Hey, gamer guys and gals, it’s time for another installment of the ongoing (and possibly never-ending) Pit of Swords and Sorcery, this one dedicated to a real gem and as far as I’m concerned a lost classic in the world of barbarian fantasy cinema, the incomparable Deathstalker II.
As you may have guessed from my review of the first entry into the epic Deathstalker cycle, our titular character is not exactly my favorite person in the whole world. He was arrogant, mean, mercurial, not terribly bright, and overall reminded me of an An Tir Varangian who’s lost his favorite drinking mug (that’s an SCA reference for those who don’t get it). Not the guy you want to save the world from evil.
Enter Deathstalker II. From what I gleaned from the DVD commentary track (see below), this movie started life as a straight sequel to Deathstalker, with the standard barbarian hero flexing his muscles and chopping foes into little bits. Director Jim Wynorski and star John Terlesky, however, decided that that wasn’t how they wanted to play it, and so rewrote it (apparently on the fly, in their seedy hotel room) as a comedy. How else can you explain Deathstalker’s amazing transformation from blonde beefcake barbarian to wisecracking, wiry, dark-haired rogue type? Either that or two people are calling themselves Deathstalker, and if the big blonde guy ever gets wind of it, I wouldn’t bet on the funny guy’s chances in a showdown.
So with a new hero, who owes more to Bugs Bunny than Conan, and equipped with a number of competent (or at least impressively cantilevered) co-stars, they set out to produce a low-budget barbarian movie. The result isn’t quite as big a mess as the first one, and the sincerity and charm of the filmmakers is apparent, but in the end Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans is yet another combatant relegated to my Pit of Sword and Sorcery Mayhem, where only the strong survive.
The epic begins in Indiana Jones territory, in the bowels of a dark fortress, lit by flashes of low-budget lightning (apparently the soundtrack of the film was fogged, forcing them to add the sound of thunder to cover up the excess background noise). Our hero swiftly puts in an appearance, sneaking down the corridor with a doe-eyed hottie tagging along behind. After a quick kiss for luck (and the last time our noble hero will ever see the doe-eyed hottie), Deathstalker creeps up to an altar and does the Indy thing, snatching a very cheap-looking gemstone from the Sculpie box on top. Well, he certainly looks pleased with himself (Deathstalker does that a LOT in this movie), but it doesn’t last long because suddenly a gigantic round boulder thunders down upon him, forcing Deathstalker to flee for his life…
Well, no that didn’t happen in Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s not going to happen here. This is Deathstalker 2, not Temple of Doom, and they couldn’t really afford any actual traps or mechanical perils. What they could afford were a bunch of thugs with black-painted wooden swords and bandanas obscuring their faces, which conveniently allowed them to reuse the same thugs over and over again through the course of the movie. And use them they do, for Deathstalker proves himself their master, cutting down several (with clanging sword sound effects to cover up the sound of fake wooden swords hitting each other), then laying out a couple with his fists alone, followed by a quick smirk in the direction of the camera. He’s already starting to get on our nerves, and we’re only about two minutes into the movie.
After a few more mooks (who look remarkably like the first bunch of mooks) get dispatched, Deathstalker flees, heroically leaping from a high window to his waiting horse below, then gallops away. Hot on his heels is another group of hooded mooks and their mistress, the luscious Sultana, a hot evil amazon-sorceress babe (those are the best kind) dressed in a fake leopardskin halter and cloak. She glares down from the high window as her foe rides to safety and utters her first line:
“I’ll have my revenge,” she says, “and Deathstalker, too!”
After this auspicious beginning, we cut to the credits, and hear (for the first of many, many times), the haunting deathstalker theme, a rousing adventurous score that was apparently composed on a Casio keyboard in someone’s bedroom. The titles flash before a burning background, and we’re told that this isn’t just any Deathstalker II; it’s Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans. Well, now, this sounds promising… So far there weren’t any titans, let alone duels, just a new, improved, 50% more annoying Deathstalker killing a bunch of minions who work for a hot chick in fake leopard skin. The prospect of an actual duel of the titans makes me want to watch it all the more. Right.
Hot on the heels of the stirring man title music (you can click on the link above and play it continuously while reading this review if you like), we cut to the exterior of a low-end (and since Deathstalker’s headed there, it’s probably very low-end) tavern, with two more guards (once more in blind-and-deaf helmets and black armor) tossing a very attractive young blonde woman out on her ear. This is our heroine, Evie, and while it’s true that she’s attractive — because she’s the infamous B-movie actress Monique Gabrielle — you’ll find yourself growing to loathe her as the movie progresses.
We start seeing ‘Stalker’s cartoon heritage almost immediately as he saunters up, a shit-eating grin on his boyishly handsome face and says, “Aaaaaaaaaaah, what’s up Doc?” Well, no he doesn’t really, but you sure as hell expect him to. What he actually says is, “You know, boys, ordinarily I don’t mind seeing a woman getting a good beating if she deserves it. But this doesn’t look like much of a contest to me.” Damn! That Deathstalker is one smooth hombre, no?
It doesn’t do much for the blind-and-deaf trio, who reply, “You picked the wrong town to stop in. Do you know who we are?” Well, what they said probably sounded more like “Mmf-ffm-mm! Frrmm vmf fpp’nnn!” before they looped the dialog, since I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could talk, let alone breathe, in those damned helmets.
Given a straight line like “Do you know who we are?” Deathstalker can’t fail to come up with an impressive bon mot, and he does not fail to live up to expectations.
“The village idiot and the two runners-up?” he asks. Now if this was me I’d say something even more creative such as, “The winner of the ugliest whore competiton and the two runners-up?” but Deathstalker II apparently isn’t as witty as me.
So Deathstalker delivers this stinging retort, to which the leader of the mentally challenged triplets shouts, “Get him!” Oh, yeah. These guys aren’t gonna last long.
Thinking quickly, Deathstalker grabs a nearby shovel, flings a faceful of dung into one guard’s face (that helmet doesn’t protect him from anything), mops the floor with the second, and sends the third fleeing into the darkness. Not bad with a shovel, that Deathstalker, but keep in mind that he wasn’t exactly fighting Conan the Destroyer.
With that, Deathstalker puts the shovel away, grins at our cute little heroine, she cutely waves back and, having triumphed over the forces of evil, he swaggers into the tavern for an evening of fun and games.
