Sunday, January 6, 2013

The New Barbarians (Enzo G. Castellari, 1983)

If your idea of paradise is a world where every car is equipped with a dome-shaped sunroof, then you my friend will love the future depicted in The New Barbarians (I Nuovi Barbari, a.k.a. Warriors of the Wasteland), yet another Italian post-apocalypse movie from Enzo G. Castellari (1990: The Bronx Warriors), as it has more dome-shaped sunroofs than Ontario Place. (I don't care if no-one knows what Ontario Place is, I've always wanted to make reference to it, and I feel this is the best opportunity to do so to come along in years.) Fine. If that reference means nothing to you, how about this: If your idea of paradise is a car that has an elongated drill installed under the hood for the sole purpose of lancing other vehicles in order to exact homoerotic comeuppance on your enemies, then you my friend are gonna love The New Barbarians, as it has more elongated drills than the men's room at a Village People concert. If, however, you're not into those things–which, even I'll admit, are things with a very limited appeal–I'm afraid you're going to be hunted down and exterminated by an unruly gang of bearded fancy boys who wear white whenever they damn well please. Speaking of fancy, who designed their outfits? Whose outfits? The Templars–you know, the bearded fancy boys. Anyway, as I was saying, the outfits worn by not only The Templars, a gang who want to punish humanity for allowing itself to be destroyed by atomic weapons by killing everyone who had the gall to survive, but almost every citizen of this rubble-strewn universe is making a bold fashion statement. It's true, your average nuclear holocaust can be murder on your wardrobe. And I'm sure the most common question asked in this post-nuke realm is: Do these torn rags go with these hole-ridden shoes? Yet, looking at the people who kill and get killed in this movie, I don't think that question is asked very often.    
I know what you're thinking, how hard is it to scrounge around dilapidated sports stadiums to find old football pads? Yeah, but, you see, they don't wear discarded sports equipment in this film. The outfits they don are designer originals. Meaning, they were specifically made with the apocalypse in mind.
Okay, smart guy. How do The Templars, the self-proclaimed "ministers of revenge," who roam the wasteland in search of humans to exterminate, make their outfits? I mean, there are no lady Templars. Are you suggesting that a gang of  bearded men need a woman to make their outfits? In that, only a woman would know how to sew? Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. Well, did it ever occur to you that The Templars are all card carrying Friends of Dorothy? What does that mean? They're gay! And what do gay men do? They make outfits. 
Determined to destroy what's left of humanity after the nuclear holocaust of 2019, the movie opens with The Templars arriving at a camp filled with humans who seem just as determined to carry on living. This desire to live irks The Templars, who want to punish them. And the best way they can think of to do so is by killing them. Circling the wagons sort of speak, the humans try to hold off The Templars. But it's to no avail, there are too many of them. Swarming their makeshift base with armoured cars and motorcycle troops, The Templars make short work of their defenses. Lead by Shadow (Ennio Girolami), an overly blonde man with a large mane of hair that made him look like The Cowardly Lion from certain angles (and by "certain angles," I mean every angle), The Templars finish off the stragglers utilizing their weaponized vehicles; the aforementioned Shadow uses the flamethrower feature on his car to dispatch one straggler and Mako (Massimo Vanni), a black-bearded Templar with a purple Mohawk, uses a bladed fan attached to the side of his car to decapitate another straggler.
You know how I said Shadow was the leader of The Templars? It would seem that One (George Eastman) is their actual leader. I just assumed Shadow was in charge, because, well, he oozes leadership. And, like I said, he has that whole Cowardly Lion thing going on. I guess One doesn't take part in raids. Anyway, One rips a Bible in two and declares the world dead.
In the past, I've stated many of what I think are the benefits to living in a post-apocalyptic world. And, I won't lie, most of them involve fashion. You see, thanks to the wanton destruction, the fascists who run the fashion industry are longer in control of what people wear. That's right, people can wear whatever they want. Yeah, I know, The Templars seem just as fascistic as the people in the fashion industry; they all wear the exact same thing (a white leather jumpsuit with testicle-shaped shoulder pads). But I don't think The Templars are supposed to represent freedom of choice.
The so-called "freedom of choice onus" is actually placed squarely on the shoulders of a loner named Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete), who we meet as he's blowing away a bunch of "crazies" (ragged nomads who wear welding goggles) and an archer named Nadir (Fred Williamson), an unflappable badass who seems to act as Scorpion's guardian angel. Here's some free advice, if you don't want to get shot in the head by one of Nadir's explosive-tipped arrow, don't bring up the the whole guardian angel thing, as he seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't like to be known as a "guardian angel." Come to think of it, I wouldn't use the word "unflappable" to describe him either.
After being introduced to Scorpion's mechanic, oh, let's call him, Timmy (Giovanni Frezza), a little blonde kid who, as we'll soon find out, wields a sling-shot with deadly accuracy, we're back on the road with The Templars, who have spotted an armoured van filled, no doubt, with pesky humans. Piercing its armour with his trusty hood-mounted battering ram, Shadow proceeds to spray the inside of the van with hot flames. Two of the occupants jump from the flame-engulfed van. The male occupant is quickly taken care of by Shadow (say hello to my little phallic-shaped hood ornament friend), while Mako and his male companion decide to have little fun with the van's female occupant.
They may be on friendly terms with Dorothy, but The Templars seem to have it in for all women not named Dorothy. Huh? They don't like women. All right.. At any rate, just as Mako and his male companion are about have their way with Alma (Anna Kanakis), Scorpion steps in to save the day. Oh, and when say, "have their way with Alma," I didn't mean to imply that they were about to rape her. It's more likely that were going to torture her before eventually killing her. Now that I have cleared that up. A visibly frightened Alma, who is wearing red-tinted goggles and purple leather tights, stands between two armoured vehicles. And just as Scoprion and Mako were about to ram into each other, Shadow intervenes just in the nick of time. It would seem that Scorpion has a bit of a history with The Templars. I don't know what exactly occurred between them in the past, but apparently if anyone is going to kill Scorpion it's going to be One.
As Scorpion is driving Alma to safety (she feels comfortable enough with him that she removes her goggles), Mako is planning his revenge. I thought you said that One wants to be the one to kill Scorpion? Yeah, but that doesn't seem to stop Mako, who gathers up a small group of Templars, from acting on his own. Fans of Italian exploitation will probably notice that Frank von Kuegelgen provides the voice of Mako in the English language version of The New Barbarians; his distinctive voice can be heard in Cannibal Ferox, The House on the Edge of the Park (two films where Frank's voice is used by characters played by Giovanni Radice Lombardo) and Hell of the Living Dead. Confronting Scorpion in what looks like an abandoned quarry, Mako and his men attack him with their vehicles and energy weapons. Holy crap, did you see that fucking mannequin head come apart? (Every time a Templar loses his life, a mannequin explodes into a million pieces.) As expected, Scorpion takes care of business, with, of course, a little help from Fred Williamson.
The scene where Fred Williamson scopes Anna Kanakis' legs, which, like I said, are encased in purple leather, using the scope on his bow was one the film's few instances where heterosexual titillation was paid any sort of lip service.
As far as synth-friendly music goes, it's a whole 'nother story, as The New Barbarians is chock-full of synthy goodness. The film's score, composed by Claudio Simonetti, is a synth-lovers dream. Check out the synth flourish at around the hour and twenty-three minute mark, it will blow your mind; it occurs when Fred Williamson is stalking Templars with his trusty bow.
A glorified western where the villains have traded in their spurs for jumpsuits that make them look like sperm, The New Barbarians is your classic gay vs. straight battle. On one hand, Scorpion and Nadir want to have heterosexual intercourse with Anna Kanakis (2019: After the Fall of New York) and Iris Peynado (a dreamy-eyed wasteland resident with the wasteland's most robust side-ponytail), while The Templars want to have gay sex with each other. You could say, since the gays are depicted as the "bad guys," that the film could be construed as anti-gay. But how can any film be classified as "anti-gay" when it features a mildly chiseled man wearing see-through, gladiator-style plastic armour during the film's man-penetrating climax? Don't look at me, 'cause I don't know. All I know is that the film, while anti-gay at times, can turn pro-gay on a dime. Which, given the circumstances and time period in which the film was made, is the best we can hope for. And besides, the film ends with an interracial "gimme five," something you don't see much of nowadays. Which is a shame, really, as I love interracial gimme fives, interracial gimme tens, and, of course, interracial fist bumps.

