Sunday, August 27, 2017

#2,413. The New Barbarians (1983)

Directed By: Enzo G. Castellari

Starring: Giancarlo Prete, Fred Williamson, George Eastman

Tag line: "Dealers in death... exterminators of the 21st century..."

Trivia: Riffed by the guys from MST3K, Bill Corbett, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy

The New Barbarians, aka Warriors of the Wasteland, is director Enzo Castellari’s take on George Miller’s The Road Warrior, but in the end there are too many lulls in the action for it to be an effective knock-off of that 1981 classic.

Years have passed since the world was devastated by nuclear war. Patches of survivors make their way across the wasteland, doing what they can to avoid a roaming gang of killers known as The Templars. One (George Eastman), the leader of the Templars, has sworn to finish the job that God (and the bombs) started by stamping out humanity wherever he finds it. Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete) was himself once a member of the Templars, but is now their worst enemy. With the help of his souped-up car, Scorpion stays as far away from his former pals as he can, and every so often he even tries to stop the group from committing further atrocities.

In fact, Scorpion just recently rescued Alma (Anna Kanakis), a pretty young lady who had been captured by the Templars, and along with his his friend Nadir (Fred Williamson) he promises to keep both her and her peaceful band of religious survivors safe from One and the others. But seeing as The Templars have access to some very fast vehicles (not to mention a huge arsenal), staying a step ahead of them isn’t going to be easy.

Appearance is everything when it comes to post-apocalyptic movies such as The New Barbarians; did the filmmakers manage to convince us that the world as we know it has come to an end? Castellari set the entire film in a wasteland of sorts, shooting in empty fields and old factories, and when you consider the limited funds he had at his disposal I’d say the director did, indeed, create a believable setting (though some of the street chases, when Scorpion is running from pursuing Templars, look as if they were shot on an airport runway).

Unfortunately, this is as good as The New Barbarians gets. Even for a low-budget movie, the costumes are cheesy (the Templars look like a pared-down version of the Storm troopers in Star Wars) as are the vehicles (Scorpion’s car is fairly ordinary save a large glass dome on the roof and some tubes jutting out of the hood). The action is also lacking; the movie opens well enough, with the Templars doing battle with a small collection of survivors, but for a post-apocalyptic action flick, The New Barbarians doesn’t generate nearly as much excitement as it should.

Throw in a very bizarre rape scene and a particularly hammy performance by Fred Williamson and you have what is easily one of the more forgettable ‘80s post-apocalyptic films. Castellari’s similarly-themed 1990: The Bronx Warriors was no classic, but I’d definitely recommend it over this movie.

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