And boy does this tavern look familiar. It has both the one-handed guy in the horned helmet from Deathstalker I, the hot asian-looking gal reclining on the couch from Deathstalker I, and even the pig-faced warrior from… you guessed it — Deathstalker I. It’s almost as if the cast of the first movie was transported here to follow our heroe’s adventures! And strangely enough, they all seem to behave in exactly the same way as they behaved in the first movie! Right down to the exact same gestures! It can’t be that they just reused footage from Deathstalker I, can it? No, never!
One occupant who wasn’t in the first movie is a bouncy, topless, furry-clad dancing girl, who flounces around with great enthusiasm, but is largely ignored by passers-by. If I were in that tavern, I would not have ignored her, that’s for sure… I’d have tucking gold crowns into her belt in a hot minute, and eventually would probably have invited her upstairs to study the biology of the two-backed beast, but that’s me, and this movie isn’t about me. It’s about Deathstalker.
Deathstalker then proceeds to wow the ladies with his patented wave-your-hand-through-the-candle-flame trick, which apparently thrills them so much that they’re willing to offer him a 10% discount on their normal rates, but before Deathstalker can reach for his money pouch to see how many gold pieces he has rattling around, our little blonde walking annoyance from outside shows up, cramping his style no end.
She demands help, and Deathstalker is understandably reluctant to give her more help than she absolutely needs. Unfortunately for our heroine, another helmet-headed guard (or is it the same one?) shows up and starts slapping her around. Well, Deathstalker is nothing if not chivalrous, so he reluctantly gives a bye to his two attractive companions and goes to aid Evie, thus starting… you guessed it… a bar fight.
The fight’s a bit more even this time because the guards don’t have their faces covered and their eyes obscured, so they can actually see what they’re trying to hit. Not that it does them much good — Deathstalker has the reflexes of an elephant and the strength of a cat… No, wait… reverse that. Anyway, he manages to outmaneuver most of the guards while the annoying Evie conveniently hides behind the bar.
Like most bar fights, this thing degenerates into chaos very quickly — soon everyone is fighting everyone, and innocent passersby who have no idea what’s going on are attacking Deathstalker en masse. It’s interesting to note in light of the film’s later events, that the evil Chin and all of his minions (see below) are involved in this fight. I guess they’re sizing up Deathstalker before going after him or something.
While the previously-mentioned characters from Deathstalker I are nowhere in evidence (they must have left before the fight started), we do however get a real treat when the cute dancing chick decides that she’s had enough and flees the place. I think that the following sequence might be one of the greatest in screen history, rivaling the Siege of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King and the climactic battle sequence in Spartacus.
Deathstalker polishes off a few more mooks, then flees with our blonde cutie-pie on a horse that just happens to be standing there, and we get another rousing chorus of the Deathstalker theme song. Of course the dipstick guards haven’t learned to leave well enough alone yet, and set after him on their own horses. Stalker leads a merry chase through the back lots and cheap studio spaces of Spain or Mexico or Italy or wherever the hell they filmed this movie, and we have the chance for a little witty banter such as:
Evie: I’m Evie!
Evie: Deathstalker? Is that your first name or your last name?
Yuk yuk. Well, they eventually outrun the guards and their incredibly ineffective-looking crossbows (no I won’t bore you with any more description). Deathstalker takes the opportunity to tell Evie that he’s in the “wealth redistribution business,” which just coincidentally corresponds to what most of the right wing thinks about President Obama. When she asks if he robs from the rich and gives to the poor he replies that he robs from the rich and pretty much keeps it all, which is just coincidentally also what the right wing thinks about the Occupy movement.
The next morning (no, they don’t end up in bed together… get your mind out of the gutter), Evie whips up some horrific concoction containing chicken’s feet for Deathstalker who, being the chivalrous git that he is, informs her that it’s delicious and (wait for it), pours it out on the ground when she’s not looking. And if that hilarity isn’t enough, Evie says “I know I kinda messed things up for you before,” which leads to Deathstalker delivering an amusing spit-take.
She then informs him that she’s actually a seer and offers to tell Deathstalker’s future. She whips out a faceted crystal that looks like it was bought in the airport gift shop before the crew took off for the location (in reality, as revealed in the DVD commentary, it’s a crystal doorknob and she’s hiding the threaded portion in her hand), and tells Deathstalker that he is fated to rescue a beautiful princess in distress (hm. I wonder who she’s talking about?). The princess, she says, is in danger from the evil Jarek in the land of Jafir. There are many dangers ahead, she says — witches, dragons, ogres (“Must cut down on the tourist trade,” Deathstalker quips; what a card!). That sounds promising, but unfortunately while we see a couple of women who might qualify as witches, the rest of the movie is woefully short on dragons and ogres.
If he follows the prophecy, Evie says, Deathstalker will be a cinch to make legend status. “Right up there with Conan,” she tells him. Then of course, she swoons and falls clumsily into Deathstalker’s arms, and he predictably takes the opportunity to give her chest a quick squeeze. Then, poor sap, Deathstalker immediately decides to head off for Jafir, to fame, fortune and that shot at legendhood. Evie is a little surprised at the abruptness of his departure, but scrambles along behind him anyway, the little minx.
Okay, we’ve seen about enough of our two heroes to last for several movies (no small accomplishment since there were four Deathstalker flicks in all), so it’s about time to bring on the bad guys. Cut to Jafir, a fell realm thick with miniature railroad trees, dry ice fog and an ominous black castle on a hill (“It’s only a model.” “Sh!”). In the depths of the model… Oops, I mean castle… our two villains are amusing themselves. And what a pair they are. First, there’s the evil Jarek, who got such a buildup in the last scene. He’s fighting more faceless muffle-helmed guards, gutting them with his broadsword, then calling for the next victim. This whole “guard for the evil dark lord” gig never seemed like an especially good one to me, given EDLs’ penchant for murdering their minions left and right. Jarek is particularly fond of this form of entertainment, and uses every cheesy broadsword swash and phony movie buckle while he finishes them off.
(Of special note to gamers is the fact that Jarek bears a striking resemblance to one Anthony Valterra, a former designer for Wizards of the Coast, and publisher of the infamous Book of Erotic Fantasy, referenced in my earlier entries about Sex and Roleplaying.)
Jarek’s partner in crime is none other than the wicked Princess Evie, played by B-movie sensation Monique Gabrielle, who is as evil as she is beautiful…
Wait a sec… Princess Evie? Didn’t we already meet her?
