This film is actually pretty well-known as far as cult films go, but how many of you have actually seen it? Hell, I'd heard about it many years ago, but could never find a copy of it. In one of life's many random coincidences, I discovered it via a random search of movies on Netflix, my second God. I figured 'what the hell? It should be fun.' For those not familiar with the film, let me give you a quick rundown. There's an evil guy (Jack Palance), a good guy (John Terry) and a bunch of silly, optical effects. The movie has also become a cult hit for its soundtrack, which dares to mix orchestral music (see Conan) with weird, synthesizer music (see Conquest). That alone is worth the price of admission...to your house to watch the DVD of it. If you want to know more, check out my review of...
The world is in a dark time. Evil is running rampant. The woods of England are full of menacing creatures. You've heard all of this before, haven't you? Well, it's all true. The movie often gives you a feel of 'been there, done that.' That is, however, until the special effects kick in. Trust me- they're worth it. This is what you need to know: there is a bad guy named Voltan. He has a menacing voice, a menacing figure and a helmet that is somehow a combination of armor and eye-patch. Don't ask me how he managed to do it, but he did! We are introduced to a poor farmer who is the current subject of the evil man's wrath. He is not even safe at a convent, leading him to flee in the direction of a hero: Hawk. What makes him a great hero? For starters, he has a magic sword and a sweet vest. Also, unlike some other fantasy heroes, he can speak with a British accent. With the help of a sorceress (who doesn't know at least one), he manages to track down the man in need and, with it, his mission. As it turns out later, Hawk has a personal stake in this too. But first, he needs some back-up.
First up is Gort, who is a tall man with a large mace. He's not a giant 'giant,' mind you, just a tall guy. He also has a dwarf companion, who oddly wields a whip. Don't you guys just stick to axes? Hell, Gimli has like 10 of them at any time! The biggest get of the group, however, is the Elf named Crow. I know what you're thinking and no, he does not have a big, golden head. He does, however, have the ability to fire at least a dozen arrows in the span of twenty seconds. How? By way of some editing effects, which is just a combination of re-using the same shot of him firing one arrow again and again. It has to be seen to be believed, people. I should also mention that Hawk gets summons their aid by teleporting around in the rings that held the Phantom Zone prisoners from Superman II in place. Our heroes need a bunch of gold to set-up a trap, so they beat up a slaver. He gives them what they want, but they drop a mace on his head anyways. Aw, how nice.
Now that our heroes are ready, they do battle with Voltan. Unfortunately, things don't go well when the group is betrayed by a nun seeking to broker a deal. Our heroes are defeated, the dwarf is stabbed and all hope seems to be lost. If this sounds familiar to the ending portion of Dungeons & Dragon 2, it is. It is good to know that a film that steals so much would end up being stolen from itself! Fortunately, the tide turns with the help of the sorceress, who sends a whole bunch of energy balls. Think that I'm joking? See for yourself! Finally, Hawk can get some revenge on Voltan. You see, not only did the guy kill his father, but he killed Hawk's wife. Why all the hate? For starters, Hawk and Voltan are brothers...heh heh. Try to ignore the twenty-five year age gap between our two leads, will you? The dad realized that his brother/son was evil and bequeathed the magical sword to Hawk. On top of that, Voltan got jealous of his brother getting the girl and killed her. In the process of this, however, his face got all messed up and only a dark power saved him. Let's put an end to that, shall we? Voltan is dead, but will live to fight another day...or not. Since the movie was made 29 years ago and Jack Palance died in 2006, I'm going to go with 'no.'
This movie is not good by any stretch of the imagination, but it demands to be seen. In spite of all its faults, this is one of those films that all fantasy fans must see, like Krull, Conan the Destroyer or Beastmaster 2. Okay, maybe not that last one. The story is silly, the acting is about what you expect and the direction is adequate. It it were not for the silly special effects, the movie would be just another 'bad movie with a over-acting character actor who should know better.' I think we've all seen that movie before. This movie also disproves the notion that everything British is inherently classy and better than us. See- they can make crap too. Incidentally, this is by the same director of the Channel 5 series Dark Knight, which any Blockbuster shopper will know as Darkest Knight 1-3. Looking back, he telegraphed the quality of this film.
Up next, a Mondo Macabro DVD that got lost in the shuffle. Is a headless female vampire enough to appeal to you? Stay tuned...