 video uploaded by afguyd


  1. I am deeply enjoying all of this fashion-forward Italian post-apocalyptic splendor to kick off the new year.

    I do have a question about your new special "stockings and pantyhose" link: isn't that 90% of all films?

  2. The new year felt like the right time to unleash some, as you put it, "fashion-forward Italian post-apocalyptic splendor."

    Good one. No, I'd say it's more like, oh, let's say, 80%. Yeah, that's sounds right. ;)

  3. I've taken to calling this whole sub-genre of post-apocalyptic hoo-ha "Maxsploitation".

  4. So, Yums, I thought you'd might like to know that I took the Jeopardy! online test. :) If I get invited to the next round (not likely), I'll let you know.

    Yes, that EW cover is terrible--and I'm sooooo tired of NBC trying to make Smash happen--but when I flipped the magazine over, who is staring at me? Lena freaking Dunham. I can't stand her.

    I've been to Ontario Place! Not as often as Canada's Wonderland, though.

  5. @MarsHottentot: As far as naming hoo-has go, you can't go wrong with "Maxsploitation." Though, personally, I'm kinda partial to Melsploitation. ;)

    @Karim Amir: You're going to be on Jeopardy!, eh? What I mean is, it sounds like the wheels are in motion. Good luck. Ahh, I'm all nervous for some reason.

    They [the Smash ladies] look like mannequins dipped in wax.

    That pic of Dunham on back is super big if memory serves me correctly. You must have been horrified. Though, I would rather have pics of her than ads for cigarettes. I mean, cigarettes? What is this, 1962?

    Enough about that lame magazine, I was obsessed with Canada's Wonderland when I was, oh, I don't know, 12 years old or some shit like that. I wonder if the Minebuster is still operational... I wonder. Wait. Let me check... Yeah, baby. It says here that it's still operational.

  6. I think this one was copying the shoulder pad look from The Road Warrior, another film with post apocalyptic people who raided a football field to get their attire. :)

  7. I always wondered where or how a bunch of Australians were able to find all that American football and ice hockey equipment, as those two sports aren't that popular down under. Just kidding, I've never wondered that. ;)