Movies don’t always have to be high-concept, high-brow, or critically praised to be entertaining and that’s exactly how I feel about The Barbarian Brothers and their sometimes forgotten contribution to cinema. The Barbarian Brothers, also known as Peter and David Paul, twin brothers and fellow body-builders from Connecticut, made a handful of films during the 80s and 90s and despite the fact that all of them were poorly received by critics (and even the public) it didn’t stop them from being enjoyable.
David and Peter first appeared in Joel Schumacher’s so-crap-it’s-good D.C. Cab alongside Mr. T, they weren’t the main focus of the plot and with their beards they were almost unrecognisable.
Of course Peter and David weren’t the first body-builders to became actors, they followed on from the likes of Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who after becoming household names in the 70s ushered in an era of muscles-n-action films. Somewhere during the start of this muscle-bound movie trend, The Barbarian Brothers were introduced to the masses, firstly in a cheap, filmic clone of Conan The Barbarian titled The Barbarians (hence their nickname).
This was technically their second film after the aforementioned D.C. Cab, but it was this Golan-Globus produced movie that set their career in motion. The twins’ obvious chemistry and unique appearance (looking like Corey Feldman on steroids) then spawned a trio of action comedies; Think Big in 1989, Double Trouble in 1992, and Twin Sitters aka The Babysitters in 1994. I personally haven’t seen The Barbarians but this “Twin Trilogy” is something I enjoy watching now and again, these three movies are chock full of one liners and have a great upbeat feeling to them.
Aside from acting, the Twin Sitters soundtrack was written and performed by Peter and David Paul, the rap song “Whatcha Lookin’ At” is a little corny but well worth a listen…
Now before I go on, yes, Pater and David Paul’s movies are badly acted, yes they’re badly written, yes they’re badly directed, and yes they’re cheesy, but that’s the appeal, especially when watching them two or three decades later. Nostalgia has a way of making even the most corniest of things seem interesting and appealing.
Within a few minutes of a Barbarian Brother movie, there’s usually a plot device that means one or both brothers remove some of their clothing so the audience can see their muscles. Their ripped and cropped shirts and long mullet hair, their bandanas and work boots were an interesting, if not out-of-date look, but this was part of the duo’s appeal; they were larger-than-life caricatures, they weren’t the best actors but they were unique. This resulted in some very memorable B-Movies that have since achieved cult status, they even appeared in a deleted scene in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.
After these three movies, The Barbarian Brothers faded away. David Paul appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in Louis Theroux’ Weird Weekends (Series 3 Episode 4, Bodybuilders). He was taking photos in this episode and apparently that’s now his profession along with music, art, and writing.
There were also some rumours on a body building forum that David’s brother Peter Paul was a “drifter” at the University Of Rhode Island and after hearing this I found this video below on YouTube which shows that this post might not have been a rumour. With some of the comments under this video alluding to mental illness, I have to say that people shouldn’t be so quick to label everyone who acts differently as “mentally ill”. This type of eccentricity for me confirms that the Paul brothers were artistic individuals, since being artistic is on the same spectrum. If Peter Paul wants to recite poetry outside a university then more power to him, at least he’s not a dull, run-of-the-mill nobody, dressing and acting like every other sheep on earth. It’s funny that when someone is famous or has money, we call their strange behaviour “eccentric” but when someone is a regular guy on the street we call the same personality “insane”. One of many double standards in modern society.
Peter Paul has a YouTube channel and a website where he showcases his eccentricities, these days he’s known as “The Knight Of The Light” and is a poet and apparent healer. His brother David Paul aka the “Abstract Alkaline Alchemist”, seems to have grown into a very spiritual, enlightened, and artistic human being. Here’s an interview with him…
It seems that many people, even in Hollywood, have forgotten about the duo. I would have thought that being body builders and semi-action stars would have made them eligible to appear in one of the Expendables films for instance. Everybody from Jean-Claude Van Damme all the way to the B-Movie Chuck Norris got a cameo role in at least one of those movies but there wasn’t even one single appearance from David or Peter, a real shame.
From what I can glean from the interview above, the brothers don’t really think of their films as anything special, they’re much happier being spiritually enlightened dudes following their own paths, but for me, I still look back at their action-comedies with affection.
If you also fondly remember the duo’s Twin Trilogy, Think Big, Double Trouble, and Twin Sitters unfortunately aren’t on any streaming services (as far as I’m aware) and the DVDs of these films are out of print (they were all pan-and scan 4:3 cropped versions anyway). Double Trouble was shown on the short-lived MGM channel so I know there’s a HD version of that particular movie out there somewhere. Hopefully with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer slowly releasing Blu-rays of their movies, this might make it to an official 16:9 High Definition release. If enough people show an interest we might see all of the Barbarian Brothers’ films released officially and in high quality.
For all those out there who diss films like these, I would argue that the Barbarian Brothers never sought out to be Oscar winners and they never made films that wished they were some kind of filmic masterpiece. Because of their casual acting style and their lack of pretentiousness, they were never disappointing, and their on-screen personality was endearing and likeable. David and Peter Paul’s movies never try to be something they’re not, there’s no illusion or delusion, their films are exactly what the poster shows; a bit of harmless fun, some popcorn fodder, films you can zone-out the mundanities of everyday life and have a laugh for an hour and a half.
So, if you’re ever in the mood for a bright, fun, kid-friendly, action-slash-comedy B-Movie with a strangely kitsch and tongue-in-cheek feel, then David and Peter Paul’s films are for you. Where else will you see body building twins with mullets and crop tops pretending to be truck drivers, cops and robbers, and babysitting cooks?