Archive for May, 2012

The New Wulf Archives

As I have finally completed work on at least the tentative version of the new, New NEW Improved Wulf Archives site, where you can read my adult (and for those of you who need explanation, that means 18 years and over only, please) fantasy adventures featuring Wulf the Freelance — rogue, warrior, adventurer, philosopher, lover and all-around grumpy guy — and his various friends and lovers.

I’ve described how I came to write the Wulf stories several times — in short, I loved both the works Bill Willingham, Stephen Brust and others, and in the early days of Usenet, I posted to the infamous newsgroup, mostly because I thought most of what was posted there was crap. In short order I started getting positive responses, and eventually started a couple of different websites. Various other adventures, including divorce, loss of job, new relationships, family matters, work matters and lots of other cool projects kind of got in Wulf’s way and my last site died of neglect about four or five years ago, besieged by spambots.

Well hopefully that’s all fixed now and this site, imperfect though it is, will be around indefinitely. I’m hoping to add some stuff like forums and art galleries, but for the moment people can go there and download the Wulf stories as html for free, or go to my Smashwords links and pay me real cash money for the ebook versions.

It’s been a long, strange trip and I honestly think I’m a better person now than when I first set electron to electron back in ’92 or ’93 when I wrote The Demon Crown, the first real Wulf story. As you can read in the introductions to the various Dark Vengeance tales, writing the last trilogy of Wulf stories reflected the depths to which my life had descended in ’99 and ’00, and hopefully set the stage for the long road back home.

In the spirit of Bill Willingham’s classic Ironwood comic, the Wulf series has a plot, has characters and hopefully is decently written, but is also pretty unashamedly erotic. Actually, I always kind of disliked the term “erotica,” since it’s really nothing but a nice word for “porn,” so I won’t mince words — the Wulf series are pornographic, though hopefully in this day and age that won’t be considered a negative. If you like swords and sorcery, fantasy adventures, explicitly erotic writing and epic-level tales that include lots of sex between people of various species, genders and social persuasions, go check out Wulf, and by all means let me know what you think. Like I said, it’s been a very long time since this whole affair started, and I’m hoping that Wulf will be with me for a long time to come. Check it out.


The Sword and the Sorcerer (NSFW)

Lo you now of days long past — a time when the world was young, when sorcery thrived, and wild adventure was forever in the offing! And of this epoch little is known, save that which is veiled in the mists of legendry!

– The Narrator

Yeah, right..
– The Reviewer

Cromwell in younger days when
he still had a perm.

The Sword and the Sorcerer is one of those flicks that exists in its own convenient dimension, where people in Renaissance garb stand comfortably beside naked barbarians with broadswords, and where they throw around historical names and places without regard to their origin or explanation. It is a land where young boys wield rocket-propelled, self-regenerating swords, and where every city looks like stock shots of Istanbul. It is a land where every guardsman looks alike, where slave babes lounge around in minimal outfits while bare-chested musclemen hack at each other with large instruments of destruction.

In short, it’s swords-and-sorcery land, kids!

This heroic epic of betrayal, revenge and redemption begins with a longboat rowing through the storm-tossed waves while the narrator intones the words inscribed above. This will certainly be an epic of high adventure, romance and daring. Either that or it’ll be just another low-budget fantasy epic trying to cash in on the popularity of the Conan franchise. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one.

It is within these mists, the narrator continues, that our tale begins — on Tomb Island, a rocky crag perched at the far edge…. of the world!

In reality, it looks a bit like the southern California coast, but why be picky? Especially since the action quickly shifts to a cave where our villain, a sour-faced guy with a blonde perm, whom we later learn is named King Cromwell (the theft of historical names takes on epic proportions in this flick, believe me) leads his fearful, timid men into the depths. Cromwell growls that most of the men aren’t needed, and they can go back and wait at the boats, a request to which his low-end mooks hasten to fulfill. I can’t say that I blame them. When the local warlord who wants to conquer the world and will stop at nothing to fulfill his destiny leads me into the depths of the earth with a gleam in his eye and a sneer on his face, I know which direction I’m heading — and it’s not down.

The tortured faces of those who dared
to mock the SFX director.

Now accompanied by his most loyal toady, an emaciated guy in a chain mail coif, Cromwell proceeds into the bowels of the earth, eventually finding a most disturbing object — a stone sarcophagus covered with the images of tortured faces.

“Get on with it, witch!” Cromwell barks, and his witch-woman, who looks a little like Eartha Kitt in her prime hisses angrily, then throws back her hood and begins her little incantation and sacrifice to the horrific powers of ultimate darkness.

So far, this doesn’t look much like the kind of outing where you’re going to be bringing along light reading and a picnic lunch, but it gets worse… As the witch woman finishes, and Cromwell and his minion look on in horror, the sarcophagus comes to life, all the faces turning into actual screaming, shrieking, blood-soaked visages.

I think that we can safely assume now that the coffin does not contain the cryogenically-preserved remains of Walt Disney.

Once she’s finished, the witch-woman looks on with joy and happiness as the coffin opens to reveal a bubbling, gurgling mass of what looks like extra-thick pea soup.

“It LIIIIIIIVES!” she screams, beating Doctor Frankenstein to the punch by several millennia.

From the soup, dripping with slimy glop, a most distasteful figure emerges, emaciated and angry, looking a little like one of the aliens from that Outer Limits episode — you know, the one with Martin Sheen where the aliens capture a bunch of earth soldiers and torture them, but then it turns out to all be an experiment by the Earth military to test their ability to withstand alien mind-control, and Martin Sheen is this teenage kid soldier who loses his voice and there’s this cool part where…

Ew, gross!

Sorry, I lost my train of thought…

Well, with her messiah, the lord and master of undead wizardry, emerging from the primal slime, there’s only one thing for the witch-woman to do. She goes over to him and starts licking the slime off his fingers.

Well, while we’re all busy being disgusted by this, the lizard-wizard thing turns to his other guests and says, in perfectly accented demonic snarl, “Who art thou?”

“Titus Cromwell, King of Aragon,” Crom replies, and by this I think he means the “fantasy” Aragon, rather than the region of France by the same name. Or possibly he’s just mispronouncing “Oregon” like everyone else in this country. “We need your help to conquer Ehdan,” which Cromwell goes on to explain, is a rich and powerful kingdom that he wants just because.

