2/26/09

B.L.O.G Presents: Phoenix the Warrior (1988)

Welcome back folks to another week of celebrating those Beautiful Ladies of Genre. This week I have a lady whose picture should be next to the words genre actress in the dictionary. When you've made a career starring in films like Roller Blade Warriors, Bride of Re-Animator, Final Impact, and 4 films with Lorenzo Lamas, in my book you've earned your wings. That's why this week we're here to discuss the delectable Ms.....


After doing one episode of the short lived Lee Van Clef series, Master Ninja (1984), Kathleen got her first real break as "Pretty Skater" in 1984's Hardbodies. This would kick off a career which is still going strong. Last year she played one of the leads in Danielle Harris' (of Urban Legend and Halloween remake fame) directorial debut, Prank. Back in 1988, Kathleen was coming off a role as Party Guest #5 in Winner Takes All when she had the defining year of her genre career. She was cast as Kelly Meeker in Halloween 4:The Return of Michael Myers, but we're not here to talk about that film. I want to talk about the other film she made in 1988. It's full of bad ass chicks, big ass guns, and tiny, tiny outfits. Ladies and Gents, I give you.....

Phoenix the Warrior (1988) starring Kathleen Kinmont, Persis Khambatta, Peggy McIntaggart, James Emory, and Sheila Howard, Directed by Robert Hayes.

In the not so distant future, nuclear war was on the verge of being avoided when countries began to lash out with biological warfare. All the men on the planet perished and few of the women managed to survive. Those that did have formed tribes, and the most powerful all of them is lead by the Reverend Mother (Howard), an ancient woman kept alive by machines. Under her rule she keeps a stock of "breeders", girls used to repopulate the female species through artificial means. When one of the "breeders", Keela (McIntaggart) escapes while pregnant with a male child, the Reverend will stop at nothing to get her back.

The Reverend Mother calls on the services of Cobalt (Khambatta) and her team of bounty hunters to find the girl. Cobalt plans for it to be an easy task, but Keela comes under the protection of the deadly and beautiful Phoenix the Warrior (Kinmont). Living on the run, Keela gives birth to the child, Skyler, and the trio make their way for safety in the Badlands. On their way, they meet and enlist the aid of the last man on Earth, Guy (Emory), but with Cobalt and her crew drawing ever nearer, the Badlands still out of reach, and the Reverend Mother's clutches tightening, it will take everything Phoenix has to rise again and save them all. 

Film Facts

--Director Robert Hayes has only directed one other feature film 2001's Task Force 2001, but he has had a long career as a camera man and cinematographer for films such as Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, Trancers II, and Grand Theft Parsons.

 --Persis Khambatta, who plays Cobalt and also co-produced the film, is known to legions of Trekkies as Lt. Ilea from Star Trek:The Motion Picture.

--Peggy McIntaggart would go on to become Playboy Playmate of the month in January of 1990. That same year she would also appear in the Dario Argento segment "The Black Cat" in Two Evil Eyes. 

--Dan Radlauer provided the film score. He now composes the music for VH1 shows such as Flavor of Love, For the Love of Ray J, Hogan Knows Best, and My Fair Brady. Phoenix the Warrior was his first film. 

The Bug Speaks

Phoenix the Warrior (a.k.a She Wolves of the Wasteland) is one of the best ways one could spend an afternoon. This campy romp, which was obviously some kind of inspired cross breed between Conan, Commando, and The Road Warrior, succeeds on so many levels. Well, let me qualify that. It succeeds on so many levels if you love trashy, poorly made and acted, garbage films from the 1980's. It just so happens that I really do, and it doesn't hurt that all the ladies are dressed like they just got off work at the Thunderdome's strip club.

There were a couple of things in this film that I thought were pretty original. I'm not sure if the plot of the last male child had been done before, but it has surely been done better now in Children of Men. Also in the world without men, there are women who have taken to dressing in suits and wearing fake beards. This is one I know I have not seen on film before, but anyone familiar with the comic Y:The Last Man would have seen similar things in it's pages.  

The film really kicks off well with a dune buggy chase right out of the gate, and it really doesn't let up. With only an 85 minute running time, they manage to make the most of each minute of footage. Any by most I mean the most shooting. There is a bevy of scantily clad women letting loose with giant automatic rifles and shotguns. (At times all I could think of was the "Chicks with Guns" video from Jackie Brown.) As I've said before, the outfits the ladies wear leaves little to the imagination, but what little it leaves will have to stay that way. Unfortunately, neither of the lead actresses show any skin, and the nudity is reduced to only 2 quick scenes which comes as quite a surprise for the type of film this is. 

The performances ranged from mediocre to bad, and the fight scenes ranged from bad to worse. All that being said, I don't know if there was a single moment where I did not enjoy both of them. The real treat for me was seeing Persis Khambatta in another role. As a long time Trek fan, I'd often wondered if she did any more films. Turns out she has, and with hair she is 100% more stunning than in one frame of ST:TMP. (Turns out she was also in the 1981 Stallone/ Billy Dee flick Nighthawks.) She was arguably the best actress in the film, but it's kind of like arguing which beer to drink out of a six pack first. They're all about the same. 

So I've said some pretty bad things about this film. I've managed to slam the acting, stunts, directing...hmmm, I didn't do directing? Well let's assume I had and it wasn't very good. Yet the thing this movie had that I liked was fun. Post-apocalyptic mutants using the TV Guide as a religious text.  Gladiator style fights where Phoenix is given a shield that is very obviously a bulletin board to defend herself. The casting  of a kid named Skyler and then calling his character Skyler (perhaps so he wont forget his name, I mean he had no lines and he was supposed to be 5. For whatever reason all these bad things all ended up making this a great film, and just the kind of thing that got me into cult movies in the first place. They don't all have to be good, but if it ain't good, then it better be damn entertaining. 



Bug Rating

No trailer, but here's a clip of a Gladiatorial Showdown


I also found this great Turkish box art, and I didn't have anywhere to put it. So I'm sticking it here cause it's awesome.

6 comments:

  1. The only things missing here are nuns on rollerskates or David Carradine sprouting his usual kitchen zen philosophy, if you ask me.

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  2. True enough, It did have that Circle of Iron feel to it at points.

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  3. This one sounds pretty good - I will definitely have to check it out!

    Also, as a fan of Danielle Harris - I will have to check out Prank as well - I had no idea that she had directed a film - unfortunately, Netflix doesn't seem to have it :-(

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  4. Check it out, 'breaker, I think you'll dig it.

    I first heard of Prank through one of the podcasts I listen to. I believe it is still on the festival circuit at the moment hopefully it will get a DVD release soon.

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  5. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobFebruary 28, 2009 at 7:15 PM

    that has to be one of the greatest movie posters of all time.

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  6. Good to know - thanks LB - I'll keep an eye out. . .

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