Junesploitation 2021: Legion of Iron (1990)

June 12: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is sci fi!

I have no idea why people aren’t losing their minds and talking about this movie all the time.

High school football star Billy Hamilton and his cheerleader girlfriend Allison are kidnapped in the middle of a date and taken to an underground base that houses a fight club somewhere beneath Las Vegas because that’s the world of this movie and I love it.

They’re now part of the Legion of Iron, a place where men become gladiators and women become playthings and man, 1990 wasn’t that long ago for a movie like this to be made. It’s like someone read all the Gor books and said, “The movies weren’t disquieting enough and I’m going to be the maniac that changes that,” and made this.

As our heroes watch the first gladiator fight, things get unsetting in a hurry, as the leader of all this, Diana (Erika Nann, who was in Animal Instincts and Night Rhythms before appearing in the video game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots proving that Hideo Kojima loves direct to video 80s and 90s movies as much as all of us) forces them to watch a battle to the death between Mad Dog and Rex (Stefanos Miltsakakis, Frankenstein’s Monster in Waxwork II, in addition to being a frequent JCVD fight partner). As Rex is the winner, he’s allowed to forcibly take Allison while Diana makes her man watch.

In the first fifteen minutes of the film, we’ve already had a kidnapping, the revelation of a secret shadow world of white slavery and gladiatorial combat under the Western United States, said gladiatorial combat and an assault. This movie isn’t worried about offending anyone and everyone.

Billy is in similar danger, because the guards think this is the Roman empire and keep trying to take him themselves when Diana isn’t tying him up and forcibly engaging him in martial congress. So our hero now has a reason to kill Rex and needs a mentor, who he finds in ex-pro football player Lyle Wagner. Enter a series of montages, in which our boy learns how to become a man or least fight in American Gladiator-like challenges to the death. Lyle is also pretty much Yoda, as he utters things like, “Haven’t you heard? Superman’s black, freakface!” and “The worst thing that can happen is death.”

At some point, Billy and Allison try to escape, which ends with everyone in the cast beating Billy down with sticks and when that isn’t good enough, Diana repeatedly makes Allison brutalize her boyfriend before allowing all of the gladiators to have their way with her. This makes Billy even more determined to kill Rex, which he does, showing up in a silver sparkly glitter costume that has amazing shoulder pads. His contest with the big bad is pretty much our hero repeatedly striking the much larger man in the testicle again and again. I mean, when you’re working a body part, work the body part, even if it is the ball bag.

The entire time this battle was happening, Lyle was making machine guns in the orgy bed chamber. This allows our heroes to have a massive uprising while battling the Chinese version of the Legion of Iron, which posits that there are small gladiator sex cults all over the world. After an insane battle that involves people getting machine-gunned in the nuts, throwing stars and nearly everyone dying, Billy and Allison get away, but not before being attacked by Diana flying the kind of plane John Denver died in.

Seriously, Diana is the heroine of this movie for me. She escaped a life as a showgirl and dancing in Vegas to lead an army of maniacs under the earth and continues said empire by kidnapping high school football stars. In the scene where she ties up Billy and tries to explain the fact that people are all commodities, he spits in her face and instead of being a shrinking violet, she says, “Go ahead and spit on me, if it turns you on.” Then she explains the difference between love and hate when giving him an old fashioned. She should have been the main character of like ten more movies.

This was the first movie that Yakov Bentsvi ever directed and he waited fourteen years to make another. Writer Steven Schoenberg was the editor of Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses? and Hamburger: The Motion Picture, so who knew he had such pent-up insanity?

If you ever watched the aforementioned American Gladiators and said, “Is there any BDSM-obsessed fan fiction of this show?,” Legion of Iron is the film for you.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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