The Barbarians (1987)

The Barbarians (1987)- * * *

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Peter Paul, David Paul, Richard Lynch, Eva La Rue, George Eastman, and Michael Berryman

In a mystical faraway land of swords and sorcery, two twin brothers are orphaned and adopted by a traveling caravan of weirdos. When the nefarious warlord Kadar (Lynch), in a quest for more power, attacks the traveling troupe and imprisons Queen Canary (Bryant) and enslaves the brothers in a work camp, at least some good comes out of it: a lifetime of lifting rocks has turned the two brothers into massively muscular “Barbarian Brothers”. Kutchek (Peter Paul) and Gore (David Paul) want to free their beloved Queen, so, along with another newly-freed victim of the wrath of Kadar, a girl named Kara (La Rue), they go forward on their quest. Along the way they meet all kinds of crazy characters and people, not the least of which are Dirtmaster (Berryman) and Jacko (Eastman). Will they slay the dragon? Will they find the magical ruby that fits into the bellybutton of the future queen? Will they argue and make weird, animalistic noises? Find out today!

Connecticut’s own The Barbarian Brothers truly come out to shine (literally - they glisten) in their first major, starring role. It truly was an amazing time for the film industry and the world of video stores alike  - the fact that projects like this could be made and distributed around the world would not happen today.  That Cannon would put Ruggero Deodato in the director’s chair, and - of all people - The Barbarian Brothers front and center is nothing short of a miracle. The result is a fairly freewheeling journey into a magical land filled with wacky costumes, crazy makeup, and oiled-up meatheads.

It was the 80’s, after all, and things like Dungeons and Dragons, He-Man, and the Conan The Barbarian series (he’s only ONE barbarian. Here you get two for the price of one) were huge. Not to mention video games like Iron Sword (remember the Fabio cover?), Gauntlet and later Golden Axe. Even the breastplate that one of the brothers wears later in the movie is very He-Man esque. And seeing as how Lucio Fulci directed Conquest (1983), Cannon probably figured, ‘okay, this sword-and-sorcery stuff is huge right now, let’s get another Italian director known for his horror/gore work and have him run the show’. Deodato provides a weird/wacky vibe, and the whole thing is well-shot in typical Italian style. While Dolph Lundgren was ideal casting for Masters of the Universe (1987) - could you imagine He-Man x2? Well, imagine no longer.

Fan favorite Richard Lynch was good casting as the baddie, and it’s probably the only time we’ve ever seen him with dreadlocks. He must have impressed Deodato after working with him on Cut and Run (1985). Same goes for Michael Berryman, who also appeared in that movie two years earlier for Deodato. Berryman is always cool to see, and he makes some great faces, and has some impressive headgear. Same thing for George Eastman, we always enjoy when he pops up when you’re not expecting him to, which happens fairly often. Eva La Rue makes a cute companion to the Barbarians on their quest, and there are some lesser characters with notable features such as a guy who can only be described as “Pee Wee Amidala” (you’ll know him when you see him) and a baddie who looks a lot like Bane. Interestingly, in this “origin story” for the Barbarian Brothers, they actually take the time to explain WHY they’re so huge, which you don’t often see for other meatheads. The brothers themselves have a silly kind of chemistry which has helped earn them a fan following.

The movie fluctuates between childish fun and more adult themes, so it’s hard to tell exactly who this was aimed for. Perhaps the ideal audience is immature young men like us. Featuring an uncredited song with the lyrics “Your ruby dreams taste so sweet”, The Barbarians remains a lightweight 80’s Barbaric good time.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out write-ups from our buddies Dead Moon Night and The Video Vacuum!


Cut and Run (1985)

Cut and Run (1985)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Lisa Blount, Eriq La Salle, Willie Aames, Leonard Mann, Karen Black, John Steiner, Richard Bright, Michael Berryman, and Richard Lynch

Fran Hudson (Blount) is a local Miami TV reporter who never shies away from a story that is potentially dangerous. After some drug-fueled murders in the area, an informant, Fargas (La Salle) points Fran and her trusty cameraman Mark (Mann) in the direction of a mysterious man named Brian Horne (Lynch). Horne was a disgraced Army Colonel who ended up in the employment of the infamous Jim Jones. He was said to have died in the massacre at Guyana, but recent photos have surfaced featuring Horne. Fran and Mark want to go deep into the jungles of Venezuela where they believe he is hiding out in order to interview him. This coincides perfectly with the wishes of their station manager, Bob (Bright) as well as Karin (Black). Bob’s son Tommy (Aames) has been missing and thought to be in the same area. So Fran and Mark have their work “cut” out for them, as they must report on the drug killings, find and interview Brian Horne, and rescue Tommy - all the while dodging the many pitfalls of the jungle, not the least of which is the violent and frightening killer Quecho (Berryman). Can they do it?

Out of all the jungle movies released in the 80’s, Cut and Run has to rank as one of the best. While it sits comfortably with other items on video store shelves at the time such as Cocaine Wars (1985), Cut and Run has a lot more going for it. Namely the strong cast, and equally strong direction by Ruggero Deodato, who most people would associate with Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - but here at Comeuppance we associate him with Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976), Raiders of Atlantis (1983) and The Barbarians (1987). Though, truth be told, Cut and Run shares more of the themes of Cannibal Holocaust than any of the other movies we mentioned - jungles, white people entering them and facing hostile Indios, and gore a-plenty. So while lesser filmmakers were off making nondescript El Presidente movies or Jungle Slogs (as we call them), Deodato corraled an impressive cast and raised the bar on all films of this type. He set the standard for the 80’s video store-era jungle movie, and it has yet to be surpassed.

Lisa Blount makes an appealing lead, and she’s an actress we don’t often get a chance to talk about. Eriq La Salle - much like his co-stars John Steiner, Gabriele Tinti and even Karen Black - puts in a colorful and worthwhile, but brief, role. Fan favorite Michael Berryman is on board doing what he does best, as is fellow fan favorite Richard Lynch. Both Berryman and Lynch have loinclothed goons - presumably no jungle movie would be complete without them. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with Willie Aames (or is it Willie Bibleman; not really sure) what with his curly mullet and Mickey Mouse tanktop over a red sweatshirt, but like Blount, we don’t get to talk about Willie too much on this site, so we were happy to see him in a non-Charles in Charge role. But seeing as how the movie was directed with energy by Deodato, and has typically-excellent Claudio Simonetti music, you can’t really lose...or can you?

Actually, you CAN lose if you view the New World VHS. The Anchor Bay DVD is uncut so make sure that is the version you see/buy. The moments of well-executed gore are one of the main ingredients that set this movie apart from its jungle-based competitors. So make sure you see it all on the DVD. Corman and New World have a tendency to cut movies and make sure they don’t go “too far”, and Cut and Run was sadly a victim of that back in the day. But it’s been rectified now, so there’s nothing to fear. Except maybe Quecho.

Cut and Run is a solid movie, and the DVD is a solid addition to anyone’s collection.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!