Film Review: The New Barbarians (1983)

Also known as: Warriors of the Wasteland (alternate), Metropolis 2000 (West Germany)
Release Date: June 10th, 1983 (West Germany)
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Written by: Tito Capri, Enzo G. Castellari
Music by: Claudio Simonetti
Cast: Fred Williamson, Giancarlo Prete, George Eastman

Deaf International, 91 Minutes

Review:

“The world is dead. It raped itself. But I’ll purify it with blood! No one is innocent! But only we, the Templars, are the ministers of revenge!” – One

Between 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape From the Bronx, Enzo G. Castellari made this terrifically badass flick. And like 1990: The Bronx Warriors, this film stars Fred Williamson in a supporting but show stealing role.

This is one of ten dozen Mad Max ripoffs but the post-apocalyptic genre of film was at its height in the ’80s thanks to the surprise success of Mad Max. There were ripoffs galore, some good, some atrocious, but some of them at least brought something new to the table. I can’t call this a good film but I like it a lot because it takes an oversaturated formula and gives it some sweet style.

The Italians could have really taken what they did with spaghetti westerns and started a whole spaghetti apocalypse trend. While they made films like this, as this is one of them, they never quite took off like the spaghetti western trend in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Enzo G. Castellari really made his mark in spaghetti westerns and dabbled in some horror. The two really prepared him for making post-apocalyptic movies, as they share similar qualities: barren wastelands, gunslingers, violence and terror. And hell, trade out the horses for motorcycles and you’ve got a spaghetti apocalypse movie, as I call these pictures.

The New Barbarians or Warriors of the Wasteland, as it is also called, is an energetic and engaging picture for what it is. It wasn’t intended to be a game changer or exceptional, it was just made to cash in on a genre craze but still had enough of its own originality and style to stand apart from its primary influences.

Castellari was the master of these sort of films and The New Barbarians just solidifies that. It is well executed with awesomely shoddy effects and surreal action. It has weird dialogue, weird characters and weird costumes. It’s like some sort of bizarre European post-apocalyptic themed fashion show from the ’80s. I don’t really know how else to sum it up in a single sentence.

This film, along with Castellari’s Bronx movies sort of form an unofficial trilogy in my mind. They have similar themes, similar style and are cool to experience. This is a better film than the two Bronx movies: slightly beating out the first and completely surpassing the second, which actually isn’t very good.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape From the Bronx. It also has a lot of similarities to the more modern film Turbo Kid.

Film Review: Keoma (1976)

Also known as: Django Rides Again, Django Returns (both US informal titles), Desperado (US cut version), Keoma: The Avenger (US dubbed version), Coolman Keoma (West Germany video title)
Release Date: November 25th, 1976 (Italy
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Written by: Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, Luigi Montefiori, Enzo G. Castellari, Joshua Sinclair (dialogue – uncredited)
Music by: Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
Cast: Franco Nero, William Berger, Olga Karlatos, Woody Strode

Uranos Cinematografica, Far International Films, 101 Minutes (original), 85 Minutes (US cut version)

Review:

“I need to find out who I am. To give the simplest of my actions a reason. I know by being in this world has some significance, but I’m afraid that when I found out what it is, it will be too late. In the meantime, I’m a vagabond. I keep traveling. Even when the earth sleeps, I keep traveling… chasing shadows.” – Keoma

Who doesn’t want to watch a movie where Franco Nero and his chiseled visage and dreamy eyes take on the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth as a badass gunslinger? Okay, he isn’t Jesus of Nazareth, he is Keoma, but damn, he looks like some sort of spaghetti western Messiah here to save us from mundane and derivative spaghetti schlock. I mean, it’s like Jesus and the original Django had a baby and gave him tight pants, a cool hat and some big guns. Never has a man looked so manly, so pretty and exuded some sort of mystical sexual fire by simply standing within the frame of scratchy and grainy celluloid.

I’ll admit, I have never seen Keoma, even though I am a big fan of Nero and spaghetti westerns. Now that I have, it is pretty high up on my list of Nero gunslinger pictures. Man, he is so damn good in this and his gaze is chilling when he needs to communicate that he’s coming for your ass. Franco Nero just has a presence and never has that presence been as strong as it is here, even if he isn’t spraying down dozens of evil soldiers with a giant Gatling gun yanked out of a casket.

The film is directed by Enzo G. Castellari, a guy not necessarily known for quality but known for having a real sense of style and accomplishing a lot with very little. The man made magic with the 1978 film The Inglorious Bastards, a film that inspired Quentin Tarantino to “borrow” its title. He also did the extremely low budget but impressive 1990: Bronx Warriors, a sort of Italian ripoff of Walter Hill’s classic The Warriors.

