Judge David Johnson came from a land of fantasy, magic, swords, and sorcery—Utica, NY.
Our review of Sorceress (1995) (Blu-ray), published June 6th, 2016, is also available.
"An age undreamed of. An age of fantasy and magic, of swords and sorcery."
In an accompanying on-disc interview, writer Jim Wynorski relays a story about Roger Corman: Conan the Barbarian had just been released and Corman called Wynorski into his office, lamenting the fact that they were missing out on that sword and sorcery money and directed him to write a fantasy script. A week later, Wynorski dropped Sorceress on Corman's desk and the rest is history: putrid, putrid history.
Facts of the Case
In a mystical land of sorcery and cardboard, the diabolical wizard Traigon attempts to achieve absolute power through a dark ritual—he's going to sacrifice his first-born to Caligra, a jerk god that apparently gets off on that sort of thing. His plan is disrupted when 1) he discovers his wife has had twin girls and the statutes on this particular ritualistic sacrifice gets blurry, and 2) the good wizard Krona shows up in time to rescue the girls and smite Traigon.
But the realm is not saved. Some years later, the twins, Mara and Mira (Payboy centerfolds Leigh and Lynette Harris), have grown up and will one again be targeted by a resurrected Traigon. Together, with a doofy barbarian, a bearded Viking wannabe and a bizarre half-man half-goat thing, the girls will deploy their sword skills, martial artistry and bosoms to defeat evil and save the world.
I wanted in on this sweet Sorceress action because of The Promise. You know, The Promise that all low-budget early '80s fantasy movies bring: that of total and earnest failure. Thank you, Conan, for being the chiseled face that launched a thousand laughably horrible also-rans. Were it not for Arnold, his biceps and that cauldron of disgusting green stew who knows if we would have been bequeathed such righteous, awful, endlessly entertaining trash like Sorceress.
And it is awful. Amazingly awful. So bad that it is a true wonder that anyone with non-severed optic nerves in a position of power could watch the finished product and say to themselves "Yeah, let's pin our professional reputation on this!" Yet like any great terrible movie there is much amusement to be had here and pretty much all of it comes from the fact everyone is just trying so hard.
Like our heroines. A quick check on IMDb shows that Leigh and Lynette Harris's film careers, er, stalled after their starring turn here. They meander through this film with a breezy incompetence that is just delightful to watch. It's like seeing a newborn fawn fumble through a Double Dare obstacle course. Of course it's no secret why they were cast; beautiful twin blondes who showed a willingness to roll around in dirt and swim in the nude was apparently critical to getting this production off the ground and the Harris sisters were a perfect fit (their mixed martial arts skills leave a bit to be desired though).
But they weren't even close to the dopiest part of Sorceress; no that honor goes to Goat Boy. This nightmarish creation wanders in during said nude swim scene and stands at the bank, staring at the girls with a lustful, slackjawed look on his face, bleating. That's all he does throughout the film. Bleat. It's the same sound effect, too, an incessant "baaaa," cribbed from a local barnyard. I don't blame the actor for my night terrors either; the make-up job is one of the biggest hack jobs you'll see. It turned a human face into a jagged potato with lips and eyebrows.
If all this sounds like a ringing endorsement, well, it should. Sorceress scratched the Cheesy Fantasy Junk itch in a big way. I didn't even get to the dumbass barbarian, who's billed as some kind of high-octane ladies man but comes across as a compete tool with his rubbery fighting skills and ridiculous fro. Or Traigon himself, played by a dude who's working as hard as anyone I've ever seen to convince some random director who might have accidentally come across the film to cast him in his Volvo commercial.
Solid effort from Scorpion, on Sorceress (Blu-ray). The transfer (1.78:1) looks surprisingly solid for such an old movie and the Mono audio track is tinny, but appropriate. Extras: four on-camera interviews featuring Corman, Wynorski, special effects artist John Carl Buechler and post production supervisor Clark Henderson.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In case you were looking for debauchery: Sorceress isn't nearly as sleazy as I thought it would be; the only sex scene involves one sister off-screen boning the barbarian and the other moaning like a chainsaw while she psychically enjoys the carnal pleasure from fifty miles away. Goat Boy's frustrated battle with blue balls only adds to the insanity.
Sorceress is incoherent garbage, but it's the good kind.
The head says "Guilty," but my heart says "Hey, dumbass! Listen to your head."
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
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