The Road Worrier, or…
Warriors of the Wasteland (1982)
A Moment's Halt--a momentary taste
It’s easy for the experienced B movie-ologist™ to become jaded about unapologetic rip-offs. Unfortunately, this also leads to what may sound like unapologetic national slurs on the part of the B movie fan.
Having warned you, we continue.
Take the Italians.
If you generalize their nation as a distinct artistic entity, they have produced some of the finest films in the history of cinema. Original craftsmen like Visconti and Fellini have mesmerized the world with their artistic visions. We would lose many dear examples of excellent cinema without Death in Venice and Nights of Cabiria.
But just as American cinema is a set that contains extremes like Orson Welles AND Ed Wood, Jr., Howard Hawkes AND Greydon Clark, the Italian set has also been counter balanced with the entertainingly inept. And to the American eye, when these poor players strut and fret their time upon the stage, they look even tackier than bad American movies. Why? Because they contain heavy amounts of two of the basic elements of laughably bad movies: Excessive pretense and an unabashed lack of originality. Regarding that second element, consider that many of these rip-offs make little sense unless you’ve seen the source material they’re copying.
Therefore, I hope you have seen The Road Warrior. Otherwise, none of this mess is going to make a damn bit of sense.
Cut to typical post holocaust scene. The camera pans over several skeletons in futuristic combat gear. (This assumes the future has tacky fashions.) A caption says, “2019 A.D. The Nuclear Holocaust is Over.”
Jump cut to moustached man operating a radio. He’s in a camp broadcasting their position. He gets an answer but loses it. Several of the campers, who are remarkably clean and immaculate in their post-holocaust attire, comment on how bad things are now. (They don’t extemporize, they just say things like, “Things are bad now.”)
Suddenly, some tricked out white dune buggies and dirt bikes break over the ridge. You can tell these vehicles have a futuristic power source, because they make poorly performed synthesizer noises when they move. The campers freak and take cover while identifying the drivers as the Templars. And well they should freak out, because these Templars, who are dressed in white armor with big shoulder pads, begin to advance menacingly on the camp. (Did I say shoulder pads? Make that shoulder humps. They stick up like gallon jugs.) Most of them wear full face motorcycle helmets, but those who don’t have outrageous hairstyles. (Apparently, Templars who didn’t have time to go the beauty salon are the ones wearing the helmets.
As these Imperial stormtrooper wannabes approach the campers, and we finally get a look at this encampment. Picture, if you will, the community in The Road Warrior, which was walled by several cars. Now scale that image down to about six white vehicles in a perfect hexagon. (Count it as a sign of poorly concealed low production values to come.)
The Templars begin to circle the encampment and start shooting with firearms that make silly electronic noises when they fire. The campers return fire with similar toy store sounding weapons. And they actually do pretty good for a group of designated victims. For example, one of the happy campers manages to shoot a dirt biker off his mount. He falls in slow motion (which clearly shows that his white Templar-Wear has no messy red bullet holes).
Meanwhile, another camper shoots a passenger in one of the dune buggies. (These are truly unusual weapons in the future. They look like conventional firearms from the early ‘80’s. They make music synthesizer noises when they fire. They don’t make holes in clothes. And, in this case, they can cause a seated passenger in a moving vehicle to suddenly leap forward and to the right when shot in right-hand side. Maybe the Warren Commission should look into this one, too.)
But designated victims are designated victims. One of the dune buggies crashes through a barricade of what looks like empty beer kegs. Then the driver starts shooting up the campers. Outside the circle, a dirt biker pulls the pin on a grenade, revs up his bike, jumps the barricade, and, while in flight, drops the grenade into the circle. (You may wish to debate the tactic. After all, grenades are meant to be thrown over barricades. However, please note that with goofy shoulder pads shaped like pineapples, Templars probably can’t get enough decent arm motion to throw anything worth a darn.)
After most of the campers fall, two of them make a run for it and split up their directions. Back at the encampment, one of the dune buggers called Mako (Massimo Vanni) flips a switch that pops the hood on his car. A large gun protrudes from under the hood. (And you Freudians are quite correct.) He fires a few explosive rounds into the vehicles, which blow up in great big fireballs. (Just as most Americans don’t truly understand soccer, I confess I don’t understand this military tactic. Somehow, it makes more sense to hit something with artillery before you send in the troops. But I suppose it’s the ability to make bold moves like this that has helped to make Italy the respected military force it is today.)