Keoma is damn good for what it is. It isn’t just a throwaway spaghetti western in a sea of similar films. It is ballsy and gritty and showcases the great Franco Nero in his best kind of role. It is also one of the best films Enzo G. Castellari ever directed.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Escape 2000 (1983)

Also known as: Escape From the Bronx, Bronx Warriors 2 (UK)
Release Date: August 15th, 1983 (Italy)
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Written by: Enzo G. Castellari, Tito Carpi
Music by: Francesco de Masi
Cast: Mark Gregory, Henry Silva, Valeria D’Obici, Timothy Brent

New Line Cinema, 82 Minutes

Review:

This film is a sequel to 1990: Bronx Warriors but I saw this one first and never realized that there was a movie before it. Initially, I saw this in the 1990s on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Compared to its predecessor, this film is pretty bad. While 1990: Bronx Warriors wasn’t a masterpiece in any way, it had more character, more charm and Fred F’n Williamson! Escape 2000 just has the kid that played Trash in the first movie. He returns to be the top star of this one.

Again, Italy is a stand-in for the Bronx and it is obvious that we aren’t looking at one of the boroughs of New York City. At least in the previous movie, this was hidden a bit better.

The acting is not good, the action is a bit chintzy and the overall cinematography is dirty and ugly.

The first film had all these colorful gangs, similar to those in Walter Hill’s The Warriors. In this, we get government thugs in silver jumpsuits that drive ice cream trucks. It is a huge step down from a creativity standpoint.

Escape 2000 is like a poor ripoff of 1990: Bronx Warriors, which itself was a ripoff of The Warriors and Escape From New York. The further down the ripoff rabbit hole you go, the worse the quality gets. It’s like copying an old VHS tape over and over again; each generation loses its quality. While this doesn’t make for a good film, it does make for a good episode of MST3K.

And does it deserve to be put through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Oh, yes! Let’s see here… the results read, “Type 2 Stool: Sausage-shaped but lumpy.”

Rating: 3.5/10

 

Film Review: 1990: Bronx Warriors (1982)

Also known as: 1990: I guerrieri del Bronx (Italy)
Release Date: November 17th, 1982 (Italy)
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
Written by: Dardano Sacchetti, Elisa Livia Briganti, Enzo G. Castellari
Music by: Walter Rizzati
Cast: Vic Morrow, Christopher Connelly, Fred Williamson, Mark Gregory

Deaf Internacional Film SrL, United Film Distribution Company (UFDC), 89 Minutes

Review:

What happens when you mix Walter Hill’s classic The Warriors with John Carpenter’s phenomenal Escape From New York and have the Italians make it? The answer: 1990: Bronx Warriors or as the Italians called it 1990: I guerrieri del Bronx.

While this ripoff is not a great movie, it is still a pretty entertaining way to spend an hour and a half. Plus, it has Fred Williamson in it and I’ll watch that guy crack skulls until the end of time.

The weakest part of this film though, is the villains. You have this pair of baddies who ride around in a yellow semi together. Their names are Hotdog and Hammer, I shit you not. Hotdog is apprehensive about his villany, while Hammer is just an evil prick hellbent on being an evil prick.

The film is full of really fantastical and gimmicky gangs like The Warriors. We have the Riders, who are basically the Warriors on motorcycles. Then you have a roller hockey gang that are similar to the Baseball Furies from The Warriors. There are the Tigers who are dressed like pimps wearing face paint. There’s a gang that wears bowler hats and dances around like Taco in the “Puttin’ On The Ritz” video. There is some neanderthal caveman gang that lives in the sewers. There are probably some others too but these are the ones that stick out. There’s also a cool drunk hobo.

The plot of this thing sees a rich white girl cross the bridge into the Bronx, which the government has declared “No Man’s Land”. It is a lawless zone run by gangs, who each take their turf really seriously. The girl hooks up with a dude named Trash, who is the leader of the Riders. The rest of the plot is confusing but the girl is set to inherit a billion dollar corporation and is on the run. The hockey gang kidnaps her, the Riders team up with Fred Williamson’s Tigers and decide to raise hell. Hotdog and Hammer are trying to kill everything, well mostly just Hammer as Hotdog wants out of the arrangement.

There is not as much action as you would hope but when the action gets going, it’s pretty solid stuff. Fred Williamson decapitates some punk ass thug at one point, which is the violent highlight of the film.

1990: Bronx Warriors is a good time killer. It’s nowhere near as great as the films it rips off but it is a nice Italian homage to them. And again, it has Fred Williamson in it.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: Unofficial ‘Django’ Sequels, Part I (1966, 1967, 1968)

The original Django was an enormous success in 1966. It opened a lot of doors for its star Franco Nero and its director Sergio Corbucci. The film also inspired unofficial sequels to be created by a multitude of studios because copyrights in Europe back then weren’t as strict as they are in the United States.

