The 1979 cult classic The Warriors is one of those films that, on the surface, plays like a straight-male fantasy, an ode to masculinity. But, dig just a bit deeper, and it’s that very quality that make it a homoerotic odyssey for the ages. And, as it turns out, it was almost even more gay!
To backtrack a bit, The Warriors is a generation-defining action thriller from director Walter Hill, one that’s said to have influenced everything from hip-hop music to Street Fighter to countless cinematic imitators.
Despite negative reviews, the film outperformed at the box office and has only grown in esteem in the 40-plus years since (despite some admittedly shoddy acting).
In the world of the movie, New York City is overrun by a number of warring street gangs, each of which has a pretty well-defined brand—a name, a style, a distinct look… so, yeah, pretty gay right from the jump.
Our protagonists are a group called (you guessed it!) The Warriors, who are blamed for the murder of a respected gang leader, and are forced to flee back to their home turf, doing what they can to survive the night. That about sums up the plot!
For a quick refresher, here’s the trailer:
So, yes, the toned muscles, the flashy costumes, the apparent disinterest in women… The Warriors were total queens! (In one notable moment, a rare female character arrives into the picture, to which one Warrior reacts, “Do you know what that is?”)
And, while our antiheroes weren’t intended to read as queer, director Walter Hill has revealed that there were originally plans to include a more overtly gay gang in the film. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter‘s film history podcast, It Happened In Hollywood, Hill shares details about a group of Judies in his first screenplay that he called The Dingos.
As the filmmaker points out, The Dingos weren’t conceived of as “villainous” characters, and instead were allowed to display their “dignity” in one showcasing scene.
“It was not a scene that was negative about the gay gang,” says Hill, proving himself to be quite the ally. “I thought it was another way of staying ahead of [the times.]”
Like the other gangs in The Warriors, The Dingos have a very well-defined visual identity, wearing costumes that drew heavily from leather fetish wear. THR‘s piece links to a couple images of concept art from the gang—presumably created by the film’s costume designer, Bobbie Mannix—that are, indeed, rather kinky, covered in spikes and straps.
If you ask us, it looks like The Dingos might’ve inspired the upcoming season of American Horror Story.
Unfortunately, The Dingos and their sexy wardrobe became a casualty of “studio-mandated budget cuts,” which forced Hill to reign in a number of his envisioned plans for the film, to his dismay.
“We never shot it,” Hill laments. “I’m very sorry about that. What I wanted to show was the gay gang in a positive light.”
Though The Dingos are sorely missed, it’s worth noting that Hill was able to keep at least one pretty clearly queer-coded gang in the picture. They’re called the Lizzies and, well, see for yourself:
The Warriors is now streaming via DirecTV, FuboTV, and the Showtime app, as well as the network’s subscription channels on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime Video. It is also available to rent via YouTube, Vudu, GooglePlay, and iTines.