The New Barbarians Vs. Endgame in Post-Apocalyptic Spaghetti Scandal!
18th Aug 05
News just in that a large video box known as Endgame has been sighted whilst intimidating a skinny young DVD known as The New Barbarians. Unperturbed, the lightweight DVD is engaging in a tough training regime to overcome the Big Box Bully, starring Al Cliver. The New Barbarians will be learning techniques not yet known to us; fighting styles of the post-apocalyptic future, as practised by one George Eastman and Timothy Brent.
I wish films really could fight each other. That would be Zombie Club Heaven, so long as they left each other in reasonable enough condition to let us play them in the respective DVD player / VCR. Take the last Zombie Club for example. Man, Diabolik would have thrashed the living bejesus out of Planet of the Vampires!
It’s been a while since we indulged in the oh-so guilty pleasure of Italian post-apocalyptic nonsense from the 1980’s. Bronx Warriors 1 & 2, Rome 2033: The Fighter Centurions and 2019: After the Fall of New York have all featured in past Zombie Clubs, and all have proven that these little nuggets of joy are no place more at home than at Zombie Club, complete with funny hairstyles, bad dubbing, cheesy synth soundtracks and hilariously misfiring fashion predictions. And the same goes for the films.
This evening's entertainment was brought to you by Zomblee in association with The Al Cliver School of Charisma Enhancement.
The New Barbarians (1982)
Plot The Templars - a group of big gay men with outrageously futuristic hair styles - terrorize the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Only one man - Scorpion - can stop them.
Zomblee This is what it’s all about: post-apocalyptic Italian rip-offs which have enough action, violence and unintentional comedy to keep it from getting boring. Otherwise we wouldn’t waste our time with them. The New Barbarians is a great little offering from Bronx Warriors man Enzo Casterelli which tells the tale of a gang of gay, white-clad idiots led by ‘One’ (George Eastman) who are hell-bent on bringing the human race to a complete end. Scorpion, our warrior hero, is a long-time adversary of the gay boys and generally likes to help anyone whose safety is endangered at their hands. Scorpion is aided by Nadir (Fred Williamson) who fires a selection of different explosive arrows from his trusty bow, and a child mechanic who’s a dab hand with a catapult.
Through the course of the story, Scorpion is captured by the Templars and treated to their own brand of bare-bummed hospitality. Eastman’s post-apocalyptic gay cock doesn’t cause too much damage to Scorpion’s physical (and mental) health though, and he comes roaring back into action accompanied by allies to heroically defeat the Templars in the final stand-off. It is during this final struggle that Scorpion unwittingly puts his gay cards on the table by parading around in the “biggest, gayest armour ever!” (Jim) – a transparent, torso-enhancing, solid piece of kit which he initially hides under a Clint Eastwood-style poncho. It might look big. It might look gay. Yes, it’s big and gay – Jim’s right.
Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson is great value here. He may be the hardest to take seriously and trust me, when you see the hairstyles and battle fashions on display, that’s no easy feat. His line delivery is jilted, exaggerated – as if he’s having a bit of fun with the role. If he did have any ideas about playing it straight or serious, he was no doubt convinced otherwise when he saw his highly ridiculous costume with that massive left leg padding.
There’s so much fun to be had with The New Barbarians. Castarelli displays his usual adept handling of action scenes with some nice ultra-violent touches and even when the pace slows down a little, there’s still plenty to enjoy - “Those really are ridiculous shoulder pads.” (Rawshark)
“Take him back to One. If he sent him, tell him it’s an answer. If he didn’t, tell him it’s a warning.”
Rawshark You know, if it wasn’t for those ridiculous shoulder pads, you could almost take the Templars seriously at first. In the opening scene, second-in-command Shadow (the one who looks like Karl Hagan from Lord of the Rings) and his crew lay waste to a small band of travelling survivors. Unfortunately they then run into hero Scorpio, promptly get their asses kicked and go running back to daddy George Eastman (previously referred to in Zombie Clubs as ‘big hairy ape’) as The Templar’s boss ‘One’.