Meanwhile, one of the other dune buggy drivers called Shadow (Ennio Girolami) sees one of the running campers. He chases him down. After the runner falls, he closes in on him and stops. He then hits the switch on his car, and a bigger barreled gun comes out from under his hood. (We pause to wonder if Mako had muzzle envy.) It’s revealed that he’s packing a flame-thrower under the hood. He fries the crispy camper (in a poorly constructed close-up).
One of Mako’s flunkies points out the other fleeing camper to his boss. Mako’s weapon of choice for the runner is a whirling fan with blades. It’s mounted on a foot long arm to the left of his car at about three feet off the ground. The runner stumbles to his knees. Naturally, it does not occur to fleeing incompetent to do something sensible, like duck. When Mako catches up with him, he’s decapitated. His body convulses for a while. (He also doesn’t shed a drop of blood on the ground. And at last a possible solution to the mystery of the guns that don’t make messy red holes is revealed. In the future, people don’t have blood. Yeah. That’s it. That’s the ticket. It’s crystallized, like in The Andromeda Strain (1971).)
Afterwards, the Templars pick through the remains of the encampment. They find a hardbound copy of the Jerusalem Bible. Cut to the Templar base, where we are introduced to One (or possibly Juan; either way, he’s played by George Eastman). “Books!” he sneers. “They’re what started the whole Apocalypse.” (Well, the Apocalypse was a book at one time.) And in a standard bad guy move, he rips the Bible in half. One (or possibly Juan) complements Mako on his work. Shadow tells One (or possibly Juan) that he’s going too easy on Mako. But the fearless leader explains that Mako is his designated successor, and then rants about their mission, which is to kill everyone. (And they’d be on the path for sure with Mako running the show. With that guy in charge, they’re bound to kill themselves.) One (or possibly Juan) vows that the world will be purified with blood. The rest of the Templars start chanting “One!” (or possibly “Juan!” or maybe “Blood!” Hard to tell.)
A dirt biker arrives and tells One (or possibly Juan) that some more
people are coming. The fearless leader tells him to exterminate them.
(Gee, no wonder they made One (or possibly Juan) the leader; he’s decisive
And thus we are introduced to this story’s designated hero, Skorpion (Giancarlo Prete). He walks into the camp and finds a camper who is still barely alive. This discovery is interrupted when some of the plastic clad bums jump out hiding and run at Skorpion. The designated hero shoots them with a futuristic handgun (which makes noises like a conventional .22). Then the surviving camper asks Skorpion for a shot. Not having any whiskey on him, he plugs the survivor. (Thank God the hero of this story came along and did something heroic.)
Next day, Skorpion arrives at another small encampment. We get a better look at Skorpion-Mobile, which is a basic muscle car with a bunch of superfluous air conditioning tubing on the hood and a big transparent hemisphere dome on top. No one is there to greet him. He gets out of the car, but someone starts shooting at him with a high powered slingshot. Skorpion takes cover, and starts shooting back with his funky gun. The impact areas of his shots are explosions.
Eventually, Skorpion fires one that flushes out the sling-sniper, who hides behind a trailer. The brave hero tells him to come out. It’s a blonde kid (Giovanni Frezza), about eight. They laugh about their skirmish because were just playing. (I don’t see any need for an attempted witticism at this point, do you?)
Skorpion tells the precocious little sniper that he’s having problems with his gearshift. (And at this point, you Freudians would be quite wrong.) The youngster pops the hood and pulls out a human ear. He says it’ll take an hour and starts pulling out some tools. Later, the kid returns the car and spins a few skidding donuts (presumably to demonstrate the quality of his work and his skill at the wheel). After another cutesy verbal exchange, Skorpion drives off.
Cut to the Templars chasing down an armored van. Shadow uses a giant spearhead on the front of his dune buggy to tear open a hole in the rear, and then uses his flame thrower to fry the inside. Out the passenger side, a woman (Anna Kanakis) wearing a fashionable pair of flash goggles jumps out and runs. While the armored car catches fire, the driver bails out, too, but Shadow chases him down and impales him with his funky hood ornament (which somehow looks less practical than that giant bayonet on Sylvester Stallone’s car in Deathrace 2000 (1975).)
Mako chases down the woman, and we are shown as she’s running that her post-apocalypse fashion statement is a long coat, thigh-high boots, and a chorus girl outfit. Mako catches her in a net and drags her on the ground behind his car. Therefore, it’s a designated time for the designated hero to arrive. Some guns on the front-underside of the Skorpion-Mobile fire, which cuts the line on the net. Mako tells the woman to wait there. (Uh, sure.) Then Mako and Skorpion play chicken for a while, but Shadow breaks it up by putting his dune buggy between them.
