The New Barbarians (1983)

NewBarbariansPosterYou can tell by checking out the crotch of the guy running around shooting and/or stabbing people whether your world has slipped into barbarism or not. If he’s just got some jeans on, you’re okay. He’s probably just some disenfranchised loner who hates women or the federal government. But if he’s wearing leather pants or worse, spandex drawers, with a codpiece attached to the outside of them, then you’ve gone and slipped into a world gone mad where the most prized possession is a fertile woman and the only rule is survival!

A guy named One leads a group of bad guys called the Templars. One is characterized (as are many of the actors in this film) by his really bad wig (a lifeless, zebra striped thing) and his insane desire to wipe everyone who isn’t in his gang off the face of the earth. He’s also prone to making strange comments after battles such as “the earth raped itself” in a clumsy way to explain his philosophy of life.

One has an arch rival named Scorpion. Scorpion is a middle aged guy with a graying perm who drives around the dirt piles in his souped-up black Dodge Charger.

Scorpion explains his motivations to the Templars by saying that even though he drives around in a bitching car blowing stuff up and killing people, he’s different than them because he wants to live! Then he drives off with some broad he picked up and actually puts in some cruddy looking microchip thing that must have been the post-apocalyptic equivalent of an eight track tape of Bread.

This brings to mind another lesson I learned along with the codpiece thing about life in the radioactive wasteland: it’s a car customizer’s dream! Throughout the movie, Scorpion is cruising around, spinning out and hitting some button or other on his car’s control panel causing something exciting to happen.

There was the way he could open his doors for the ladies with just a touch of one of the studs, the way he could send the door flying off in the direction of the bad guys when the same bad guys attach a mine to it, and of course the obligatory trunk rocket launcher that every seven year old boy always draws on his dream car.

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There was also the drill mounted on the front of the car that ended up impaling One during the climatic car chase and considering the indignity that One had visited upon Scorpion earlier it was probably supposed to be poetic justice, but came off as just the overreaction of a psycho ex-boyfriend. (Who knew that Scorpion didn’t want to be sodomized in front of the rest of the Templars?)

Perhaps not surprisingly, another survivor of the apocalypse is Bobby, the sissy-voiced kid in The House by the Cemetery, as Scorpion’s mechanic! Obviously recognizing that a ten year-old mechanic in a barbaric wasteland is going to have seen a lot of stuff a punk kid that lives by some cruddy cemetery could never imagine (like Fred “The Hammer” Williamson in a codpiece), Bobby adopts a deeper, gruffer sounding dubbed voice that really gets his character over as the handy man all of us would like detailing our rigs and outfitting our sleds for 21st century vehicle combat.

Bobby isn’t just an ace mechanic though, he’s also an expert marksman with a slingshot! I wasn’t sure what he was slinging at the Templars, but he managed to take several of them out during the final battle when he, Scorpion, and the Hammer all teamed up to wipe them out once and for all.

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Where you could recommend the similarly-themed 2019: After the Fall of New York for its kaleidoscope of rapidly shifting stupid ideas, you can’t really say the same for The New Barbarians.

There is a nice opening shot of some skeletons in military outfits and helmets laying on a hill top and it pulls back to reveal a vast panorama of wilderness that actually gives you the eerie sense of emptiness such a disaster would surely evoke.

Unfortunately, the silence is soon shattered by the revving of dune buggies and dirt bikes, all painted a cheap looking silver and the Templars roll up on some civilians and engage them in a ten minute long battle that involves a record-setting amount of guys flying through the air in slow motion following explosions of varying degrees.

None of this though sets the scene as to who the bad guys are, what type of societal structure now exists or even introduces a hero with a mission of some sort. Scorpion does appear, but there is no real explanation of what he is doing there or why he continues to hang around the area with the Templars. There is some brief mention of how he beat One once in the past, but that’s never fleshed out and the remainder of the film is just a series of encounters between Scorpion and the Templars with no point beyond them trying to blow each other up.

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Director Enzo Castellari (Eagles Over London) also tries to recreate his spaghetti western days in a few scenes like when Scorpion appears through the licking flames for his final encounter with One and has somehow acquired a brown poncho instead of the ugly winter coat he had been sporting.

The scene is laughable, but the real laughs are yet to come when Scorpion throws off his poncho to reveal the see-through fiberglass and bulletproof armor he is wearing over his bare chest!

Three or four solidly funny moments, but the poor and repetitive stunt work coupled with the poor and repetitive synthesizer score by Claudio Simonetti and the pointless antics of all involved make this one to avoid like you would a horny biker in a two-toned wig.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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