Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on June 6th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 10th June 1983
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Writers: Enzo G. Castellari, Tito Carpi, Antonio Visone
Cast: Giancarlo Prete, Fred Williamson, George Eastman, Anna Kanakis, Giovanni Frezza, Ennio Girolami
BluRay released: June 30th, 2015
Approximate running times: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
As the credits roll a tiny shoddily built toy city is slowly flooded with smoke in the corner of the screen, oh no wait, that’s supposed to be a visual representation of a nuclear apocalypse, my mistake! The year is 2019; welcome to the wasteland. Ruled by the vicious, nihilistic, kinda glam rock looking Templar gang, led by The One (George Eastman), not a very cheerful chap, fond of spouting crap like “The world is dead. It raped itself.” One can only assume their violence springs from the fact that the only clothes they could find after the fall of civilization were a stack of costumes leftover from Starlight Express. They also enjoy driving around in what appear to be man-sized Robot Wars vehicles made out of Volkswagen chassis and old golf carts, only with added cannons. Their mission seems to involve killing everyone they find who isn’t dressed as ludicrously as themselves. Fair enough. And for the moment their main victims are a traveling group of hopeful survivors being led by a promising radio signal and an ill-fated preacher.
Ex-Templar Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete) on the other hand found himself a real car and some slightly less dodgy attire so took off to wander the wasteland on his lonesome. He’s back in town now though and already crossing paths with his old buddies, well he kills a couple of them while saving a damsel that a few of the low-ranking Templars were distressing, and delivering her to aforementioned survivors camp. When word gets back to The One he’s really not all that bothered, until a couple more of his guys get slaughtered by Scorpion, with some assistance by Nadir (Fred Williamson) and his exploding arrows and damn fine mustache. Then it’s all “His blood is not enough. I want his pride, his soul!” His arse. No really, he wants his actual arse, when he finally gets his hands on Scorpion he ties him up and bends him over! Well that sort of behavior certainly calls for a last act revenge mission. So after a stop at the local garage, manned by the world’s blondest most irritating 10 year old (Giovanni Frezza), he’s all tooled up and ready for action…….
Not big on plot this one but a guilty pleasure for sure. The spaghetti western meets Mad Max 2 but with bigger hair, shoulder pads and added buggery. The film moves along at a good pace, never really letting you lose interest (quite a task for a low budget 80’s exploitation flick). The cheesy goodness inherent in the messy blowing up, decapitation and general abuse of numerous crash test dummies is recommendation enough but the appearance of genre god Fred Williamson sporting a blinged out gold costume and killing folks with his exploding archery equipment closes the deal. Giancarlo Prete is passable as a poor man’s Mad Max with his ridiculous car; tubes on the hood, plastic bubble on the roof and spectacularly rubbish button for opening and closing his door. And the aforementioned action isn’t exactly high octane, the car chases rarely exceed 25mph, but that just adds to the charm! Unfortunately you do have to put up with a couple of appearances by child ‘actor’ Frezza (from Manhattan Baby & The House by the Cemetery).
Note: The BluRay portion of this review was written by Michael Den Boer
The New Barbarians comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This is the third home video release for this film that I have seen to date. With the previous two being Shriek Show’s 2004 DVD and Shameless Films 2010 DVD release, both of these were stand definition releases. For this release Blue Underground has created a brand 2K transfer and now this film can finally be seen in all of its Hi Def glory. And just like their release for 1990: The Bronx Warriors, this new release for The New Barbarians is a massive improvement upon those two aforementioned releases.
This film comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Known for shooting without sound or at least sound that will be used for the final audio master this audio mix like all Italian films from this era was created in post-production. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. And range wise for a post sync audio master things sound very good. With the sound effects and the more ambient aspects of soundtrack being well represented throughout. Also included with this release are three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras for this release include, three trailers for the film, International trailer (3 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive), trailer # 1 (3 minutes 26 seconds – 1080 Progressive) and trailer # 2 (1 minute 57 seconds – 1080 Progressive), trailers for 1990: The Bronx Warriors (2 minutes 41 seconds – 1080 Progressive) and Escape from the Bronx (3 minutes 15 seconds – 1080 Progressive), two featurette’s, the first featurette titled ‘Tales of the Hammer’ interview with Fred Williamson (20 minutes 22 seconds – 1080 Progressive), and the seconded featurette titled ‘Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation Part 2’ (13 minutes 43 seconds – 1080 Progressive, in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Enzo G. Castellari, Castellari’s son Andrea and moderator David Gregory.
The interview with Fred Williamson covers his film career from its beginning up to his work in Italian cinema from the 1980’s. Other topics he discusses include how he got his nickname, being a Black action hero and the differences between making films in the U.S. and Italy.
Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation Part 2’ include, the origins of the film project and how Castellari became involved in making it, special effects and how creative they were when designing things like futuristic cars, how it was shot in Rome, copying successful movies and in this case Mad Max is this film’s clear inspiration and tricks used throughout the film to make it appear that this was a more epic film then its meager budget.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how he became involved in making this film, the cast, how the film is like a futuristic western, the decline of the Italian film industry, production design and they also discuss key moments from the film.
Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall The New Barbarians gets a solid release from Blue underground.