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Tagline: Sexploitation Sinema Has Never Been So Fun!
Year: 1988 Runtime: 89 min
Director: Robert Hayes
Writer: Robert Hayes, Dan Rotblatt
Starring: Persis Khambatta, Kathleen Kinmont, Peggy McIntaggart
Phoenix the Warrior is also known as She-Wolves of the Wasteland. I mention this partially for thoroughness’s sake, but mostly because it sets expectations exactly where they need to be. This is a very simple movie: put scantily clad, or preferably topless, women in front of the camera for roughly 90 minutes. And that’s exactly what the film delivers.
The story, such as it is, goes like this: a bacteriological war killed most of the world’s men and left only a handful of women.The Reverend Mother (think female Emperor Palpatine) rose into power, both in government and in magic. Don’t know how, it’s just vomited out in the opening exposition. Somehow—I’m going with Science Magick™—she creates all the post-war people, which are all women. Thing is, she is powered by draining the life from others, and women don’t have as much juice as men. Problem is, she’s killed all the men “working” them in the sperm banks. So…
The final seed is stolen by The Breeders, a group of women who want to breed more humans, and used to impregnate Keela, some woman. And by the grace of the Goddess it’s a boy.
(And there was much rejoicing. Yay.)
Phoenix comes along just in time to save Keela from the Reverend Mother and her goonettes. Then the passage of time goes all quantum retarded. The day after they escape Skyler, the boy child, is born. I assume that this streamlined procreation process is due to the lack of men. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. There’s lots of topless women in the tribe that takes Phoenix and Keela in.
The Reverend Mother has the power of Baby Birth Detection with Slight Baby GPS, which gives her the location to send the goonettes, led by Cobalt (Persis “Ilia” Khambatta). Unfortunately only the Topless Ones are killed in the raid. Phoenix, Keela, and newborn Skyler escape.
The next day Skyler is about 5 years old. Nah, just kidding. He’s five because it is five years later. Robert Hayes is terrible about conveying the passage of time. Just when the audience is completely confused, he falls back on exposition in order to set things straight. Keela: “No one has seen us in 5 years.”
Oh. Ok. Thanks. That cleared that up. Not much has changed in 5 years. Everyone looks the same. Clothes are the same. Hair’s the same. What the hell? Maybe it’s that good dessert air. Show some breast and all is forgotten.
While on the run Phoenix, Keela, and Skyler find a ramshackle shack. They bed down for the night only to wake to a gas masked interloper standing over them. Phoenix kicks her in the va-jay-jay and Keela busts her in the head with a rock. Down she goes. Under the gas mask is…
A MAN! Named, conveniently, Guy.
Realization sets in. Oh, noes! He’s broke! “There’s nothing more useless than a man that doesn’t work.” Preach on, Phoenix. (She’s talking about his pee-pee.)
Meanwhile, a drifter brings a toy to Cobalt who takes it to the Reverend Mother. Using her powers as an object empath, she determines it is the boy child’s toy. And again she uses her power of Slight Baby GPS to locate the boy child.
In their lust to satisfy the Reverend Mother, the goonettes rush in all half-vaginaed. Their plan? Crash their truck through the shanty where he’s hiding. Nothing could possibly go wrong, amirite? Luckily Guy has an escape pipe which he, Keela, and Skyler manage to get through. Unluckily Phoenix gets captured.
Here there’s the obligatory “gladiator fighting pits” scene. Phoenix makes a friend of Neon, one of the gladiatoresses. Phoenix then kicks some butt. Keela and Guy come to her rescue. Weeeeee!
Back together and with some sweet post-apocolypse wheels, they make a run for the Badlands in order to find some place safe to live.
This is an even better idea than the goonettes running their truck into the shanty. The Badlands are the home of the Rezule, TV worshiping mutants. Honestly they don’t seem very tough or frightening. Considering they don’t have guns, and Phoenix and crew do, I can’t understand why they were worried. It’s like being worried by Romero zombies or 70’s Daleks. You can walk by them, but it was in the script so the Rezule are fearsome.
To insult our intelligence Phoenix says, “End of the road,” when they make it to the Badlands. The end of the road is a slight hill with dead bushes. There’s no way they can drive a car though that, so they set off on foot. Hayes couldn’t think of something more realistic like running out of gas? Sigh.
The Doofus Crew promptly gets captured. Magically, out of the dead bushes, comes Cobalt and the goonettes. They take Guy and Skyler. The Rezule get to deal with Phoenix and Keela.
Now is the Reverend Mother’s moment of glory. She has Guy to refill the bank. She has Skyler to refill herself. Perfect, right? She starts off by telling Skyler to prepare himself. Really? Prepare himself? What is the boy going to do? Ask for a blind fold and a cigarette? Pray to his God? Eat his final meal? He’s five. He just stands there looking at her.
At this point you’d think the Reverend Mother would dig in, right? Everything she’s been waiting years for is right there. She’s told Skyler to prepare himself. Guy’s watching. Well, not so much. What she does is sit there. She waits, giving Phoenix and Keela time escape (with the miraculously timed arrival of Neon, remember her?) to make it to her, set up a pointless diversion, kill her goonettes, and ultimately kill her. Too bad intelligence wasn’t one of the Reverend Mother’s powers.
The movie closes with the same inexplicable scene that opens the film: Phoenix, horseback, on the beach.
Watch the trailer for “Phoenix the Warrior”