Genre: Straight Feature Director: Henri Pachard Cast:: Victoria Paris, Sabrina Dawn, Nina Hartley, Sharon Kane, Trianna, Natasha Skyler, Randy Spears, Randy West, John Dough, Joey Silvera, Eric Price Length: 78 mins Production Date: 1990
Audio/Visual: In a Nutshell - 15 Years Old - and Barely Looks 10?
It's impossible to say what is more disappointing about the re-release of this classic porn title on DVD - the washed out waste of a 1.33:1 video transfer, or the flat and wind-filled audio tracks. Though it is ridiculous to believe that something made a decade and a half ago will look as good as something from today, one wishes the image was preserved better. Certain scenes lack any kind of convincing color, and even the sex sequences are marred by dark fleshtones and faded backdrops. The aural elements are equally problematic in that the microphone constantly picks up the whoosh of the wind as it travels past the equipment. It makes the movie appear to have been filmed in a tornado. This dialogue heavy film suffers from such sonic shrillness.
Extras: In a Nutshell - Almost Non-Existent. One Step Above Bare Bones
Aside from a collection of trailers, and the standard phone sex/adult ad merchandising, there is nothing of context or complimentary content here. It's a shame really - what better place to discuss the old school of pornography than with one of the certified classics of the genre. A real opportunity was missed.
You keep hearing about how "classic" adult entertainment - i.e., the movies made 10, 20, even 30 years ago - is superior to what passes for porn today. Freaked out old farts love to lament for the bygone days when films had actual dialogue and plots, when performers could act - or at least looked like they could act - and sex was straight and safe, not some horrifying example of dick/dumper Truth or Dare. They contend that it was within this arena of professionalism and fun that the mega-billion dollar business that now skirts real mainstream success by the thinnest margin ever, was born. Video boom be damned, the lower costs of technology barely considered.
One look at The New Barbarians 1 (be warned - this is a two-part erotic epic) and you'll have to wonder just who has the best middle leg to stand on. Certainly this is an entertaining porn peplum, sword, sorcery and sex, that's as good, if not better, than some of the B-movie bullshit out on the market. But there is something to be said about advances in camera, conception and carnality. The hardcore here is hot, but never rises above a slight burning sensation. Nowadays, the best XXX sizzles and smokes. In The New Barbarians, it's as formal as a handshake.
Plot wise, our narrative is kind of novel. When her wizard father dies, Victoria Paris vows to retrieve the magic green crystal stolen by assassin John Dough. The evil killer is one of Randy Spears' marauding henchmen. Spears is a chieftain with ultimate power on his ever pissed off pelvis. He wants to control the world, and figures that this gem may just help to achieve said goal. It supposedly can open up doorways in time, allowing individuals to pass back and forth. Only problem is, Randy doesn't know how to use it. But his kidnapped slave girl Sabrina Dawn does. She is the sister of Randy West, and is faking muteness in order to escape Spears' wrath. Victoria and Mr. West team up to rescue Sabrina and the stone, but the space/time continuum may have other ideas about how this struggle for supremacy will end. The film stops after a particularly odd modern day sequence, and the telling words "to be continued" flash across the screen - BOO! (more on this reaction later)
The Sex Scenes:
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One look at the list of acts and positions these performers partake of and you'll know instantly how intense this title is. You may want to stock up on the Jolt! Cola now. When one sequence shows Randy West getting a hand job from Victoria Paris while the actress gnaws away on a turkey leg, you realize there is a real attempt to incorporate the carnality into the story. Those adult film aficionados used to features that hide their compilation creation by tossing in some manner of clothesline narrative will be flummoxed by all the story scuttling their skin. Indeed, the one drawback to the drilling here is that it never rises to the level of today's tamest titles. It's pretty, and occasionally potent, but it is also incredibly conservative, non-risky and passive. If this type of XXX does nothing for you, The New Barbarians may not satisfy your arousal needs. But for the chance to see some Hall of Fame performers (Spears, West, Paris, Hartley) very early on in the game, this is a hardcore hoot. Let's look at each scene separately to see if any steam rises:
Scene 1:Sharon Kane, Eric Price Setting: The Tent of Zarkon, the Wizard Acts Performed:Blowjob, Mish, Doggy, $hot on Chest (in Slow Motion) Score:3 out of 5
Sharon and Eric look like extras from the hardcore version of Fame, or maybe Flashdance, their heavily coiffed 80s hairdos held up by Loverboy style headbands and various styling product. Each one is dressed in a Conan knockoff that makes them look like abnormal Native Americans looking for nookie. Both have quite the batch of pubic hair (no immaculate trims or slutty smoothness here people) and when they get to grinding, they maintain a single position (and a single camera angle, at that) for several minutes. This means that there is palpable passion in this, and all the other scenes in this film. The slo-mo money moment is also a trip, since it seems to be signifying something that never gets explained.