The wizard, it turns out is one Xusia of Delos (Delos in Greece? Naah, this is a fantasy movie…). I caution my readers not to confuse Xusia of Delos, the evil wizard, with the Brazilian entertainer, former model, actress and children’s show hostess Xuxa. Many people have made this mistake — in one case, an unfortunate Brazilian family was delighted to learn that Xuxa would be performing at their daughter’s eighth birthday party. Imagine their shock and horror when, instead of the blonde, perky Xuxa, they were greeted by the slime-encrusted, undead form of Xusia the wizard… The party ended badly, with several hearts torn out, slime all over the furniture, a family pet cruelly violated and the children severely traumatized. After the party, the surviving parents filed a multi-million real lawsuit against the talent agency that had booked Xusia. The case is still in litigation, so I can say no more about the matter, save to urge that you not let the same happen to you.

And finally, as an additional public service, this visual identification guide:

Okay now, this is Xusia the evil wizard:

And this is Xuxa the Brazilian singer, actor, children’s TV show host and occasional Playboy model:

Okay, have we got it down? Are there going to be any problems regarding the villain’s identity? I hope not, because there’s going to be a test. Where were we? Oh yes — Cromwell is asking Xusia (not Xuxa) to aid him in his plans for world conquest.

“Four times,” Cromwell continues, “I’ve been defeated by King Richard of Ehdan.” (What did I tell you about them strip-mining historical names for this thing?) “But with your help I will be victorious.”

Naturally, an offer to aid a four-time loser like Cromwell isn’t the sort of thing that your average undead wizard would exactly jump at (especially when you’ve got a hot Eartha Kitt-like witch woman licking slime off your fingers), so he asks what’s in it for him.

In his youth, Good King Richard
played Abe Lincoln in a
one-man show.

“Your life is enough!” replies the stupid minion in the chain mail coif. “After all, how can we even be sure that a toad like you has the power to aid us?”

You know, I’ve always said that minions have death-wishes, and this guy goes and proves it. The wizard looks pissed off and prepares to demonstrate his powers…

However, Xusia doesn’t seem to follow the villain’s handbook — rather than turning the minion into a small pool of brown liquid, he instead turns on the witch-woman, still busy sucking ultraslime off his ingers, and — despite her heartfelt pleas for mercy — uses his telekinetic magic to rip her heart out of her body.

Great… as a demonstration of your power to a couple of low-rent warlords who seem about as trustworthy as a halfling in a pastry shop, who do you kill? Your most loyal servant, that’s who. Damn, if that doesn’t teach them to trust this wizard, nothing will.

So, impressed by this demonstration, Cromwell tells Xusia that he’ll “allow” him to live as long as he’s useful, but if he crosses Cromwell, it’s the chop.

Then, before you ask “Can this marriage be saved?” we cut to the idyllic realm of Ehdan (at first I thought it might have been named for Edam cheese, but I guess I was wrong), where they’re celebrating 20 years of peace and tranquility. You see, the narrator explains that the kingdom had once been “a haven for barbaric plunder” (a haven for plunder? I guess that means the plunder always felt safe and protected there), but was united under the wise and enlightened rulership of King Richard (the Lionhearted? Nah, this is fantasy…).

Richard’s crowned head does not rest easy, for he tells his rather Scandinavian-looking wife that he’s tormented by nightmares and visions of disaster. She tells him to quit screwing around, take a couple of Xanax and come join the party. Mumbling to himself, Richard allows her to lead him off, while in a voiceover we’re told that the kingdom is now going to hell as Cromwell and Xusia have stormed across the border and started stealing everything that isn’t nailed down.

Hey, Xusia… I need to talk to ya…
What’s that behind my back?
Oh, nothing…

Cromwell’s pretty happy with himself, and notes to his still-surviving minion that half of Ehdan’s army lies rotting and that they don’t need Xusia anymore (apparently actually showing the battle was more than the budget could handle). If they don’t kill Xusia soon, Cromwell rationalizes, he’ll be too powerful to control.

At this opportune moment, Xusia lurches up, looking as if he’s suffering from acid reflux disease. Hiding a dagger behind his back, Cromwell approaches the wizard like an old buddy, telling him that if he’s so damned tired, he should bloody well take a rest. A good long rest.

With that, of course, he plunges the dagger into Xusia, and the wizard flees, flinging himself off a cliff. Cromwell basically snaps his fingers in disgust and figures that no one could possibly survive a fall from such a height.

(Note: In reality, the stunt in which Xusia fell from the cliff proved to be one of the most tragic and un-funny parts of this movie, as veteran stuntman Jack Tyree missed his airbags during filming and was killed. I admit that this sad aspect of the flick gave us some pause when we considered reviewing the film, as having our usual fun with it might seem ghoulish or disrespectful to Mister Tyree. I decided to go on with the review anyway, but I think in all seriousness we should note the contribution of such individuals to the industry, and the sacrifices that they sometimes make in the cause of entertaining the rest of us. R.I.P. Jack Tyree.)

All seems lost for the peaceful kingdom now, since even without old leather-lips, Cromwell seems unstoppable. As King Rich consults with his bloodied advisors, a mortally wounded warrior stumbles in to tell him that all is lost and that Cromwell has defeated the last royal army and stands ready to conquer all.

Xusia experiences the heartbreak
of psoriasis.

This revelation is made worse by the fact that the mortally wounded warrior is King Richard’s son, Haggis (well, that’s what it sounds like and this cheapass DVD didn’t have a subtitle track). King Richard calls for a leech (no, the servant does not return with the king’s no-good brother-in-law, but that would have been funny), but all to no avail. Haggis gasps, “Father, the eastern army… has been.. destroyed… It’s bla–” Yes, that’s pretty much exactly what he says. What was he trying to say? “It’s blackly humorous?” “It’s black day for Ehdan?” “It’s black that’s going to be in fashion now that we’ve been conquered?” “It’s Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P.??” Anyway, we’ll never know since he dies in the light of a dramatic and conveniently-timed flash of lighting.

Okay, Haggis is toast, now the kingdom’s had it. As Richard stands mourning the death of his eldest (and probably favorite) son, in wanders our hero, the soon-to-be sexist, obnoxious barbarian mercenary prince Talon. Only now he’s about 14 and looks kind of like a more effeminate Prince Valiant, only with an even more emo haircut. After a dramatic pause, Richard comforts his grieving Scandinavian wife and sends her to take the family to safety. He’ll lead the remnants of his armies against Cromwell, and into almost certain death.

This doesn’t sit well with young Prince Talon, who demands that dad take him into battle, where he will probably end up decorating the end of Lord Cromwell’s lance. The king looks vaguely disgusted at this and tells him no. I suspect Talon was more the sensitive artist type while Haggis was the more promising athlete — it happens in just about every family, after all — there’s always one brother who’s captain of the football team while the other reads too much Arthur C. Clarke and spends his weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. Anyway, with the death of Haggis, it looks as if Talon’s going to have to hang up his dice bag for a while and actually pick up a real sword.

