Give Judge Roman Martel your Conans, your Ators, your Deathstalkers yearning to drink mead!
Swords, sorcery, dungeons, dragons and topless women wielding swords. Oh my!
First things first. These are bad movies—no nice way to put it. Both are low budget excuses to show women without clothing, have hulking men swing fake swords around and every cast member spout horrible dialogue with the skill of a plank of wood. Its a perfect sample of no-budget '80s fantasy and if that scares you, then step away from this review.
The rest of us know why we're here. We love this stuff: the awesome puppet monsters, the babes with blades, the fight choreography that ranges from decent to hilarious, the slave rebellions and the muscly heroes. Yes my friends, it's all here and oh so bad and oh so good.
The Warrior and the The Sorceress starts things off. The Warrior (David Carradine), is never named in the film, but is billed as Kain. Seriously? Of Kung Fu fame? Anyway, he shows up in a village where two rival gangs are battling it out over control of the well. On the one side is Zeg (Luk Askew) with his militant forces and captured, titular Sorceress (Maria Socas). On the other the bloated Bal Caz (William Marin) and his band of freaks and puppet monsters. Kain plays both sides against each other to save the town, save the sorceress and get a magic sword. Sound familiar?
Well, if you've seen Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa or A Fistful of Dollars with Clint Eastwood, then you've pretty much seen this movie. Well except for the exotic dancer with four breasts and the hilarious dragon advisor. Hey, I have no issues with borrowing from Kurosawa. George Lucas did it with Star Wars and Corman did previously with Battle Beyond the Stars. But both those movies changed enough plot elements and added enough window dressing that you weren't constantly reminded of Hidden Fortress or Seven Samurai.
I was constantly reminded of Yojimbo throughout the movie. The plot is nearly identical, with all the same beats and nearly all the same sequences. Director John C. Broderick even apes camera angles and blocking, but lacks Kurosawa's understanding of how to use these elements to tell the story. Even David Carradine seems to be channelling Toshiro Mifune's performance, with the same shrugging shoulders, chin scratch and samurai grimace. It brought to mind a quote from our robot pals in Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Never remind the audience of a good movie in the middle of your crappy one."
It's all low budget goodness, but there is a sense of fun that is missing here. The Warrior and the The Sorceress lacks the spark that kept Yojimbo engaging. Instead of being an entertaining journey into a fantasy realm, it ends up coming across as dreary and pessimistic.
Barbarian Queen was made a year later and has one thing on its mind—how do you get the females in the cast topless? This is pretty much an exploitation flick from the opening sequence. While The Warrior and the Sorceress treated women as helpless sex objects, here they are still sex objects but far from helpless.
The story starts with Amethea (Lana Clarkson) in her barbarian village on the day of her wedding. Everyone is happy and celebratory so we know something horrible is about to happen. Sure enough Evil Lord Arrakur (Armando Capo) rides into the village with his soldiers. They promptly slaughter all the men and carry off the women they didn't rape right there. Amethea survives with three other deadly gals and they vow vengeance. They pursue the army having topless adventures along the way. At the Arrakur's castle they are promptly captured, stripped, and tortured or flung into a harem. Of course they escape, gather a rebel army and attack again. And yes, they are mostly nude while doing all this.
I'm torn with Barbarian Queen. On the one hand it was more fun than the previous film. Lana Clarkson seems game, not only diving into the battles but having no problem running around without clothes. No, she's not an actress, but you can tell she's having a good time. And that was the general spirit of the whole film, everyone seemed to be having a good time, not taking anything too seriously (but the movie never winks at us). The cast and crew knew exactly what type of movie they are making.
But man is Barbarian Queen misogynistic. Women get raped at the drop of a hat, women are tortured, women are sex objects. It gets a bit too much. The film is only 71 minutes and moves at a brisk pace, so that helps. But the torture scene was pretty unsavory. Still, Amethea doesn't need a man to save her butt, she does it all herself—and that was refreshing in a film like this. I have to admit, I was laughing at all the ways director Hector Olivera devised to show the maximum number of naked breasts on the screen at once.
There's just something about these goofy '80s fantasy movies that keeps me coming back. Where else are you going to see huge perfectly curled hair on a barbarian queen? Some might think that's a scary, scary thing, but I say bring me my puppety dragon and fake looking sword, I've got a half naked sorceress to save!
Shout! Factory has given us a pretty good package here. The transfers on both movies look good, but the prints aren't in the best shape. The sound is solid, presenting the films in their original stereo mix. You get a theatrical trailer for each film as well as deleted and extended scenes for Barbarian Queen. Both movies are preloaded with a couple more trailers for equally exploitative and trashy films.
Guilty of oh so many things, but still entertaining.
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Scales of Justice, The Warrior And The Sorceress
Perp Profile, The Warrior And The Sorceress
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distinguishing Marks, The Warrior And The Sorceress
Scales of Justice, Barbarian Queen
Perp Profile, Barbarian Queen
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distinguishing Marks, Barbarian Queen
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
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