DRAGONHEART (1996, HD-DVD)First time viewing. For its first two thirds this is what I'd expect from Universal: the "Jurassic Park" of fantasy dragon movies. Connery isn't sitting on a toilet delivering dialogue for CG artists to lazily render his likeness. The man's performing with emotion, and his chemistry with Dennis Quaid is palpable. Any scene involving Draco and Bowen fighting, arguing or trying to fool the natives is cool... and that's before Pete Postlethwaite shows up. But the last third focuses on cruel King Einon (David Thewlis in selfish man child mode), which means torture and matricide (poor Julie Christie) bring down the fun of the forest and castle battles between armies of good/bad guys. Worth seeing, just expect the ending not to live up to the build-up. 4 DINA MEYER POUTING FACES (out of 5)HIGHLANDER (1986, A.Prime)Also for the first time (for shame!). I didn't know until seeing this, but Clancy Brown is a fucking badass! Kurgan is a force of nature, and he should have dispatched Connor MacLeod as easily as he did Sunda, Ramirez, etc. The world building, lore and atmosphere of "Highlander" (including a choice selection of Queen tunes) are so much better than this messy cinematic interpretation. Ronald D. Moore's "Oulander" is so clearly inspired by the medieval scenes in this movie (including the only genuinely great scene where Lambert sees his beloved wife die of old age... I was balling) there should be lawsuits. When I close my eyes and picture the world of "Highlander" it features many of this same actors (Sean earns his hefty fee by playing Connor's mentor like he gives a damn whether the teachings will take root) better directed, spewing better dialogue and not wasting their time destroying NYC parking lots during non-licensed Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden. Remake, Hollywood, stat! 2.5 SILVERCUP STUDIO ROOF FLOODINGS (out of 5)DRAGONSLAYER (1981, A.Prime, Brent Petersen: 6/8/2018)A triumph of atmosphere, production design and special effects (the best a Disney/Paramount joint effort could afford from ILM and elite British crews 40 years ago), "Dragonslayer's" final act delivers the fire-breathing giant monster goods. Too bad we spend so much time with the lame sorcerer's apprentice ("Ghostbusters II's" Peter MacNicol) instead of wise old wizard Ulrich (Ralph Richardson); it's the movie equivalent of playing "Metal Gear Solid 2" on PS2 expecting you'll play as Snake, but finding out early on you're stuck as Raiden. :-( At least the story includes nods to pro-feminism (Chloe Salaman's self-sacrificing Princess Elsbeth) and gender fluidity (Caitlin Clarke's Valerian) long before they were commonplace. Worth seeing, but only the final act if it's repeat viewing. 3.5 EMPEROR PALPATINES ON FIRE (out of 5)JUST VISITING (2001, Blu-ray)Despite only co-writing the screenplay (no producing credit), the influence of John Hughes over this English version of a French medieval time-traveling comedy are clear. Not only is Chicago the then-modern day location where heroic French knight Thibault (Jean Reno), his servant Andre (non-comedic relief sidekick Christian Clavier) and a British wizard (Malcolm McDowell) accidentally time travel to from the 12th century, but the never-ending parade of silly gags and cartoony violence are straight from the "Home Alone" playbook. It's all meant to be light and breezy fare, and Christina Applegate is charmingly cute as the descendant of the woman Thibault is in love with. For $35 million I'd expect laugh-out loud moments, instead of amusing chuckles from cartoony CG effects and a knight's horse riding 'The L' during rush hour. 2 GIANT CHANEL No.5 PERFUME BOTTLES (out of 5)
THE LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI (1983, dir. Kinji Fukasaku) on DVDI have owned this DVD for almost seven years, and this day finally gave me the motivation I needed to see it. I find The Legend of the Eight Samurai delightful and befuddling at the same time. There are many elements that make no sense, but the sets, colorful costumes, and action helped me to forgot about that. It was a fun experience and so early 1980s.The story (as best as I am able to describe it): An army lead by reincarnated ghosts/demons(?) takes revenge on the Satomi clan. One member of the clan, Princess Shizu, gets away and encounters a couple of men trying to save her. They tell her the story of why the ghosts have come back and how finding the holders of eight magic crystals is the only way to destroy the ghosts. The quest then begins to discover those crystals and bring an end to the terror of the ghosts’ army. This is a film best experienced in a widescreen version. The pan-and-scan version currently on Prime does not do justice to how gorgeous the film looks. The costuming and make-up for the evil Queen Tamazusa alone is worth seeing. At over two hours, there are parts that do drag, but there is plenty here to keep a viewer entertained.