Well, yes, we did, and she too was played by the bounteous Miss Gabrielle. It seems (as Jarek explains as he’s butchering another mook) that this is not the real princess, but a magical clone that he created to take her place so he could run the kingdom from behind the throne. The two Evies are magically linked, so if one dies, they both die. Jarek is working on the problem and assures Evie, who spends the scene giving head to a banana, that he’ll have it fixed in no time, after which the real Evie is worm food.
Evie stalks out in ill humor, after which Jarek is visited by none other than Sultana, the “I’ll have my revenge!” chick from the opening sequence. As evil as she is large breasted, Sultana’s wearing a pretty hot leather and chains outfit, and sashays into Jarek’s inner sanctum to demand that he keep his promise to let her share the kingdom with her. She helped put the fake Evie on the throne, apparently, and now it’s time to pay the lusciously-endowed piper. Failing that, Sultana is willing to take Deathstalker instead, since she’s still pissed off with him for stealing that big hunk of colored glass in the prolog. She’ll drop her claims if given the pleasure of killing Deathstalker herself.
Jarek readily agrees, and informs her that he already has a man on the case — the infamous Chin the Buccaneer (whom we’ve already seen watching the bar fight earlier). Sultana stalks off while Jarek calls for his next living practice dummy. In the corridor, Sultana encounters the fake Evie (“Well, if it isn’t the royal slut herself!” she sneers), and the two exchange harsh words… Sultana tells Evie that she “really oughta mess you up” and suddenly we’re being teased with the prospect of a nice hot catfight, but unfortunately nothing of the kind ever materializes. It’s a real shame when movie directors miss such obvious possibilities for heightening the drama and artistic merit of a film, but then again I guess we can’t all be filmmakers like Russ Meyer or Andy Sidaris.
Back to Deathstalker and the real Evie, riding at breakneck speed through the wilderness, toward the citadel of the evil Jarek. As they ride along, sharp-eyed movie fans can spot an old tire lying forlornly in a pool of water (a fact that the director quite proudly points out in the DVD commentary… I love this guy!) while the Deathstalker theme song plays for what seems like the 400th time.
Cut to a boisterous tavern. Once more it’s a very familiar tavern, featuring guards, dancing girls, barbarians, acrobats bar wenches and naked mudwrestling babes from Deathstalker I (look closely and you’ll even see a glimpse of Deathstalker’s incompetent companion and possible alternate livestyle partner Oghris, looking just as dumb and ineffective as in the first movie). Mind you, without them the tavern would look very much like what it is — the redressed set from earlier in the movie with the cameras and furniture moved around a little, and about four patrons. Splice in a few hot pix from the previous movie… Pshaw! No one will notice. After all, no one saw the first Deathstalker movie either, did they?
Into this interesting amalgam of two taverns from two different movies saunters the sensual but deadly Sultana, who seeks out the notorious Chin, who’s seated at the bar. Together they drink beer out of cut-glass steins that look like they were purchased at the local Valu-Village and discuss how they’re going to handle Deathstalker.
“Deathstalker’s as good as in the grave!” Chin declares.
“Listen, sailor, don’t carve a tombstone so readily,” says Sultana, stumbling a bit as she delivers the line (who really talks like that anyway?). “Deathstalker has as many lives as a cat!”
“If he’s made of flesh and blood, he can die,” Chin says, as we cut between our two villains and those mudwrestling chicks from that other movie. “I’ll bring Deathstalker to you on a platter like a piece of raw meat.” He pauses and gestures down the bar. “And I’ve got just the butchers to do it.”
He then introduces his henchmen, a grim and strangely laughable group of killers and mercenaries. Given their buildup, you’d kind of expect them to play a bigger role in the story — they include “Crazy Otto” Rheingold (aka the Mad Prussian), Ed “The Head” Shemanski (part-time adviser to Atilla the Hun), John “The Baptist” Bombasso (who specializes in drowning, though we never see him actually drown anyone), Nick “The Crippler” of Kashmir, and in a triumph of good taste, a tough-looking little person named Buddy “Footstool” LaRosa (“Dismissed by Ivan the Terrible for excessive brutality”).
A nasty and dangerous-looking crowd of ruffians, eh what? Deathstalker doesn’t stand a chance.
Well, if that’s what you think then I’ve got some nice marshland in Ascalon to sell you. In the next scene we see Deathstalker and Evie (the “good” one) riding hell for leather through the same terrain they rode through before (though someone appears to have removed the old tires). Only we’re not supposed to notice, since now it’s night.
“Okay, men… Let him have it!” Chin orders, and his men, who are standing on a ridge above Deathstalker as plain as the nose on his face, let fly with a volley of explosive arrows, causing the terrain around our heroes to erupt into balls of flame and forcing them to abandon the horse and hide behind a hill.
“They’re trying to kill us!” Evie declares.
“Give the lady a cigar,” grumbles Deathstalker. Nothing like a little anachronistic humor to lighten the mood, huh?
Deathstalker equips himself with some nice shiny shuriken and sneaks off to take down the Chin Gang one at a time. This he does in record time without alerting anyone to his presence. This is surprising, since every time he kills someone, a deafening “sting” of music explodes from the soundtrack, probably intended to be dramatic, but succeeding only in being almost as irritating as Princess Evie.
He even throws a star at Buddy “Footstool” LaRosa, causing him to tumble back down the hill and — yes — explode. Now those who don’t know better would assume this is just Buddy’s arrows going off, but I happen to know that in WotC’s upcoming new fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, certain dwarves are actually highly flammable, and will blow up at the slightest tap. This leads some kingdoms in the Forgotten Realms to propose that warning labels be affixed to all dwarves, a suggestion that raises the ire of many dwarven clans, and leads to several major armed insurrections. In these battles, the dwarves emerge victorious by lobbing volunteers from catapults into the midst of the enemy formations, where they explode on contact, causing great mayhem and loss of life.
Anyway, Deathstalker barely breaks a sweat taking down Chin’s minions, even when Nick the Crippler threatens to slit Evie’s throat. Stalker laughs, slays Nick easily and in a few minutes he and his blonde snuggle-bug are on their way back to Jafir. Chin meets up with Sultana under a tree beside a stagnant pool full of Alka Seltzer. Chin uses the bubbling pool to communicate with Jarek, telling him of his pathetic failure, after which Jarek… again, no surprise to anyone… jams his sword into his own pool, killing poor Chin. Take it from a guy who knows — never, ever work for the Evil Dark Lord, no matter what he promises you. The best you can hope for is to end up as a eunuch guarding the royal harem. And that’s on a good day.