“I do love you more than life itself,” Richard intones, giving Talon a big manly hug (probably the first one he’s ever given him in his whole life, which explains why Talon spends the rest of the movie overcompensating). “If I die it will fall upon you to avenge me. Do you understand, Talon?” The king then hands his lesser son a bigass sword (more on this later) and stands expectantly.

Young Prince Talon is told that
he won’t be able to attend the
Fallout Boy concert.

Given Talon’s likely adolescence and lack of parental love, I think he’d be entirely justified in saying, “Gee whiz, pop — all my life you’ve been asking ‘why can’t you be more like Haggis?’ and now Haggis has gone and bought the farm and you hand me the big-ass sword and say it’s up to me to avenge the family? Go take a long walk off a short pier, pops. I’m joining up with Lord Cromwell! He knows how to treat a sensitive artist and D&D player!”

Well, since the movie’s just getting started, of course Talon does nothing of the kind, instead accepting the bigass sword and trying to look manly and heroic. He isn’t very good at it, mind you, as he’s mostly been role-playing elvish princesses and sixth-level rogues most of his life, when he isn’t writing bad teen poetry and listening to bands like Dashboard Confessional or My Chemical Romance, but he gives it the old college try. Good boy. Give it time; in a few years the whole manly/heroic thing will come naturally, and the chesty babes will be flinging themselves at you. This is, after all, a fantasy movie.

Okay, enough with the insults. Prince Talon doesn’t remain an emo kid for long. In the next scene, we pan over hordes of dead Ehdanian soldiers. Yes, King R and his boys got trashed and now Cromwell’s running the show. Into the abattoir wanders Prince Talon, still carrying the bigass sword. Now we see that it has no less than three (count ‘em, three) blades and is almost as tall as Talon himself. He finds a survivor who tells him to go save the queen, who’s fleeing for her life. Nearby, Talon catches a glimpse of the big bad himself, Lord Cromwell, gloating over King Richard. As Talon watches, sure enough Cromwell has Richard killed (didn’t even have the guts to do it himself, I guess) and in typical fashion, Talon then draws attention to himself by screaming “FATHER!!!!”

The fallen knight very sensibly advises Talon to go after the queen and help her escape, which Talon does finally do. Cut to the queen, hurrying toward the river and safety with Talon’s younger siblings (where did they come from?) only to have the blood-covered Cromwell show up, cutting off their escape. In true villain fashion, Cromwell has his mook chop down the little boy (this guy delegates everything) and carrying off the little girl, offering to spare her life if the queen acknowledges him as king. No dice, apparently, as the queen then plunges a dagger into Cromwell’s chest, but since Cromwell is a heartless villain, she does little damage, and the Cromster then liberates her head from her body, just in time for young Talon to see.

Of course, Talon screams “NOOOOOoooooo!” once more drawing the bad guys’ attention to him, then flees with Cromwell’s warriors in hot pursuit. Though knocked from his horse, Talon seizes the bigass three-bladed sword and reveals the true secret of the “Sword” part of the movie’s title.

Yes, folks — it’s the amazing Ronco triple-bladed rocket sword! Just point at your enemy, depress the hidden trigger and presto! The enemy is instantly impaled and flung back about 50 feet. The amazing rocket sword has some other cool features too — if you’ve fired off two of the three blades, don’t despair! In the next scene, they will be back, with no indication of how! The amazing rocket sword, in addition to providing potent long-range killing, also apparently regenerates, entirely removing any need to reload! And it makes hundreds of julien fries in seconds! And it even works in the hands of a hysterical, weepy emo kid with a bad haircut!

By this sword do I swear to grow up into a
jerky, sexist asshole who everyone
just loves, for some weird reason.

So Talon manages to take out one of Cromwell’s minions, only to have his hand pinned to a tree with a crossbow bolt from a second one. No worries — this baby has three blades and he’s only shot off one. Talon turns and dispatches with the second mook, sending him careening back into the mists like a stuntman with a body harness and hydraulic cable. We assume Talon manages to escape, since the next scene shows Cromwell inspecting the damage, and cautioning his remaining mooks to “find that boy on your lives.” The mooks of course agree, which is probably their last mistake.

Meanwhile, Talon wanders the misty landscape, bearing the rocket sword, its three blades now fully regenerated, and the narrator tells us that though Cromwell searched, Talon had simply vanished into the void.

“Years passed,” continues the narrator, “and rumors began to rumble through the outland kingdoms of a fearless adventurer — a warrior who roamed trackless deserts, mighty mountains and shining seas. These rumors grew into legends about this man who was at once a buccaneer, a slave, a rogue, a general… And his name was…”

No, I’m not going to do that stupid “Conan” joke again, and of course it’s not Conan, though as the movie progresses we’ll wish he was. No, instead it’s none other than Lee Horsely, TV actor par excellance as the grown-up Talon. He’s dumped the emo-look for a more retro-80s kind of Don Johnson five-o’clock shadow feel, but with Bon Jovi hair. He’s clad in animal skins and has the expression and attitude of the most obnoxious fratboy you’ve ever met. He and his band of mercenary scum/80s TV actors have arrived at the frontier of Ehdan on the eleventh anniversary of Cromwell’s victory.

Our Hero, Talon. Damn, he’s good…

Talon’s able second in command, Darius (Darius the ancient Persian king? Naaah, this is a fantasy movie…), is played by Joe Regalbuto, who later went on to fame as Murphy Brown’s boyfriend Frank Fontana as well as appearing in about every famous TV series of the 70s and 80s. Interestingly enough, many if not most of the supporting cast for this flick also appeared in Lee Horsely’s short-lived 80s crime series Matt Houston, a show that made Starsky and Hutch look downright Shakespearean.

The men complain about Talon’s side-trip to Ehdan. :”But sir,” Darius rightfully points out, “King Lambosha is waiting for us at Maladon!” You have to admit that he has a point there — had I ever kept King Lambosha waiting at an important place as Maladon, and had diverted my entire mercenary cohort to seek vengeance upon the evil usurper who killed my parents, I’d have been in serious trouble. No one can write a letter of reprimand like King Lambosha, let me tell you — and if we’d have been really late, Lambosha might even have suspended our rum ration for a couple of days. Talk about strict. What an asshole. He deserved everything he got.

Well, Talon tells his boys that King Lambosha can just sit and spin, since he has a date with destiny, and she’s ordered the lobster (yes, it’s a Mystery Men reference… I think I’m the only person in the world who actually liked that movie). If they want to stay in his heroic band of mercenaries and enjoy all the exciting fringe benefits — the violence, the blood, deprivation, meager pay, dangerous working conditions, disease-infested whores and the constant threat of painful, lingering death — they’ll help him out in his selfish quest for vengeance. So off they ride into the early morning mist, toward the eternal city of Ehdan, which looks a hell of a lot like Istanbul.

