Barb Wire (film)

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Barb Wire
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Hogan
Produced byTodd Moyer
Mike Richardson
Brad Wyman
Screenplay byChuck Pfarrer
Ilene Chaiken
Story byIlene Chaiken
Based on
Music byMichel Colombier
CinematographyRick Bota
Edited byPeter Schink
Distributed byGramercy Pictures
Release date
  • May 3, 1996 (1996-05-03)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$9 million[1]
Box office$3.8 million[2]

Barb Wire is a 1996 American science fiction action film based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name. It stars Pamela Anderson in the titular role, alongside Temuera Morrison, Victoria Rowell, Xander Berkeley, Udo Kier and Steve Railsback. Brad Wyman produced, and David Hogan directed from a screenplay by Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken.

The film was critically panned and was nominated for several Golden Raspberry Awards.


In 2017, during the Second American Civil War, Barb Wire owns the Hammerhead, a nightclub in Steel Harbor, "the last free city" in a United States ravaged by the war. She brings in extra cash working as a mercenary and bounty hunter. Chief of Police Willis raids her club. Willis's target is fugitive Dr. Corrina "Cora D" Devonshire, a former government scientist with information about a bioweapon being developed by her former superior, Colonel Pryzer of the Congressional Directorate. Dr. Devonshire hopes to escape to Canada in order to make this information public.

Devonshire turns up at the Hammerhead. She is accompanied by Axel Hood, a "freedom fighter" whom Barb had known and loved at the outbreak of the war, but the two were separated during the conflict. Axel is trying to help Cora get to Canada. They are trying to find a contraband pair of contact lenses that would allow Cora to evade the retinal scan identification at the Steel Harbor airport. The lenses pass through the hands of several lowlifes before also ending up at Barb's nightclub.

Rather than give the lenses to Cora and Axel, Barb makes a deal with "Big Fatso", the leader of a junkyard gang: Fatso wants the lenses, which are worth a fortune on the black market, and Barb wants a million dollars and an armed escort to the airport, where she plans to get on the plane to Canada. But Fatso double-crosses Barb; when Barb, Axel and Cora show up at the junkyard to make the swap, Colonel Pryzer and his storm troopers are also there, along with Chief of Police Willis. Willis makes a show of arresting Barb and Cora, but instead of putting handcuffs on Barb, he slips her a hand grenade. Barb uses the grenade to kill Fatso and cause enough confusion to allow Barb, Axel, Cora and Willis to pile into Barb's armored van and lead the Congressionals on a car chase, culminating in a hand-to-hand fight between Barb and Colonel Pryzer on a forklift suspended by crane above the harbor. Pryzer falls to his death while Barb escapes.

The party makes it to the airport, where Barb reveals that she still has the contact lenses. She gives them to Cora, and Cora and Axel get on the plane to Canada while Willis and Barb remain on the rainswept tarmac.


In the film, Anderson's waist was laced down to 17 inches (43 cm). She did some of her own stunts, although the corset and the heels she wore made fight scenes very challenging.[3][4]


Barb Wire generally received negative reactions by critics and was a box office bomb. It holds a 28% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews (10 positive, 26 negative), with the consensus stating that "Barb Wire could've been fun camp, but Pamela Anderson can't deliver her lines with any dramatic or comedic impact".[5] Roger Ebert pointed out that the film's plot was identical to that of Casablanca and derided the low-brow attempts at sensuality, but praised the cast and crew's approach to the material: "The filmmakers must have known they were not making a good movie, but they didn't use that as an excuse to be boring and lazy. Barb Wire has a high energy level, and a sense of deranged fun." He gave it two and a half stars.[6] Similarly to Ebert, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly commented on the film's aping of the Casablanca plot and its "teasing, hollow 'naughtiness'", but further said that the film is lacking in energy. He gave it a C.[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Group Award Result
1996 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Picture Nominated
Worst Actress (Pamela Anderson) Nominated
Worst Screen Couple (Pamela Anderson's "Impressive Enhancements") Nominated
Worst Screenplay (Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken) Nominated
Worst New Star (Pamela Anderson) Won
Worst "Original" Song ("Welcome to Planet Boom!", by Tommy Lee) Nominated
1996 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards Worst Actress (Pamela Lee [Anderson]) Nominated
1997 MTV Movie Awards Best Fight (Pamela Anderson/Steve Railsback) Nominated

Barb Wire would later rank in the listed bottom 20 of the Stinkers' "100 Years, 100 Stinkers" list, which noted the 100 worst movies of the 20th century, at #19.[8][9]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box-office failure, only grossing $3,794,000 in the United States.[10]


An official soundtrack was released in 1996.[11]

Video game[edit]

GT Interactive announced that they would be publishing a video game based on the film for the PlayStation, Saturn, PC, and Macintosh in January 1997.[12] The developer was Cryo Interactive.[13] The gameplay was said to be similar to Resident Evil, with a single-player campaign and a two-player deathmatch mode.[14] It was never released.


  1. ^ "Barb Wire". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  2. ^ Box Office Mojo: Barb Wire
  3. ^ "Sky Magazine Interview". May 1996. Archived from the original on May 28, 2001. Retrieved November 23, 2007.
  4. ^ "Biography of Pamela Denise Anderson". March 13, 2007. Archived from the original on February 22, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2007.
  5. ^ "Barb Wire". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
  6. ^ "Roger Ebert - ''Chicago Sun-Times''". 1996-05-03. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
  7. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (May 10, 1996). "Barb Wire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  8. ^ "The 100 Worst Films of the 20th Century". The Stinkers. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  9. ^ "The Top Ten [sic] Worst Films of All-Time". The Stinkers. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  10. ^ Puig, Claudia (1996-05-07). "Weekend Box Office : 'Craft's' Magical Start Surprises Experts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  11. ^ Gomes, Whitney. "Barb Wire Review". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  12. ^ "News Bits". GamePro. No. 96. IDG. September 1996. p. 21.
  13. ^ "Cryo? Who They?". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 19. Emap International Limited. May 1997. p. 27.
  14. ^ "Sneak Previews: Barb Wire". GamePro. No. 102. IDG. March 1997. p. 47.

External links[edit]