The Gramercy Riffs: The Riff's were Cyrus's gang; hence they're the guys who most want to see Warrior
blood. The Riffs owed their cool aesthetic to an underground lair, a leader (Masai) whose jaw seemed to
detach from his face when he talked and a costume-design scheme otherwise unused in the fallow period between
Enter the Dragon and The Last Dragon. (Sho'nuff!) When the Riffs soldier onto the beach for the film's revenge
crescendo, it marks the last time we'd see black guys holding hockey sticks for about 20 years. Riffs? YEAH, RIGHT!
The Rogues: The dudes who really wasted Cyrus, lead by mousy character actor extraordinaire David
Patrick Kelly (NO, he didn't write Ally McBeal!), were the flick's embodiment of pure evil. Though a phone
call gives the implication that the Rogues actually might have shot Cyrus for someone else (The Man, perhaps?), Luther
explains his murder of Cyrus with the fact that he "just likes doing things like that." Even though they
murdered Cyrus, perhaps the Rogues' biggest crime was that they drove everywhere in a hearse, which tended
to spotlight the one plot gaffe in the whole film: Can't even one of the Warriors hotwire a car for the ride home?
The Turnbull A.C.'s: As frightening as a fat, southern sheriff saying "niggra," the Turnbull A.C.'s
drove the scariest bus this side of Shirley Partridge. Armed with two-by-fours, chains and knives, the A.C.'s
are the first gang to alert the Warriors that the truce is off. Though shot the same year as fellow gang-flick
The Wanderers, which featured the clean-shaven domes of street toughs "the Fordham Baldies," The Warriors'
Turnbulls are infinitely scarier bald dudes. Say what you will about them, but at least the Turnbulls are
integrated. They're a veritable chrome-domed United Nations. Packed into a bus containing more denim per-square-inch
than a Turbonegro concert, the Turnbulls got this party started quickly. About 35-miles-per-hour.
The Baseball Furies: Equal parts Mickey Mantle and Al Jolson, the Baseball Furies came out of their
dugout/clubhouse with their game faces on. The bat fight in the park is one of the best battles in cinema
history, and one of the trickiest to film—which is why the Furies were cast with more stuntmen than any of
the film's other gangs. Their face-paint served a more practical purpose than to make them look sinister—it also
covered up the fact that they were all around 30 years old. One Fury in particular had a little more game
underneath his make-up. John Gibson, a former Chippendale dancer and Playgirl centerfold, put his Fury past
behind him to become Vanna White's fiancé. That is, until a 1986 plane crash permanently struck him out.
The Orphans: When your gang wears the drabbest colors in the flick, and are so far down on the list
they aren't even on the map, it helps if your leader looks like Eric Begosian on crack. Orphans leader Paul
Greco has had an erratic career that cites such diverse roles as karaoke-crazed Raul in The Cable Guy and a
goon named Vito in Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose, but he was seldom as well used—or looked as greasy—as
in this straight-razor-wielding tour de force.
The Punks: Why overgrown bowl cuts, rowing shirts and overalls seemed a sensible costume to issue
to a gang called the Punks isn't clear—except perhaps to act as further celluloid proof that Hollywood never did
understand the punk movement. The stylishly brutal bathroom beat-down the Punks receive from the Warriors
took five 11-hour days to film. Overalls never looked so scary as when worn by Craig R. Baxley, the roller-skating
leader of the Punks. One wonders if Craig could remain leader of his gang after the 75-pound Rembrandt cold-cocked
him in front of his followers during the exhilarating bathroom rumble? Perhaps this explains why Craig moved
behind the camera to become second unit director on the Schwarzenegger-killfest Predator.
The Lizzies: "The chicks are packed! The chicks are packed!" A real live bunch of chicks packing more
than just firepower, these whores of Babylon flip the script quicker than you can say Lizzie Borden. Boasting
members running the gamut from amazingly hot chicks like Jaws 3-D's Lisa Maurer to a few possible
Y-chromosome-packin' mandroids, the Lizzies provide some of the Warriors with a momentary break in the action.
Now these are some girls who couldn't live in a house with Ted Knight!
The Police: Though technically not a gang, many a street kid would argue the point. With the
audience's allegiance firmly rooted to the film's cool band of anti-heroes bopping their way back to Coney,
without the benefit of guns or the law on their side, Policemen can't help but be hated by comparison. They
kill Fox, beat up Ajax and try to stop our boys from getting back home. At least Swan gets to wreck the shins
of one Johnny law on the subway platform. Incidentally, that cop whose shins to this day probably have the words
"Louisville Slugger" tattooed on them is none other than Sonny Landham—James Remar's pal Billy Bear from director
Hill's blockbuster 48 Hours.
THE MAN (PLURAL):
Walter Hill (Director): So, who do you figure would direct the male-bonding-turned-apocalypse street poem
that is The Warriors? Did you just say, "whoever did Alien Vs. Predator?" I didn't think so. Walt cut his teeth
while acting as second director on the Steve McQueen vehicles The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullit, before graduating
to writing the script for Steve's most intellectually violent film The Getaway. Tack on Hard Times, The Driver and
48 Hours and suddenly Walter Hill is not only beyond reproach as a genre-hopping master of technical virtuosity—he
was the perfect man to juggle the violence, spirit, social commentary and, yes, humor, that is abundant in
The Warriors. It's said that every male actor living in New York in 1978 got cast in The Warriors. But there was
only one man up to the task of directing, and that's the King of the Hill. Incidentally, Walt loved the theme of
The Warriors so much that he returned to the formula for the Warriors-based remakes that were Southern Comfort
and The Long Riders.
Barry De Vorzon (Composer): Barry's blaxploitation work on Hell Up In Harlem and Black Caesar made him
a logical choice for this badass epic, though, ironically Barry's best known for his theme to the '70s
TV-show—and recent movie—S.W.A.T. How would you score The Warriors? Tribal drums? Wailing guitars? Lou Reed's
Metal Machine Music? Oddly, you can imagine all three working to some degree. But Barry's ersatz organ runs,
incessantly pounding synthesizer pulse beats and flange-heavy guitar strokes power the train that is The Warriors
through the subway tunnel of Hollywood crud and make sure it comes out clean on the other side.
Coney Island, NYC: The once-great/now-scary/still-great Coney Island is the perfect setting for The Warriors.
It must at once signify the safe, warm embrace of home and a chilling, bleak war zone that could produce the
frightening helplessness that would make a young man need to join a gang. As any native New Yorker knows, mission
accomplished. That's why this geographic beachfront badass bookends the film. The movie's establishing shot (not counting the
TV-version's daytime opening) of Coney Island's world-famous Wonder Wheel is equal parts eerie and charming. The
surviving Warriors' final shoreline walk into the sunset is our heroic home-sweet-home payoff. The big C.I. is in
many ways the most important cast member. It's certainly the toughest.
Sol Yurick (Novelist): This guy started it all when he wrote the 1965 novel that turned into The Warriors.
Although working with plenty of gang members during a stint at the Welfare office, Sol's novel was loosely based
on Xenophon's The Anabasis, an ancient Greek novel about 1000 mercenaries who were trapped hundreds of miles from
home and had to fight their way back. In the novel, the "Warriors" are instead called The Coney Island Dominators,
with the youngest member of the gang being 14 and the oldest 16. Being that the studio made all his gang members
into adults and changed his hero's color from black to white, Sol isn't a real big fan of the film—but he's
definitely in the minority. Hey, if you're ever in NYC, look him up and ask him about it yourself. A New Yorker to the core, Sol still
lives here—and you can usually find him on the handball courts. Can you dig it?
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