As they do, however, a toady-ish little creep in a cloak observes their progress, then slinks into a nearby cavern, where he is confronted by a real hottie witch-babe, and — much to our disappointment — the not-dead-after-all wizard Xusia. He apparently enjoys hanging around in caves with hot witch-babes, but I think that this woman should be careful, given what happened to the last witch who tried to lick ultraslime off his fingers. Fortunately for the witch and unfortunately for us, she is never seen again — not even topless, which given what we’ve seen so far means that the rest of the flick is going to be one hard slog.

You know, Machelli, I miss the old days…
Conquering, pillaging, raping…
I had better hair back then, too.

The toady tells Xusia that Prince Mikah’s rebellion is about to be crushed and Princess Alana’s about to be delivered to Cromwell, doubtless for his own perverse pleasures. Xusia seems relatively pleased by all this (pleased enough that he doesn’t rip out the minion’s heart at any rate) and declares that vengeance will be his shortly. See what happens when you’re an evil overlord who doesn’t play by the book? You get both a leather-faced undead wizard and a sword-swinging fratboy after you. Jeez, I’m glad I just stuck to petty larceny and never got into the kingdom-ruling racket…

(And at this point I was kind of confused about who Prince Mikah and Princess Alana actually were — given that both of Talon’s siblings apparently got sliced and diced in the previous sequence. No fear, all will be explained — sort of — shortly.)

Now we cut back to Cromwell, older but no wiser, sitting around in the overgrown garden of King Richard and brooding on the unfairness of life. Now it looks as if Cromwell has gone all emo on us, as well, since he doesn’t seem to have any joy left despite the fact that he’s now undisputed top dog of the local fantasy continent. His sour-faced advisor Count Machelli (which I believe is a variety of curly Italian pasta — remember the name, by the way — he’s important later) approaches and tells him that the generals are now ready to proceed with plans for “The Final Conflict”. Why he’d want to get involved in production of the fourth “Omen” movie is beyond me, but I guess a lot of guys who have too much money dabble with motion picture production…

Cromwell’s pretty disgusted with life in general, and orders Machelli away so he can go listen to his Sunny Day Real Estate CDs. Machelli appears to be one of the few names in this flick that isn’t stolen from history, but being the suspicious type that I am, I strongly suspect that the name is a corruption of “Machiavelli”, who was of course one of the preeminent schemers of the renaissance. Of course, we wouldn’t want to give anything away at this point. Just because “Count Machelli” looks all creepy and oily, and smiles secretly to himself, and appears to be playing both sides against each other, that’s no reason to suspect that he might be… Oh, come on… stop it…

Istanbul (not Constantinople).

King Cromwell’s generals, ably led by some guy who looks a lot like Cliff Clavin from “Cheers,” don’t have too many problems with their monarch’s moodiness, and are entirely willing to proceed with their plans for conquest without Cromwell’s participation. After all, everything is going to fall into place. “Tell Cromwell that with him leading us we will crush the rebellion and capture Princess Alana.” Dramatic pause. “Unless your information about the rebels proves false, Count ‘chelli.” Despite this calculated insult and wilful mispronunciation of his name, Machelli only nods and smiles quietly. Nah, no reason to suspect him of treachery… We’re just being paranoid…

We now cut to some stock footage of Istanbul… Oops, sorry — the thriving city of Ehdan, where the aforementioned Prince Mikah is busy organizing his rebellion against the cruel overlord in the local tavern, a dimly-lit hole in the wall that probably reeks of urine and spilled beer — as good a place to hatch a rebellion as any, I guess.

As Mikah mumbles with his fellow conspirators, a hulking figure in animal skins — yes, it’s good ol’ Talon — staggers in and demands a bucket. I guess he’s going to throw up just like Mister Creosote, but fortunately for us he never gets around to it. The barkeep, being a man of the world, informs Talon that there’s plenty of work for mercenary scum/80s TV actors like him, since the two factions — Cromwell and Prince Mikah — are about to go at it for control of the kingdom.

Mikah and his sister, we’re told, are the children of King Richard’s closest advisor, and as such are the only legitimate heirs to the throne. This is a new one on me, but no matter how shaky their claim to the throne, I guess Mikah and Alana are better than that bearded pervert who’s running things now. The barkeep never makes note of the fact that Talon has the same name as the lost son of King Richard, even as a joke (and for that matter, no one in the movie ever does), but Talon doesn’t seem to mind.

Machelli, my buddy, my pal… You’d never
betray me, wouldja? Naaah!

Talon looks a bit askance at the barkeep (probably wondering why anyone would even bother backing a twit like Mikah in this particular horserace) , but keeps his doubts to himself. Meanwhile, Prince Mikah lurks around searching for his fellow conspirators. And he finds one — and of course, it’s Count Machelli, who tells Mikah that he’s now on the side of truth, justice and the Ehdanian way, and expects no reward other than to see justice done. Yeah, right. Machelli tells Mikah that everything’s ready, then heads off, leaving the young and overly naive prince to dream of future conquests and how he’s going to redecorate the throne room.

Mikah is played by Simon Macorkindale (try saying that three times fast), who went on to play the title role in the underappreciated 80s TV series Manimal, and had regular roles in later series like Falcon Crest, Relic Hunter and the British TV series Casualty. And yes, he too appeared in Matt Houston. The show actually ran for only one season, making me wonder how they managed to cram so many alumni from this movie into it.

Mikah then heads off to the next meeting of conspirators, where his cute but spunky sister Alana shows up with plans to the royal castle. She’s actually pretty hot, but a bit on the skinny side, and is played by Kathleen Beller, who was — wait for it — a TV actress during the 1980s with a regular role on Dynasty. Sis turns out to be a much better ally than the greasy Machelli, but she’s a little wary nonetheless. Cromwell, she says, is up to something — he’s gathered all the kings and princes of the land together in Ehdan, and is throwing a big party for them. Something, she says, is rotten in the state of Ehdan.

You don’t say! A treacherous usurper who has no qualms about murdering innocents, butchering children, breaking treaties and stabbing allies in the back has gathered all the rulers together in one place, where they can easily be massacred, making it easier for him to take over their kingdoms in the confusion, and you think he might be planning some deviltry? Hm… What was your first clue?

Well, Mikah doesn’t care. The rebellion begins tomorrow, he tells her, followed by his glorious coronation, then free pie and ice cream for everyone!

You’ll eat your asparagus
and LIKE IT, young man!

Okay, it wasn’t going to last. At this point, the door flies open, admitting a band of warriors led by — oh my god! — it’s Cromwell himself! He smirks at Alana, then unleashes his mooks on poor Mikah.

