Warriors of the Wasteland
2019 AD. The nuclear holocaust is over. Death cult The Templars have ambitions big as their shoulder pads to vehicularly wipe out what little remains of humanity — a few scattered caravans clinging to hope of extant civilization. As Templar leader One (Italo-schlock mainstay George Eastman) puts it, "The world is dead. It raped itself. But I'll purify it… with BLOOD!"
The only thing stopping him? Two lone wolves with exploding arrows, tricked-out wheels, and machismo thick as their exposed chest hair — the Warriors Of The Wasteland, screening as part of Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn's Weird Wednesday.
Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete, going by 'Timothy Brent') tools around in his solar-powered, goth version of The Homer, fighting Templars and rescuing a woman who, in true Italian genre style, says next to nothing and sleeps with the hero immediately after meeting him (in an inflatable bubble tent, natch). He's tailed by Nadir (blaxploitation legend Fred Williamson, in fine fettle) who wants to team up to defeat the Templars. Not for moral reasons, but to prove he's strongest. "That's your de-FECT, Scorpion," he admonishes, "you don't understand the power of VICTORY!"
On its release, Warriors was dismissed as yet another Italian Mad Max/Road Warrior rip-off. An accusation with merit; director Enzo G. Castellari admits cranking out Warriors, Escape From New York knockoff Escape From The Bronx, and The Warriors/Mad Max oddity 1990: The Bronx Warriors — three movies from script to can — in under 6 months. But Castellari brought his full cinematic arsenal to bear on each, giving Warriors an 80s-does-60s lo-fi futurism and scrappy, DIY charm. The film is an object lesson in squeezing maximum genre from limited time and money, with The Future a jumble of clear acrylic, silver spray paint, and flexible ducts, and Castellari's creative camera work making the same dirt pit outside Rome work for 90% of the locations. With plenty of homoerotic anger (and phallic vengeance), midriff-bearing costumes, and a sociopathic kid mechanic, Warriors' weird vibe entertains enough to overcome its threadbare plot. Throw in a score from Goblin keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, and you've got a knockoff that stands on its own.