Welcome to the future, where the world looks like a quarry and cars, guns and even the catapults make annoying futuristic noises. Clearly ripping off Mad Max to the max, The New Barbarians is funfair experience of a film with laughs, dazzling lights, cheap thrills and the camp factor turned up to eleven. Alongside Scorpion (“Don’t mess with Timothy Brent!” – Zomblee) for the goodies, we get a genius kid mechanic who fixes cars by removing ears from engines (yes, you did read that correctly) and Fred Williamson as Nadir (“Look at the size of that left knee pad! - Jim), an exploding-arrow firing sharpshooter who is obviously stalking Scorpion for reasons that probably best remain unclear.
Together they team up to fight the Templars, a suicidal gay extermination unit (Monty Python couldn’t have made this up!) who count ‘stopping people reading books’, ‘bum rape barbecues’ and ‘wiping out humanity’ amongst their hobbies. We get big gruff heroes, tonnes of cheap, but quite effective, gore and we also get great futuristic cars (Jim – “It’s gone Wacky Races all of a sudden!”) that feature plastic bubbles, exploding doors, “lots of piping” (Zomblee), and er.. very phallic drill bit extensions.
Seriously, this homophobic / erotic (it can’t quite make up it’s mind) post-apocalyptic film is hilarious and a genuine mind-bender. With some great gadgets including an inflatable see-through tent, and bullet-proof plastic made into big gay aromour (“Why didn’t he at least put a black T-Shirt on or something!” - Jim), a few scattered stunts and some nice camera work, The New Barbarians is a camp action treat. Still not sure about that rape scene though…
“Do you do the de-concentration service?”
Jim “I’m not going to write much for this film,” announced Zomblee as the camera panned across another post-apocalyptic landscape strewn with long dead corpses wearing spacesuits, including one spacesuit that had big glass boobies moulded into it. Why on earth would anyone want a spacesuit where everyone can see your tits? Ah well, ours is not to question why, ours is but to drink plentifully and watch more Italian B-movie gibberish. “I’m not going to write much either,” added Rawshark.
Suffice is to say as soon as that first Mad Max 2 inspired battle kicks off, those pads were snapped up faster than a spare big gay suit of transparent armour when Timothy Brent’s around. I thought this was going to be a lot of fun in the first five minutes when that guy’s M16 made cheap sci-fi ping noises, but those vehicles covered with vacuum hosing and with Perspex domes on the top cemented it for me – I knew we were on to a winner. Why those vehicles had domes on them in the first place I’ll never know, but as Rawshark says, “It worked for the Pope!” Although thinking about it maybe all that tubing and dome business is what causes all the vehicles in this movie to make that irritating high-pitching SFX sound. “They kinda look like they should make that sound though, don’t they?” Yeah alright Zomblee, I guess you’re right.
But apart from that irritating whine, nothing else in this movie disappoints. Vehicles where the same button opens the side door and fires the rear facing rockets? Brilliant! It’s either great fun or bad-brilliant, even all that unexpected gay stuff in the middle, which you can forgive because of the sheer chuckle factor it brings. “So…do you come here often?” (Zomblee) Plus the end battle is ace, with Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson shooting exploding arrows into a good three or four exploding dummies’ necks, “Introducing Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson!” – (Zomblee, who was a little excited at the time) - “pinch yourself and look at the guy!” Meanwhile the little kid hits umpteen Templars in the face with his sci-fi catapult. And then of course there’s that armour, but I think we’ve blazed that enough now, even though it was big and gay.
At one point in the film I actually made the comment that this was one of the best films I’d ever seen. “Yeah, for a Zombie Club type film...” No Rawshark, I really mean it. And as Zomblee says, it’s even got “cars that are the car equivalents of those glasses in Big Trouble in Little China!” How’s that for an obscure movie connection.
"The world is dead - it raped itself."
Director Enzo G. Castellari
Cast Giancarlo Prete (as Timothy Brent)
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Plot In post-apocalyptic New York, the champion 'runner' in a deadly TV gameshow helps a group of mutants escape their persecutors.
Jim Time for more post-apocalyptic hokum and more George Eastman action too in our second flick of the evening, but this time we also get Zombie Club’s very own favourite poor man’s Chuck Norris, Al Cliver. Or, as Rawshark’s flat mate Matt suggested, is he looking more like a poor man’s Christopher Lambert tonight?
