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quixotic & grimly whimsical

Somebody messed with Texas!

Post-apocalyptic movies like 2020: Texas Gladiators can typically go one of two ways. Either they can go big and over-the-top, or they can go low-budget and sneaky.

2020: Texas Gladiators is an early-'80s Italian post-apocalyptic film that really tries hard to go over the top ... but it can't quite manage it. There are battle trucks like in Warlords of the 21st Century, but they're small and not impressive. There are battle dune buggy / cars like in Warriors of the Apocalypse, but they're also small and unimpressive. In a lot of ways, this is a post-apocalyptic film at low budget and about half-size.

At the beginning, a group of villains is attacking a church -- killing priests and raping nuns. Five Texas Rangers show up and kill all the bad guys. One of the Texas Rangers (Catch Dog) decides to rape a girl that was hiding in the church. Another one of the Rangers (Nisus) catches him at it, and after a fight, Catch Dog is expelled from the Texas Rangers.

A few years later, Nisus has left the Texas Rangers, and is working at a Power Plant along with the girl that he saved (Maida). Nisus is extremely strong, and has built a nice life with Maida. They even have a child together.

This cannot last, and a bunch of bad guys (lead by evil mastermind Black One) armed with guns and shields-with-big-holes storm the power plant. The holes are some kind of energy barrier that repels bullets.

Black One is moving to secure the power plant. Nisus resists, and at about the half-hour mark, our main character is killed by the bad guys. So ... I guess he wasn't the main character after all.

Cut to a post-apocalyptic casino. Halakron (leader of the Texas Rangers) notices that a local gambler has dog tags ... Nisus' dog tags! He wants them, but the gambler insists on playing Russian Roulette for them. Suddenly we are in The Deer Hunter -- but on a smaller scale, and less impressive.

Halakron gets the dog tags, and finds Maida. He gets the story from her, and they (Maida, Halakron, and the two remaining Rangers, Jab and Red Wolfe) head off to the CALTEX power plant.

The thing is ... Black One didn't attack the power plant randomly. Not only is he interested in their method for generating power from reconstituted mine sediment, but he's working with Catch Dog, who wants to eliminate the remaining Texas Rangers.

Catch Dog and his hired thugs attempt to ambush the Texas Rangers, but are unsuccessful. The Texas Rangers lay their own trap, managing to kill the hired thugs, and convince Catch Dog that they've been killed.

They still need to find a way to get into the compound, though. And Black One's men are all armed with those thermal shields! What to do?

This is the point at which 2020: Texas Gladiators hauls out its jaw-dropping innovation. Since it's post-apocalyptic Texas, our heroes encounter a group of post-apocalyptic stereotypical Red Indians.

Halakron talks the Indian Scouting Party into taking him to their Village, where he Speaks with the Elders in front of the Wigwam. There is a Sacred Drum, of course. In the end, he gets them to agree to a trial-by-combat, of sorts. Jab provokes one of the Braves, and they fight. Jab wins, and so the Braves will assist the Texas Rangers in their assault. This is crucial, because while the shields-with-holes will resist bullets (because bullets are hot), arrows and spears pass right through (because arrows and spears are cold).

In the end, the Texas Ranges liberate the base, and Maida is reunited with her child, but at a great cost in both lives (theirs) and sanity (ours).

Now I know how to survive in the grim future Texas of the year 2020 -- stay the hell away from Texas!


Which is, oddly, not that different from my plan to survive Texas of the year 2010.