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2020 Texas Gladiators (movie review)

For some strange reason I’ve developed an urge to watch some post-apocalyptic movie. Although I still want to re-watch Mad Max trilogy (plus Fury Road), as I need to refresh my memories, I’ve opted for a great silly Italian rip-off from the great late Joe D’Amato – 2020 Texas Gladiators.

Because, what’s better for a sunny Sunday than a movie full of bikers, fake Indians, a quintet of post-apocalyptic rangers with guy in a SS-uniform and gorgeous Sabrina Siani showing her “wares”?

Our heroes plus one turned villain.

The plot is simple, almost non-existent. A group of rangers attack some mutants in the church, where the latter are having fun crucifying a priest and raping nuns. We don’t know why, but who cares? By the way, I am happy I’ve got a composite uncut DVD from some fan of the movie with missing scenes and gore inserted in their proper places, so I could enjoy the movie as it was intended. Not that it matters that much, but you know, it’s nice to see all the stuff.

Sabrina Siani as Maida

Anyway, our boyband manages to save Maida (Sabrina Siani), but not after the conflict between Nisus (Al Cliver) and Catch Dog (Daniel Stephen) over the latter’s attempt to rape her. Well, off you go, doggy! Catch Dog is kicked out of the group and we later see Maida as Nisus’ partner with his kid, living together in a compound consisted of former factory of sorts.

Now it’s time for fun to start again, right? The bikers led by Catch Dog, who – in turn – is commanded by The Black One (Donald O’Brien, here credited as Donal O’Brien), wearing, well, black SS uniform.

So, as expected, bikers attack the compound, we witness a lot of shootings and killings. In the end, the villains prevail…but that’s not all, far from it!

Joe D’Amato

This 1982 feature is, as mentioned, one of the rip-offs of Mad Max the way Italian know how to do. Directed by the famous Italian exploitation figure Joe D’Amato (Aristide Massacessi, here under the pseudonym Kevin Mancuso for a director and John Larson for the camera) and scripted by none other than another famous Italian exploitation legend George Eastman (of Anthropophagus fame and many others), and with a score of Italian exploitation movie actors (honestly, just browsing the filmography of Donald O’Brien, Al Cliver and Hal Yamanouchi feels like a primer in the Italian exploitation movies), this movie, although by no means perfect, it’s nevertheless a perfect example why I’m watching this type of movies – because it’s funny, it’s outrageous and both the director and the audience know they are in this stuff together for laughs (and money, of course, for Mr. D’Amato)

The only setback now is the keen eye of the better versed viewer (me). 30 years ago I would be glued to the screen breathless, but now one can’t help but notice that the filming place consists precisely of the one old factory (which was the church, the compound and the mines, and I am pretty sure the bar scene was filmed there as well) and surroundings (green grass and some gravel pits) but that’s not a downside, quite a contrary. I like the way they cover up for low budget and the stuff they come up with to convey the idea of post-apocalyptic world. Most importantly, it’s lightweight fun, not grim as some latter movies of the genre, and the time watching it was well spent.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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