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982, John Milius)Good thing about Junesploitation is that you can take care of pesky blind spots. Yep. This was a first watch for me. Watching it wondered how this kinda nutty movie got made. I do a have images of Milius and Stone hunkering down by a fire place as they wrote this snorting far too much cocain with lots of arm waving. I know this is not what happened, but Conan kind of feels like a sort of slick art movie trying to discuse itself as summer movie. It's gorgoeous, with long periods of just music and action. It does feel like what block buster is even in 1982. But then you have Arnold Schwarzenegger punching a camel. A lot of everything in Conan feels like it doesn't fit together, but it does. It might help that James Earl Jones is mesmerising, and can rock those bangs. Anyway it wasn't the movie I expected, but I am happy with the one I watched.THE SWORD AND THE CLAW (1975, Natuk Baytan)Thank you to AGFA - I think. More Swords with historical intrigue than Swords and Socorery. But it is the story of a young Prince who is raised by Lions and has the strength to pull a whole fake tree (the props are pretty good in this movie) to throw at people, and other amazing feats. Because of that it's an entertaining movie, if a little meandering and all over the place. But it has energy in the action scenes. Sword and the Claw wants to spend time of the machinations of the royal court. But at the same time tries to skip past this by taking wild short cuts. Like a Lion Man's mother concieving and giving birth takes the same amount of time as an assasation. Awesome assasation by carpet but I'm not 100% sure who he was and how long does it take to roll a guy up in a carpet with a knife, 9 months?Anyway very uneven, but fun, at times...... It's my first Turkish movie that wasn't directed Nuro Bilge Ceylan.
I second everything you said about Conan the Barbarian, especially the part about it secretly being an almost arthouse movie. Watching Red Sonja today made me appreciate Conan even more.
It might come to director ambitions. John Milius had the vision and grandeur thing, so for "Conan" he pushed himself and his resources as far as he could to achieve them. By '85 the genre was getting played out, Arnold was only available for a few days and work-for-hire director Richard Fleischer just wanted to get home in time for tea and telly. It comes across to the viewer when a movie is somebody's passion project or their 9-5. :-I
Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della Terra) (1961, dir. Mario Bava)The formula to make a Hercules movie: cast a bodybuilder as the lead, pay Christopher Lee for two days of filming as the villain, add a sidekick and a comic relief, concoct a plot from classical mythology (and make up stuff that vaguely sounds like classical mythology), make sure it features plenty of arbitrary scenes where the hero has to prove his strength, shoot it on a shoestring budget, and shoddily dub it into English.
As these Italian Hercules films- and peplum in general- go, Hercules in the Haunted World is one of the better examples I have found. Bava's colors and Christopher Lee made it work for me, and I enjoy it enough to own the blu-ray.One of my watches while warming up for Junesploitation was Hercules Unchained, the sequel to the film that launched these Italian sword and sandal films. I feel that they are an acquired taste. I have grown to appreciate these sort of films for the dumb fun that tended to aim for.
Dumb fun is exactly what it was. I own a couple of 50 movie packs from Mill Creek that include a handful of Hercules movies, I definitely plan to watch them all at some point.
I have a Mill Creek set of Hercules films, Mikko. Since those mainly have fullscreen copies, I sometimes look for widescreen versions on Youtube. I do not even mind having to watch them in Italian or Spanish without subtitles. The stories are simple enough to figure out without understanding every word. In the stream of new blu-ray genre releases, it seems like the Italian sword and sandal films are largely getting overlooked.
Conquest (1983, dir. Lucio Fulci)The Bone Tomahawk “scene” happens less than 10 minutes in, major wardrobe savings as no one wears clothes, evil wookies, need I go on?
This whole category is a major blindspot for me so I had no idea what to chose, but Conquest (which I knew I had to watch after reading your review) happens to be on Tubi! Thank you Frank!
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, dir. Nathan Juran)I’ve been really looking forward to checking out the Sinbad movies and am so happy to have started on them. This is a fun movie! It’s a terrifically beautiful production with a fast moving plot and, of course, so many wonderful Harryhausen monster effects. A Cyclops, a dragon, a genie, an evil sorcerer, and one sword-wielding dashing hero. Fun adventure! My only complaint, and it seems to be a common problem with old adventure flicks, is I don’t feel I was given much of a reason to love and root for Sinbad. He’s handsome and he gets the beautiful girl, but that’s about the extent. But I like Kerwin Matthews enough so I guess it’s fine.
