[FSR Retro] The Drive-In Report: The Warriors

The Warriors

Editor’s Note: This article was part of our April Fools 2010 project, in which our site was transported back to April 1, 1980. To see all of the retro articles written for this event, please visit our April Fools 2010 Homepage.

Last weekend, like so many that have preceded, I rounded up my most nefarious cohorts and headed to the most popular spot in town: the Lone Star Drive-in. If you haven’t been to a drive-in, I highly suggest it. It’s not only a welcome relief from the monotony and dreariness of the movie house, but the drive-in tends to showcase a different breed of film. The films shown at my beloved Lone Star could be referred to as esoteric but I like to think of them as totally boss. It is wicked to see offbeat, non-mainstream films that the theaters here in town would never show; even if we have to wait a year to get them. Not only that, but we get to sit atop the hood of my buddy Luke’s bitchin’ Mercury Bobcat and have a few beers.

It was a gorgeous Texas night and I defy you to name one other place where you can drink beer while watching a film. I was so ecstatic to see last weekend’s fare, The Warriors, that I gave up tickets to an Eddie Rabbit concert! I know it’s stupid, but I love movies that much.

The Warriors takes place in New York City and revolves around the many, many gangs that reside therein. Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang in the city, has called a massive congregation of all the gangs and their innumerable ranks in Central Park. He empowers the collected swarm and beseeches them, in recognition of their numbers, to challenge the authorities and rule the city as one united force. While most of the gangs relish the opportunity to join forces and take over New York, one despicable clan, The Rouges, decides they would rather incite anarchy by senselessly murdering Cyrus. When the police arrive on the scene, as everyone is filing out of the park, The Rogues blame the shooting on an unassuming, but formidable gang from Coney Island known as The Warriors. The rest of the film becomes a mad-dash home for The Warriors as their being falsely accused of this heinous crime forces them to run the gauntlet of various, outraged gangs.

This movie was totally choice. I loved the characters; playing by their own rules even as they struggle to prove their innocence. The Warriors themselves were all badass fighters clearly modeled after Native Americans; so much that they even have a war chief. The really awesome thing about this film is being introduced to the assorted, and progressively more bizarre gangs our heroes faced. I think my favorite had to either be The Baseball Furies or the rednecks on roller skates. The fight choreography is a little sloppy, but it demonstrates an effective realism that I think works very well. This was like watching an elaborate tournament with the sexy narrator, a radio DJ sending coded messages over the airwaves, delivering a play-by-play commentary and calling up the next challenge for our intrepid, wayward Warriors. I also really dug the music by Joe Walsh of the Eagles, one of the best bands around right now.

The really interesting thing about The Warriors is the future it foreshadows. Gang violence is just as alive and well now as it was in the era it was first documented: the 1950s. I feel The Warriors is blending the prevalence of gang activity of the 1950s with the exaggerated individuality of the, thankfully, now-defunct disco era to create a ominous portent. Sure it seems silly for The Baseball Furies to paint their faces, but Bowie did it and if you add a wooden instrument of malice in with that drug-induced expressionism, suddenly the events of The Warriors don’t seem so far-fetched. If we don’t do something soon about the ever-escalating gang violence both in New York and L.A., we could find ourselves awash in bloody streets where unaffiliated, decent people dare not tread. Watch the film again and note how few regular people are visible. I think this film will probably go down in history as one of the most prescient, prophetic movies of this or any other generation.

The Warriors is the kind of film that belongs at the drive-in. I mean I know that home video is the big craze right now and that’s great…if you have the 400 bucks to blow on a VCR and 50 to 100 bucks a pop for the tapes.

But The Warriors is not a movie to be watched on a dingy little television in your parents’ basement. No, the sight and spectacle of The Warriors demands to be viewed on a big screen. Besides, after that ugly, gigantic Beta Max monstrosity failed to catch on, we all know the VCR will be just as fleeting. Home video is a fad, dudes. It will never be able to replace the drive-in experience.

For the moment, I can revel in the fact that Austin will never close the Lone Star Drive-in because it’s not as if we have any decent movie theaters anyway.

Brian Salisbury has been a film critic and internet gadfly for six years. He is the co-host of FSR's Junkfood Cinema podcast and the co-founder of OneOfUs.Net. Brian is a cult film and exploitation buff who loves everything from Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Bronson.

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