Wednesday, July 10, 2024

new york stories.

The John Carpenter classic - and my favourite of his movies - Escape From New York was released 42 years ago today so what better way to celebrate than with not only a collection of classic Carpenter inspired cuts, Jack Burton beats and taxicab tunes (available to download here) but with a film that is a wee bit like it.

I mean it's set in New York and one of the alternate titles has the word 'escape' in it so what more do you want?

Look all the kids are off school/college so I've precious little time for anything let alone blogging coherently.

Anyway enjoy.

1990: The Bronx Warriors (AKA Escape From The Bronx, Bronx Warriors. 1982)
Dir: Enzo G. Castellari
Cast: Mark Gregory, Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson, Vic Morrow, Christopher 'Brian' Connelly, Stefania Girolami, George 'The Beast' Eastman and Ennio 'The Jackal' Girolami.

"It might be a pile of shit out of somebody's asshole!"

The year is 1990 (not too surprising given the title but hey I'm trying to set the scene) and the crime rate in the run down Bronx bit of New York has sky-rocketed to such a high that the government has declared the entire place a no go area.

A wee bit like Dudley or West Bromwich.
Just with a bit less of a gammony smell.
The police no longer enter it (phnarrr) and vicious - well, vicious compared to the Jets from West Side Story or Murphy's Mob - gangs roam the streets enforcing their own brand of law.

And yes it does involve buggery.

It's to this lawless hell-hole that vacuous, bubble permed Ann (Girolami, the directors daughter, better known for her 1st AD work on Dawson's Creek and her wonderful singing voice) has run away to in the hope of escaping from her family, owners of the world's biggest arms conglomerate and controllers of the nice bits of New York City, reckoning that upon taking control of the company she'll become a mere puppet for the mysterious suits on the board.

Suits being worn by bad people.

And not just suits idly scattered on chairs.

That would be silly. 

Thinking about it tho' it's a wee bit of a selfish reason, it's not as if she's run away for ethical or anti-violence reasons the self centred, spoiled cow.

Kids eh?

No need.

Anyway, it's not too long before our heroine is attacked by a frighteningly camp bunch of guys bedecked in white Nazi helmets and huge cardboard shoulder-pads, carrying hockey sticks and whizzing round the place on roller skates.

ladies and gentlemen I give you the evil cut throat street gang know as The Zombies!

No, really I'm giving them to you....fucking take them.

Luckily for the fugitive heiress (and for the viewer who by this point is probably giving themselves a hernia laughing) her capture (and almost certain inappropriate touching) is thwarted by a gang of nipple revealing, denim clad bike boys named (quite creatively) The Riders led by the lady hipped pouting pretty boy, Trash (motorcycle enthusiast and expertly trained Greco-Roman style wrestler last seen on-screen in the fantastically shite Afghanistan Connection: The Last War Bus, Gregory).

Seeing as she's the only woman in the Bronx with all her own teeth (and without syphilis) Trash takes an instant shine to Ann, inviting her back to his day-glo love nest so she can stare lustfully at his sweat covered man breasts and share a can of Coke.

Aah, ain't love grand?


Meanwhile back at the plot, the aforementioned evil (person filled) suits decide to send bastard freelance law enforcer and part-time postie, the pube haired hard man Hammer (professional angry man, the late great Morrow) to bring Ann back safely and kill lots of people whilst doing it.

Nice work if you can get it.

Disguised as Postman Pat and carrying a poster tube with a candle stuck to the end Hammer heads into the Bronx to meet his contact, a traitor from within Trash's ranks.

Whilst all this mail-based excitement is going on, Ann is busy teaching Trash the meaning of trust and friendship (as well as how to apply blusher correctly), suggesting that it might be nice if he made the effort to make some new friends and get out more, rather than spend all his days stuck indoors playing Nintendo and hanging about with barely dressed bad boys.

So this is who really started The Great Fire of Pontypandy.

Trash reluctantly agrees and picks up his Power Rangers football before heading out to find some new pals to have a kick about with.

No sooner has he put his jacket down to use as a goalpost when who should turn up but rival gang boss, professional black man and self style King of New York, Mr. Tony Ogre (Blaxploitation legend and tight buttocked sex god, Williamson).

After a few goes at keepy uppy and penalties the pair become firm friends and Ogre offers to help Trash get his true love to safety thru' the dangerous underbelly of The Bronx.

But Hammer is in hot pursuit and the cities other gangs, from subterranean mutant tramps to evil tap dancers, aren't as accommodating as The Ogre, especially when it comes to fresh peachy ass slinking thru' their turf....

Dragged kicking and screaming from the mind of exploitation master Enzo G. Castellari (The Inglorious Bastards, The House by the Edge of the Lake with the scrumptious Leonora Fani, Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone and the soon to be completed Caribbean Bastards), this superbly silly riff on Escape From New York is at once gloriously entertaining nonsense yet at the same time as slow and painful as passing a huge kidney stone.

The 'plot' (as it is) is thinner than Mackenzie Crook on a starvation diet, leaving characters to wander aimlessly from scene to scene whilst Vic Morrow, wearing the look of a constipated bulldog licking piss off John Nettles single handily keeps the viewer interested (and ups the body-count) by dispatching anyone he comes across.

Leonora Fani: Ask your granddad.

Unexplained radiation scarred mutants attack our heroes during their journey thru' the subway for no other reason than there were obviously some zombie outfits left in the stock room but the greatest WTF moment must be when Trash and co. are accosted by the (previously mentioned) gang of bejewelled and make-up caked killer tap dancers all dressed up like rejects from Mamma Mia! who break into a fantastically camply choreographed fight cum dance number.

I kid you not, it's worth the price just for this scene alone.

Well, that and the fact that D'Amato regular and my real dad, the great George Eastman turns up halfway thru' dressed as a character from a junior school stage version of Mortal Kombat for no other reason than to fight Fred Williamson.

Oh, and get the ladies pulses racing obviously.

But despite (or maybe because) of all that, the movie is an unmissable slice of gritty urban genius, years before such gang based dramas became the vogue.

 To those unable to appreciate the slow burning powerful anti-fascist/anti-globalisation message of the movie, 1990: The Bronx Warriors may look like a film with little or no merit but to those of us that can appreciate true celluloid art the film is as powerful and thought provoking as Schindler's List or that Disney one with John Hurt about the family that escape from East Germany in a home-made balloon

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