This and Jason and the Argonauts are films I can always go back to, and that is mainly because Harryhausen's creations are wonderful to watch. Seventh Voyage even inspired me to read the Sinbad stories from Arabian Nights. Some of the elements of those stories do make it into the film.
Very cool! I'm pumped to watch Golden Voyage soon.
You watching all the old Harryhausen Greek Myth movies inspired me to by some of those Blus/DVDs I haven't seen them since I was a kid and I looking forward to revisiting them
Hercules (1983) A big, sloppy, meaty, cheesy, tasty mess. Cannon takes $1.98 and makes it look like two dollars. A little too much time spent with the gods- the “Olympus” set and stiff, platinum wigged gods are funny at first but it gets kind of boring. I like the early 60’s brand of Hercules better- they feel more sincere, with flashes of brilliance. Aside from Sybil Danning, there’s not much even competent here. (More than once, a female ally of Hercules is slowly revealed to be beautiful- only for Sybil to show up seconds later and utterly outclass them all), But this was silly fun, a good lazy Sunday watch.
Hawk the Slayer (1980) Tubi.tvWorth it just for the theme music. Actually a slightly better movie than I was expecting. While Jack Palance is arguably the biggest name I've seen most of the cast in other movies so there's at least some talent involved here. The dialogue isn't great, John Terry's acting is a bit stilted, and the swordplay is unconvincing but for a movie made in 1980 for $5 million with a largely inexperienced writer/director I can at least appreciate what they managed to do.
"Nighthawks" was also made in 1980 and it also cost $5 million. For what ended on-screen in "Hawk" me thinks some producers stole a big part of the production money and made other movies with it.
RED SONJA The lavish sets and costumes of a Dino De Laurentiis production rarely look so good as they do here. Just the imagination put into the smallest of things are reasons I liked this movie growing up and reasons I admire it even more the older I get. It allows the imagination to roam and leaves you wanting more - like where did this huge creature that serves as a bridge over a lake of fire come from? I wish we got more small scale fantasy movies like this where the quests are simple and it didn't take 6 hours to tell a story. Arnold in this continues his great 80s run and Nielsen is a true feminine icon playing this role. There should have been more of these.
I agree about the impressive sets and costumes. For the most part the movie looks really good. What's more, Ennio Morricone did the music and he's no slouch either. Sadly, the story and character work is not on the same level as the production design.
i agree with that
Deathstalker (1983)Welcome to a world where men are mighty warriors and women exist entirely to take their tops off. Richard Hill stars as Deathstalker, and he doesn’t come across as a mighty warrior so much as he does an aerobics instructor playing dress-up in his backyard. Basically it’s Conan the Barbarian minus the commanding presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and also literally everything else that made that movie work. There’s an evil wizard and a tournament and an array of rubbery creatures and whatnot, but it all adds up to about 80 minutes of extra-crispy Kentucky-fried horseshit. I wish I could say it was entertainingly bad but it’s surprisingly boring for a movie so fully stuffed with silliness. Richard Brooker (Jason from Friday the 13th Part 3) seems to be having fun as the sidekick-slash-turncoat (spoiler, but seriously don’t waste your time on this garbage), at least.
Earlier this morning, I hit play on this for about 10 minutes and then decided it was not gonna work
You are a wiser man than I
Black Angel (Short) (1980, dir. Roger Christian)This short ran before The Empire Strikes Back in it's original theatrical release (what a night at the movies that must have been). It's a gorgeous mood piece, a knight returning from some quest to his ruined kingdom, following a maiden through the mystical woods and confronting an awesome-looking Rob Zombie-esque black knight. In an interesting parallel to The Empire Strikes Back, the hero loses at the end. Highly recommended.