Mako jumps out of his buggy and yells at Shadow for intervening, but the post-apocalypse peacemaker decks him, shouting, “He’ll tear you apart!” Skorpion and Shadow engage in some typical rough guy small talk. (“Thought you were dead, Skorpion” “You’re still playing watchdog, Shadow.” “I’m seeing a new hairstylist.” Nah, just kidding about the last one.) They also lightly banter about One (or possibly Juan’s) feelings on the matter and their differing philosophies on death. The woman gets into the Skorpion-Mobile. Skorpion drives away.
While on the road, Skorpion plays the aloof smooth guy at the wheel. He plugs a silly looking little box into his dashboard. Music begins to play. (Even in a desperate, desolate future, style conscious ladies’ men will still depend on a Blaupunkt to bolster an image.) The woman takes off her goggles, which reveals that none of this ordeal has smudged her mascara or loosened her oversized false eyelashes. While they travel, they don’t seem to notice that a small car with a front end shaped like an arrowhead is following them. The driver (Fred Williams) is wearing some gold bracers.
Back at Templar base, One (or possibly Juan) is shooting some holes
into some junk while expressing his feelings about Skorpion. Shadow
chides the entropy advocate for not taking down the interloper. But
One (or possibly Juan) insists that he has forgiven Skorpion for past events
(which are hinted at by the dialogue) and declares that they will make
no moves against him. Elsewhere, Mako declares his ambitions: Skorpion
is going to pay for what he is (whatever that is), and One (or possibly
Juan) and Shadow are getting old – time for a changing of the guard.
Skorpion offers to take her to someone who can fix her shoulder. She starts warming up to him. Then we are shown scenes of them making love in a translucent tent contraption. (Perhaps this is for exhibitionists who aren’t truly committed to their peculiarity.) These scenes are cross cut with them sitting under the stars talking. She explains that they were looking for another group of survivors, but she assumes the Templars got them. She observes that he probably hasn’t lost hope because he still fights. He explains that he fights to survive.
In the distance, the driver of the arrowhead shaped car is watching them.
The next morning, some Templars cut off the Skorpion-Mobile at a pass. One of the Templars shoots a gun that sticks a magnetic bomb on the driver-side door. Skorpion pushes a button with a “plus” sign on it. The driver-side door shoots off and lands next to the Templar that shot the bomb. (We suppose that if he had a button with a “minus” sign on it….) After it explodes, Skorpion guns his engine and takes off. The Templars give chase. Mako shoots at the car several times with that funky under-the-hood gun of his, but he misses every time. (More precisely, he shoots several times, but it seems to produce the same “car narrowly avoids an exploding patch of ground” footage each time.)
Skorpion jumps out of his car and runs. (Huh?) Mako fires. The explosion knocks our hero off his feet. The End.
No, sorry. Designated heroes can’t be killed that way.
Skorpion rolls and shoots one of the Templars. The luckless extra’s torso explodes in slow motion. Skorpion runs to the top of a ridge. Another Templar shoots with what looks like a WWII anti-aircraft gun. The explosion knocks our hero off his feet. The End. No, sorry. Not yet.
(Inter-Office Memo. From: Mako. To: The Rest of the Templars. Message: Stop shooting at this guy’s feet. Aim for, like maybe, his center o’ mass. Regards, Mako, Future CEO of the Templars.)
Meanwhile, the man in the arrowhead shaped car is on foot. He’s climbing a convenient nearby tower. After settling in at the top, he selects an arrow tip from his bracer (which functions as an arrowhead bandoleer) and attaches it to a shaft.
When one of the Templars starts to chase down our hero (who is now mysteriously on level ground again), Mako shouts, “No! He’s mine!” Then he turns on that funky fan-blade dealie. Both cars approach Skorpion, who has begun to run in slow motion. Up on the tower, the arrow car guy has knocked an arrow. He fires. The ground between Skorpion and Mako explodes. While Mako is looking around for the source of the explosion, Skorpion jumps onto the back of Mako’s dune buggy. He kicks the fan blade thingie loose. (Thank God. That thing was real annoying.) Then he does the hand to hand combat thing with Mako while the buggy is still in motion. After a lengthy struggle, Skorpion forces Mako’s body under the wheels of the buggy, and the world killer pro tem suddenly goes lifeless when a wheel crushes his head. (Actually, it’s more like his body went lifeless, like an obvious dummy, just before the wheel, etc.)
