aka WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND
(Italy - 1983; US release 1984)
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari. Written by Tito Carpi and Enzo Girolami (Enzo G. Castellari). Cast: Timothy Brent (Giancarlo Prete), Fred Williamson, George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori), Anna Kanakis, Thomas Moore (Enio Girolami), Venantino Venantini, Massimo Vanni, Giovanni Frezza, Iris Peynado, Andrea Coppola, Zora Kerova, Fulvio Mingozzi, Stefania Girolami, Paul Costello. (R, 91 mins)
Affectionately but often mistakenly considered by fans and historians to be part of the non-existent "BRONX WARRIORS trilogy," Enzo G. Castellari's THE NEW BARBARIANS is also the only actual ROAD WARRIOR-inspired post-nuke of the three films in question and has no relation to the other films aside from being directed by Castellari. It was shot between 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982) and ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX (1983), but rather than post-apocalyptic, the two BRONX films were closer in setting and tone to Walter Hill's THE WARRIORS (1979) and John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), with their then-futuristic setting (the sequel ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX takes place ten years after the events of 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS) perhaps misleading people into lumping it in with all the post-nukes being made at the time. THE NEW BARBARIANS was Castellari's only entry in the Italian post-nuke cycle, and while it features all the expected crazy cars and futuristic, rocket-launching dune buggies, post-nuke despots, nomadic heroes, and that same desert portraying the same scorched-earth wasteland, it also stands alone in its subgenre. Taking what others might use as a subtle subtext and bringing it to the forefront as a major plot point, THE NEW BARBARIANS is the CRUISING of Italian post-nuke ripoffs.
2019, several years after the nuclear holocaust, the world is a desert with scattered bands of survivors trying to rebuild and restart the human race. That doesn't work for One (Luigi Montefiori/George Eastman), the tyrannical leader of the Templars, the "high priests of death" and the "warriors of vengeance," a brutal, militarized squad of hilariously-coiffed psychos bent on making the living pay for the crime of being alive. It is One's goal that "the seed of man will be canceled forever from the face of the earth." It's telling that there's only men in the Templars, and that One's goal is zero population growth. Enter Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete, billed as "Timothy Brent" and looking like a post-apocalyptic Bert Convy), a nomadic warrior with a giant plastic bubble on top of his car. Scorpion tries to help a wandering group of survivors that includes Alma (Anna Kanakis of 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK), and gets help from two other post-nuke loner mercenaries, the tough-as-nails Nadir (Fred Williamson) and a fix-it-all kid mechanic (THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY's Giovanni Frezza) who also helps build a bullet-and-laser-proof body torso shield for Scorpion in his final battle against the Templars.
(Italy - 1983/US release 1985)
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari. Written by Tito Carpi and Enzo G. Castellari. Cast: Mark Gregory, Henry Silva, Valeria D'Obici, Antonio Sabato, Paolo Malco, Timothy Brent (Giancarlo Prete), Thomas Moore (Enio Girolami), Massimo Vanni, Alessandro Prete, Romano Puppo, Eva Czenerys, Andrea Coppola, Moana Pozzi, Carla Brait, Thomas Felleghy, Martin Sorrentino, James Sampson, Paul Costello. (R, 90 mins)
THE NEW BARBARIANS opened in Italy in July 1983 and it would be picked up by a pre-NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET New Line Cinema, who rechristened it with the much snappier WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND for its January 1984 release in US theaters. ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX was released in Italy in August 1983, just a month after THE NEW BARBARIANS, and like that film, New Line would also acquire it for the US, rolling it out in January 1985, minus some of the more excessive gore to secure an R rating. ESCAPE is an an enjoyable follow-up to BRONX WARRIORS, though it's not quite as good. Set in the year 2000, it involves a plot by an evil corporation overseen by Clark (Castellari's brother Enio Girolami, billed as "Thomas Moore") to gentrify the Bronx and relocate its denizens to lovely, scenic New Mexico. In truth, he's ordered armed "disinfesters" led by renegade cop Floyd Wangler (Henry Silva, in a slightly reworked version of Vic Morrow's Hammer the Exterminator from BRONX WARRIORS), to corral and exterminate the remaining residents. After his parents are killed, Trash (a returning Mark Gregory), who's now a nomadic warrior thanks to his entire gang being wiped out in the previous film, teams up with mercenary Strike (Giancarlo Prete), his dutiful son Strike Jr (Prete's son Alessandro), affable gang leader Dablone (Antonio Sabato), and crusading reporter Moon (Valeria D'Obici) to take on Clark, his ambitious second-in-command Hoffman (Paolo Malco), and mad dog Wangler, who spits coffee, berates everyone, and acts insane, because he's played by Henry Silva. Like its predecessor, ESCAPE isn't really a post-nuke outing, but everyone seems OK with letting them into the club. With less location shooting in the Bronx and more set work done at Cinecitta, ESCAPE is able to have a more dystopian feel than the urban war-zone immediacy of BRONX WARRIORS. Gregory was only 17 when BRONX WARRIORS was shot, and though it's just a year later, he looks a bit older and seems much more composed and comfortable compared to his awkward presence in the first film. ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX was featured on MST3K under the title ESCAPE 2000 (not to be confused with the Brian Trenchard-Smith film) and indeed has no shortage of amusing elements, from unconvincing miniatures to constant explosions to Silva's overacting to Trash's parents having a huge Mark Gregory-as-Trash poster adorning their living room wall.