One of cult Italian film director Enzo G. Castellari's post apocalyptic films. It is the year 2019 and 15 years after a nuclear war. The world is now run by gangs of human predators who behave like wolves and carnivorous criminals. But a band of survivors discover distant radio signals that give them hope: could there be a part of the world on which other humans live and can they get there before the mutants get to them?
"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!"
What do you do when you have a stable of dedicated actors, a lot of prop guns, and access to some of the weirdest looking costumes and a convoy of souped-up weaponized golf carts? You make a low budget knock off of 'The Road Warrior' that's what you do! Stalwart filmmaker Enzo G. Castellari is at it again working as Co-Writer and Director for 'The New Barbarians' - a post apocalyptic tale of mercenaries with laser guns, ladies with gigantic hair, and cars that have been retrofitted with popomatics just in case someone wanted to play a life-sized game of Trouble!
After the nuclear holocaust has decimated the world, survivors are doing all that they can to survive and rebuild society. They travel in small convoys, desperately hoping to find the last bastions of the old world so things can go back to the way they were. Patrolling the recently paved back roads of the wasteland is a group of religious fanatics known as the Templars. Lead by the sadistic One (George Eastman) and his right hand man Shadow (Ennio Girolami), together they lead an army of men dedicated to the cause of eradicating all human life from the face of the earth, because that seems like a sensible thing to do after nuclear war. These madmen drive their super fast golf carts that have been modified with spinning blades, long spears, and rockets to kill everyone they encounter.
Living a nomadic existence is the taciturn Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete) who drives around in his bubble-domed car. Scorpion is a man who would sooner live life in solitude if only people like the Templars would just leave him alone. As a former Templar himself, Scorpion is in a pseudo love/hate relationship with One. One believes he can turn Scorpion back to the cause, and Scorpion would just as soon shove the barrel of his heat gun down One's throat and pull the trigger. After a recent Templar raid, Scorpion encounters the beautiful but wounded Alma (Anna Kanakis). She and her now massacred clan recently received a radio signal from a nearby civilized outpost. Before Scorpion can get her and help another band of refugees reach this new civilized land, he encounters more trouble from One and the Templars. Along with his gold-spangled archer friend Nadir (Fred Williamson) and his slingshot toting child mechanic, Scorpion will have to wage all out war against the templars and put an end to their crusade of blood and death.
The right words are hard to find when describing a movie like 'The New Barbarians.' I simply want to sit here and write "Wow" over and over again with more than a few exclamation points tossed in to get the idea across. This is simply one of the craziest, strangest, most over-the-top acton sci-fi movies I've seen in a long while. Enzo G. Castellari along with Co-Writer Tito Carpi - who also scripted 'Tentacles' - took the idea of a desolate society found in 'The Road Warrior' and ran with it to the point of absolute absurdity. Some of you guys and gals out there may be more familiar with this movie under the alternate title 'Warriors of the Wasteland' which was nicely riffed to hell and gone by the good guys at Rifftrax. This movie lives in the world of "so bad it's amazing." It's hard to praise the story because there really isn't much of one when you get right down to it, or at least not one that makes sense. Why do the Templars kill everyone? Not for goods or vehicles or weapons - but because they believe they're tasked to wipe out humanity by God… maybe? It's never exactly explained how One found his life's journey, or why exactly anyone bothers to follow the lunatic, but to each their own. Why does Scorpion live as a reclusive nomad but has no hesitation to help those in need? I guess it's part of his conflicting nature. Why is Nadir covered in bright shiny gold? Because he looks awesome!
'The New Barbarians' is one of those movies that if you spent too much time thinking about it your head may end up like so many in this film and simply explode, sending what's left of your dome sailing fifty feet into the air. Part of what makes this movie so much fun is the absolutely insane production design. I would have loved to have been a part of the team for this film. You've got vehicles with gigantic screwdrivers, rockets, spears, and spinning blades of death that are designed to chop the heads off of conveniently placed mannequins.Then you have the cod pieces. I don't know who thought this looked cool, but they went to town with it. How any of the guys can walk, let alone run is a complete mystery to me, not that I really want to know the answer to that, some things are better left unknown so as to not spoil the fun.
