in writing, art, and a movie obscured a potentially good item
August 2, 2010
By Avi Green
Back in 1996, Dark Horse Comics, in their attempt to enter the film
business, had one of their products, Barb Wire,
turned into a movie starring then Baywatch co-star babe Pamela
Anderson. The movie was poorly received and vanished at the box
office faster than a motorcycle can travel, and Anderson certainly
didn’t get very far in a movie career.
Oddly enough, Barb Wire may have been undermined even before that,
as it featured tie-ins with at least 2 other books Dark Horse was
publishing during the 1990s.
I found a blog
post about it here, reviewing the omnibus compilation, which
tells that the property had some form of interference. For example,
a story that led in to another book called Will to Power, and the
artwork and writing were uneven to boot. It was about a femme bounty
hunter in a futuristic USA location called Steel Harbor, which may
be set in the vicinity of Seattle, Washington, and for all I know,
it may have looked great on paper, but the end result leaves much to
Yet this book was seen by the
Dark Horse executives as some kind of a potential moneymaker in
celluloid, so they turned it into a vehicle that would star Pamela
Anderson (and even derive its plot from Casablanca), back in the
days of her Baywatch stardom. That’s where you know something
must’ve gone wrong. After all, not many would deny that Baywatch,
which ran for at least 11 seasons – one on network and the rest in
syndication – was simply an escapist drama set in Malibu,
California, chronicling the lives of beach lifeguards and featuring
plenty of babes with hot bods, and certainly wasn’t filmed or viewed
for acting talent, which it certainly didn’t have, even if it was
still entertaining in a cheesy way.
And Barb Wire as a movie obviously wasn’t produced for real art
either, but as a cash-grab based on Anderson in name. As noted
above, it didn’t work. The movie practically left theaters after
barely 3 weeks. What’s really troubling is that the story may have
been disrespectful to conservatives, and the enemy were called the
“congressionals”. Could it have been some sort of a form of
Chomskyism from the mid-90s?
A funny thing about the star lady: even after the movie, Anderson
kept the barbed wire tattoo she'd gotten specially for the film on
her left arm for many years afterwards, and you could see it on her
even in one episode of Baywatch and in VIP, the adventure caper
series she'd starred in for 4 seasons; she didn't even try to hide
At one point, I probably thought the film was done badly on purpose,
perhaps to destroy the source material; there are some terrible
people in showbiz today who’re willing to do that. But the same may
need to be said for the original source material, if DH’s editorial
has any blame to shoulder for leading to such awkward scripting and
iffy drawing. As the omnibus review I found says, the source
material was declared toxic.
It’s a real pity something that could’ve been a worthy escapist fare
was wrecked for the sake of…gee, I dunno, what could it have been?
Copyright 2010 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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