POST APOCALYPTIC COLLECTION Blu-ray Review - Bad Acting, Explosions, And A Lot Of Fun - Dread Central
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POST APOCALYPTIC COLLECTION Blu-ray Review – Bad Acting, Explosions, And A Lot Of Fun

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Escape from the bronx e1544108862595 - POST APOCALYPTIC COLLECTION Blu-ray Review - Bad Acting, Explosions, And A Lot Of Fun

Starring Fred Williamson, Mark Gregory, Timothy Brent
post apocalyptic collection 214x300 - POST APOCALYPTIC COLLECTION Blu-ray Review - Bad Acting, Explosions, And A Lot Of Fun
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari

Distributed by Blue Underground


Blue Underground has just released a trio of films by Enzo G. Castellari which it calls the Post-Apocalyptic Collection. Well, while only one of the films can really be called post-apocalyptic, they all have plenty of grit and decay. And they’re cheesy as hell, in the tradition of the best no-budget 80’s schlock. You’re either going to be really into this stuff, or you’re going to hate it. Personally, I love it. If you don’t take the films seriously, you’re going to have a damn good time.

The first film in the collection, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, gives us our introduction to Trash, the main character who also appears in Escape from the Bronx. Played by Mark Gregory (Marco Di Gregorio), Trash is the leader of a biker gang who is, while not explicitly gay, well, when you see Gregory’s sassy strut, pretty face, and tight-tight jeans, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Gregory was actually discovered by Castellari working out at a gym the director frequented. He didn’t have any acting experience, and it shows. But he is very handsome, so it’s all good.

Bronx Warriors also features Blaxploitation and action movie legend Fred Williamson. Besides maybe Vic Morrow, he’s the only actor that Americans in the 1980’s would have heard of, but producer Fabrizio De Angelis only needed one name to market the movie in the U.S. Williamson’s handlebar mustache is at peak awesomeness, and his character is the best part of the film. It made me a bit sad to see that he only appears at the beginning and end of the picture, though he kicks enough ass in the final thirty minutes to make up for that.

The film’s plot, as if it really matters much, concerns Ann (Stefania Girolami), the soon to be eighteen-year-old heir to the Manhattan Corporation. She’s hanging out in the Bronx, an area so dangerous that the government has declared it a “no-man’s land.” Her father is apparently such a sociopath and narcissist that he absolutely must have his daughter inherit his empire. So he sends a bounty hunter type named Hammer (Vic Morrow) and a bunch of lame dudes in white running suits and motorcycle helmets (I assume the helmets are so that the body count can remain high while reusing actors) to retrieve her. Wall to wall violence ensues. This is where, for all their silliness, these three movies really shine. Everything falls into place during the action scenes: the frenetic editing and music, the stunt work, and of course the many explosions.

If 1990: The Bronx Warriors bears more than a passing resemblance to Escape from New York, that’s because it’s a complete ripoff, though with about 5% of the talent. Not happy with only ripping off one movie, however, Castellari also features plenty of weird looking gangs, a la The Warriors. Sure, a gang of street hockey types doesn’t seem very practical in battle, what with those roller skates and all, but they look…well, kinda cool, I guess.

Escape from the Bronx is the second movie in the collection, though it was the third to be produced. This makes sense when you consider that Trash and some of the other characters (though no Fred Williamson, sadly) from Bronx Warriors appear in this film. It’s both a stand alone movie and a quasi-sequel.

If you’ve seen the Mystery Science Theater episode on Escape from the Bronx (under the alternative title of Escape 2000), you know that the cheese factor is off the charts. I’m not sure if it’s a lot more goofy than Bronx Warriors, but it beats its predecessor by some margin.

Anyway, Ennio Girolami is back as the president of the evil corporation, and this time he’s not fucking around. His company is tasked with turning the wasteland that is the Bronx into something liveable. In order to do this, he has to “relocate” the current residents. But instead of giving them the free housing in New Mexico that’s been promised, death squads move in and set everyone on fire with flamethrowers. Trash believes that this is not a polite thing to do, especially after seeing the charred remains of his parents.

The nice thing about Escape from the Bronx is that the gangs have all united in order to battle a common foe. It’s good to see this kind of cooperation and tolerance among former enemies. Gives you a bit of hope for this cynical world.