One of the other Templars tries to get off a shot with that WWII AA gun, but the arrow dude fires first. The arrow goes into the Templar’s neck and explodes. The surprised driver looks over his shoulder as bits of the gunner’s shoulder rain down on the battlefield. Skorpion arrives and tells the driver to take Mako’s mannequin like body back to One (or possibly Juan).
Later, while Skorpion is washing a wounded hand in a stream, the arrow dude arrives. We learn the bowman’s name is Nadir. Skorpion and Nadir banter about some post battle diatribe. Skorpion insists he didn’t need any help. Nadir laughs. As Nadir approaches, the woman pulls a gun on the arrow dude. Both the guys walk over to the girl while bantering some more pseudo-intellectual tough guy dwaddle. Nadir takes the opportunity of being next to the woman to disarm her, and then realizes it wouldn’t take much to really disarm her. After playfully suggesting that Skorpion’s a little too rough on his women, Nadir offers to show them someone who can help her.
Back at Templar base, they’ve put Mako onto a funeral pyre and tied
the surviving driver to it, too. (We note that the Templars must
have a darned good mortuary staff, because Mako’s head is one piece again.)
One (or possibly Juan) rants a eulogy while the others stand at inverse
parade rest. (That is, they’ve got their arms crossed over their
chests.) When he finishes, the Templars start chanting One! (or possibly
Juan!). Shadow takes advantage of the psychological momentum to call
for the death of Skorpion. But One (or possibly Juan) is still refusing
this suggestion. Then the fearless leader shoots a funky gun at the
pyre, which sets it on fire. When the live Templar starts to plead
for his life (which you’d suppose is a real social faux pas for a group
committed to the death of everyone), One (or possibly Juan) puts an explosive
round into the luckless lackey, too.
As the camera pulls back, we realize that we are in yet another camp of survivors. The leader of this community (Venantino Venantini) is a priest wearing a broad brimmed hat and a camouflage jacket. He’s called to a hut where a radio operator has picked up a Morse code signal. She also assures him that real people are sending it. (Apparently, neither of them have seen either On the Beach (1959) or The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1959).) The priest takes this as a positive omen.
The Skorpion-Mobile and the Arrow-Coupe pull up to the edge of the camp. Everyone runs out to see the strangers while some clearly visible snipers take position. After doing the standoff thing for a while, Skorpion and the woman approach the camp while the priest approaches them. Skorpion explains that the woman is hurt and needs help. After a pause, Skorpion offers to trade for aid. However, the priest says that won’t be necessary, because they seek no earthly treasures. This mystifies our designated hero. Nadir explains that these are probably members of the Sect. “They believe in something called [dramatic pause] God.” (Nine years ago the world blew up. You’d figure most adults at this time would’ve at least heard of religion.)
The rest of the survivors come out to meet Skorpion and company. One of the survivors is a Black/Asian looking woman with blue eyes called Vinya (Iris Peynado). She immediately catches Nadir’s eye. (Consider: A black actor in a predominately white community will inevitably be paired on stage with one of the few black actresses available for the cast. Or, if you allow, consider the single black male character in Silverado (1985). Nadir has found what is probably the only non-white in a hundred thousand square mile area. You can see what is coming.)
Skorpion arrives at the shack where someone is tending to the woman’s arm. (For those of you who’ve quite correctly asked if this woman has a name, please see the notes after the end of the plot description.) The woman explains that she’ll be travelling with this community when they leave in a couple of days in search of the earlier radio signal. Skorpion tells her he won’t be coming, and in an out of character concern for his fellow human, explains that his presence would attract the Templars. But he falls back into character by telling her that she’s a fool for searching for the past. (That’s odd. I thought she and the others were searching for others who wanted to try that civilization thing again.)
At the Templar base, Shadow chides One (or possibly Juan) for not attacking Skorpion when they had the chance. The fearless leader tells Shadow to send out some more recon groups. Said Templars mount up and take off.
Back at the survivor’s camp, Nadir and Vanya make some cutesy small talk via stilted dialogue. It plays as pre-sex talk, but it seems that she has to go into some kind of “biorhythmic concentration” to make it work. (Those who’ve seen Sleeper (1973) might also expect mention of an orgazmatron.) While she goes into her trance, he asks her where she’s from. She says Dallas Five. (Huh?) Then she explains that the leader of their group saw the end coming. They were in a shelter with enough food for seven years. Oh, and the leader of this group is called Moses. (No. Didn’t make it up.)
