01 October 2005

"The Warriors" Turns 26. Can You Dig It?

Walter Hill's lean-and-mean 1979 thriller "The Warriors" turns 26 this year (wonder why Paramount dropped the ball in failing to award this enduring cult classic a proper silver anniversary last year...?). Very cool Mezco action figures hit shelves last month (a choice of two Baseball Furies, for completists), a new (and controversial) "special edition" DVD was released this week, and later in the month, Rockstar Games North will unveil a videogame incarnation for the PS2 and Xbox.

Pretty impressive legs for a low-budget film based on a largely unknown novel (by Sol Yurik--which I was once able to find buried in one of those 25 cent paperback bins in my hometown's Woolworth's) which was inspired by a little known Greek legend (hence character names like Cyrus and Ajax). Hill based his screenplay more on the tale, "Anabasis" by Xenophone, than on Yurik's book, and originally meant to open the film with a "sometime in the near future" subtitle to explain the film's decidedly unrealistic and underpopulated Manhattan (perhaps the opticals cost too much...?).

Seeing it today, it's hard to believe that this bloodless and ultra-stylized fantasy (the fight in Central Park is almost like "West Side Story" without the music) was once vilified by activists who blamed it for violent incidents that allegedly occurred at various screenings, which, of course, only upped its cache of "cool". No doubt in this post "Hot Coffee" era, the videogame will inspire much of the same hysteria.

It's still a great film, and one of the first I can remember seeing which seemed inspired by the language of comics (and it had one of the still all-time-greatest movie posters, for some reason, not included in the disc's packaging...). Walter Hill is a director long overdue for some serious AFI love...