Is this a good movie? No. Not really. That probably doesn't make much sense considering the score I'm giving the movie, but when it comes right down to it, I'm grading this beast on the simple merits that it along with it's cousins '1990: The Bronx Warriors' and its sequel 'Escape From The Bronx' are some of the most entertaining movies out there. Again, 'The New Barbarians' is hardly a great movie in the world of story structure and performances - but it is a darn good way to spend 90 minutes if you're willing to let yourself get a kick out of the thing. And if you have the two 'Bronx' movies - it's the perfect complement to those flicks. This movie had my wife and I laughing our heads off and hooting with joy at every wildly crazy death. I encourage anyone that loves exploitation cinema to give this one a go.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Blue Underground brings 'The New Barbarians' to Blu-ray pressed on an all regions BD25 disc. Along with the Blu-ray is a an identical DVD offering the same bonus content in standard definition. Both discs are housed in a 2 disc Blu-ray case with reversible artwork listing the chapter stops through the transparent blue plastic. The Blu-ray opens to an animated main menu offering scenes and music from the film.
Considering my previous experience with 'The New Barbarians' was a shoddy import DVD and the Rifftrax VOD release, I was absolutely blown away by the image clarity and overall quality of this 2.35:1 1080p transfer. With fine film grain retained and present, detail levels are absolutely fantastic for much of the film. There are a few soft scenes here and there, but that seems to be due to an abundance of shots that were later processed for optical zooms. Thankfully those shots are few and far between. Colors have a beautiful pop to them as they leap off the screen. Flesh tones are equally impressive and stable as performers don't appear too pink or too pale. Likewise black levels and shadow separations are in fine shape with only minimal crush. I didn't spot any kind of ringing, edge halos or banding of any sort making this a pretty impressive transfer.
'The New Barbarians' kicks its DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track into high gear and runs wild with it. From the strange opening credit sequence to the closing shots, this movie is a flurry of sounds. The score by Claudio Simonetti is an absolute gas and comes through with amazing clarity, as does dialogue and the cheesy sound effects. This audio track is almost too good for this movie - especially since the sound effects add a lot to the goofy laugh-inducing nature of the film. Levels are in fine shape - I never had to adjust the volume to compensate for sudden spikes or lulls. Imaging is also pretty decent since the sound mix was entirely made in post production it gets a lot of movement for a mono track. Also fun is seeing some of the same faces from '1990: The Bronx Warriors' and 'Escape From The Bronx' but with new voices. All of these elements adds to the flavor of this amazing piece of cinema.
Audio Commentary: Co-Writer and Director Enzo G. Castellari and Enzo's son Andrea Castellari with David Gregory moderating - This commentary is just as lively, entertaining, and informative as the one for '1990: The Bronx Warriors.' Castellari even jokes about the cheap budget stating it was made for $120. The guy is awesome.
Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation Part 2: (HD 13:55) The conversation pretty much picks up exactly where they left off with Part 1 found on the '1990: The Bronx Warriors' disc. Again, this is a ton of fun and a blast to see these guys talk shop.
Tales of The Hammer - Interview with Star Fred Williamson: (HD 20:22) Fred Williamson is just one cool dude and it's awesome to hear him talk about is NFL career, how he got the nick name "The Hammer" and his transition to acting in movies.
International Trailer: (HD 3:25)
Italian Trailer: (HD 3:26)
International 1990: The Bronx Warriors Trailer: (HD 2:42)
Escape From The Bronx Trailer: (HD 3:15)
When you watch a totally goofy movie that is just a blast from start to finish, it's hard not to tell the world about it. like the 'Bronx' movies, 'The New Barbarians' is not exactly a movie for everyone, but for people that just like to kick back and have fun, it doesn't get much better. This is a total and complete "Pizza and Beer" movie - so grab all of your best friends and enjoy. New audiences and fans should be very happy with the strong A/V presentation and the impressive swath of extras on this Blu-ray disc from Blue Underground. Highly recommended.