“How can you be a poor man’s Christopher Lambert?” (Rawshark)
“How can you be a poor man’s Chuck Norris?” (Zomblee)
Exactly. Anyway Endgame – basically Al Cliver plays Shannon, a gay eye make-up wearing Endgame hunter champion who tonight is running from four hunters who also wear eye make-up and include George Eastman. The whole thing is broadcast live on TV (sponsored by LifePlus™ multi-vitamins) and, yes, you’d be right in thinking that it sounds pretty exciting. It’s not, it’s surprisingly dull this Endgame malarkey, turning out to be a quietly forgettable 25 minutes or so of Cliver fighting various baddies who are even less charismatic than he is, until the eventual showdown with George Eastman. Cliver wins but spares Eastman’s life, handing us the important “Now we’re even!” plot device for later in the film, and also setting up the surprisingly good ending beautifully.
But let’s get back to it. After the Endgame, err, ends after less than half an hour, the psychics turn up asking for Cliver to escort them to a place 200 miles from the city. Led by Laura Gemser of ‘Emanuelle’ fame it doesn’t seem like such a strange request (stuff like this happens all the time in post-apoc Italian stuff) but what is strange is the amount of clothes Gemser is wearing.
“She couldn’t be more clothed!” (Zomblee)
“You can’t even see her neck!” (Rawshark)
“…Or her pubic region!” (Zomblee)
It’s true, compared to the nothing she spent most of Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals in, she looked like one of the Sand People from Star Wars, prompting fears that this movie would have no nudity in it at all. "Don't worry, there's tits on the back!" (Zomblee). But she was nothing compared to the blind tribe, the fish people and the monkey men. Yes, fish people and monkey men. Oh, and that Chinese guy from 2033 and 2019, this time playing a guy called Ninja, badly. “Michael Dudikoff would have had him any day.” (Zomblee)
To tell you the truth, I was quite wasted by now so I’m going to rely on my Zombie buddies to really fill you in on what’s going on here, but I can’t go without telling you about the fish-man-rape. “Fish-man-rape!” we shouted at the screen for what seemed like ages, “Fish-man-rape! It’s a fish-man-rape!” Eventually Rawshark stepped up to finally calm the maddening crowd. “Look, are we just going to shout ‘fish-man-rape’ until the end of the film?”
I think we might have if the helicopter hadn’t turned up at the end of the final battle to rescue the surviving psychics. Wait a minute, where did that helicopter come from in the first place? “Well, it just landed, and everyone else got in it.” Oh, thanks Zomblee.
“Cut – go to commercial!”
Rawshark The first twenty minutes or so of Endgame is as dull as a broken DVD player (we had to watch this on a very old VHS copy, sorry guys), featuring rubbish fight sequences (“Kick him in the stomach! And again! And again!”) and the same street corridor filmed from several different angles. The SS Storm Troopers and adverts for LifePlus don’t help much either, so Zomblee had to keep reassuring us that the film does “apparently get much better after the first 20 minutes or so.” Ok…
Let’s all thank the full-clothed Laura Gemser for that then, as she enlists Al Cliver’s Shannon (yes, Shannon – as in O’Doherty) in a mission to take her and some other telepathic refugees 200 miles from the city within the next two days. Shannon gets in his car, which has a dome of course (“looks like a red R2D2” – Zomblee), gathers a bunch of his well-hard mates together (Ninja, Kovacs) and off they go into the wilderness improving the film immeasurably. First point of call is a town square where our heroes encounter an enclave of blind black-hooded servants of the Lord. Luckily, Lilith telepathically warns Shannon (“I wish I had a telepathic link with Laura Gemser” – Jim) of their motives and a big scrap ensues with the same repeated 20 or so hooded extras who fight using visual telepathy apparently.
Shannon’s gang win of course, and they stop briefly to slot in an exposition scene of a five-year old boy lifting rocks with the power of his mind (it all becomes important in the final scene). Unfortunately they soon find themselves under attack from a whole gang of mutants, fish-men, ape-men, cat-men and topless women standing up in cars and have to fight all over again. Jim briefly cheered on Ninja (“Hooray – Ninja! Oh... shit! Is he dead? Ninja was shit!”) but then he ‘died’ before briefly being resurrected to do that good old noble death - the heroic suicide bomber thing.