After they’ve softened him up a little, Cromwell wades into battle, whaling on the overtrusting prince with his steel swagger stick. Now captured and about to be dragged off to Cromwell’s dungeons, Mikah catches sight of his betrayer among Cromwell’s warriors.

No! It can’t be! Say it isn’t so! Not Count Machelli, the most trustworthy and honorable man in the kingdom! Not after he gave his word!

Oozing oily satisfaction from every pore, Machelli nods and smiles a faint, quiet smile as Mikah gets dragged off to his reward. He’s good at that, this Machelli guy.

Well, fortunately for the plot, Princess Alana has escaped from the ambush and flees into the street, where she’s confronted by some of Cromwell’s horny mooks, who make it quite clear that they intend to force her to sit down and play mah jong with them. Or possibly rip her clothes off and savagely rape her — I’m not sure which. She draws a weapon to defend herself; the lead guard chuckles and says, “Now I poke you with my dagger, eh?” I guess no one hires evil low-level minions for their subtlety.

Well, these guys have apparently not seen Deathstalker 2 (despite the fact that they look a lot like the guards in that movie) and don’t notice Talon sneaking up behind them to lounge, smirking in the alley entrance, chomping on a joint of meat.

“Beat it, pig, or die!” snarls the lead guard, getting ready to have his filthy way with the princess.

“That,” replies Talon, ever the cool cucumber in a crisis, “is a small threat. A very small threat,” he repeats in case we didn’t get it the first time.

With his manhood insulted by the likes of an actor from an 80s detective show, the guard has no choice but to fling himself at Talon. Needless to say, Talon kicks his ass, as well as the ass of a second guard. The third guard, turning to flee but smashing into a wall and knocking himself out, saves Talon the trouble by kicking his own ass. Sometimes I think that evil warlords should make their mooks pass an intelligence test before hiring, but no one ever listens to me.

Talon proves that he’s a selfless hero
with impeccable table manners.

Triumphant, Talon carries the princess back to the tavern, reassuring her that she’s safe and everything’s going to be all right. Talon’s really a romantic at heart, despite his rough exterior. Well, maybe not, since after rescuing Alana from the proverbial fate worse than death, comforting her, assuring her that everything is going to be all right and escorting her back to relative safety, the first thing he does is sit her down, order beer and a joint of beef, and start swilling and stuffing his face like the erudite sophisticate that he is.

To her discredit, Alana manages to only make things worse by asking “Is your sword for hire?” (heh-heh… heh-heh… Hey, Beavis… She said “sword”!), and announcing that she will pay “anything” for it.

Talon gets the message. He’s no ignorant, brutish barbarian, obsessed with gold and naked women. He replies, “If the price is right, my sword is yours,” and makes a clumsy grab for her bodice. Oh, that Talon… A class act if ever there was one.

Now understanding that she and Talon are talking the same language when it comes to compensation, Alana replies, “Not so fast,” and pushes Talon off.

“But my sword is poised!” Talon complains.

Yup. There’s nothing like trying to force yourself on a recent victim of attempted rape to win the audience’s sympathy. Like so many sensitive emo kids, Talon has grown up to be a charter member of Tappa Kegga Brew, with all the subtlety and sincerity of a rutting boar.

Alana’s no fool. Before she gives up the goodies, she tells Talon that he’ll need to pass a test. Fortunately for all of us, she doesn’t do anything crass like getting out a tape measure, but instead tells Talon that her brother needs rescuing from Cromwell’s dungeons. Talon rejects her offer of 500 talents (the ancient history and culture mixing continues unabated) and she with the resigned look of a convict being led to the gallows, offers Talon a single night of passion. In typical chivalric fashion, Talon replies that this is a “slim bounty” for such an onerous task, provoking a well-deserved slap from the spunky princess. Since she’s such a hot-blooded little wildcat, Talon agrees, but, he says “I expect my bounty perfumed and pretty,” thus making us hate him all the more.

A Red Dragon Archer bow
decoration. Sorry, this is as close
to a real dragon as we get, folks.

At this point, the barkeep comes in to tell Alana that 50 rebels are holed up in Skull Cave, under attack by Cromwell’s Red Dragon archers. Seeing a chance to get out of her bargain with Talon, Alana shames him into going to rescue the besieged rebels. “What’s the matter?” she asks. “Is your sword too small?”

Ouch! Two point burn, Alana. With that kind of sendoff, Talon has no choice but to agree. She tells him that what he’s getting paid is enough for a thousand similar missions, at which Talon smirks and replies, “Oh, I can’t wait to bed you, wench. You’ve raised my expectations.”

Just as we’re marveling at Talon’s tender love-talk and wondering if he’d still be such a smartass with a red-hot poker jammed up his ass, he strides to the door, then turns, grabs Alana and says, “I’ll rescue your rogues… but first I want a taste of your lips to send me to my grave.”

Now if I’d tried something like that I’d have gotten a taste of a foot of steel in my nether regions, but being a naive and winsome lass, Alana unfortunately agrees. Talon gets a taste of her lips, but in exchange Alana probably gets a taste of Talon’s last six beers. After Talon’s gone Alana confides to the barkeep that she doesn’t even know who he is. Damn, she’s not too bright either, is she?

So it seems that Talon left too early, for at that moment, the door bursts in and more of Cromwell’s minions pour in, slicing the bartender up a treat and dragging Alana off to Cromwell’s dungeons. Apparently now Talon’s going to have to rescue two royal heirs if he wants to get his wick dipped. Ah, the burdens of hero-dom…

Talon arrives at Skull Cave to find the Red Dragons archers resplendent in their sparkly armor, deployed and ready to attack. A bunch of rebels safely holed up in a cave doesn’t really seem like a job for missile troops, but hell I’m not the king, Cromwell is.

I noted during my research that The Sword and the Sorcerer’s trailer promised an epic filled with “dungeons and dragons,” no doubt to cash in on the popularity of a certain roleplaying game that shall remain nameless. Though the film does indeed feature dungeons (lots of them), dragons are notably lacking. The only thing I can think of is that they meant the Red Dragon archers, who are not actually dragons. That’s kind of like saying that Bruce Lee, for example, is a “dragon” when indeed he is actually a human who is nicknamed “dragon.” Or that Black Samurai is actually a samurai, rather than martial artist Jim Kelly, driving a purple Ferrari.

Tonight’s specials include
Red Dragon flambe.

The Red Dragons are apparently Ehdan’s elite missile troops, as evidenced by their fancy armor and the dragons carved into their bows. And oh, yeah — they shoot flaming arrows, which is apparently how they plan to smoke the rebels out of the cave. It seems to me that even if they shoot flaming arrows, they’ll only land near the entrance to the cave and smolder. Again, I’m not King Cromwell, so I won’t question his judgement, since it’s obviously been impeccable so far.

