15 Things to Look For the Next Time You Watch The Warriors

Paramount Home Video
Paramount Home Video

It turns out people really, really can dig The Warriors. Though, at the time of its release, the low-budget 1979 action movie was mostly known for inspiring a string of vandalism and violent acts, it has gathered a fiendish cult devotion over the years. Fans frequently quote the lingo of its young New York City street gang members (“Warriors, come out to play!”), and the actors who played the film’s titular crew reunited on the city’s subway in 2015 to breathless reactions.

Whether you’re already indoctrinated in the ways of The Warriors, or you’ve yet to experience the movie’s fantastical thrills, here are some interesting facts and moments to keep in mind when watching.

1. IT'S BASED ON A GRAPHIC NOVEL—AND AN ANCIENT GREEK STORY.

The script for The Warriors was adapted from Sol Yurick’s graphic novel of the same name, which in turn quotes and borrows elements from Anabasis, a seven-book adventure by the ancient Greek soldier and writer Xenophon. So just know that while The Warriors might seem very time-stamped, it has roots going back to BC times.

2. IT’S NOT A VERY FAITHFUL ADAPTATION, THOUGH.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

After being handed Yurick’s novel, director Walter Hill immediately had an idea for a fun movie. “I felt very strongly that it certainly was not a very realistic book, and I wanted to make it even less so,” he told Esquire. “I wanted to take it into a fantasy element, but at the same time add some contemporary flash.” The Warriors in the novel are actually the Coney Island Dominators, a black and Hispanic gang. In Hill’s cinematic rendering, the main crew is a diverse group of white and nonwhite misfits.

3. IT HAS COMIC BOOK STYLE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The filmmakers used a cool trick to integrate animation into the live-action photography. Sections of the movie are broken up by drawn images, which then seamlessly transition into shots of the human actors. For a late 1970s feature made on a shoestring budget, it’s quite a feat.

4. YES, THAT’S THE REAL WONDER WHEEL.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors was shot in the Big Apple almost entirely in darkness. That proved tremendously difficult, since it was summer and the nights didn’t last long. But the cast and crew got a lot of leeway to roam from the city, which was dealing with a fiscal crisis. The Warriors showcases a metropolis that truly was teetering on the brink of chaos.

5. THE WARRIORS OFFERS A GREAT EDUCATION IN THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Innumerable scenes take place in the real New York City subways, run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including both underground and elevated trains. As seen on the screen, the trains did operate with tokens back then. The characters also avoid paying by jumping the turnstiles, which seems perfectly acceptable when running for your life.

6. WHY IS THERE A GANG OF ... MIMES?

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors takes a lot of humorous liberties in concocting its fictional street gangs, which seem to have free rein in a dystopian, futuristic version of New York City. One of the more eccentric tribes is a cluster of mimes in full costume. It begs a number of questions, most importantly: How do they get anything done?

7. IT'S NOT EXACTLY POLITICALLY CORRECT.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Then again, neither was 1979. The first “f*ggot” is uttered by Warriors member Ajax after Vermin gives him a hard time for only ever thinking about women. (Side note: What did Vermin ever do to deserve that nickname?) Ajax’s go-to defense mechanism is to accuse his friend of being gay with a slur. Some version of the word is used several times throughout the movie. Though it might seem like the film is being homophobic, which is certainly possible, the dialogue is also fairly faithful to the way young men in a tough world at the time would trash-talk each other.

8. THIS IS ONE LONG CHASE FROM A CHASE MASTER.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors is one of the more exceptional works from director Walter Hill, who earned a deserved reputation for his hard-boiled tough-guy movies made with elegance. While he’ll always be most famous for 48 Hrs., the hit starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, his other features like The Driver and The Long Riders are worth seeking out. In particular, The Driver, featuring Ryan O’Neal and Bruce Dern, perfected the car-chase move long before Ryan Gosling’s Drive liberally took inspiration from it.

9. YOU’RE WATCHING REAL GANG MEMBERS.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The real action in The Warriors kicks off with an impressively epic meeting of various gangs in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park (though it was actually filmed in Riverside Park). Cyrus, the leader of the city’s most powerful gang, invites everyone in an attempt to forge an alliance and increase the gangs’ leverage over police, before being abruptly shot and killed. Hill refers to it as “our big production number.” In order to pull off the sequence, the filmmakers asked real gangs to be extras. So The Warriors feels legit for good reason.

10. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY ALL THAT VIOLENT.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Well, that is, by the standards of today’s superhero movies watched by young children. While the R-rated film puts on a tough pose, beginning with the murder of Cyrus, most of the violence is contained to non-lethal, hand-to-hand combat. The death toll is low relative to the movie’s image, and includes Warriors leader Cleon, who’s framed for Cyrus’s death, and Fox, who’s a victim of a moving train.

11. A DJ STARTS THE TROUBLE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Messages are relayed to the gangs by an unnamed female DJ, played by Lynne Thigpen, to whom they all apparently have their radios tuned. We never even see her full face, but her hip attitude is memorable. She may or may not have been an influence on Samuel L. Jackson’s DJ Señor Love Daddy in Do the Right Thing, who’s shot in a similar style and hovers over the proceedings of that other New York-to-its-core narrative.

12. A NEW YORK BASEBALL GANG MAKES A LOT OF SENSE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

If you’ve ever met a passionate Yankees fan, you might already feel like you’ve been in the presence of a baseball gang member. The infamous Baseball Furies in The Warriors are decked out in uniforms strikingly similar to the Bronx-based MLB team. They wield bats as weapons and wear terrifying face makeup. It’s not so dissimilar from what you might find at a brawl outside Yankee Stadium.

13. THE LEADING LADY HAD A HIDDEN INJURY.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Deborah Van Valkenburgh plays the fiery Mercy, a sexy woman who catches Swan’s (Michael Beck) eye and joins the Warriors on their journey and turns out to be as tough as the boys. While she’s scantily clad when we first meet her, she’s later dressed in a long-sleeved jacket. That’s likely because, as Hill explained, Van Valkenburgh broke her wrist and had to wear a cast, forcing the crew to get creative.

14. THE REAL VILLAINS ARE THE DISCO DANCERS.

One of the more quietly powerful scenes goes by nearly wordlessly. A pack of merry partiers board the subway and, based on their ruffled attire, seem to be coming from or going to some wholesome disco dancing. They fall silent upon seeing the bruised Swan and Mercy, then leave at the next station. The audience, of course, instantly despises them. It seems like a bit of an overreaction from people on a graffiti-splattered train in then-grimy New York, but the point is clear. Two years after Saturday Night Fever, disco had reached peak saturation. And in fact Hill has complained that Paramount hoped The Warriors would be something like the John Travolta hit. Maybe this was his quiet revenge.

15. THE WARRIORS IS ESSENTIALLY AN URBAN WESTERN.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors emerge at the end of the movie in their native Coney Island after morning has come, where they face Luther (David Patrick Kelly) and his rival gang who pinned Cyrus’s death on them. It’s striking how much this standoff is filmed like a Western—except on the shores of Brooklyn—but it’s not surprising. Hill’s movies are heavily indebted to Westerns, and The Warriors often resembles one in a different context. It’s also notable that the final duel goes off with only minor injury: Swan throws a switchblade into Luther’s arm. What happens to Luther after the end credits roll—well, that’ll have to be explained in a sequel.

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

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