Jarek still has some surprises left in his bag of tricks. He pulls out a miniature coffin and begins to cast a spell. Look out, ‘Stalker! Evil is afoot.
Next thing we know, ‘Stalker and Evie are riding through an ominous, green-gel lit cemetery. How do we know it’s a cemetery, you ask? Why, because of all those cross-shaped headstones, of course! Calling them “headstones” is a bit of a misnomer, as they appear to be pieces of wood nailed together in cross shapes. Now, how a realm like Jafir, ignorant of the Christian traditions of Planet Earth, decided to use crosses as headstones is beyond me, but hell, we’re way beyond normal human logic by now anyway.
True to form, Deathstalker wants to go into the graveyard and loot the mausoleum. It’s sure to be filled with gems and gold, he tells Evie who (for once sensibly) tries to talk him out of it.
Common sense does not appear to be Deathstalker’s long suit, so into the graveyard he goes. Predictably, when he creeps into the mausoleum, the door slams shut behind him and an image of Jarek appears, telling him that grave robbing is a crime and carries a “stiff penalty” (he said “stiff”… heh-heh). Of course, now the walls spout spikes and start closing in on him. “I’ve a rather pressing engagement to attend to,” Jarek says, “and I’ve arranged one for you as well.” Well, no one ever said that sorcerers had a very good sense of humor.
Meanwhile, outside — surprise! — Evie is suddenly beset by dozens of extras from the original Night of the Living Dead, complete with clown makeup and smeared mascara. She holds them off with a torch while screaming her lungs out (something that Miss Gabrielle was well known for in the glory days of her movie career).
Stalker has the good sense to clamber out of the tomb by scrambling up the spikes and bashing out the barred skylight. He leaps down to rescue Evie and the two flee the slow-moving zombies, leap astride their long-suffering horse, and thunder back on the road to high adventure.
Now comes a scene that, without the amusing and entertaining DVD commentary, I would have blamed on the director. We see horsemen riding through the forest, dragging some poor sap along behind them, until *WHAM* he fetches up against a tree and lies there like a sack of potatoes. “That’ll soften him up for the princess!” growls one of the horsemen.
This is all well and good, but the entire scene is taken directly from… guess what movie?
If you guessed Deathstalker I, you win a cookie. Remember right before those guys showed up at the old woman’s hut and she handed the guy a snake? This is the same scene, but with a little extra dialog to make it fit (yup — it’s Kang, general of Lord Munkar leading the parade!). The director, thank goodness, was not responsible for this travesty, and loudly complains that it was added without his knowledge or permission, on the commentary track. It’s nice to know that, even if he’s a hack, he’s at least an honest hack, to the extent that he doesn’t want other bad movies interfering with his bad movie.
Back at the palace, the evil princess Evie is lounging sensuously on her chaise, listening to an alarming-looking dwarf minstrel who is plucking his lute and playing, you guessed it, the Deathstalker theme. Now this little guy will probably haunt my nightmares for years to come, but it’s even worse when you consider that he bears a strong resemblance to Samwise from Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings. Gods help me, I’m starting to see twisted evil-looking hobbits everywhere now…
After Evie tires of the song and throws something at the luckless minstrel, he flees. As she takes a bite out of her apple, she sees that her hand is fading into nothingness. Well, actually it flickers on and off several times as if they stopped the camera, removed her hand, filmed for a second, then put it back, but who watches these things for their special effects? Given this film’s budget, I doubt Peter Jackson himself would have done better. Well, he probably would, but that’s as may be.
Evie looks horrified and screams for her guards. Two pig-boys drag in a prisoner (presumably the poor sap from the “that’ll soften him up for the princess” scene). She gives the guy a sensuous smirk and beckons him to draw closer. The dumb kid falls for it, and in an instant becomes Princess Evie’s lunch — yes, in addition to being a magical clone she’s some kind of sex vampire who feeds off virile young studs. And that’s a bad thing, believe me. But then again, what a way to go, huh?
Back once more to Deathstalker and Evie on their long, arduous and increasingly dull journey. He chivalrously offers her the blanket as they sit by the fire, and she responds by offering to share it. He obliges, and she says, “Stalker? Is that your sword, or are you just happy to see me?” Gods save us all…
The next day, they encounter an amusing sign that points the way to Jafir, but also to such diverse places as Nokandu, Altair 4, Lemuria, Cimmeria, Freedonia, etc. Before they can fully appreciate the humor of the sign, however, Deathstalker and Evie are captured by the amazons and taken before their queen, who accuses our heroine of looking like Evie, the Demon Princess (now there’s a title to put in your resume…), to which Evie responds that she’s actually Reena the Seer. The queen swallows this hook, line and sinker, and sets Reena/Evie free, but tells Deathstalker that he’s to be put on trial “for your crimes against women!”
Personally, I’d have put Deathstalker on trial for his crimes against good taste, but that’s amazons for you. I notice that most of the time in movies and TV, “amazons” don’t conform to the classical Greek model. I’ve met a few amazons over the years myself, and I can swear to you that I have never, never met a tribe of women warriors who removed their breasts so they could shoot their bows better. And I’m grateful for this, since I like women (and most people in general) to be relatively symmetrical, especially when it comes to breasts. The amazons in this film are, thankfully, of the movie and TV variety — hot young women in skimpy outfits with big swords. These are the amazons I like, as long I stay on their good side, of course.
Deathstalker is most assuredly NOT on these ladies’ good side, and one of the most ludicrous scenes in the flick is on the way to prove it. Sentenced to trial by combat, Deathstalker warms up by jumping rope (clad in the most microscopic loincloth imaginable) and seems terribly offended at the whole affair, since as he says, he can easily beat any of the amazons with his hands tied behind his back.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t counted on being forced to battle the amazons’ champion, Gorgo (not to be confused with Gorgo, wife of King Leonidas of Sparta, but that’s another entire movie) who is, of course, the biggest and meanest woman imaginable. She is played by female wrestler Queen Kong, a woman of… well, pretty heroic stature, with a pretty nasty sneer and arms that are bigger than Deathstalker’s thighs. Of course, most people have arms bigger than Deathstalker’s thighs, since this is the lean, nimble Deathstalker, as opposed to the beefy, low-browed blonde Deathstalker of the other movies… Jeez, this guy is almost as hard to keep track of as Doctor Who.
And so battle is joined — and no, it isn’t the duel of the titans — that comes later. In this case it’s the duel of the skinny pasty but oh-so-well-toned rogue and the even pastier, but much, much larger female wrestler. Well, Gorgo (who is at least a head taller than her opponent) predictably mops the floor with Deathstalker, giving the filmmakers lots of opportunities for boxing/wrestling movie and lame jokes.