That night, one of the Templar recon elements finds the Sect encampment.
The next morning, Skorpion visits Nadir, who is still in snuggle mode with Vanya. He announces that he’s leaving, but then he doesn’t leave. Nadir tells him bye. But Skorpion still doesn’t leave. Nadir has to tell him bye a couple more times before he leaves. (Ask Mrs. Apostic. I’m lousy at good-byes, too. But I’m even lousier at them when someone drops in during an awkward moment to do it.)
And Skorpion is on the road again. But isn’t long before the Templars are chasing him. He flips a switch, and some kind of rocket launcher protrudes from the trunk. (You Freudians can make of that what you will.) Skorpion manages to take out a few of them with his launcher and a few aggressive (albeit, not spectacular) driving moves. But it isn’t long before one of the buggies lobs an explosive round into the back of his car.
After the explosion, Skorpion gets out of his car and faces his attackers, who have already stopped and are standing outside their cars. At the head of this freak show is One (or possibly Juan). He points a handgun at Skorpion, but readjusts his aim and shoots at the Skorpion-Mobile. (If it blows up, we don’t see it.)
Later, One (or possibly Juan) and the boys have got Skorpion immobilized. That is, they’ve got his extended arms in chains suspended from above where he stands. They’ve also got a chain around his neck. One (or possibly Juan) pronounces for the sake of his assembled troops that he was the one who oversaw Skorpion’s initiation into the Templars. Skorpion, he announces, may not have wanted to live as a Templar, but he’ll die as one.
Now, this next part is something we can’t put into this piece. Let’s just say it involves Sodomy and pass on the description. However, the scene is filmed in such a (thankfully) convoluted manner, it took repeated viewings to figure out that Skorpion’s pain during this torture scene was directly proportional to how close One (or possibly Juan) was standing to their guest of honor. You Freudians can keep your “Told ya so” comments to yourselves.
However, the event is interrupted when one of the Templars arrives and announces that he’s spotted a huge caravan. (It takes some doing, but we’ll have to assume that this is the same recon element that spotted the camp earlier, and that there was no cause/effect relationship between the Templar seeing the camp and the Templar ambush on Skorpion.) One (or possibly Juan) tells his troops to take it. Before he leaves, the fearless leader tells some flunkies to finish Skorpion off. (And, no, you Freudians are wrong this time. Probably.)
A couple of Templars on dirt bikes plus one in a dune buggy drag Skorpion
along the ground. (Drag. After that torture scene, quips about
alternate lifestyles among men come quickly to mind. But for the
sake of taste, we’ll skip them. Don’t write to me about all the opportunities
that I missed in the remainder of this article, because I’ve seen all the
good ones already. Believe it.) Unfortunately for the bad guys,
Nadir has been written into this scene. He takes out the Templars
on the bikes. When the driver of the buggy gets out to see where
the explosions were coming from, Nadir puts an exploding arrow into the
guy’s chest. (And we are treated to the same footage as when he did
that to someone else earlier.)
Cut to the annoying eight-year-old working on Skorpion’s car. Nadir is trying to help Skorpion break out his funk. “Here lies the great Skorpion,” chides Nadir. “Only not so great now. A victim of the big bad queers, the Templars.” (Like I said, it took repeated viewings for that line to make sense. However, we also learn that Skorpion can’t keep his damn mouth shut. Wouldn’t you?)
And cut back to the encampment. It’s in flames. (Either the camp broke into spontaneous combustion, or there was a heck of a battle that wasn’t in the budget.) One (or possibly Juan) is in the encampment. He has the campers stand up against a wall.
Night again. Nadir is working on Skorpion’s fast draw. The beaten gunman doesn’t get it right until the bowman makes him angry enough to draw on him. Nadir tells him to use that anger. Then he tells Skorpion about the power of the Dark Side and claims to be his father. Nah, just kidding.