And 30 years later, R. Christian directed "Battlefield Earth." 'The More You Know.' (TM)
THE LEGEND OF THE ANCIENT SWORD (2018) Superpowered misfits fight to save the kingdom from an evil wizard. Or something. This is a lot of fantasy. Not only is there a magic sword, but also a magic ring, a magic scroll, and a magic tree. AND, there’s giant monsters, steampunk robots, airships – you name it. It’s like the filmmakers were competing to see how many fantasy tropes they could squeeze into one movie. Speaking of filmmakers, imagine my surprise to see the credit “Directed by Renny Harlin” pop up. Sadly, this movie bombed so poor Renny is still shipwrecked on Cutthroat Island. Too bad, because this is cheesy fun. 30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 14 Today watched the movie focusing on the nerd character, Josh. He’s one of the movie nerds who is super self confident, thinking his science genius makes him the coolest guy. The movie really pulls out the rug from under him. He gets his big romantic scene with Monica, only to believe that she stands him up at the prom. His heartbreak is what leads to be used (ahem) by Kelly. Then Mary Lou kills him to get what she wants. Josh set out to be the hero of this story, but was done in by everyone else’s manipulations.
Yeah, my boy Renny moved to China after The Legend of Hercules bombed and directed three movies there: Skiptrace (with Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville), Legend of the Ancient Sword, and Bodies at Rest. I've been trying to find a way to see the last two. Where did you see Sword?
Hi! You caught me red-handed: I Youtubed it.
I had no idea it was on YT. Thanks, I'll have to check it out.
Season of the Witch (2011, dir. Dominic Sena)I dug how this was structured as a horror movie and it features a very good cast
Deathstalker II (1987, dir. Jim Wynorski)I know I've seen the original Deathstalker but I don't remember any of it. I opted to go for the sequel because it's a Wynorski joint from back when he was making actual movies. I had a good enough time with it, mostly because Wynorski leans into the comedy and leads John Terlesky and Monique Gabrielle are fun together.
Red Sonja (1985)It's baffling to me why someone thought that Arnold should play a random prince dude instead of Conan (a random prince dude who's basically a watered down version of Conan anyway!). It also really sucks that the movie keeps undermining its own heroine by having her repeatedly rescued by Kalidor - it's almost as if the filmmakers themselves didn't buy into the whole premise of a female protagonist. Still, there is at least enough chemistry between Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold to keep the movie (barely) afloat and make it palatable despite most of it being rather dull, and their little sparring session which doubles as a stand-in for a love scene is probably the highlight of the whole thing. Other than that, I loved it when the evil queen's wizard tried to show her the intruders on his fancy vapor screen and accidentally dialled into a porn channel (either that or the browser simply loaded the last viewed page, which is such a rookie move, but who among us hasn't been there?). It's a rare funny moment in a movie that's significantly less gritty and violent than the Conan movies (well, The Barbarian, at any rate), but doesn't really make up for it by being funnier, wittier or at least campier than them. I can't help but feel disappointed.
SORCERESS (1982, dir. Jack Hill) The two that are as one.The two? That are as one?Yes! The two that are as one!I loved this movie. One of the most bonkers movies ever made while still being pretty good, err, entertaining. Jim Wynorski and Jack Hill make a sword and sorcery movie that has their stamp all over it. That is: weirdness, over the top innuendos, blatant sexploitation, awesome sets and likable characters. The opening 20/30 minutes of this film rule so hard. Its just pure 80s awesomeness. It is lean and mean, and never gets bogged down like A LOT of these types of movies can. The finale gets very trippy on us, and I'm not sure what exactly is going on, but in the best way possible.
Sorceress1982, dir. Jack HillI kinda hate to admit that I actually had fun with this post-Conan dumpster juice cocktail. It’s equal parts dumb, sleazy, and cheap but with just the right dash of weirdness to keep it entertaining. Twin baby girls are gifted the cosmic powers of a wandering holy man in order to defeat an evil wizard who will return to life when they’ve reached the age of consent and can be constantly topless. Like ‘Wizard of Oz’, the “two who are one” (which apparently means they fight and climax in tandem) encounter their own group of weirdos (the fucking goat man is some overripe nightmare fuel) and head off to defeat the evil magician and his matching posse of weirdos. Thankfully there’s not as much of the eye rolling Wynorski sleaze as I was expecting. I don’t have anything against sleaze per se, I just need it to rise above the cleverness of a suburban middle schooler. On all aesthetic levels, it feels like New World Pictures was shooting a biblical epic, a viking saga, and a gladiator movie all at the same time in Mexico, ran out of money, said fuck it, and just combined all three into this schlock heap. Oh, and a cosmic flying lion god shoots green lightning out of it’s eyes. Cool shit.