“Come out and live, or stay and die!” shouts the Red Dragon commander. “The choice is yours! You have five minutes to decide!”

Five minutes? Jeez, he’s an impatient SOB, isn’t he? And has he even bothered to find out if any of the rebels has a stopwatch, or even a nice five-minute egg-timer with which to measure this generous time limit? I suppose they could count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand,” but that never works. You always count too fast and end up coming out of the cave to surrender way too early…

The jerkwad commander continues to berate the rebels, telling them that the rebellion’s over and their leaders are in chains, won’t they please be good little renegades and come out nicely? As he does so, the archers begin to pour oil into the entrance to the cave, which will probably take hours to dribble back to where the rebels are hiding. Again, I think a nice unit of armored ogres or heavy fighters might have been a better choice for this mission, but Cromwell knows best…

The Red Dragons light up and get ready to shoot. Damn… I think the leader’s going to go back on his word and give them less than five minutes, the bastard…

The dragon bows are actually kind of cool, as they have a little blow-torchy thing to ignite the arrow head, but they really seem a little overly complex, given the low level of education in Ehdan. I doubt any of the Red Dragons could really maintain these weapons, so there’s probably a high breakage rate.

Talon, twitchy and hoping to get his hands on Alana’s alabaster body within the next day or so, observes this and sneaks closer. As the commander calls out his final warning, “Surrender or roast!”, Talon grabs a couple of oil barrels and pours them onto the ground at the Red Dragons’ feet. Of course the oil instantly spreads to cover the dragons’ entire battle line, and when the snotty commander orders the Red Dragons to fire… Well, they actually catch on fire.

Bloody torture and a hot blonde…
A typical night in Castle Cromwell.

In addition to being the kingdom’s elite missile unit, the Red Dragons are also apparently highly flammable, and within a few seconds of running about screaming they are reduced to smoldering bodies. The surviving rebels look kind of stunned — if they’d known that the Red Dragons catch fire if you look at them funny, they’d probably have fought the whole battle differently.

Now accompanied by 50 low-level rebels (probably level 1 Commoners all, with the occasional level 1-3 Expert thrown in) who owe him their lives, Talon now ventures down to the California — I mean Ehdanian — seashore where he and his fellows wrench open a sewage grating and creep into the stinking depths below the castle. It’s the oldest trick in the book, of course, and Cromwell doesn’t apparently have the sense to bolt the grates shut, post guards or do anything else intelligent. Again, he hasn’t been keeping up on his Evil Overlord subscription.

Speaking of Cromwell, he now shows up at the castle, drooling over the captive Princess Alana. She pretends to go along, telling him “Take me, my lord,” snogging him a little, then kneeing him in the groin. She really seems very enthusiastic about kneeing men in the groin. I guess she’s been in Hollywood long enough to learn such a skill.

“Love or not,” Cromwell snarls, “you will be my queen!” He even offers to spare her brother’s life if she’ll agree to marry him.

This brings up another issue that has always bothered me. Why the hell do the evil warlords always fall for the rebellious heroines who would rather be devoured by spiders than allow the warlord’s filthy fingers to touch them? They always pull this crap! What is wrong with those assholes, I beg you?

Consider this… You’re a moderately successful, good-looking evil lord of darkness who stands at the threshold of total victory. Only the king’s sole surviving son (who has sworn vengeance) stands between you and total victory. Soon, you will be master of all, and your power will be unchallenged. So who do you decide you want to marry? A woman who wants to kill you and turn your testicles into castanets, that’s who!

Lord Talon, we beseech thee… More Matlock!

Criminey — a good-looking evil dark lord can have any woman he wants! Even if half the women in the kingdom turn up their noses at you, that still leaves thousands of eligible, attractive woman who would jump at the chance to be your queen. And not just skinny goody-goody types like Princess Alana, either. Lots of women really dig bad guys — you could get a whole harem of hot, leather-and-lace clad goth chicks who not only adore you, but also actually enjoy being evil. God knows, most of them are probably willing to put on all the hot all-girl live sex shows you want! Who’d turn that down?

But no — idiots like Cromwell always fall for the whiney little pale-faced princesses who hate their guts and will turn on them the first chance they get. And if you think this flick’s bad, wait until you see Krull (an upcoming feature). Anyway, rant over… Back to the story.

Cromwell’s almost as jumpy as Talon by this time — he has the terminal hots for the princess and all she’ll do is knee him in the groin. I know some guys who might actually like that kind of treatment of course, but Cromwell isn’t one of them.

To assuage his wounded pride, Cromwell does what every self-respecting evil dark lord does — he heads down to the dungeon to relax with some horrific pain and torment. And his victim is none other than the aforementioned Prince Mikah. There’s also a hot blonde named Elizabeth (WTF???) bringing the Cromster a little snack, but he tells her that this is no place for her. Cromwell obviously has a soft spot for this chick, as her lustrous blonde hair grows almost to her knees, and she seems to be very fond of him as well.

“A life as my consort suits you well,” he tells her, to which she replies with what sounds like a Swedish accent, “I was meant to be yours, my king!” Yes, Cromwell calls her his consort, though in the credits she’s listed as “Cromwell’s whore,” which isn’t necessarily something I’d want in my resume. Whatever she’s called, they’ve got a hot little thing going, since they immediately start snogging.

Nudity! Remember, I promised!

(This is exactly what I’m talking about — the blonde slave girl is a lot hotter than Princess Alana, and she obviously cares for Cromwell despite his penchant for torture and treachery. But he wastes his time chasing after the bony-assed brunette when he’s got a perfectly good consort hanging around in his bedchamber waiting for him to show up in his Legolas costume… God, what a dork…)

Cromwell and Liz’s tender moment is interrupted when Mikah screams and the torturer chuckles. Cromwell untangles himself from Elizabeth and goes over to demand that Mikah tell him where Xusia is hiding.

Mikah of course tells him that he’s been hitting the hash pipe too much, and that Xusia snuffed it a milennia ago. Crom’s having none of this, and insists that Xusia lives still, and is lurking out there somewhere waiting to avenge himself. Cromwell is apparently not as big a dope as he seems.

Below the castle, Talon and his merry band of rogues forge ahead into the darkness, only to find themselves overrun by a horde of cute but hungry rats. As this is a low-budget flick, that’s about as bad as the dungeon-monsters get, but Talon’s buds aren’t exactly high-level dungeoneers, so they run like frightened school girls. Talon takes out the rats with a torch and a barrel of oil (his favorite weapon combo so far), and our heroes press on, breaking into the lower levels of the dungeon a little while later.

