual flair of director Enzo G. Castellari. Heads explode, cars explode, vehicles are covered completely in tinfoil (to make them look "futuristic"), and everyone in the vicinity is wearing some sort of awesome costume consisting of equal parts football pads, 80's "punk" gear, torn fabric, and sparkly accessrories. It is truly a sight to behold.
Originally released in 1982 as I nuovi barbari in Italy, Barbarians didn't arrive stateside until 1984, where it received a ho-hum welcome amidst a rash of other Road Warrior clones. But the general public really missed out on this one. A killer drum machine-driven soundtrack by Goblin's Claudio Simonetti, a heroic supporting role by Fred Williamson (as Nadir), and a co-starring spot for widow's-peaked Italian vixen Anna Kanakis (who wears that stunned, constantly-surprised expression that seems indigenous to 70's European film divas for the duration of her appearance) all failed to turn heads, but this movie is both a classic and a definite must-see for any fan of poorly-dubbed post-apocalyptic science fiction fare.
Although the entire story is lifted from The Road Warrior, the bad-ass characters actually raise this film high above the station of mere camp. Take the protagonist, Scorpion (above). He cruises around in a kick-ass bubble-topped muscle car equipped with a glowing human skull hood ornament (right), blowing Templars away with an assortment of vehicle-mounted weapons and boning down on the female lead inside some sort of inflatable plastic tent. In one scene, a Templar fires an explosive charge at Scorpion, which sticks to his driver's side door. Unfazed, Scorpion presses a button on his dash, which causes the door to eject from the vehicle, fly back at the Templar, and blow HIM up. Scorpion is that cool.
The movie even has it's own version of Road Warrior's Feral Kid, although he uses a slingshot rather than a boomerang for defense. Lord Humungus is here too, but rather than wearing a hockey mask and spiked gauntlets, he wears a white pantsuit, rocks a pompadour/sweet 80's buttrock crossover haircut, and bears an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie in Labyrinth (below). Pure innovation. Pure Barbarians.
And now, the awards ceremony:
Best Soundtrack: Claudio Simonetti, The New Barbarians.
Best Costumes: The New Barbarians.
Best Hair: The New Barbarians.
Best Death Scene Involving A Guy Getting His Head Caught In The Wheel Well Of A Moving Vehicle: The New Barbarians.
Best Scene Involving A Decapitated Torso Driving A Motorcycle: The New Barbarians.
Best "Post-Apocalyptic" Vehicles: The New Barbarians.
Best Golden Codpiece: Fred Williamson, The New Barbarians.
Best Skinny Hipster Headband On An Action Star: Fred Williamson, The New Barbarians.
Best Arrowhead-To-The-Neck-Resulting-In-An-Expolding-Head: Sylvester Stallone, Rambo. Just kidding. Fred Williamson, The New Barbarians.
You can get The New Barbarians on Netflix, but you'll have to wait until I'M done with it. And it might be awhile.