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Brooklyn filmmaker pays homage to Coney cult film ‘The Warriors’

By Raanan Geberer - Source:
Brian Taylor, left, and Dorsey Wright (in silhouette) in the Coney Island-based “Vamp Biker.” Courtesy of Eric Rivas

Brian Taylor, left, and Dorsey Wright (in silhouette) in the Coney Island-based “Vamp Biker.” Courtesy of Eric Rivas

A Brooklyn-born independent filmmaker who was fascinated with the cult film “The Warriors” when he was growing up in Kensington has now made a new film featuring three of the original actors from the 1979 movie.

“The Warriors” followed the adventures of a gang from Coney Island whose members are trying to get back home from the Bronx on the subway. The trouble is that another gang has put out a hit on the Warriors. To get back to Brooklyn, they must dodge not just other gang members but the cops as well. Among other things, the film is known for a rival gang member’s taunt: “Oh Warriors, won’t you come out to play!”

Filmmaker Eric Rivas grew up in the 1980s, graduating from FDR High School, and was himself a graffiti artist and gang member (although he stresses that the gang was mainly for protection and didn’t deal drugs). He became interested in film when his mother, a beautician, almost married a man who worked at installing home theaters. “I never went to film school – I just started shooting with my camera,” he says.

Last year, he made another film inspired by the Warriors, “Lost In Coney Island,” which placed first in the Coney Island Film Festival. In it, a filmmaker seeking to remake “The Warriors” gets stuck in a bus with a female production assistant during a crash. A romance ensues, but her jealous ex-boyfriend doesn’t exactly like this state of affairs.

Rivas’ latest film, “Vamp Bikers,” will premiere on Nov. 27 at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. It’s a combination of two genres: Biker films and vampire films. As Rivas tells it, a group of female vampires come to Coney Island and occupy an old factory building. The bikers are called upon to remove the vampires. But before they do, one of them asks the lead biker whether she can ride on his bike. She does but then bites him, whereupon he also becomes a vampire.

As mentioned above, “Vamp Bikers” features three of the actors from the 1979 “Warriors,” Brian Taylor, Apache Ramos and Dorsey Wright. He also used real members of motorcycle gangs to portray the bikers.

Of Wright, Rivas says, “He was in two movies, ‘Hair’ and ‘The Warriors,’ but never made another film – that’s why I gave him a major part. It’s ironic, because ‘The Warriors’ takes place on the subway, that he’s now working for the MTA, but he still does voice-overs. I call him ‘the African-American Marlon Brando.’”

Asked why he’s so fascinated by “The Warriors,” Rivas says, “I think it’s one of the best films every made. It shows the loyalty people had for each other. They had a code, had respect for each other.”

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