The next morning, Skorpion is ready to go fight the Templars. Nadir wants to come to. When asked why, he says for a good fight. Skorpion still refuses, but the annoying kid tells Skorpion that he should take all the help he can get because winning is all that matters. Then the kid shows Skorpion two new gadgets he’d been working on. One is what looks like a drill for core samples, but it’s painted white, makes a funky electronic noise when it rotates, and is remotely extendable. The other is a sheet of some transparent substance that that is relatively invulnerable. He demonstrates that last one standing behind it while Nadir throws some of his exploding arrow tips at him. The child laughs and laughs as the explosions do no damage to the shield. (Yif! No point in shouting, “Somebody please shoot him”)
And next day, One (or possibly Juan) is rebuking the campers for believing in a future. (We are a bit confused about why the death dealing Templars haven’t executed the Sect members yet. We could invent some entertaining reasons, but that’d be doing unpaid work for the screenwriter.) A car with three Templars arrives, and Shadow announces it’s the three men they left behind to kill Skorpion. The car makes an abrupt stop. One (or possibly Juan) tells his chief flunky to punish the recent arrivals for interrupting his moment.
When Shadow goes over to the car and realizes the occupants are dead, he shouts, “It’s a trap!” (This Trojan Sedan tactic would’ve made a bit more sense if the car had done something useful at this moment, like explode.) Suddenly, Nadir and the kid start shooting Templars with exploding arrows and high-powered sling bullets. Several Templars are either flying through the air in slow motion or clutching their throats from sling bullet impacts.
But the attack stops. Skorpion makes a dramatic entrance wearing a cloak. One (or possibly Juan) comes down to face him. They do the standoff thing until One (or possibly Juan) asks Skorpion his business. The cloaked avenger says, “I’m here to kill you, One [or possibly Juan].” The head Templar draws his handgun on Skorpion, but the designated hero doesn’t make a move, preferring instead to stare down the bad guy. One (or possibly Juan) doesn’t shoot. Instead, he holsters his weapon.
They do the obligatory standoff thing again, just like they used to do it in the old west as it really was in the movies. This takes about two minutes. Finally, One (or possibly Juan) fires two exploding rounds into Skorpion’s abdomen. They explode nicely, but they don’t seem to have the anticipated effect.
Skorpion pulls off his cloak. He’s wearing a breastplate of that impervious transparent stuff the annoying kid was demonstrating. (The image is a lot goofier that it sounds; it looks like a muscle shirt gone terribly, terribly wrong.) One (or possibly Juan) freaks and runs. (Why he didn’t just shoot the joker in the face or feet is beyond us. After all, people have been shooting explosive rounds at Skorpion’s feet throughout this whole movie.
Nadir and the annoying kid resume their attack. (And the filmmakers resume filling the run-time with stuntmen either flying through the air after explosions or clutching their throats after being hit by sling bullets.)
The fighting is interrupted when Shadow challenges Skorpion for his motives. The angry aide de camp has got a gun on the hostage campers. However, Shadow’s rebuke session is interrupt by the abrupt departure by car of One (or possibly Juan). With nothing left to say, Shadow points his gun at the woman (remember her?), but Moses jumps in front of her and takes the shot. Shadow starts wasting some of the other hostages, too. This completion old business is suspended when Skorpion tags Shadow in the head with a fancy shot (which really messes up his ‘do).
And the rest of the attack resumes. And we get more airborne bad guys and more bad guys clutching their throats. At least we get one variation on this. For close quarters fighting, Nadir has abandoned the use of his bow, preferring instead to use the tips as thrown grenades and planted mines.
But during the above paragraph, Skorpion has jumped into his car and left. And now, he’s on the road pursuing One (or possibly Juan). We get a shot of a digital readout on the dashboard of the Skorpion-Mobile. It’s quickly increasing from 139 through 155. He hits a control and the readout numbers are increasing from 187 through 246. (We assume this is a speedometer, but we don’t have any units to work with here. It could be miles per hour. It could more likely be kilometers per hour. But gauging by the relatively slow motion of the terrain in the background, we suspect the readout is a pulse monitor and that Skorpion is getting just a little too excited by all this.)
And just as the Skorpion-Mobile is behind One’s (or possibly Juan’s) car, Skorpion activates a control that starts that giant core sample drill bit we saw earlier. It’s mounted on the passenger-side and begins to extend. The bit goes through the back of the other car, and very shortly, One (or possibly Juan) is freaking in agony. (We are not shown an exit sequence of the bit coming through One’s (or possibly Juan’s) chest or abdomen. And given the recent past history between these two men, you Freudians are probably feeling pretty darn smug by now.) The target car crashes into a ridge and explodes.
Back at the encampment, the surviving campers are stepping over all the dead Templars. Skorpion returns. Nadir asks him where he’s going. He answers, “Someplace where you’re not.” The bowman brightly replies, “Maybe yes. Maybe no.” (Does this mean a sequel? Maybe yes. Maybe NO!)