Evie gives Deathstalker the usual corner pep talk (“Wear her out, then attack! Go get her, tiger!”), then Stalker goes out and gets clobbered again. John Terlesky is a pretty agile and athletic guy, but some of the more violent falls are performed by his stunt man, and they do an admirable job of never showing his face. Of course, we also have “ring girls” carrying out the cards with big numbers on them between rounds, then we fade into a slow-mo montage of the rest of the fight, cutting between Deathstalker getting a serious asswhipping, amazons cheering and the amazon queen fingering and twisting her scepter in a fairly disturbing fashion.
And all through the montage we hear a slow, stately and dramatic rendition of the Deathstalker theme song, suggesting that the composer’s Casio keyboard had a few extra bells and whistles added. Finally, just as all seems lost, Deathstalker does the Three Stooges move and boxes Gorgo’s ears, triggering the full-tempo, heroic version of the Deathstalker theme song as he finally turns the tables on his massive opponent, ducking under her blows and disabling her with a flurry of kung fu punches.
And yes, Deathstalker triumphs but, chivalrous to the last, refuses to kill Gorgo, instead sparing her and letting her lie in the middle of the boxing ring like a beached whale. While she built up our hopes that Deathstalker would die painfully at her hands, she ultimately failed, but in the end, don’t we all fail every now and then? And though our rage toward her for not actually ending this film early might be considerable, should we not follow Deathstalker’s example and forgive Gorgo?
Okay, so after the fight, Deathstalker gripes to Evie about her lack of support and the overall low accuracy rating of her various prophecies. She admits to being a crappy seer, but says that she really is a princess, explains Jarek’s evil scheme, and tells Deathstalker that she still needs his help, after which Deathstalker replies that he’d rather be an obscure thief than a famous fool, and stomps off in a huff.
Back at the castle, the fake, evil, vampire Evie is throwing a hissy fit, throwing various implements at Jarek, who dodges them with ease. He mollifies her somewhat by telling her that he’s created an elixir (which looks kind of like Orange Crush or possibly Fanta) which will sever her ties to the real Evie. He demonstrates on a magical clone that he’s made, fake Evie is overjoyed, and downs the rest of the potion. Oops… Things are starting to look grim for real Evie.
Meanwhile, the amazons show that they know how to party. The tavern music from Deathstalker I plays while they dance and cavort; While there isn’t a lot of gratuitous nudity in the amazons’ celebration, there are nevertheless some very cute amazons dancing while Evie runs around asking if anyone’s seen Deathstalker. Oh, there he is… playing tonsil hockey with the amazon queen. I guess she got over her dislike of Deathstalker’s “crimes against women” and has decided that he’s her hot little studmuffin. As yet another variant of the Deathstalker theme plays mournfully in the background (yes, it’s the slow and sad version of the theme song), Evie looks all hurt and runs off into the night.
Inside the queen’s tent, Deathstalker treats her to his own brand of tender pillow-talk.
“Nice place,” he says. “Did you hire a decorator or did you do it yourself?”
The queen smiles sweetly at this (as who wouldn’t?) and replies, “You have wit. I like that in a man.”
I think she probably muffed her dialog here. What the line probably actually said is “You are a half-wit. I like that in a man,” but they didn’t have the budget to reshoot the scene.
“When I first laid eyes on you,” she continues, “I thought you’d be just another barbarian. All muscle and no mind.”
“Well,” Deathstalker replies, “my father was a scholar and my mother was a bricklayer. I guess I got the best of both.”
Well, Deathstalker certainly set her straight on that score, didn’t he?
They booze it up some more (and the mournful version of the theme song continues). The queen urges Stalker to forget about Evie, since what he really needs is “a real woman.” To prove her point, she slips behind a curtain and begins to drop clothing. I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favorite parts of the evening. However, she has to go and spoil it by saying, “Just think — together we could rule as far as the eye can see, and the children of our loins can be masters of this kingdom for a hundred… no, a thousand years. Our lovemaking tonight may spawn generations of leaders to come. The passion in our hearts will burn like a great sensual fire, melding our souls into a whirlpool of unending ecstasy.”
Gods, woman… Thanks for killing the mood. After that kind of a buildup, can you say “performance anxiety”?
When Stalker expresses some hesitation at the prospect of being awakened at dawn the next day, queenie replies that it must be, as “the ceremony” is traditionally performed at daybreak.
“What ceremony?” Deathstalker asks, and takes a big gulp of wine.
Okay, see if you can guess what happens next?
A) She says, “No ceremony, silly! I was just kidding,” and they screw like minks;
B) She turns, baring her fangs, her eyes blazing with daemonic fury and says, “The ceremony of your human sacrifice, weak and pitiful mortal!”; or
C) She says, “Our wedding ceremony of course,” at which time Deathstalker does a spit take and flees from the tent in fear.
If you guessed C, then you’re obviously an old hand at this. Had it happened to Wulf, the correct answer would have been B, and he’d have writhed in the daemoness’ clutches until Livia and Narisha showed up to rescue him, after which they’d have teased him about it for days. Damn. I might write that one next.
As for Deathstalker, he gets out while the getting is good, eliciting an “Oh, shit!” from the disappointed queen. You should thank your lucky stars that you missed out on that one, sweetheart — as soon as the honeymoon was over you’d have suddenly realized what a load you’d saddled yourself with.
Out in the forest, the distraught Evie is easy prey for the wicked Sultana, whose minions capture her and bring her back to the temptress’ lair, where she is suspended over a vat of boiling something-or-other (which under other circumstances would look something like a pot filled with water and dry ice).
Sultana is more kind-hearted than she seems however, for she doesn’t really string Evie up by the wrists — she puts her feet in a pair of stirrup-type things and lets her stand comfortably before killing her. Sure, Sultana looks like a nasty bitch-queen sado-dominatrix whore, but in reality she’s a sweet, ol’-fashioned girl who never wants her victims to suffer too much before she finishes them off.
Sultana demands Evie reveal where Deathstalker is and threatens to drop her right into the dry ice bucket if she refuses. Evie replies that Jarek needs her alive, to which Sultana retorts, “Yes; to help himself to your castle, your kingdom and, by the looks of you, most of your wardrobe.”
Aha! I knew it the moment I saw Jarek. He doesn’t want the princess for the power, the riches and the influence. He wants her for the outfits.
