Long ago in a distant land, marauding bands held the communities in an iron grip, but one had immunity from such intimidation and they were a group of travelling players who had the power to move around the country as they pleased since their queen had traded in their great wealth for a magic ruby called the belly stone which allowed them to do as they pleased. Time passed and Queen Canary (Virginia Bryant) adopted three young children, two twins and an unrelated girl called Kara, but just as they were enjoying life on the road, performing for the people they met, the travellers were met with misfortune. That was when Kadar (Richard Lynch) decided he wanted their ruby for his own...
And seeing as how Lynch rarely played anything but bad guys, we can guess how this will turn out, though in spite of his cult status and that of Michael Berryman who showed up as Kadar's sidekick, "The Dirtmaster", that was not what the appreciation for The Barbarians rested upon. Nope, neither Rich nor Mike were the main draw, for that appeal rested on the broad shoulders of a pair of musclebound actors known professionally as The Barbarian Brothers, twins Peter Paul and David Paul who were not going to win awards for their thespianism, but entertained a good many moviewatchers nonetheless.
Not because they excelled at essaying their roles, but because... well, it's not fair to call them bad since they were not being asked to give us their Coriolanus at Stratford-upon-Avon, but you could understand that the Pauls were hired for their distinctive physique, and because there were two of them, both equally hulking. With their habit here of punctuating their lines with a lusty hoot (really) you were not going to forget either of them in a hurry, even if their main claim to fame was not so much their starring roles, but the fact they were cut out of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers in the mid-nineties. Better to remember them in this, directed by notorious Italian horror merchant Ruggero Deodato.
Rest assured their was no gratuitous animal cruelty this time around, unless you counted the horse falls which occasionally graced the screen - I'm fairly sure the huge creature the Brothers slay was not a genuine dragon, so that's OK - therefore it was up to the rather impoverished effects budget to suggest such sequences as our heroes decapitating a wolfman and playing with the head for a quick laugh. And laugh you did, though not because, as some concluded, that The Barbarians was some intentionally tongue in cheek comedy, it was more a rocks in head comedy, and if nearly ninety minutes of cheery stupidity sounded like a fun time to you then this would be unlikely to disappoint, including as it did plenty of scenes where you would have trouble believing this made it into a professional movie, breaking lynch mob nooses by flexing their necks or arguing like giant toddlers over who gets to hold what weapon.
It was even show in cinemas, a Cannon release from about the point the cash was running out and they were throwing their resources behind any old nonsense that might scrape a profit. For the fans of this, they would not have it any other way as a slicker product would not have the requisite cheese factor to amuse in quite the manner that would prove satisfying to the aficionado of... what? Eighties trash? Cannon's output in general? Twin bodybuilders trading on their time in the gym (and enthusiastic honking)? Or maybe you liked those CSI shows and wanted to see Eva La Rue in her early days, here playing the female sidekick (definitely not love interest, there's none of that)? The truth was, this didn't particularly distinguish itself from countless other sword and sorcery flicks the eighties vomited up aside from its casting coup, take away Pete and Dave and the novelty was very much impoverished. But with them, that was something to see, even if you couldn't tell them apart. How come they grew up and everyone else stayed the same age, incidentally? Music by Pino Donaggio.
Italian director best known his ultra-violent horror work, but whose filmography takes in many genres over a 40-year career. Worked as an assistant director on a variety of films during the sixties, and made his first credited directing debut in 1968 with the superhero yarn Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen. Throughout the following decade Deodato made erotic dramas (Gungalar, Waves of Lust), musical comdies (Man Only Cries for Love), and comic book romps (Zenabel).
It was Ruggero's horror films that gained him an international reputation however. The trashy Last Cannibal World was followed by 1980's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and the likes of House on the Edge of the Park, Cut and Run and Bodycount were popular amongst video audiences during the eighties. Other films during this period include the action fantasy The Barbarians and bizarre thriller Dial Help, while Deodato's work during the nineties was largely confined to Italian TV.