The woman and the kid approach Skorpion. The three of them eventually
hold hands. The End. Drop a shot of Skorpion’s face into a
box at the top of the screen and roll credits.
The basic plot of good guy stranger arrives and saves the day is common enough. You may look at this movie and quickly say, “Road Warrior rip-off.” However, given the strong Italian tradition of sword-and-sandal movies followed by several man-with-no-name variants, it’s easy to see a transition to the man-with-no-name vs. the barbarians. They’d sort of earned the right to rip it off.
And lest we forget, you can make an argument that The Road Warrior
was a lot like Shane (1953). Bringing the Road Warrior
closer to a western theme pulls this plot full circle.
However, this effect is not emphasized enough in the plot for the sake
of character. Which leads us to…
Take away that screen presence and make his survival tactic dependent upon goofy gimmicks instead of dazzling skill. Now you have Skorpion. Perhaps the actor’s physical presence had the same effect on Italian audiences as Eastwood had on American audiences. However, I’m willing to bet it didn’t. Until Skorpion is put into a position where he is psychologically unable to fight efficiently, he’s not an interesting character. (Actually, he’s not even an interesting character at that point because his comeback lacks depth.)
Regarding skill, when George Miller started doing the Mad Max series, he said he wanted to do a story about an accomplished fighter. However, Miller transposed the setting and character to a hero who was good with a car instead of a sword. (You can see a similar transposition in George Romero's Knightriders (1981). With no imaginative show of skill, the character and story would’ve been less entertaining. Therefore, since the main character of this movie doesn’t show us any remarkable skills in a remarkable way, the story and character are not entertaining.
In the end, he’s holding hands with the woman and the kid. Did
he decide to stay with them? Has he given up being a lone wolf?
Did he have a singular moment of epiphany wherein he realized that there
was more to survival than being an individualist? None of this is
answered in the movie. And that’s a shame. Lacking the other
things noted above, they might’ve saved the story on the strength of character
depth. Maybe there’s no point to expecting depth in this sort of
thing, but had it been there (and it would’ve been easy to do, given what
Skorpion went through), this movie might’ve been better than just “this
sort of thing.”
When she tells Skorpion that she’s joining the Sect, which means a parting
of the ways with our hero, they go through the obligatory break-up dialogue.
They might as well just skipped filming that scene. At this point
in the movie, we don’t care about how Skorpion feels about her (or anything
else), and we don’t know her well enough to care what she feels.
Furthermore, violence in this movie is remarkably unconvincing. People blow up. (And they blow up real good, too.) Identifiable parts fly through the air. But not a drop of blood is spilled. It’s not so much that it will dissatisfy people who like to see blood, but it is unintentionally hilarious to see someone decapitated but not bleeding.
And then there are the costumes and makeup. They tried to make One look fierce by giving the actor white streaks of hair, but it just looks silly. They tried to make the radio operator in the Sect camp look technically inclined by giving her a headset with what looks like knitting needles sticking out the sides, but it just looks silly. They tried to make Mako and Shadow look barbaric with their hairstyles, but they just look silly. They tried to make Skorpion look manly with that transparent breastplate, but he just looks very silly indeed. They tried to make the Templar troopers look tough in a medieval armor sort of way with upwardly protruding shoulder joints in their armor. You know the chorus. Sing along.
However, two exceptions should be noted: Anna Kanakis and Fred Williamson.
They look good in their outrageous outfits. In their cases, they
each have a sufficient presence and physique to back up the pretense of
the costume, such that their outfits look like honest extensions of themselves.
In most other cases, the costumes are wearing the actors.
Antonio Visone (writer) has this single known screen credit as a writer. He's better known as a set decorator/production designer, which he did on this movie and Puma Man (1980).
Giancarlo Prete (Skorpion) has appeared in various other Italian knock-offs, including Escape from the Bronx (1984) and The Last Shark (1980)
Fred Williamson (Nadir) was yet another gridironer who traded the field for the studio set. Unlike many in this group, he was often pretty good as a performer, and got his big break as Captain "Spearchucker" Jones in MASH (1970) and did several action-adventure and blaxploitation movies in the '70's through '90's. He's still working as an actor, and can be seen as Frost in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). His talent as an actor tends to be directly proportional to the talent of the director he's working with. For example, in Warriors of the Wasteland, he cuts an impressive screen presence but his dialogue delivery has been better in other movies. A lot better.
Anna Kanakis (Alma) was Miss Italy in 1977. Her eye makeup in this feature is good.