Gemser is kidnapped, Shannon teams up with George Eastman to get her back (fish-man rape!) and it all ends with an apocalyptic-style ending (thanks five-year old kid) that just makes you wonder why they didn’t do that in the first place. Oh, and then everyone gets into a two-seater helicopter and flies away, leaving Cliver and Eastman to salvage some merit with a face-off in a nice freeze-frame last shot. Not great, but with blind hooded servants of the Lord, one or two cool motorcycle stunts and fish-man rape (we really should stop saying that) it’s not all bad.
“Shannon? Where are you?” “I’m quite near.”
Zomblee Yeah, “Quite near”. Pretty specific isn’t it. I’d like to see Al Cliver playing a Boeing 747 pilot in one of the classic Airport films.
Control room: “Alpha 229, please state your co-ordinates.”
Pilot Cliver: “Quite near.”
Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, Cliver never did play a pilot in an airport disaster film but if he did, it would probably have been cheap, Italian rubbish like this. Can someone please make Airport: The Apocalypse and cast Al Cliver as the pilot? Cheers.
Have a look at the video cover for Endgame at the top of this page. Looks awesome doesn’t it. Sadly, Joe D’Amato’s film didn’t live up to the hopes that the fantastic artwork encouraged. But we’ve all been there before – see for example Rome: 2033 the Fighter Centurions (which, strangely has almost the same cast as Endgame). Those crazy Italians sure know how to big-it-up, marketing style.
This copy of Endgame suffered from the awful disease known as Degenerative VHS Quality Syndrome. This one isn’t officially available on DVD and Jim’s DVD-R didn’t work on Rawshark’s machine so we had to make do with my old tape. This definitely detracted from the overall reception the film had at ZC, not least with myself. Can someone please bring back manual tracking on VCRs?!
Right, now let’s talk about Al Cliver. Why anyone ever cast Al Cliver in a film is beyond me. He’s got as much charisma as a brick wall but still managed to get cast as the main hero in Endgame. “Ok, Al, this is your big chance to show them what you can do!” So what does he do? He walks around the place looking like he’s on the way to the supermarket rather than leading a band of mutants to the promise land. There’s no excuse for this. Having said that, I’m a huge fan. And so is Jim. I doubt if tonight’s performance will prompt Rawshark to start an Official Al Cliver Fan Club though.
Laura Gemser was credited in this one as Moira Chen. I think I might have figured out why. Perhaps this is the name she likes to use for her roles that require participation of the wardrobe department, because, like the guys have already mentioned, she was so fully clothed that we genuinely did not recognise her at first. “Is that…Laura Gemser?” Now that’s just a damn shame. Bring back Gemser, ditch the Chen bitch.
A few decent scenes aside (the machine-gun proficient blind servants of the Lord being a stand-out favourite of mine), Endgame was not what I was hoping for. Sometimes the line between a good-bad film and a bad-bad film is difficult to negotiate, but I’d say that this one falls into the latter category. With DVD first-aid treatment it may be worth another look. It’s an adventurous little flick, I’ll give it that, but the ideas appear to be constricted by low funds and Al “Chuck Norris” Cliver.
Endgame is rubbish but it has to stay in my big-box video collection – I love that artwork. In fact, that’s probably where most of the budget went.
”He told me his name is Ninja.”
Director Joe D'Amato
Cast Al Cliver
Carlos Alberto Valles
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Conclusion “Ding ding!” Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s winner, by unanimous decision, is The New Barbarians!
You could argue that it was the TNB’s big gay armour that reliably protected it against Endgame’s hulking jabs, but whatever the official reason, Endgame’s post-apocalyptic bite clearly didn’t live up to its loud sleeve design bark. If for any reason you think I was a bit harsh on Al Cliver, it's because he didn't reply to my email.
Jim and Rawshark were both enjoying their ringside seats for tonight’s bout, cheering and clapping maniacally as Castarelli’s flick triumphantly defeated it’s big-boxed opponent. Rawshark had read about The New Barbarians’ bizarrely homophobic(?) angle, while Jim hadn’t a clue what was about to happen when George Eastman ripped Timothy Brent’s futuristic pants off.
“He’s not going to...”
Thankfully Jim had thought to get an alcoholic head-start tonight with the aid of one of those little bottles of wine for his tube journey, so this no doubt helped him digest the most unusual of Zombie Club sights, namely post-apocalyptic gay rape.
I’d like to point out that this will not be a regular sight at Zombie Club. Now pull your trousers up.