EDITOR’S NOTE: We wrote about this movie all the way back on September 27, 2018 so we added some new info to this article as we celebrate a week of Joe D’Amato.
A film with many AKAs — Anno 2020: I Gladiatori del Futuro (Year 2020 Gladiators of the Future), Futoro, 2020: The Rangers of Texas, 2020: Freedom Fighters and Sudden Death — the film we’re going to call 2020 Texas Gladiators starts with a long battle after the end of the world, bringing you in before there’s even any story. Who even cares if there’s a story? People are getting killed left and right!
We have 5 heroes here — who would assume are the Texas Gladiators– and they are Nisus (Al Cliver, Endgame, Warriors of the Year 2072), Catch Dog (Daniel Stephen, War Bus which is a totally different movie than War Bus Commando), Jab (Harrison Mueller, She), Red Wolfe (Hal Yamanouchi, Rat Eater King from 2019: After the Fall of New York) and Halakron (Peter Hooten, the original Dr. Strange!).
They have to save this monastery, but they just sit and watch as more people get attacked, a priest gets crucified and a nun gets so upset over everything that she grabs a piece of glass to slice her own throat What are they waiting for? Are they just going to watch everyone die?
Then, to make them look even more inept, Catch Dog tries to rape one of the survivors! You guys are the heroes? Well, at least they kick him out after that. And that unfortunate woman is Maida (Sabrina Siani, Oncron from Conquest!), who hooks up with Nisus. Years later, they’re all settled down, the rest of the guys have gone their own way and Catch Dog has started an evil gang. Just like your friends from college. Except that Catch Dog hasn’t forgotten anything.
Of course, Catch Dog’s gang attacks the town where Nisus lives with his family. Surprisingly, they fight back the invaders, but then a vaguely Nazi army attacks and defeats our hero, shooting him across the forehead. Then the army kills and rapes everyone and everything, taking the town apart.
The leader of this army, Black One (Donald O’Brien, Dr. Butcher M.D. himself!) tells everyone that he’s in charge. They then take Nisus and force him to watch his wife get raped. This movie has more violent sex than — oh, Joe D’Amato and George Eastman directed it? Yeah. It figures.
In one of my go-to reference guides to Italian exploitation, Spaghetti Nightmares. D’Amato says that Eastman “didn’t feel confident enough in the action scenes and so I dealt with those, leaving him to the direction of the actors. But in this case, the name recorded at the Ministry (director’s credit) was mine.”
Later in that book, Eastman pretty much makes anyone who likes these movies feel bad about their chocies: “These (post-atomic) films, which were made in the wake of the various Mad Max movies, were decidedly crummy. The set designs were poor….and the genre met a swift and well-deserved death. I only wrote these awful movies for financial reasons….no attempt at originality was made at all.”
So what happens with our hero? He attacks one of the guys and gets shot a hundred times and dies. Is that the end of the movie? Nope. Instead, our old friends Halakron and Jab find Maida, who has been sold to a gambler, and Halakron wins her in a game of Russian Roulette. They all get busted for a bar fight, where they get tortured in salt mines. Luckily, Red Wolfe comes to save them.
Catch Dog’s gang attacks, but our heroes fake their deaths. They also meet up with a gang of Native Americans. Jab has to defeat one of them in battle to get them to join with our heroes. Of course, he wins. He’s Jab, bro.
Maida gets to kill Catch Dog, but Jab doesn’t make it. He dies in his friend’s arms because this is an Italian movie and even the heroes can die. Luckily, Halakron gets to kill Black One with a hatchet. So there’s that.
Halkron, Red Wolfe and the Native Americans win the day, save everyone and then ride off into the sunset, because post-apocalyptic Italian movies are just spaghetti westerns with shoulder pads. Italy is Texas. Texas is Italy.
There are better post-apocalyptic films than this. But there are worse ones, too. It’s a hard one to get, but luckily Revok can help you.