1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982) – Spaghetti-pocalypse movies were to the 1980s what Spaghetti Westerns were to the 60s and 70s. Italian-made ripoffs of post-apocalypse and/or dystopian flicks like The Road Warrior and Escape From New York were everywhere back then.
Today, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at two such movies that starred cult icon Mark Gregory, real name Marco De Gregorio. Years ago, I covered Mark as Adam in Adam and Eve vs the Cannibals. Last week I reviewed his Thunder Warrior trilogy of Rambo imitations, this week it’s the pair of films in which Mark played a dystopian man of action called … Trash.
Talk about making your hero’s name a joke right off the bat! He SHOULD have been called something like Vandal, which has much more panache and was more befitting of a character following in the footsteps of Mad Max and Snake Plissken.
The story is set eight years in the future from its 1982 release and presented a crime-ridden New York City run by plutocratic corporations who have every politician in their pocket. So, just think of New York as it is right now.
Crime in the Bronx has become so out of control that the borough has been declared a No Man’s Land in which gangs and other criminals rule the streets and any law-abiding citizens are on their own. Most of the gangs have silly theme costumes like the gangs in The Warriors, so there’s some of that movie’s flavor in this, too.
Our hero Trash leads a motorcycle gang called the Riders, whose choppers all have skull ornaments on the front. One of Trash’s soldiers, named Chris (Chris?), has been killed by the Ogre, played by the one and only Fred Williamson. The Ogre is basically the kingpin of the Bronx, and all the gangs show deference to the Ogre and his army to varying degrees. They mostly fight among themselves, with Williamson and company untouchable.
Into this dangerous territory comes Ann (Stefania Girolami Goodwin), a standard “poor little rich girl” type who has run away from her family and its money due to her disgust with that family’s role in the corporate fascist dystopia of this “future” 1990 world.
Trash steps in to save the fugitive Ann from being raped by several gang members on roller skates. Those thugs are armed with hockey sticks and are called … the Zombies? Just go with it. Opposites attract, so the wealthy heiress and the gang leader Trash fall in “love” with each other and begin a romance.
Manhattan Corporation (called G.C. Corporation in the sequel), the company that Ann will be inheriting control over, grows increasingly frantic to find the young woman and bring her back, so that its evil head (Ennio Girolami) and his cronies can control the corporation through her.
When news broadcasts about the heiress’ disappearance tip off the other gangs in the Bronx about her identity, some of them want to abduct Ann from Trash’s territory and exchange her for a huge ransom from Manhattan Corporation. Amid all the battles that result from that, there’s also a traitor among Trash’s following and a conscienceless mercenary named Hammer (Vic Morrow) on the loose.
Hammer is being paid by Ennio Girolami and Manhattan Corporation to retrieve Ann, and he goes about it the long way around by killing various members of each gang to try setting them all at war. In addition to the Riders and the misnamed Zombies, there’s also the Tigers, the Scavengers, the Outlaws, and the iron-hatted Iron Men, who have a Broadway tap and cane-dancer theme (I’m NOT joking) and who are led by a woman who has the hots for Trash.
Come to think of it, all the ladies lust after Trash, our strong, silent hero, as he fights his way through this adventure among the crumbling remains of the Bronx. Ultimately, our hero forms an uneasy alliance with the Ogre and his gang, which includes Witch, a woman who wields a whip and punches with bladed brass knuckles.
SPOILERS: The forces of Trash, the Ogre, Hammer and Manhattan Corporation clash in the action-packed finale. Ann is caught in the crossfire and dies in Trash’s arms after taking a bullet for him. The Ogre and Witch also die, but Trash emerges from the chaos with a win and kills Hammer, following which he mutilates his body by dragging it behind him on his motorcycle.
The theme costumes of the gangs are silly, and the plot has a lot of holes in it, but there is always a certain charm about these flicks, at least for me and my fellow fans of bad or weird movies. Mark Gregory may walk awkwardly and is certainly no master thespian, but he had an undeniable screen presence which earned him an undying fan base.
ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX aka Escape 2000 (1983) – Trash is back, and there have been interesting developments in his world since the previous movie. The evil corporation, still headed by Ennio Girolami, is forcibly removing everyone from the Bronx, both gangs and law-abiding citizens alike.
The plutocrats, their pocket politicians and controlled media outlets are publicly pretending that they’re moving the residents to a new housing center in New Mexico, but it’s really a death camp where they are all exterminated. G.C. Corporation will then convert the rat-infested ruins of the Bronx into high end housing and commercial properties, thus making millions and then using the same ugly technique on other slum regions.
Comparatively few people are still remaining in the Bronx, so the corporation sends in silver haz-mat suited “disinfestation units”armed with flamethrowers to covertly kill off anyone refusing to leave. Most of the gangs have already been wiped out, with the surviving members now huddling in the sewers and abandoned subway tunnels beneath the Bronx.
Those survivors are under the leadership of the thoroughly bizarre man called Dablone (Antonio Sabato in a very eccentric performance). Trash, still astride his motorcycle much of the time, has been surreptitiously leaving the Bronx and stealing guns which he runs back to Dablone’s men and women so they can make an eventual last stand.
Naturally, our hero blows away and otherwise kills any corporation mercenaries or bought and paid-for cops who try to stop him on these forays. One day, the disinfestation units, commanded by the ubiquitous Henry Silva, kill Trash’s parents in another sweep to wipe out all Bronx residents.
Comically enough, the “picture” of Trash which his parents have on their wall is a full-sized poster of Mark Gregory in his Trash regalia from the original film. What Mom and Dad wouldn’t be proud to show off a huge picture of their muscular son scowling menacingly?
A courageous female reporter, Moon Grey (Valeria D’Obici), defies the corporation’s control of the media and tries to publicize what is REALLY happening to the Bronx and its “relocated” people. Eventually, she winds up allied with Trash and Dablone.
Moon and Trash convince Dablone to let them mount a raid to kidnap the corporation’s president, Henry Clark (Girolami) to gain some leverage and to try getting the truth out to the world at large. Trash and the reporter – who at no time slow down the movie with a romance of any kind, thankfully – recruit former master thief Strike to help them nab Henry Clark.
Strike is played by Giancarlo Prete, who, under various names, has appeared in countless Italian actioners. His fighting master thief character is assisted by Prete’s real life son Alessandro as Junior, who is a master at demolitions. With their help, our heroes succeed in kidnapping the corporation president, but Moon is killed in the process. Even worse, the corporation and its allies launch an all-out invasion of the Bronx to retrieve Clark.
SPOILERS: After several more action scenes and a Spaghetti Western sized body count, the Bronx defenders kill off the disinfestation troops and their allies. In a final confrontation, Trash kills Henry Silva, and the corporation’s evil vice president engineers the death of the abducted Henry Clark, thus rising to his now vacant position.
None of this truly resolved the larger issues of this film’s world, but sadly there were no additional sequels. Escape from the Bronx featured more action than the original flick, but a lot of that was repetitious “pew-pew” shooting of bad guys. Mark Gregory was once again a serviceable B-movie hero, but he still couldn’t act.
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7 responses to “1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS AND ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX”
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Logged, thank you!
Haha, you never fail to make me smile with these movies. I felt like was back in the video rental store in the ’80s for a moment. I don’t know much about these Italian-made films, but there are a lot of science-fiction titles that I am coming across lately. Given your enjoyment of the genre, I must take a look at them. The most recent one is The Visitor by Giulio Paradisi and I can’t stop thinking about it. Fantastic review as always.
Thank you for the kind words! I’m looking forward to reading your reviews of The Visitor and others.
I see a character named “Trash” and I think “Return of the Living Dead”, but, yeah, that Trash didn’t look much like this Trash at all …
Ha! I like that reference! Yeah, they don’t resemble each other at all.
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