Ennio Girolami (Shadow) has had a long career in Italian comedies and thrillers. This includes Fellini's Le Notti di Cabiria (1957) and Dario Argento's Tenebre (1982). Oh, yeah, and he's also the director's brother, so he's appeared in several of Enzo G. Castellari's movies. (To tell you the truth, I kinda wish this movie had been about his and Fred Williamson's characters.)
George Eastman (One) has worked under a variety of pseudonyms. He started out in the early '60's doing action-adventure movies. During the '70's he started appearing (and writing) some soft porn monster flicks. (Yes, you read that right. Don't ask.) In the early eighties, he was at his commercial peak; he wrote and appeared in D'Amato's Grim Reaper (1981), wrote and directed Anno 2020 - I Gladiatori del Futuro (1982, a.k.a Texas Gladiators), and appeared in several of Castellari's features. People who aren't particularly into Italian B movies may see him in Fellini's Satyricon and as Goliath in King David (1985).
Giovanni Frezza (Young Mechanic) did work as a child actor a few messy movies, including Quella Vill Accanto al Cimitero (1981, a.k.a. House by the Cemetery) and Mario Bava's Demoni (1985).
Venantino Venantini (Moses) has had a solid acting career (in terms of work) from the '60's through '70's. He played Paris De Grassis in The Agony and the Ecstacy (1965), and Fornac in Ladyhawke (1985). On the other hand, he also appeared in some zombie, cannibal, and mob movies, like Paura nella Città dei Morti Viventi (1980, a.k.a The Gates of Hell), Cannibal Ferox (1980), and Final Justice (1984). In 1999, he won the Silver Ribbon for Best Supporting Actor from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for his work in La Cena (1998).
Mario Giorsi (costumes) attired several sword and sandal movies during the '60's. Puma Man and Warriors of the Wasteland were his last two known screen credits.
Germano Natali (special effects and prosthetics) also worked on Dario Argento's Profondo Rosso (1975), Suspiria (1977), and Inferno (1980), so we don’t understand why nobody bleeds in this movie. He also did the special effects for Starcrash (1979), to which I say, c'mon, give the man a hand.
Fabrizio De Angelis (prducer) had several credits under his belt
by the time he got to this one. This also includes work as a screen
writer on Zombi Holocaust (1979, a.k.a. Dr. Butcher, M.D.),
and producing Romero rip-off Zombi 2 (1979) and Fulci's homicidal
"Donald Duck killer" story Lo Squartotore di New York (1982, a.k.a.
The New York Ripper),
1990 I Guerrieri del Bronx (1982, a.k.a. 1990: The Bronx Warriors), Enzo G. Castellari – Technically not a post-Apocalypse story, however it is set in a dystopian future. Evil corporation tries to force local residents out of their homes. Features many members of the Warriors of the Wasteland cast. Followed by a sequel.
Anon 2020 - I Gladiatori del Futuro (1982, a.k.a. 2020 Texas Gladiators), Joe D'Amato – The fall and rebirth of civilization, as seen through the experiences of a couple. Think of it as Once Upon a Time in the West meets Things to Come.
Rats (1983) – Bruno Mattei story about post-Apocalypse survivors vs. mutant rats. Messy.
2019 Dopo la Caduta Di New York (1983, a.k.a. After the Fall of New York), Sergio Martino – Tough guy Parsifal is on a quest to find the a woman who can give birth. Sort of like Escape from New York meets a Wagner opera, but without the craftsmanship of either. Also features many members of the Warriors of the Wasteland cast.
Il Giustiziere della Strada (1983, a.k.a. Exterminators of the Year 3000), Giuliano Carmineo – Science inclined good guys vs. bad guy bikers. Sort of like The Road Warrior set in a chapeter of Things to Come. Whole lot of cyborgisms; at least the prosthetics can act.
I Predatori dell'Anno Omega (1984, a.k.a. Warrior of the Lost
World), David Worth – Good guy with an intelligent motorcycle vs. post-apocalypse
bad guys. Picture a poor man’s Knightrider vs. a lame variation
of the cult from Omega Man. Abysmal; bad enough for MST3K
fans to ask for it by name.
This article is only a small part of the Post-Apocalypso party, which was a sequel to Bangs 'n' Whimpers.
Also, for those who can't get enough of the life after the end of the world, check out Post Apocalyptic Movie Mania. ("Fun for the whole family, if insane.") Note: Once you get past the first page, you won't have to worry about those annoying script runtime errors.
Published 19 April 2000 from an undisclosed location near Arkham, MA