Willow (1988, dir. Ron Howard)I always knew this was a big fantasy blindspot, but I was not expecting to love it this much. Absolutely one of my favorite films in the genre now!Warwick Davis is so wonderful in the title role. He's so easy to latch onto and follow the whole way. I also loved everything in his village.What can be said about Val Kilmer? He's the absolute best. He's funny and charming, but also looks like the coolest badass who ever held a sword.I'm honestly bummed I never saw this as a kid, and that goes for a lot of '80s Sword & Sorcery too. When it comes to fantasy in my childhood, I always liked it in theory but never loved Narnia or Lord of the Rings as much as I wanted to. This is the movie I always wanted back then, can't believe I missed it.Great stuff! One of my favorites of the month.
Wow, never seen Willow huh??? Glad that was rectified. :) I haven't seen it for decades. You've stoked my appetite for revisiting it!
I haven't seen "Willow" either. Was planning to... (hangs head in shame). :'(
This comment has been removed by the author.
Legend (Director's cut) (1985, dir. Ridley Scott)First time viewing, I liked it! I do wonder though if the tighter, Tangerine Dream laden cut would be more my bag.
Day 14Deathstalker II: Duel of the TitansI watched Deathstalker 1 a few weeks ago. I thought it was grimy, nasty, terribly movie that was having no fun with it's cheapness. I figured part 2 would be more of the same. I was wrong. Part 2 was so much more fun in every way. It was lighthearted and not serious at all. It reminded me of Army of Darkness. This movie was in on the joke and just had fun. Color me surprised.
Higander (1986) - hadn't seen it till now despite saying "There can be only one!" for decades now. Yes, I did know about that. Finally I can add some context to that. He. The actual movie itself? It was ... okay. The soundtrack from Queen was excellent!
Highlander. No idea why, but my typing didn't take the first time around!
Conan the Barbarian (1982)Found myself wanting to enjoy this more. Certain scenes really drew me in (opening, fighting FX spirits, giant snakes, etc) but the movie really dragged between these awesome sequences. My general understanding was that this was a kinda bad epic. I thought it was better than that low bar, but it was never able to sustain the higher quality that it showed at times. Ok, but disappointing that it wasn't better.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)Having never seen any of these before, I decided to dive in. (I've been trying to convince my kids to watch it for 2 years now, only to always be met with "no, some other time". What? Pirates? You're giving that a hard no? Kids these days...).Well I was very much enjoying it, up until my eyes started closing, and I had to put off the rest of it until later today. These late nights watching movies followed by early work mornings are starting to catch up!
Onward (2020):It sucks that a "very good" Pixar movie feels underwhelming. Anyway, this is very good.Knights of Badassdom (2013):There's a movie in here, somewhere.
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982, DIR Albert Pyun)Yes, I know, AP did a straight up fantasy movie. Incidentally it came out one month before Conan the Barbarian. But this film is... Not great.It's feels like a TV movie up until about 55 minutes and then you get boobs. The sets seems small and cheap, and aside from the movies supernatural heavy (played by Richard Moll! who has the best entrance in the movie) the art direction is passable.I had a lot of confusion around who was the grown up Prince and who wasn't. A lot of characters are part of the rebellion, but I got utterly confused as to who they were. A lot of second-rate fight choreography and predictable plotting.
Deathstalker(1983)Munkar? pshhh what a stupid name. OF the ten movies Roger Corman made in Argentinia in 1982. This is one of them.
The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)David Carradine comes to town/village in a western told as fantasy. Better than it should be. Weird little creature that adds to the fun.
Conquest (1983)Terrible transfer on Tubi so my enjoyment was tampered. Strange creatures and gory effects kept it interesting. I'd love to see the Blu-ray to get a better idea how I feel about it.
Warrior Queen (1987)Sybil Danning as queen, Donald Pleasence as king. What more do you want?
Amazons (1986)A woman is tasked with retrieving a sword that can take down an evil wizard. There's betrayal, sex, magic and a home alone style scene. Best of the day honors go to Amazons.
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)Kid loses father. He needs to find the ring to defeat the evil asshole that has taken control. He has a pet white wookie that you can't understand. More crazy creatures. It was a good day.
Deathstalker (1983)A movie that starts with a man killing everyone in sight and then having a sex with a woman who was imprisoned seconds earlier that I guess is consensual? Throughout Deathstalker I wasn't sure if he was a hero or not. This is a truly awful movie with an affinity for g-string butts, shifting face tattoos, Conan The Barbarian rip-offs and total nonsense.