Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clonin' the Barbarian: THE NEW BARBARIANS 1 & 2 (1990)

Hey, we promised we’d go out on our Conan coverage with a bang, right?  As we mentioned in our (insanely popular) SAW porn parody review, we’re sure the mainstream filmmakers didn’t really feel they were a success until a XXX version of their film arrived.  I’m sure the people behind CONAN THE BARBARIAN felt the same way (especially that perv Schwarzenegger).  Surprisingly, there wasn’t a true adult take on the Conan character around the time he was king of the box office.  The fleshmerchants did, however, get clever with the Conan-style.

The first notable Conan-influenced title appeared in 1987 with BARBARA THE BARBARIAN.  This featured Barbara Dare in the title role as a leader of female warriors who use men as slaves.  She battles a female adversary (Nina Hartley) and tyrannical king (Randy West) who is after Barb’s virgin sister (Jeanna Fine). Yeah, a virgin in a porn flick.  Haha.  Anyway, the interesting thing about this flick is that it was directed by Gary Graver under his nom-de-porn pseudeonym Robert McCallum.  He was a long-time exploitation cameraman and even directed a few mainstream flicks (most notably the 1982 slasher TRICK OR TREATS).  We haven’t seen this one as it is pretty hard to find, but figured we would give it a mention for historical purposes.  Yeah, that’s right, this is all done for the sake of film history, not because we like ogling nekkid women.  We are serious students of the game here.

Perhaps the most well known of the barbarian breeders are Henri Pachard and Erica Boyer’s THE NEW BARBARIAN flicks. Yeah, I know, you’re thinking of Fred Williamson and the Italians right now, but these are definitely not in the same genre.  Seemingly one giant three hour flick shot at the same time and split into two, these films take place in a land of sword and sorcery.

THE NEW BARBARIANS opens with wizard Zarkon (Pachard) trying to figure out the secret of a glowing emerald crystal.  For some reason it makes everyone in the village horny, but no one, including his daughter Talia (Victoria Paris), believes him when he says it can open doorways to alternate “time zones.”  The flick shows it has its heart in the right place by having their peaceful village ransacked by warriors in the opening minutes.  Well, okay, one guy named Gorgo (Jon Dough), who steals the crystal after killing Zarkon and rides off. Talia sets off (on the same horse, you cheap-o filmmakers) to get her revenge and saves hunky Dak (Randy West) from some Drainer Bitches in the forest along the way.

Gorgo, meanwhile, returns to his camp and gives the crystal to Brog (Randy Spears), the evil warlock who proves his evilness by being mean to his mute woman Yanna (Sabrina Dawn).  “It is ordained that I have a woman who can’t speak,” he remarks.  Lucky dude.  Brog tries to unlock the mysterious secrets of this crystal but has little success.  Yanna, however, seems to get the thing working when she starts masterbating near it.  Hey, I think I know how this thing works now. This causes a time portal to open as a modern day couple (Nina Hartley and Joey Silvera) having sex by their car suddenly appears in the woods by Talia and Dak.  Oh, nice ploy you cheap-o filmmakers (not so fast there, it is all part of the plot).

Anyway, Yanna steals the crystal, escapes by drugging Brog and meets Talia and Dak in the woods.  Turns out she isn’t mute and, even better, she is Dak’s sister!  Yay, our heroic duo is now free to get it on, which they do with abandon.  This, of course, causes the crystal to heat up again right as Brog shows up to reclaim his stolen treasure. He kills Dak in a sword fight that would make Rudy Ray Moore blush before Talia, Yanna and Brog are all zapped to modern-day Los Angeles.  Wait a sec…this is the plot twist from BEASTMASTER II which came out a year later.  Bwhahahahahaha! The film ends with our two females leads trapped in time in an alley by a biker club.  “Where are you from? CONAN THE BARBARIAN?” asks a biker chick before we get the “to be continued…” graphic.

