New Barbarians, The (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)
Released by: Blue Underground
Released on: June 30th, 2015.
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Cast: Fred Williamson, Anna Kanakis, Timothy Brent, George Eastman, Venantino Venantini
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In 1981 when George Miller's Australian action classic The Road Warrior brought in some huge box office numbers worldwide, you know it was only a matter of time before the Italian cash-ins appeared. One of the more memorable films of the 'post nuke' genre was Enzo G. Castellari's I Nuovi Barbari, known better in English markets as The New Barbarians and as Warriors of the Wasteland in the U.S.
The story takes place in 2019, after the nuclear holocaust where a band of roaming cult members calling themselves The Templars are bent on destroying all of mankind. The Templars are wreaking havoc against pretty much anyone and everyone they come into contact with and are basically a scourge on what’s left of the Earth. Shortly after the high scale massacre of a band of nomads, we're introduced to Scorpion (Timothy Brent) – he’s waging a one-man war against the Templars as he drives around in his crazy bubble roofed car (if you've seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer designs his dream car, you'll have a good idea of what Scorpio's battle wagon looks like) with a skull on the front. Eventually he runs into a convoy of peaceful travelers and, after rescuing a pretty girl (Anna Kanakis) from some nasty Templars, he brings her to them for some desperately needed medical attention.
But when Scorpion is captured by the evil Templars and then surprisingly raped in the ass by their leader, One (George Eastman… the Anthropophagous himself! Ouch!!), it's all out war. Scorpion teams up with a nomadic archer named Nadir (played by Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson, a man who should need no introduction to anyone reading this site!) and a child mechanic (played by Giovanni Frezza, best known to gore-hounds as Bob from Lucio Fulci's classic, House By The Cemetery - possibly the worst child actor in history). He puts on his special plastic see-through bubble armor and heads into the wasteland to take down the bad guys and save the girl.
There is very little that is done well in this movie, but it still has all sorts of crazy charm. The movie really is a whole lot of fun. Budget restraints are obvious (the Templars look to be driving modified golf carts and Scorpion's bubble armor is… plastic) throughout but it never really poses a problem when there’s this much insane enthusiasm evident up on the screen. Most of the action scenes are totally over the top (anytime a bullet hits something that something explodes!) and all of the characters are dressed in some of the most garish (and phallic) costumes you’ll ever have seen. For reasons never properly explained, everyone seems to have a giant codpiece in the future.
But despite all its many and obvious flaws, The New Barbarians has a nice sense of manic energy to it and the film makes for a great time killer. The action is non-stop, the macho posturing and more than implied homoeroticism is oddly hilarious, and the movie runs at an extremely fast pace. It may be a rather blatant Road Warrior rip off, but it's a damned entertaining one. Something seems to explode every few minutes, and Scorpio makes for a great hero as he wages his one man war on evil.
These characteristics make it really easy to look past the obvious shortcomings that the film has in spades. Don't go into this one looking for some sort of deep symbolism or some sort of thought provoking statement against the horrors of the atomic bomb – no, no, no – that won't do at all. Go into this one with your brain turned off and your beer level cranked to maximum capacity and enjoy it for what it is!
Blue Underground presents The New Barbarians on Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen framed at 2.35.1. The first few minutes of the movie are really soft but once the titles are over and the optical shots aren’t as frequent, things start to improve quite noticeably. Detail is much stronger than it’s been on past DVD releases and colors look great here. The disc is only a 25GB platter but it’s free of obvious compression artifacts and there aren’t any noise reduction or edge enhancement problems to quip about. The picture is pretty clean, reasonably well detailed and features fairly good texture as well.
The sole audio option for the disc is a DTS-HD Mono track with optional subtitles provided in English, French and Spanish. The audio here is pretty decent. Every ‘pew pew pew’ of the guns used in the movie comes through nice and clear and the dialogue stays plenty easy to follow throughout. The Carpenter-esque score has good presence to it and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.
The biggest and best of the supplements comes in the form of an audio commentary with Enzo G. Castellari, moderated by David Gregory. Though English is obviously not the director's first language he speaks it well enough that it's not too difficult to understand what he's saying and Gregory does a fine job of keeping the track moving at a brisk pace throughout. He also talks about how in some ways the movie is a western, about the film’s score, casting the picture, the locations, the effects and more. Enzo's memory is pretty sharp and he does a great job of filling us in on the history of the film and the people that he made the movie with. It's a fun track, and worth a listen to Eurocult fans.
Also worth checking out is an interview with Castellari and producer Fabrizio De Angelis. They talk about why the made this movie in the first place, how it did better internationally than it did in their native Italy, how they brought it in on a low budget, how some of the effects sequences were handled and a fair bit more. Not to be outdone, Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson shows up for a twenty minute interview entitled Tales Of The Hammer. This isn’t just a look back at his work on this particular movie, though of course he covers that (and looks back on it fondly, discussing his wardrobe with some genuine enthusiasm!) but a nice little career overview too. Some neat archival pictures from throughout his work in the film industry are used here and some cool shots of him all decked out in his younger football days too.
Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature and trailers for 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape From The Bronx, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, inside the case alongside the Blu-ray disc is a DVD version of the movie with the same supplements included.
The Final Word:
They don't make'em like this anymore! New Barbarians is a blast – needless explosions, plenty of violence, a villain you love to hate and a hero you hate to love! The Blu-ray release from Blue Underground is a good one, offering a nice upgrade in the audio and video departments and throwing in some very cool extra features as well.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
enzo g. castellari,
the new barbarians,
warriors of the wasteland
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