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REVIEW – The New Barbarians (1982)

February 2, 2010

Videovista have my review of Enzo G. Castellari’s The New Barbarians, a post-apocalyptic exploitation film made around the same time as his better known and arguably more entertaining Bronx Warriors.

Watching the film I was hit by a wave of raw nostalgia as most of my childhood summers were spent sitting in darkened rooms watching precisely these kinds of films.  If it had mutants, a tricked out car and loads of violence in it then chances are that pre-teen Jona would have hunted it down and happily watched it.  For all the recent talk of films like Avatar dumbing down cinema, watching The New Barbarians really brought home to me the fact that there was a time when science fiction cinema had teeth.  It was weird, surreal, violent and thoroughly disreputable.  I can’t help but feel that the mainstreaming of science fiction might well have cost us these kinds of films.  Even attempts to recapture the magic such as Neil Marshall’s Doomsday (2008) seem somehow more respectable and tame in comparison.

Also interesting is the film’s blatant homophobia.  You simply could not make a film nowadays in which the bad guys are a load of gay men.  Indeed, it occurred to me after writing the review that the film suggests that should the extinction of the human race ever become a genuine risk then homosexuality would not simply be a lifestyle, a preference, a predisposition or even a perversion.  It would be an act of outright nihilism.  But then, is humanity really worth saving?  The film’s baddies – the Templars – are effectively an armed wing of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement except rather than seeking to justify themselves using the language of ecology, the Templars speak of vengeance and a need to exact retribution for humanity’s crimes against itself.  Which makes little sense but there you go…

2 Comments
  1. February 3, 2010 3:01 pm

    I remember this film well. (*minor spoiler*) The ending is particularly hilarious where the hero gets his final revenge on the chief of the Templars with his special anti-homo buggery spear attachment on the front of his dune buggy. Even at the age of 13, I always considered these euro-PA films to be cheesy and not the real thing (which was The Road Warrior, the gold standard). I wonder if I would have a bit more of an open mind today. Certainly, I’ve become a big fan of Fred Williamson. Thanks for the review and bringing up my memories of this movie again!

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  2. February 3, 2010 3:34 pm

    Hi Walker :-)

    You’re right that The Road Warrior (Mad Max II) is the film that launched all of these rip-offs. This kind of practice was quite common in Italian genre cinema at the time. Dawn of the Dead also produced dozens of rip-offs and, somewhat weirdly, quite a few big American genre films spawned unauthorised sequels. I know for a fact that there’s a low budget Terminator 2 out there somewhere.

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one who feels a pang of nostalgia upon seeing these kinds of films!

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