Sultana threatens to sink Evie into the bubbling stuff up to her waist which, she says will diminish her enjoyment of “life’s sensual pleasures,” while not killing her outright. Now even I’m forced to admit that’s pretty low. Sultana demands Evie talk one more time. “Tell me now. Where’s Deathstalker?”
And right on cue, heroically bounding in from stage left comes…
Conan the Barbarian? Elric of Melnibone? Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser? Snails the thief?
Nah, none of those guys… Yes! It’s Deathstalker!!
Okay, not Deathstalker… Deathstalker II!
“Somebody looking for me?” he demands, flashing his patented shit-eating grin.
“Stalker!” screams Sultana. “Get him!” (“That was your plan? Get him??”) And of course her mooks surge forward to certain death.
Deathstalker does the Ronco Veg-o-Matic dance with the minions, while Sultana lights Evie’s ropes on fire so that they’ll burn through and drop her into the glop. Stalker and Sultana now have at it furiously, and she proves herself to be one of the better fighters in the piece besides maybe Queen Kong, but makes one false move, and Stalker guts her, then at the last moment, to everyone’s deep regret, leaps to rescue Evie from the oatmeal pot.
Together, they fall to the filthy floor, gaze deeply into each other’s eyes and…
No, thankfully they don’t start snogging on the dungeon floor, but instead vacate the place and continue their journey.
Cut to Jarek’s fortress, where more mooks drag in Sultana’s battered corpse, interrupting Jarek while he’s at his desk, writing with a quill pen, apparently composing a list of which major male celebrities he’d like to sleep with. The guards manage to interrupt him right between Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling, but he gets up anyway, looks at Sultana’s corpse, pulls a swanky bell cord and triggers an acidhouse rave strobe light show. He then simply kisses Sultana and — presto! — she’s alive again.
“Welcome back!” Jarek purrs moodily and in a moment, as the strobe continues to flash, her top is off and he’s feeling up her flesh melons in no time (the DVD commentary reveals that these are not actually Toni Naples’ breasts, but those of a body double; Toni herself says she would have been happy to do a nude scene in the movie, but they never asked her… My god, people! Why the hell not??). While Jarek and Sultana’s breast double are doing the mambo, however, Evil Evie shows up, looks distraught, and stomps out in yet another evil princess huff. This is what you get when you hang out with the evil sorcerer, kid. Especially when he looks like a famous game designer. You might as well get used to it.
Outside the palace (which looks a lot like the outside of the tavern where Stalker met Evie), our two heroes peek out through the dry corn stalks. Evie leads Deathstalker into the palace, where they hear the sound of torture and find a slain victim hanging from the wall (“Looks like he died with a gag in his mouth,” Evie said. “Well if he did, he never got a chance to tell it,” Deathstalker replies. Gods, this is getting painful). Well, Stalker’s humor doesn’t do him much good, since he’s quickly captured by Jarek and the black helm brigade, while Evie escapes.
Jarek looks particularly pleased with himself. “Ahhhhh, Deathstalker!” he says. “You didn’t need to come through the servants’ entrance; I’d have welcomed you through the front gates. I’ve heard that despite your rather silly name, you’re actually quite an excellent swordsman.” Something tells me that the filmmakers were more than a little embarrassed at being stuck with this particular property, since they keep making jokes about ‘Stalker’s name. Of course, being named “Deathstalker” does indeed invite ridicule, but when your own screenwriter thinks it’s goofy… Well, there’s really no point in continuing.
Jarek orders his men to kill ‘Stalker, but the newly-revivified Sultana shows up and says, “No! He’s mine!” Evie sees this from a safe distance and flees, apparently leaving Deathstalker to a fate worse than death. Well, she’s about to face the same thing, since still more guys in bad helmets jump her in the forest and proceed to rip her clothes off. This is the first time we’ve seen Evie naked (but fortunately not the last), but it’s in such unpleasant circumstances that we don’t really care too much. Before the guards can have their way with Evie, the amazons show up again. The guards fall, stuck full of amazon arrows (damn, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of those guys), and Evie rides back to the amazon camp.
Okay, now if I had been making this movie, this would have been a perfect opportunity for a little hot girl-girl action between Evie and the queen (given Monique’s other roles, I doubt she would have objected), but all we get is an extended scene in which she and the queen get massages and discuss how to rescue Deathstalker. Yet another wasted opportunity. The queen is understandably reluctant, since Deathstalker left her at the altar before they even got to the altar, but in the end Evie’s position prevails.
Meanwhile, back at the dungeon, Deathstalker is getting a crash course in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, strapped to a table with a knife-edge pendulum swinging back and forth above him. Sultana shows up to gloat, and asks “So where is the little princess?”
“Do you expect me to talk?” Deathstalker demands.
(Okay, all together now): “No,” Sultana replies. “I expect you to die!”
Well, if it was good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for Deathstalker, I guess.
“I’m sorry to see you go,” Sultana says. “We’d have made a great team.”
Stalker suggests that Sultana join the good guy team, but she demurs, since there’s no money in it. She then does what every other incompetent villain in every other action movie does, she leaves before Deathstalker is dead. Once more, the lack of access to the Evil Overlord Handbook leads yet another villain to ruin.
Deathstalker writhes on the torture table for a few moment, whimpers “Mother” (kind of like Bugs Bunny, huh?) before a grunty voice says, “Da Princess wantsta see ya,” and the pendulum is suddenly stopped.
Now, it’s a pair of pig-faced warriors who escort Deathstalker from the dungeon — there must have been a sale on the costumes or something. They lead our hero into the private bedchamber of… yes, it’s true — Evil Evie.
She sashays out from behind a screen, and Deathstalker remarks on her resemblance to the other, good, annoying Evie, which understandably pisses her off. She doesn’t seem to mind too much, since she immediately puts Stalker in a liplock and starts feeling up his package.
Deathstalker’s no fool — he knows what he’s gotta do, and quickly rises to the occasion. Figuratively and literally. He and Evil Evie fall together and begin to do the horizontal hula.
Well, finally seeing Evie (at least one of her) both naked and willing is actually worth the wait, as she’s definitely got a number of good features. Unfortunately, the ability to leave her humping partners alive isn’t one of them, as she gazes down at the recumbent Deathstalker, snarls cutely and says “Now, you’re mine!”
Unfortunately this sequence, which should have ended with Deathstalker’s oh-so-pretty face adorning the screaming-victim headboard of Evil Evie’s oversized bed is instead cut short by a mysterious figure who approaches with a heavy iron statuette, which she then uses to kosh Evil Evie right on the melon.