And yeah, while Escape from the Bronx is, like its predecessor, a cash-in flick, it bares some striking similarities to RoboCop, a film which would be released just a few years later. Who the hell knows how much of that is a coincidence, but anti-gentrification sentiments were fairly high among certain left-wing filmmakers and artists in the 1980’s as a reaction to increased deregulation of the economy, so maybe we shouldn’t give Escape from the Bronx all that much credit.

Escape from the Bronx has even more wall-to-wall action than Bronx Warriors, if you can believe that. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for plot, but Castellari seems quite okay with this. I am too, for that matter. There’s a subplot about an investigative reporter that doesn’t amount to anything, and even a plucky child sidekick who, believe it or not, isn’t too annoying. Stuff blows up, people get dismembered, people get lit on fire. Honestly, it’s pretty much a complete cinematic experience.

I don’t know that I need to mention how terrible the acting is here, however, Antonio Sabato really steals the show with a wonderful scene-chewing performance as the leader of the united gangs. He also dresses like a pirate, so that’s cool too. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

After Escape from the Bronx, Mark Gregory would make a handful of films, including starring in an an Italian action franchise where he played the lead character, Thunder, before disappearing. And when I say disappear, I don’t just mean from film. The dude appears to have fallen completely off the map, and literally nobody knows where he is now. I’m not sure he liked his job very much.

The New Barbarians, AKA Warriors of the Wasteland, AKA whatever it was titled for whatever regional market that it was showing, is the only flick in this set that we can realistically call post-apocalyptic. Filmed in between the two Bronx movies, it is..hoo boy…quite the Road Warrior rip-off.

The formula for a Road Warrior knockoff seems to be the following: give some actors New Wave haircuts, trick out some old cars to look slightly futuristic, and buy a sci-fi sound effects record from Woolworth’s. But the true advantage of this genre is that it can be filmed in a large backyard, perhaps one that’s borrowed from a friend while they’re on vacation. This is the good stuff right here, folks.

Somehow this is the weirdest flick of the three. What the hell does does our hero, Scorpion (Timothy Brent), need a giant plastic bubble on the roof of his car for? Either no reason at all, or to make room for his majestically permed hair. Take your pick, really. And why is there an eight-year-old kid automotive genius? Why not, of course, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that he has the best line in the film: “The more of a bastard you are, the more likely you are to win.” Indeed, kid. Indeed.

The plot — and why am I even doing this — involves a group called the Templars who want to kill everyone who didn’t die in the recent nuclear holocaust. Yes, everyone. Presumably themselves, too, but only after they’ve killed everyone else, of course. Scorpion, a former Templar himself, is determined to bring the organization down, presumably because he decided that being alive is better than not existing.

Fred Williamson and his glorious mustache are back. Despite his silly wardrobe, Williamson seems to be having a great time. Part of this might have something to do with the fact that he gets to shoot arrows with exploding tips, something that Williamson insists Stallone stole for Rambo III. This is, well, probably true.

Plenty of stuff blows up. Mostly dummies. Castellari has a thing about blowing up dummies, even if they don’t look anything like people. He just loves blowing them up. Along with everything else.
If you’re into these flicks, and I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t be, the Blue Underground special edition is loaded with special features, and each disc has a new commentary track with Castellari and various friends and colleagues of his. There’s a ton of interviews. Of course, I enjoyed the interview with Fred Williamson most. At eighty years old, he’s still the coolest guy in any room.

Special Features

1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari
  • Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis In Conversation Part 1
  • Sourcing The Weaponry – Enzo G. Castellari visits the Italian Weapons Rental House of Paolo Ricci
  • Adventures In The Bronx – Interview with Actor/Stuntman Massimo Vanni
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Poster & Still Gallery

ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari
  • Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis In Conversation Part 3
  • The Hunt For Trash – Interview with BRONX WARRIORS Superfan Lance Manley
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Poster & Still Gallery

THE NEW BARBARIANS

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Enzo G. Castellari
  • Enzo G. Castellari and Fabrizio De Angelis In Conversation Part 2
  • Tales Of The Hammer – Interview with Star Fred Williamson
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • 1990: The Bronx Warriors
  • Escape from the Bronx
  • Warriors of the Wasteland
  • Special Features
2.8

Summary

These three flicks represent the pinnacle of 80’s knockoff schlock. Love them or hate them, they’re a whole lot of fun.

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