Scene 2:Natasha Skyler, Trianna, John Dough Setting: The Cage of the Drainer Bitches Acts Performed:Blowjob, Cunnilingus, Doggy, Girl/Girl Action, Mish, $hot on Stomach Score:3 out of 5
Two wild women, one well hung stud, and a cramped cage straight out of the wanton version of WWE. Sounds like a guaranteed groin grabber, and for the most part, it is. The girls here are just plain fucking insane, taking their role as specially bred sex mutant "drainer bitches" seriously. They scream, yell, grunt, groan, leap and grapple with each other and Johnny D like they're auditioning for G.L.O.W. It takes John's joint a while to get going, but once it does, he plows pussy with the best of them. Here's another thing you'll notice about pre-millennial porn - the vaginas aren't stretched out stink holes capable of accommodating multiple items of various widths and girths. These snatches fit snuggly around the rod they are riding, and this makes the sex that much more exciting.
Scene 3: Nina Hartley, Joey Silvera Setting: Modern Times, on the Hood of a Car Acts Performed:Doggy, Mish, $hot on Vagina Score:2 out of 5
Nina gets gypped here in what is basically a nod to the plot's time travel tenets. She gets a cock up the coot from Joey while draped over the hood of a car, and for the first few moments, she doesn't appear to be enjoying it very much. Ms. Hartley looks good in her 1990s persona - very pretty and far less hardened than she appears today. You really won't recognize Mr. Silvera, since he's sporting the "just missed Studio 54 by a decade look" when it comes to body and hair care. Their brief bit of balling is enticing, and makes you wish they did more than a couple of quick tricks before getting to the money moment.
Scene 4:Sabrina Dawn, Randy Spears Setting: In the Chief's Cave Acts Performed: Blowjob, Cowgirl, Mish, Doggy, $hot on Ass Score:3 out of 5
Of all the actors here, Randy Spears is the most obviously uncomfortable. Being asked to carry the villainy aspect of the film all by himself has the usually reliable rib-tickler chewing scenery like an East Indian in a beetle nut factory. His oddball voice (kind of a combination of Pee Wee Herman and a crab) shifts around constantly, and Randy has quite a time with the cape he has to wear. The way he waves it around, you half expect it to end up in the fires that frequent several of the set designs. Still, his cocksmanship is right on the money as he and Sabrina deliver a fine, fiery sequence. Here's another element of old porn that's vastly different than today's take on hardcore - no one takes off their clothes. Randy and Sabrina must screw in what looks like de-loused rabbit skins, moving bushy briefs over to expose even hairier holes and hard-ons. Certainly the barbarian bared all to fuck his concubine - so why make the actors hump in their hides?
Scene 5:Victoria Paris, Sabrina Dawn Setting: In a Tent, by the Fire Acts Performed:Foreplay, Mutual Cunnilingus, Mutual Fingering, Afterglow Score:1 out of 5
What's worse than modern girl-on-girl action? The tame, toyless kiss-and-caress-a-thon known as lesbianism from 15 years ago. Grab a pillow and take a nap, head for the bathroom for a much needed whizbang, or just go into the kitchen and make yourself some manner of Dagwood special, but whatever you do, don't watch this pornographic version of Prozac. It is dull, dreary stuff. Only the long, loving shot of the couple in afterglow is interesting.
Scene 6:Victoria Paris, Randy West Setting: In the Beauty that is Nature Acts Performed:Foreplay on Horseback, Blowjob, Cowgirl, Doggy, $hot on Ass Score:2.5 out of 5
Leave it to Mr. West and Ms. Paris to reawaken our languid libido after the sleeping pill that was Scene 5. Starting off with some sensual kissing while on horseback (how absolutely Harlequin romance-esque) and ending with a nice session of doggy among the dappled light of the surrounding woods, this is a naughty, nuanced scene of very straight, very simple sex. Again, Pachard simply places his actors in the foreground and fires up the video camera, so those looking for unusual angles, gynecological insights into Victoria's various orifices or plentiful shots of man ass will be disappointed. Anyone looking to confirm how women became the chief audience and demographic for porn sales need look no further than this scene, and this title in general. It has all the hallmarks of hardcore for the homespun and wholesome, even if it is supposedly set in the perverted era of bestial barbarians.
Disco Dirge Peter Meter Rating:2.5 out of 5 (Recommended) Cohabitation Certification:Granted
Though rightfully on the cusp between a rental and a recommendation, the Dirge is going to give this film the extra push over into the positive and state that you should really check it out - if only for nostalgia's sake. Don't be thrown off by the credits. There are 35 - yes 35 - performers listed, but only 11 get down to the nookie nitty gritty. The rest are loincloth local color for this ersatz epic about green rocks and ham acting. Old porn may be the potion that makes today's tales of the ribald so randy and risqué, and it's hard to dismiss the diddling here - it's just too fervent and passionate at times. Still, there are elements of this movie (like the lack of special effects) and the DVD (with no extras, BOTH the original film and the sequel could have been placed on one disc! How dare they! BOO!!!) that will leave you wanting...to run out to your local adult entertainment supercenter to rent an entire legion of anal/gonzo titles. As a building block, it's priceless. As an example of modern adult entertainment, it's too sweet for a modern palette.