Fred Williamson and the Templars of Doom
Italian Post-Apocalyptic Mayhem… Oh, how those words sound like music to my ears. Undisputed champions, as they are, in ripping off every possible succesful foreign genre known to mankind, Italians can truly claim the title of being the uncrowned kings of 80′s Post-Nuke sci-fi/action fodder. Once again the end of the world is nigh, and these warriors of the Italian wastelands perfectly illustrate just how insane things can get…
First off: If you’re planning on seeing this film (you better -- it’s a must-see!), make sure you go for the version entitled THE NEW BARBARIANS. This most recent dvd release has the film restored and is the 16:9 widescreen transfer. Try to avoid the cheapo dvd edition called WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND (cover is shown on the right), as that version is cropped to hell. I saw it prior to the new screening at Offscreen Film Festival and this old 4:3 version has most shots in the movie often zoomed-in too closely on the action (whether the action be just people talking or cars crashing into something; doesn’t matter). Resulting often in the viewer feeling the urge to try and look left or right of the TV-screen to see more of the action. But of course, the viewer then finds himself, very annoyingly, staring at his TV-speakers. Also, you’ll “enjoy” George Eastman’s sodomizing scene a bit more in the new, more polished dvd version. Though both versions of the scene appear to be the same and uncut, it’s easier to tell what’s going on in the 16:9 version. Unless, of course, you really don’t want to know what exactly is going on. So you’ve got an option here.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s my initial review from when I first saw the WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND dvd, as it still perfectly captures my enthusiasm and amazement right after my first time viewing of…
****CAUTION: This review is Rated R*** (because of: offensive language, mild drug references, exaggerated violence, a soft erotic sex-scene not mentioned in the review, idiotic nonsense)
What can I say? To give you a good idea of what this movie is all about, I’ll try to make my comments as pointless as the movie itself. The plot? There is none. But there is a premise: In 2019 the Nuclear Apocalypse has happened. The Templars are a group of violent nutcases driving modified ‘futuristic’ looking cars that would make the vehicles in turn around by themselves, drive to the nearest Nuke & Repair Auto-shop and go into hiding until this film is over. The Templars’ wardrobe and hairdo’s are a nightmare to every designer with at least a single notion of good taste, or (depends on the way you look at it) a dream-come-true to fashion-experts high on Swedish designer-drugs. The Templars simply look that hilarious. You won’t believe your eyes!
The Templars are on a mission, apparently… A simple mission at that too: This world is dead. So, accordingly, everybody in it must die too (except themselves, of course).
The characters in I NUOVI BARBARI have all remarkable, profound-sounding names (like Scorpion, Shadow, Father Moses, One, Nadir,…). Scorpion is the loner-hero. As much as the Templars have no reason for killing everybody, Scorpion has absolutely no reason for being a hero. As well as Fred Williamson has no reason to be in this flick. All he does is drive around in his amazing buggy, give Scorpion some sort of Jedi-like training during his revalidation and shoot explosive arrows (and boy, do they go “booom!” indeed).
Now, it has been a while since I had so much fun with a very wrong movie like I NUOVI BARBARI. Most of the movie consists of superb (?) action-sequences of the Templars driving and crashing their cars. With a lot of amazing (?) , but utterly pointless slow-motion shots.
The two main attractions of this movie are:
#1 -- The cars: The vehicle’s designs are simply mind-boggling. I can not put it any other way. Most of them even have very vicious ‘boobie-traps’, such like: grenade-launchers, ultra-long drills coming out of the front-grid, car-doors that launch themselves and explode on impact, flame-throwers (of course) and my personal favorite: a circular saw, expanding from the side of the car which decapitates innocent civilians running for their lives.
#2 -- Claudio Simonetti‘s completely warped musical score: I have simply no idea on how he did it, but he came up with the most spaced-out compositions I’ve ever heard from the man. It sounds like he might have dropped some extremely nasty LSD and then went nuts on his Korg Analog Sequencer. I tell you: this is a milestone in Soundtrack History. Echo’s of Pierre Henry‘s pioneers-work in electronic music can be heard in Simonetti‘s score. As well as sounds and bleeps still used by nowadays electro-acts like Tosca and Autechre (just to drop a few names). His score is motivationally groovy, pulsatingly warped, hauntingly electronic, strangely rocking and almost unbearably dripping with 80′s cheese. And will you just please listen to the many completely unworldly sound-effects? Simply every machine or electronic device (from the cars over the guns to broadcasting equipment) makes completely undefinable noises. I will go on a frantic quest in search for this soundtrack on CD. Simply must have it!
Other highlights of this movie are undoubtedly the many various ways to blow people up (often in slow-motion too): Full body-explosions. Head-explosions. Chest-explosions,… One scene even has a guy riding a motorcycle with his head blown off for several seconds! And then there’s this one incomprehensible torture-scene: The Templars have captured Scorpion and they’re gonna make him die like a Templar. He’s hanging in chains on some metal device. Then, George Eastman lashes out with a piece of shattered glass at Scorpion’s butt, effectively removing his pants with it. Then it looks like he is opening his pants (!) ready to give him the ass-fuck of his life (!!) while some other prominent Templar is holding Scorpion down using rope attached to a transparant handle made out of plastic (!!!). I mean, what the hell $@%#?!?! Only, it’s a bit hard to tell what is going on in that scene, because the editor starts cutting up every shot with strangely framed pointless shots while Simonetti‘s wildly psychedelic sounds come on again. I had no clue what the hell was going on there, at first (or I had a hard time believing it, is more like it) until it was over and done with… Did I just see this?
To wrap it up with a final message this film seems to be carrying: Drugs are bad, okay? I don’t know if George Eastman‘s character’s superior visions initially came from using drugs too much, or his megalomaniac ramblings were already there to begin with, and they simply got enhanced by doing the stuff. One scene has him smoking the (probably radio-active) green herbs while getting even more high on himself, listening to (what I presume to be) his own recorded voice (on a tape, in the year 2019) declaring nonsensical philosophies. You just gotta dig that. Simply hilarious, again.
My final judgment:
Was this a fun flick? Hell yes, baby!!! Dig it, or don’t! 8/10
Was it a good movie? Geeezz… What do ya think? 2/10
That leaves us with an average rating of 5/10.
Way to go Enzo G. Castellari!
Trailer (or, the short version of the complete film, basically):
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