Hey baby, what’s your breast… I mean sign?

Again, the rebels prove themselves to be a bunch of NPC hirelings, as they wait behind and get jumped by guards. Further into the dungeon, Talon deals with more of Cromwell’s troopers, disguises himself as a guard (that Talon, full of new and innovative tricks he is) and forces his way into the main prison area, to stirring and herroic music and dramatic camera angles. To Talon’s surprise, the rebels he left behind are already in the dungeon, apparently taken there ahead of him. This speaks well of the efficiency of Cromwell’s guards, but not of Talon’s new friends, I’m afraid.

Meanwhile, the rest of the dungeon’s prisoners are also liberated, and a sad lot they are. Their spokesman is Estar Devereaux (I’m not even bothering to count how many different names and nationalities are in this movie by now) and he claims to have been Cromwell’s accountant.

Actually, I think he said “architect” since he claims to have knowledge of the secret passages of the fortress, but it sure sounds as if he actually said “accountant.” That’s not necessarily bad, after all — if you have control of a guy’s accountant, you have control of his money and stock options. As per usual, Cromwell had Devereaux thrown in jail to protect the castle’s secrets, rather than just having him killed, which is what any reasonable intelligent tyrant would do. If Cromwell goes down in the course of this picture — and my guess is that he will, given the overall storyline — it will be his own fault.

Cromwell is distracted from his whore… err, consort… by news of the prisoners’ escape and hurries off. Unfortunately for Cromwell, Elizabeth proves herself to be a bit more than just the king’s whore, and quickly frees Mikah from his shackles, just as Talon shows up to help. Okay, so maybe I was wrong — Cromwell is just as bad off romancing Elizabeth as he is going after Alana. Both apparently hate him and are willing to risk their lives because of it. The bottom line is simply that Cromwell has no luck with women.

Talon hefts Mikah’s inert body out of the dungeon and hands him over to the rebels. “I owe you,” Mikah gasps.

“No,” smirks Talon. “Your sister owes me.”

Now that’s just what I want to hear when some bloodstained barbarian rescues me from a dungeon. “Hey, don’t bother to thank me — I’m going to go have my sweaty, unbathed way with your sister… Heh-heh.”

This is about as naked as the princess gets,
and anyway it’s a body double.

A couple of the prisoners, including the feeble-seeming Devereaux, choose to stay with Talon, which proves to be a pretty stupid decision, since more guards show up and the heroic Talon chooses to flee the other way. A merry chase through the twisting halls, courtyards and balconies of the fortress ensues, with Talon dispatching numerous guards in the process, including a guy with a classic D20-style spiked chain. Unlike its cheesy RPG equivalent, this weapon avails its wielder nothing, since Talon runs him through while he’s busy spinning the chain up to speed. Talon then flees once more and swings through a convenient window, ending up where else but in the king’s harem, a fine and pleasant place full of naked women, lounging around, dressing, undressing, making exciting underwear, and waiting for the next barbarian lunkhead to swing in through the window.

Of course instead of being horrified and somewhat disgusted at the appearance of a hulking, unwashed thug dressed in reeking animal skins, the women all decide that Talon’s the hottest piece of ass they’ve seen all week, and when the king’s mooks burst through the doors in hot pursuit, the naked harem chicks swarm all over them. Mind you, they could be doing this just because they’re bored and lonely and haven’t seen a man in a while, but that’s unlikely. It’s good old Talon’s natural charisma kicking in, making these women willing to endanger themselves and their positions at court on behalf of a smelly, fur-wearing stranger. Go figure…

Talon then flees from the harem (“Can’t I go back and face just a little peril?”), crosses swords with a few more guards, then as luck would have it, smashes into the very room where Princess Alana is getting her pre-nuptual rubdown.

Hey! That’s not MY ass!

Of course she’s naked, but she’s on her stomach and we never see her buttocks and face in the same shot. One wonders how close the body double came to Alana’s actual ass, but since this is an 80s movie and the actors have all moved on to more profitable pursuits, we may never know. Talon himself only pays passing attention to the princess’ shapely rump (I get the impression he’s more of a breast man, anyway) and once more leaps from a window, plummeting down through the roof of a shed and landing safely in a pile of sacks, apparently all filled with goose down.

Talon gets very little time to enjoy his good fortune before the guards smash through the door and the pursuit starts up again. Yes, this chase is indeed getting tedious, but don’t worry — it will end very shortly.

Talon fights his way out of the shed, clobbering several guards with sacks of feathers (when you hire low-end mooks as your elite guards, you get what you pay for), then runs out into the courtyard and down a flight of steps, fortuitously running directly into good King Cromwell himself.

All along, by the way, there’s been a kind of happy-go-lucky, here-we-go-boys music, but as soon as Cromwell shows up, the mood turns grim and ominous. Talon barks “Who dies first?” but Cromwell’s having none of it and advances, sword drawn.

“Don’t act as if you don’t know who I am,” Cromwell says, then after a long and pregnant pause, continues, “Xusia. It’s your old friend, Cromwell.”

Talon remembers how mercifully Cromwell dealt with his mother, but still stares at the king with a “What the fuck are you talking about, you nutbag?” expression.

Hey, asshole… Before running off to
rescue your captain, how about the
10 gp you owe me?

Still convinced that Talon is actually Xusia in disguise, Cromwell lays into him and Talon defends, only to have his sword knocked out of his hand. I guess Cromwell isn’t such a bad figher after all, but Talon doesn’t give up, grabbing a dagger from a guard and overbearing Cromwell right into the castle moat, where they continue their struggle with a nice vicious knife fight. Talon manages to wound Cromwell, but killing him now wouldn’t be anywhere near dramatic enough, so as Talon gets ready to deliver the coup de grace, the villanous Machelli (remember him?) sneaks up behind and bashes our hero on the head, knocking him out.

Cromwell isn’t too happy with this, and starts to wail on Machelli, but allows himself eventually to be convinced that if Talon isn’t actually Xusia in disguise, he must be “one of Xusia’s demons.” The king eventually accepts the argument, as stupid as it sounds, mostly because Machelli drops into maximum ass-kissing mode. “Forgive me! I mean no disrespect, your majesty,” he says. “I live only to serve the greater glory of your name!”

Yeah, right…

Still disgusted, Cromwell stalks off after sending Talon to the dungeons. Things look black for our hero now, don’t they?

Meanwhile, back in the fleshpots of Ehdan, Talon’s men and the rebels who joined up are distressed to hear that their captain is due to be crucified. The news is bleak enough to stop Darius from boinking his current temporary girlfriend, and he immediately begins to plan a rescue. When another merc comments that there aren’t enough men to storm the castle and save Talon, a muscular black mercenary named Captain Morgan (oh, my god, STOP IT ALREADY!) pops up, leaving behind his current doxie as well, saying that he’ll spread the word to gather an assault force since “half the sea-dogs in this port owe their lives” to Talon.

