Color, 1983, 91m.
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
Starring Timothy Brent, Fred Williamson, George Eastman, Anna Kanakis, Thomas Moore, Venantino Venantini, Giovanni Frezza
Blue Underground (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), Shameless (DVD) (UK R0 PAL), Another World (Scandinavia R0 PAL), CMV Laservision (German R2 PAL), Media Blasters (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9), Vipco (DVD) (UK R0 PAL)
Better known to many English-speaking moviegoers as Warriors of the Wasteland, this post-apocalyptic opus from director Enzo G. Castellari and producer Fabrizio De Angelis marked the third and last entry in their cycle preceded by 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape from the Bronx. This one isn't a sequel though as it shifts characters and settings as we jump to the early 21st century where a nuclear holocaust has turned everything into something that looks suspiciously like The Road Warrior.
The wasteland is being terrorized by a fascist gang called the Templars roaming around in white storm trooper outfits, led by a diabolical commander with white-streaked hair named One (Eastman) who's so wicked he rips a Bible in half in the first ten minutes. A loner named Scorpion (Brent, aka Giancarlo Prete from Street Law) comes riding along and draws the ire of the hooligans, who are busy dragging folks around in nets for fun. Some of his other pals in this lawless land include a mercenary mentor of sorts named Nadir (Williamson), who fires arrows that really go kaboom, and a mop-headed little mechanic played by none other than Giovanni Frezza, better known as Bob from House by the Cemetery. Also rescued from the Templars' net is pouting, puffy-haired Alma (Kanakis) to provide the obligatory romantic interest and show off her amazing taste in eyewear. Car chases and battles ensue with Scorpion and company facing off across an increasingly crazed One.
Far removed from the urban setting of the previous two films, this one takes place mostly outdoors with a significantly different, more stylized look including some wild color gels and lots of blue skies. It also sounds very different thanks to a crazed, electronic dance freakout of a score composed by on-and-off Goblin member Claudio Simonetti in between his gigs on Lucio Fulci's Conquest and Dario Argento's Phenomena. Both Williamson and Eastman make off with every scene they're in; the former does his usual charming cad routine perfectly and shows off a cool gold glove, while the latter goes over the top in one of his nuttiest non-Joe D'Amato villainous performances including a punishment by sodomy scene that still makes audiences do a double take.
Though this was theatrically released by New Line, the film didn't fall into their vaults for decades the same way as Escape from the Bronx. The first DVD of this film released in 2004 by Media Blasters featured a pretty solid (for the time) anamorphic transfer along with an audio commentary by Castellari, his son Andrea, Lorenzo De Luca (who wrote Castellari's Jonathan of the Bears), and moderator David Gregory. The film is revealed as a sort of challenge the director undertook to see if he could make the film for a miniscule amount of money, modeling it after the style of a western. Of course, they also used a lot of plastic, tubes, and silver paint to create that, ahem, distinctive look. There's also a Fred Williamson interview running a scant 4 minutes, much shorter than the one on their Bronx Warriors disc; it's definitely less cheerful as he goes into the downfall of the Italian post nuke films and mainly refers to this as "a good time." Also included is the English-language trailer and bonus ones for Duck! The Carbine High Massacre, Hell High, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and 2019: After the Fall of New York.
As with the other two films, this was issued in the UK as a DVD tin set from Shameless with the other two Castellari post-apocalypse films in 2009 with a standalone disc following in 2010. This is easily the most modest of the three releases as it essentially recycles the same transfer and features the usual brief Castellari intro, a pop-up fact track, the US alternate credits, and the international trailer (plus a bunch of other Argent Films trailers like The Battle of Algiers and Keoma).
In 2015, the film was issued as a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD release from Blue Underground alongside its usual Castellari companions, with the original Castellari commentary ported over (and now mirroring two of the other participants on the newer commentaries elsewhere). Image quality is on par with the other two titles, rising several notches above past transfers in terms of clarity and color fidelity. The opening scenes involving titles and opticals are on the softer side, but once the film proper kicks in it resolves pretty nicely. The DTS-HD English mono track sounds just fine given the thin nature of the original audio. On the extras front you get the second part of the "Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis in Conversation" featurettes, here running just shy of 14 minutes with the duo going into more detail about the film's absurdly impoverished budget and how they had to work fast while Mad Max mania was still relatively fresh, not to mention the amusing visual trickery used to create an elaborate funeral scene with lots of attendees when the only had 15 costumes and a handful of cars. In the 20-minute "Tales of the Hammer," Williamson offers a fresh, HD-lensed spin on the previous interview he did years ago for Bronx Warriors in which he charts his transition from sports to acting, his early career highlights including directing his Charlie westerns and working on M*A*S*H, his glory days in blaxploitation, and his desire to pick up where Woody Strode left off by becoming a major black star in Europe including his first film with Castellari, The Inglorious Bastards. In addition to trailers for the other two Castellari sci-fi releases, the disc concludes with a poster and still gallery, the English international trailer, and two different Italian trailers. Tons of fun; obviously, you need this.