THE NEW BARBARIANS 2 opens with an 11 minute “our story so far…” recap of the events of the first entry.  Seriously, I don’t think anyone is watching this for the plot.  Well, except for me, Mr. Studious Film Historian.  Talia and Sabrina wander around the city in their skimpy outfits, while villain Brog steals some clothes from a dude who looks like a Styx fan in an alley.  He meets up with the girls and convinces them he knows how to get back to their time.  Now here is where the film gets semi-clever (well, as clever as you can get for porn).  Brog convinces a couple he met in a bar to get it on around the crystal so that the sexual energy can open the time portal again. The couple?  Loop (Joey Silvera) and Doris (Nina Hartley), the two folks we saw getting it on in part one during that random time displacement.  So they repeat their sex scene from part one (way to save some $$$), but something goes wrong and our modern day folks find themselves trapped in the barbaric times.  Oh man, time travel displacement in a XXX flick. I’ve truly seen it all.

So Loop and Doris make their way to Brog’s old camp and run into Gorgo, who proves to be quite the Alpha Male as he takes Loop’s woman (“We eat and then I fuck your woman.”). Meanwhile, back in L.A., Talia is in Doris and Loop’s apartment when Melanie (Sharon Kane) shows up looking for Doris for a nude photo shoot.  With her client M.I.A., she convinces Talia that she should do the nudie spread.  Okay, now this is kind of intricate porn plotting I know and love.  The photographer is a guy named Harley (West again), who just happens to be the spittin’ image of Dak.  Brog, meanwhile, has grown accustomed to modern life (that didn’t take long) and is glued in front of the TV (“I must meet the one they call Magic Johnson”). He has no interest in using the crystal to get back to his time period. Helpless, Talia blabs her sob story to Harley and Melanie. She says her father was trying to use the crystal to “prevent the great conflict from happening.” What was this conflict?  It was an epic battle between men and women according to Talia.  “Sounds like World War III,” mentions Melanie, to which Talia replies that “the great conflict came after World War III.” What?  Oh no, quick thinking Harley figures it all out – you’re not from the past, you’re from our future.  DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!  Obviously the only way to remedy this is to have a threesome to see if it can zap you back to your time zone.  Smooth thinking, Harley, smooth thinking.  It works and Talia is sent back to her time zone before her father Zarkon and her lover Dak are killed.  Yay, happy endings!  Hmmm, maybe I should rephrase that.  Yay, plot resolution.  Of course, we end on an ominous note as Zarkon finds the glowing emerald once again.

Damn, did I just summarize two 1990 porn flicks?  I did, but so are the perils of being a serious film historian *puffs on pipe*.  Believe it or not, I actually got a kick out of these flicks.  I have to laugh when the films open with a credit that says “from a concept by Erica Boyer.” I’m sure it probably went something like, “We should totally do a porn version of CONAN THE BARBARIAN!”  Sporting a cast of dozens, these are actually pretty ambitious for the time period.  They actually took the time to have some costumes made and built a tiny village set.  The cast is also game, which is a plus. Victoria Paris always had a rep for being a bit of an airhead, but she is fine (in both senses) here.  Her acting is no worse than anything I’ve seen from Anna Nicole Smith.  Randy West, Sharon Kane and Sabrina Dawn are all actually really decent actors to the point you actually wonder why they were doing porn.  Randy Spears (why so many Randys) hams it up as the villain and adopts a voice that makes him sound like Harvey Fierstein.   For some odd reason, he grunts like Frankenstein’s monster when in modern times.  I also got a kick out of the comedic relief from Silvera and Hartley (and she was, as always, looking mighty fine).

Now don’t go into these expecting some super fantasy flicks. They make the DEATHSTALKER flicks look like CONAN THE BARBARIAN in comparison.  Never lose focus that these are porn movies. They are, however, a time capsule back into what the late 80s/early 90s porn industry looked like on a good day (meaning when the videocamera stayed in focus and the mic only picked up a little bit of wind).  As it stands, they are the best CONAN wannabe XXX features available.  Of course, that is probably going to change soon as Hustler just announced they will be doing a THIS AIN'T CONAN XXX to coincide with the release of the new film this upcoming August.  I’ll definitely check it out…for analysis purposes, of course.

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