She-Wolves of the Wasteland (1988)

Women do, in fact, rule.

Sometimes this movie is called Phoenix the Warrior. Either way, it’s a post-apocalyptic film about dirty women in what amounts to fur bikinis and bondage gear getting into badly choreographed fights and gun battles over the only man alive. Because even in a world populated only by women, we still couldn’t pass the Bechdel test. The film is a weird Mad Max knock off that contains elements of both Hell Comes to Frogtown and Children of Men, only with the acting chops of a softcore porno because that’s probably what it wanted to be. And yes, before you ask, the cast does include Playboy Playmates, as well as Persis Khambatta.

In the future, men kill each other off using some kind of biological superweapon, which leaves the Earth a barren wasteland, or more properly, Arizona. Since only women are left, they decide to live in shanty towns and pick up where the guys left off with bad haircuts, guns, murder, barbarism, arena bloodsports, and every other shenanigan you would expect in a picture like this. They also go by names like Whiplash and Neon. I guess the sexes really are equal.

Into this world comes a warrior, Phoenix, who is actually of secondary importance to character Keela. She’s a “breeder” used by the wannabe-Emperor Palpatine lady known as the Reverend Mother, who has tubes in her head, uses mystic powers, and keeps humanity going through some weird genetics program that isn’t fully explained. Also, she apparently has a sperm bank. Anyway, Keela breaks loose while pregnant, Phoenix helps her, and the escaped breeder gives birth while in a wasteland oasis surrounded by women who like to wear face paint and dance topless nearby whenever a woman goes through birthing. The movie then jumps time periods so the kid slowly grows up, but Keela and Phoenix keep surviving, find an escaped male breeder literally named Guy, get captured by wasteland mutants who worship television, and eventually storm the palace to kill the Reverend Mother by cutting her dialysis tubes. And they do this while wearing just slightly more than nothing.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this movie was written, directed, shot, edited, and produced by dudes…and Persis Khambatta. She’s in it as the Reverend Mother’s right hand stooge, Cobalt, and she’s also the only person who is fully clothed for nearly all of the movie. Yep, she’s the one person who makes any sense, even if her dialogue is ridiculous and her delivery could have been better. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to her. As for everybody else…not so much.

Despite all of the near-nudity (and it’s surprising that there is relatively little nudity despite all of these women literally covering their naughty bits with the odd strip of cloth for the entire run time), the movie is mostly boring. The highlight for me was when Keela and Phoenix get captured by the nuclear mutants, and we discover they venerate the TV Guide as a holy text. It’s like listening to the War Boys in Mad Max: Fury Road talk about chrome and Valhalla’s highways, only with a more television shows like Sanford and Son randomly namedropped.

Do you like seeing dirt-caked women with unkempt mohawks shoot from the hip while sauntering through dumpsters? Then this movie is up your alley. Do you dislike things like “plot”? You’re in luck, this is still for you. Do you want fight scenes with next to no choreography? Oh man, you’re batting 1000 here.

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