That’s melon. Singular. By which I mean her head. Get your mind out of the freakin’ gutter. You’re blocking my light.
Stalker’s savior is, of course, the real Evie, who isn’t terribly thrilled at Deathstalker’s cavorting with her double. Deathstalker thanks her for her timely intervention (as if he knew that E.E. was going to go all Anne Ricey on his ass), and the two head off back into the secret passages, presumably to go find Jarek and end his foul rule.
By this time Deathstalker’s more than a little suspicious of Evie’s ability to get him out of trouble, since so far she’s been about as helpful as a horse in a naval battle. She assures him that she knows the palace and its secret passages like the back of her cute little hand, and then…
As might be expected, she then leads Deathstalker straight into the jaws of a trap. As they come out of a passage, they are suddenly surrounded by more black-armored, wooden-sword armed, paunchy guardsmen, led by the smirking Jarek and Sultana.
“How do they say it?” Jarek asks. “Out of the frying pan, into the fire?”
“That’s how they say it all right,” Deathstalker says, unable to think of a humorous retort. He makes to fight the crowd of guards around him, but Jarek thinks this is a somewhat foolish act.
“You can’t possibly kill us all,” he says. “One against 100?”
“Make that two against a hundred!” Evie shouts.
If I was Deathstalker at this point, I’d ask her to please not do me any favors, but before he can contemplate what a millstone ’round his neck Evie would be in a scrap, Jarek simply orders, “Kill them,” and leaves with a flouncy wave of his hand.
But this tale’s not yet over.
“Hey!” shouts a voice, and the amazons suddenly appear on the battlements, led by their queen, who’s apparently gotten over her annoyance at Deathstalker’s rejection. “What about we even those odds a little?”
The amazons unleash a volley of arrows, plugging a bunch of black-armored overweight guards, Jarek shouts “Get them!” and the free-for-all is on.
And so, as the Deathstalker theme plays AGAIN, we are treated to a ferocious (and actually pretty good) battle between the paunchy guardsmen and the hot amazon warrior babes, intercut with scenes from the previous movie, and occasional flashes of lightning for no apparent reason.
In the midst of the melee, Sultana looks bored, sighs and stalks off.
“Where are you going?” Jarek demands.
“Leaving!” Sultana snaps, and departs, never to return.
WTF? The DVD commentary explains that Sultana’s quick exit was necessitated by the fact that Toni Naples had to fly home and couldn’t work to the end of the film, so they simply decided to have her character get disgusted and walk off. Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention.
The battle progresses, with Deathstalker impaling pudgy guardsmen and Good Evie comedically clobbering people with a quarterstaff (actually it was a buck and a quarter… yuk, yuk, yuk. Oh god, they’ve got me doing it now…). Evil Evie shows up, complaining of a splitting headache, but Jarek sends her away, and himself retreats into the relative safety of the palace.
Fortunately for us, there are none of the quick, jarring and inexplicable jumps in plotting that plagued the original Deathstalker. While the battle outside rages, Deathstalker and Good Evie enter the palace, where she brandishes a dagger and tells Stalker she’s going off to find her evil twin.
There follows a Marx Brothers type sequence in which Good and Evil Evie stalk each other in the depths of the palace dungeon, interesting only in that it shows that Monique Gabrielle’s body double doesn’t have anywhere near as nice an ass as Monique herself. Eventually Good Evie finds Evil Evie and impales her with a thrown dagger. The evil double falls and dissolves into a cloud of smoke. Exit one evil magical clone.
Elsewhere, Deathstalker has finally found Jarek, and the two approach each other as Clint Eastwood style “duel” music plays (at least, thankfully, it’s not the Deathstalker theme again). After a brief exchange they rush at each other, swords drawn, and the duel of the titans is on. Well, the duel is on at any rate… To describe either of these guys as titans is a little bit of an exaggeration.
The duel lasts for quite a while, and among other things involves them kicking aside various cheap props and set dressing, including foil-covered bottles and the cheap plywood throne. The choreography isn’t too bad, and the sound effects make it seem as if they’re actually using real swords.
They fling each other about manfully, fighting along the banquet table (possibly covered with food left over from the previous day’s catering), Deathstalker defends himself with various mundane objects when he loses his sword, and is finally cornered by Jarek, who smirks in his usual annoying fashion, and closes in for the kill, sword poised for a final thrust.
But Deathstalker’s got one last card to play — he’s seen a few Sonny Chiba movies, it seems, and as Jarek makes his big thrust (oh, shut up… I know what you’re thinking), he catches the sword blade between his hands, to Jarek’s severe annoyance, then breaks the blade, grabs the snapped-off hilt, and jams it under Jarek’s smarmy, annoying chin. Our villain expires with a silly, cross-eyed expression on his face, and Deathstalker runs out to receive the adulation of the victorious rebels.
Well, that pretty much settles things, doesn’t it? Princess rescued, evil magical clone slain, wicked sorcerer turned into a cocktail weenie, and the crowd of hot amazons (and a few guys who joined in with the rebels at the last moment in the hope of getting some) cheering wildly. Stalker and Evie bask in the glory for a few moments, and then suddenly it’s daytime and a completely different crowd is cheering. That’s because it’s the crowd from the tournament in the first movie, but by this time the two are so hopelessly blended together there’s no real point in even noting it anymore. Besides, the flick’s almost over and I’ve noted over 5,232 pieces of footage lifted from Deathstalker I.
Inside, Evie is on the throne, dressed in a pretty hot white number, and bids Deathstalker step forward. She’s searched for an appropriate reward to give to the victorious hero, and since after Jarek’s mismanagement the kingdom’s all but broke, she’s decided that the only thing she can offer is her own hot little bod. Not that that’s such a bad deal, but I doubt I would have taken it myself. Tying oneself down to a blonde princess with a ferocious sexual appetite is a sure route to early retirement and death, after all.
“So you really think our story’s going to make it into legend?” Deathstalker asks her.
“Oh, more than that,” Evie replies. “A thousand years from now players will reenact all our exploits.”
“Really?” Deathstalker grins boyishly. “Well, I sure hope they get a good-looking guy to play me.”
Gods, please kill me now…
So our young lovers embrace, the doors swing shut, and the film is…
Well, not quite over. We still have the extended dance version of the Deathstalker theme to play over the closing credits, with pictures of our various players, and of course, outtakes.
