Case Number 22010: Small Claims Court

ROGER CORMAN'S SWORD AND SORCERY COLLECTION

Deathstalker
Shout! Factory // 1983 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
The Warrior And The Sorceress
Shout! Factory // 1984 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
Barbarian Queen
Shout! Factory // 1985 // 71 Minutes // Rated R
Deathstalker 2
Shout! Factory // 1987 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 12th, 2011

The Charge

Broad/sword.

The Case

Are you trapped in the confines of your apartment, planted in front of a box fan, counting down the days until the hazy, humid summer gives way to fall and you can go outside to the pumpkin patch? You know what the best way to pass the time is when you're home-locked and inert? Barbarian movies from the '80s! Lucky for you, Shout! Factory has pulled together a two-disc set featuring four films that are brimming with sword-swinging, horse-riding, neck-slashing, and second-degree felonious sexual assault!

Deathstalker
Who is Deathstalker (Richard Hill)? He's an opportunistic thief who will jump at the opportunity to kill and rob women slavers then help himself to the goods. He's a master swordsman with a haircut that looks like a witch put a cauldron on his head and trimmed what was sticking out. He's a lover. He's a fighter. Frankly, he's sort of an a-hole.

But he's our a-hole and he's the only hope for the kingdom of Whateverland, which is held in the ruthless clutches of the sorcerer Munkar, a bald man who takes counsel from a talking goiter and holds mud-wrestling matches in his throne room. As it happens, Munkar is sponsoring a tournament and the winner will become his heir (for some reason), so Deathstalker enters.

But to smite Munkar and/or have a shot at bedding the lovely Princess Codille (Barbi Benton), he's going to have to traverse major obstacles including a wizard with a snake, a traitorous companion and a giant man with a pig head.

See that movie art? Fantastic and sweaty and completely false. Deathstalker for all his fencing acumen and sperm-blasting ability, is never challenged by two fearsome orcs, which is a crushing disappointment. That means I'll have to settle for Richard Hill stealing a sword from a pair of cognitively challenged cavemen and ripping the throat out of Pigboy. Hmmm. That's actually not too bad.

Barbarian Rating: Three out of four greasy triceps.

Deathstalker 2
Richard Hill is swapped out for the smart-ass John Terlesky as the titular warrior and our new, douchier hero with bigger hair is faced with a whole new set of problems: another evil wizard needs usurping. Joined by the rightful heir to the throne (Monique Gabrielle), Deathstalker must overcome the usual band of ineffectual villains to once more free the country's populace, who are apparently so weak-willed and pathetic they allow themselves to be taken over by lame evil wizards again and again.

Where the original Deathstalker played it straight, this Jim Wynorski-helmed follow-up is far more tongue-in-cheek. Terlesky plays the hero with constant winking towards the audience as if to say: "I am fully aware of cheesy this movie is." And, you know, it works. There's still corny dialogue, terrible special effects and impromptu debauchery and applying the self-aware sense of humor diminishes the derisive fun a bit, but all in all Deathstalker 2 is a worthy installment in the genre.

I don't have to remind you that to gain entry into the upper echelons of this particular genre, you essentially need to remember to take the lens cap off the camera when filming, right?

Barbarian Rating: two out of four codpiece rashes.

Barbarian Queen
Lana Clarkson is Amathea, who, just before her wedding to the village stud, watches in horror as a band of raiders burns the place to the ground and murders her betrothed. Intent to avenge this holocaust, Amathea goes on a recruiting mission, gathering like-minded femme fatales to her cause. Game on.

More like rape on. The geniuses behind Barbarian Queen thought it was prudent to fill the required amount of boinking typically found in these movies by having their buxom stars consistently being stripped bare and assaulted by a variety of jerks. Ultimately they turn the tables on their tormentors (the highlight comes when Amathea squeezes the life out of a torturer with her barbarian vagina) and if you squint I suppose there's some female empowerment subtext to be teased out, but it's still plenty unsettling.

Barbarian Rating: one-and-a-half out of four battle-axe castrations.

The Warrior and the Sorceress
All of the cover art for these films is way off base when compared to the actual content housed on the disc, but the gold medal for false advertising is easily The Warrior and the Sorceress. I don't know if David Carradine has ever resembled the oiled-up Adonis seen here and thankfully we're spared from being subjected to the actual David Carradine being forced to squeeze into that barbarian thong. Instead, we get a forgettable hack-and-slasher about a guy who sticks his nose into the goings-on of a small town's political system and ends up battling a wizard and gawking at a stripper with four breasts.

Barbarian Rating: one out of four mutant stripper breasts.

All four films receive decent 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers and are supported by 2.0 stereo tracks. Deathstalker and Deathstalker 2 also get commentaries. Deathstalker nabs a photo gallery, too.

The Verdict

For an all-day marathon of '80s fantasy trash? Sure why not.

Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Deathstalker
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Deathstalker
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Deathstalker
* Commentary
* Photo Gallery

Scales of Justice, The Warrior And The Sorceress
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile, The Warrior And The Sorceress
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Warrior And The Sorceress
* None

Scales of Justice, Barbarian Queen
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile, Barbarian Queen
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Barbarian Queen
* None

Scales of Justice, Deathstalker 2
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Deathstalker 2
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Deathstalker 2
* Commentary

Accomplices
* IMDb: Deathstalker
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0087127/combined

* IMDb: Deathstalker 2
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0092860/combined

* IMDb: Barbarian Queen
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0088771/combined

* IMDb: The Warrior and the Sorceress
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0088379/combined