There are forty-six Django films listed on his character page on Wikipedia. Most of those are lost to time. A dozen and a half or so, are still out there on streaming services, DVD or VHS – if you can track them down. Some are free on YouTube. Anyway, I’m trying to see as many of them as I can.

Some actually feature the character of Django and some just use his name in the title due to its popularity, even though the character isn’t in the film.

As I watch these films, I will review a few at a time. They won’t necessarily be in chronological order, as that doesn’t matter anyway, as none of these films are really connected to each other apart from a word in their titles.

A Few Dollars For Django (1966):

Also known as: Pochi dollari per Django (Italy)
Release Date: September 9th, 1966 (Italy)
Directed by: Leon Klimovsky, Enzo G. Castellari
Written by: Manuel Sebares, Tito Capri
Music by: Carlo Savina
Cast: Anthony Steffen, Gloria Osuna, Thomas Moore, Frank Wolff

Marco Film, R.C. Pictures, R.M. Films, Italcid, 85 Minutes

few_dollars_for_djangoReview:

This was the first unofficial sequel to Django. It actually came out the same year, as did a half dozen other Django films. All of them were most likely made before the release of the original film and then altered their titles to jump on the success bandwagon.

The main character in this film isn’t even Django, it is a character named Regan. He has a Django-esque quality to his character though. The opening sequence is pretty cool and you do see similarities between Regan and the Django character in their style.

Anthony Steffen plays Regan and he would go on to be in other Django ripoffs.

For the most part though, this film is really mediocre. It is pretty average in its story, in its acting and in its style. It is more green than the real Django film, as it doesn’t take place in a desolate location. The setting within the film is supposed to be Montana.

It is happier in tone overall and the action is better than average but there just isn’t a lot to make it anywhere as worthwhile as the original film it steals its name from.

It is still a decent enough spaghetti western to enjoy for an hour and a half on a rainy day.

Rating: 6/10

Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967):

Also known as: Se sei vivo spara, lit. If You Live Shoot (Italy), Oro Hondo, Django Kill!
Release Date: May 3rd, 1967 (Italy)
Directed by: Giulio Questi
Written by: Franco Arcalli, Giulio Questi, Benedetto Benedetti, Maria del Carmen, Martinez Roman
Music by: Ivan Vandor
Cast: Tomas Milian, Marilu Tolo, Roberto Camardiel, Piero Lulli, Milo Quesada, Paco Sanz, Raymond Lovelock, Patrizia Valturri

GIA Societa Cinematografica, Hispamer Films, Trose Trading Film, Titanus Distribuzione, 117 Minutes

django_kill_if_you_live_shootReview:

This film is pretty damned good, even though Django is missing and the main character looks nothing like him. It is one of a few of these unofficial sequels to feature a main character called The Stranger – played by the awesome Tomas Milian in this one.

The film is full of awesome spaghetti western ultraviolence and trippy editing. It is fast paced, out of control and amazing.

It is an insanely gritty film that captures the best elements of the spaghetti western genre. It probably would have benefited more in not taking the Django name and instead, stood on its own two feet. It is a cult classic in its own right but it could’ve eclipsed cult status if it hadn’t sold itself as a generic rehash of things we’ve already seen.

This film is beautiful in its execution of violence. It may be the most violent spaghetti western I have seen. It isn’t offensive however, it is an artistic symphony of bullets and testosterone.

I absolutely love this movie.

Rating: 9/10

Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968):

Also known as: Preparati la bara!, lit. Prepare the Coffin! (Italy), Viva Django
Release Date: January 27th, 1968 (Italy)
Directed by: Ferdinando Baldi
Written by: Franco Rossetti, Ferdinando Baldi
Music by: Gianfranco Reverberi, Giampiero Rverberi
Cast: Terence Hill, Horst Frank, George Eastman, Pinuccio Ardia, Lee Burton, Jose Torres

B.R.C. Produzione S.r.l., Titanus Distribuzione, 92 Minutes

django_prepare_a_coffinReview:

This is also commonly called Viva Django! but there is also another film called that as well.

This 1968 unofficial sequel at least attempts to be a sequel. Terence Hill plays Django and he looks eerily similar to Franco Nero. He has the stunning eyes, the chiseled jawline, the stubble and the same costume and big gun. It is also a fantastic film all on its own. While it is an unofficial sequel, this could have been official and no one would have batted an eye. Hill is just perfect in this picture.

This film has some good plot twists and wonderful action. It also features the return of Django’s big gun from the coffin in one of the best spaghetti western action climaxes I have ever seen. It is on par with the final graveyard battle of the original Django with the ante upped to a ridiculous level.

The film also has an amazing theme song on par with the classic tune that was featured in the original film.

Like the film I discussed before this one, I absolutely love this movie.

Rating: 9/10