Huh? Outtakes? What the hell?
Yes, they run outtakes over the credits, including Evie choking on the potion, Deathstalker falling out a window onto his ass, amazon longbows malfunctioning, Deathstalker burning himself on a torch, Evie tripping on the stairs, crew cracking up at Evie’s naked writhing and moaning, and so on.
There’s also an extended credit sequence, but in the DVD commentary the director notes that most of the names of the crew were made up, and he doesn’t really know who worked on the movie.
And so at last the final chords of the extended Deathstalker Dance Mix fade, and the movie ends. More coherent, funnier, better acted, written and directed than the first Deathstalker debacle, this film is nevertheless a prime candidate for the Sword and Sorcery pit, as the cheap sets, wooden acting and silly situations combine to make it something of a minor classic, and certainly one of the funniest low-budget barbarian movies ever made.
This incarnation of Deathstalker wasn’t to return however, as the series stumbled on for two more episodes, including Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell (famous for its appearance on MST3K, this one starred blonde beefcake John Allen Nelson in the once-more musclebound barbarian title role) and Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans (as opposed to Duel of the Titans, I guess), in which Rick Hill from Deathstalker I returns to reprise his original dumb, wooden barbarian role. There have been no more Deathstalker flicks, which is a shame, and also the reason that I have begun work on Deathstalker V, in which the funny Deathstalker teams up with Sultana and together they track down and destroy all known copies of Rona Jaffe’s Mazes and Monsters.
A little follow-up research has revealed some interesting facts about our film’s actors and creators. Director Jim Wynorski is something of a god among low-budget filmmakers. He’s produced 55 movies, written 48 and acted in 35. He sat in the director’s chair for 91 (yes, 91) films including Chopping Mall, Vampirella, Cheerleader Massacre, the Bare Wench Project (both parts I and III), The Hills Have Thighs, The Devil Wears Nada and of course who could forget the all-time classic Busty Co-eds vs. Lusty Cheerleaders. Most recently he has (unsurprisingly) made a comfortable home at the unfortunately renamed SyFy channel, producing and directing movies with titles like Dinocroc vs. Supergator and Piranhaconda! — in other words just the kind of movies you’d expect to see on the SyFy Channel.
Handsome John Terlesky has been in about two dozen b-flicks, but lately appears to have found his niche as a director alongside his mentor Jim Wynorski. Mr. Terlesky has in fact had amazing success as a director of television series, with episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, Ugly Betty and the current hit Castle under his belt. Not bad for a guy who started out as a wisecracking barbarian.
Beautiful Toni Naples was in low-budget flicks throughout the ’90s but doesn’t seem to have worked much since 1996. It’s a shame, since she definitely lit up this film while she was in it, even if those breasts weren’t really hers.
Wickedly handsome John Lazar (Jarek) is primarily a stage actor, but also a trained martial artist, master swordsman and ballet dancer. He had roles in a variety of movies including the early Russ Meyer classics Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Supervixens. In 1997 he starred as Dr. Fez in a soft-core cable TV series called Click, which involved a magical button that can arouse women remotely (your guess is as good as mine) and in 2009 starred in a short film called Alice Jacobs is Dead which won a best horror film award at San Diego Comicon. Like so many other actors, Lazar is a fascinating study, and after reading this interview I’m even more convinced he’s awesome.
Finally of course there is former scream queen Monique Gabrielle (real name Katherine Gonzalez), who from 1982 until 1996 appeared in 45 movies, and gained a significant following. These flicks included Airplane II, Chained Heat, Young Lady Chatterly II, Emmanuel V (in which she played the title role, which is odd since the original Emmanuel was brunette), Amazon Women on the Moon and Fear of a Black Hat. Her last movie is listed as (I kid you not) 2002’s Planet of the Erotic Ape. I’m not even going to bother looking for that one.
Since that time, information on Monique is scarce. Some online sources state that she dealt with anxiety issues and ended up doing a couple of hard-core adult films, including one called Ravished, though details on others are sketchy. The most recent rumor I was able to find says that she is happily retired and living in California, and I truly hope this is true, since she certainly brightened the lives of a lot of young men (and, I’m sure, women) during her colorful screen career.
A Very Special Note
You may have noticed that I referred several times to a DVD commentary track. Now, it’s true that most low-budget flicks from the 80s don’t have a DVD commentary track — usually they’re rushed out with minimal special features and left to sink or swim on their own. Deathstalker II (available as part of the “Sword and Sorcery Collection” from New Concorde) is a delightful exception, however. Featuring commentary from Director Jim Wynorski and stars John Terlesky and Toni Naples (regrettably not Monique, I’m afraid), this DVD is worth every penny (especially since Deathstalker I is on the other side), and caused my own respect and admiration for low-budget filmmakers grow by leaps and bounds. Our three commentators are quick to point out goofiness in the movie (“Okay, look at the top of the screen! Look! There’s a car!”), and their anecdotes about making the movie (including their somewhat wry comments about Monique Gabrielle, whom they drove crazy by referring to her as “Moni-cue” all the time) are priceless. Check these guys out. They rule.
Sword and Sorcery Rating:
Well, at the end of the day this is a pretty run-of-the-mill story, but it’s certainly more compelling than Part One, and given that they pretty much wrote it on the fly, I’m giving it an extra half sword.
Yes, it’s funny. Most of the jokes are really stupid and the contemporary references wear thin after a while. However, you’ll laugh. You may laugh in all the wrong places, but you’ll laugh nonetheless.
Though most of the mayhem is played for laughs , the flick has a couple of nice fight scenes and a suitably gory end for the villain. Still in all, there is more slapstick than swordplay.
Some very nice shots of Monique Gabrielle in the buff, having sex and miming ecstasy for the camera, but there’s also breast and butt shots lifted from Deathstalker I. Also, they had to use stunt breasts for Toni Naples. And for the ladies, John Terlesky is buff and easy on the eyes. Definitely inferior to the first film in this category, but not by too much.
Yes, despite it all (or perhaps because of it) I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Maybe it’s because I also listened to the commentary track (see following rating).
Special Bonus Rating:
4 Broadswords for the DVD commentary track
The presence of a commentary track on the “Swords and Sorcery Collection” DVD was an unexpected pleasure, and the comments from director Jim Wynorski and stars John Terlesky and Toni Naples elevated this disc from a curiosity to a minor classic. If you get this set, by all means listen to the commentary. Deathstalker will become your favorite sword and sorcery hero. Well, maybe not, but check it out anyway.