Once more we marvel at just how popular this shmuck really is. So far he’s done nothing more than beat up a bunch of low-level flunkies, and his only real act of heroism came about because he was promised some hot lovin’ by a skinny princess. I’d love to know more about what Talon did in his previous career to elicit this kind of loyalty. And never fear — it only gets better.

You’re supposed to grab the sword to show
our manly solidarity not stare at it, dude. 

While the men are busy gathering for their suicidal mission, the king’s whore Elizabeth shows up, proclaiming that she was rescued by a heroic stranger with a gauntlet of steel (huh? I don’t recall Talon wearing a gauntlet, but maybe it was flesh-colored or something). I’m not sure exactly how Talon rescued her — in reality she turned traitor on her king, freed his most valuable prisoner, and then buggered off. All the same, she too is touched by Talon’s plight and demands that Darius rescue him. She will lead the good guys into the castle and help them save Talon. You know — that guy with the gauntlet of steel.

Darius and Captain Morgan seem to think this is a good idea. Darius holds up his sword, looks stern and heroic, and looks over at Captain Morgan, obviously expecting him to do the manly warrior thing, and clap his great muscular paw onto the sword hilt. Captain Morgan is apparently thinking of other things, however, and Darius only stares at him for a moment, then disgustedly snaps the sword back and stalks out. Captain Morgan doesn’t take direction well, it seems.

And so, off to glorious battle stride the heroic rebels, the veteran mercenaries and the jolly corsairs…

And one Gilligan cut later they’re all rotting in the dungeon. Bare-chested bravery and manly cameraderie count for nothing if you don’t have a good plan, after all, and Darius’ plan consisted merely of “Okay, we storm the castle, rescue Talon and then… uhhh… we all go get drunk and get laid? Yeah, sounds good. Let’s go!”

See this, whitey? This is what I’m going to
do to your testicles when I get ahold of ‘em!

The two factions — rogues and pirates — don’t seem very happy with each other, each blaming the other for the fiasco… With teamwork like that, it’s no wonder they failed.

As the two factions quarrel, the king’s torturer strides in, glistening like the greased pig that he is. He’ll spare their lives, he tells them, if they confess who sent them on their ill-fated mission.

This offer goes over like a bacon-and-eggs breakfast at the local synagogue, so the now-irritated torturer drags in two more prisoners — Elizabeth and some guy I don’t recognize. They had nothing useful to say, the jailer tells them, so he ripped out their tongues. If the rogues don’t talk, he says, he’ll skin Liz alive in front of them.

Jeez, as if this jerk wasn’t evil enough already… Elizabeth doesn’t like the sound of this, so she grabs the jailer’s sword and stabs herself. Then the other prisoner — the guy who I didn’t recognize — tries to strangle the torturer with his chains. This, just in case any evil overlords are watching, is why you chain prisoners hands behind them and not in front. It doesn’t really matter, since the torturer kills off the poor sap then retreats from the dugeon while the rogues all glare at him and fantasize about taking their revenge with a pair of bolt cutters and a basket full of angry ferrets.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
General Cliff Clavin.

Not to worry — they’ll get even soon enough. It’s a shame, though, since Elizabeth was pretty damned attractive, and it turns out she was more than just “Cromwell’s Whore.” I’m still not sure why she joined up with the winning team, but I guess that secret is lost in the mists of time, along with Talon’s humility and Cromwell’s native intelligence.

Elsewhere in the castle, General Cliff Clavin and his fellow warriors are plotting the final destruction of the rebellion and the overthrow of all the other kingdoms when good ol’ loyal and not-at-all slimy Machelli shows up, announcing that while King Cromwell is indisposed, he has command of all the armies. Now is a perfect time to review the evil plan for those who didn’t take notes earlier.

You see, as we suspected, they plan to close up the feast hall and slaughter all the guests with arrows, thus depriving all the freedom-loving kingdoms of their rulers, sowing the seeds of anarchy, leaving the rest of the civilized world easy pickings for would-be evil overlord Cromwell. Good plan. No one would ever suspect a treacherous usurper like Cromwell of hatching such a scheme, would they? Well, the audience grokked Cromwell’s plan from about twenty leagues away, but the monarchs of the other kingdoms are probably pretty inbred by this time, and aren’t that bright.

We cut quickly to the feast, where the herald announces the arrival of “Their royal majesties, King Leonidas of Minoa (who are often confused with the Spartans), King Ludwig of Galisse (where they make cheap wine and fake leather suitcases), King Sancho of Valencia (where all those oranges come from), and King Charles of the Franks (who make those delicious hot dogs).” With guests like these, the wedding feast is sure to be a cavalcade of whackiness…

Prince Cromwell discovers the only
effective way to shut Talon up.

A standard sword-and-sorcery sit-down orgy of wine swilling and meat-chomping follows, with the requisite semi-naked wenches serving the food and drink, and barbarians rubbing shoulders with foppish renfaire types (unlike the Deathstalker movies, there’s no naked female mud-wrestling, however). All appear to be having a splendid time, despite the ominous shots of guards lurking on the mezzanine above. Maybe it’s the colorful decorations, or perhaps it’s because of the sheer quality and volume of the viands. It might even be because all of the waitstaff are so kind and hot-looking. Kind of like at Hooters, and just as sincere.

However, I think the real reason for the merry and upbeat mood is the festive centerpiece — Talon, gagged and crucified in the middle of the feasting hall. Now that he is unable to deliver any wisecracks or sexist remarks everyone is happy and is finally ready to enjoy the evening.

But all is not well in Ehdan. It seems that not everyone is amused by Cromwell’s choices in interior design.

“Isn’t that Chief Talon?” demands a silver-haired warrior-type, who doesn’t look like the sort to enjoy this kind of entertainment in the first place. He’s one of the kings that just came in, thought I’m damned if I can tell you which one.

From Cromwell and Alana’s
Wedding Album: 
Cromwell was so
handsome in his wedding armor.
Too bad he had to die…

“It certainly looks like him,” replies his companion, another one of those anonymous kings from their mix-n-match countries, and the silver-haired warrior stands to squint toward the crucified victim. Talon doesn’t have the presence of mind to meet his gaze and wink slyly, but that doesn’t really matter. There can’t be two guys who look like that in the kingdom, after all.

“It is him!” declares the warrior guy, who should probably be called “King Declaration.”

“How can that be?” asks the second guy, who I choose to refer to as “Lord Exposition.” “Last I heard he was chieftain of the Black Tribes, helping them to overthrow some slaver!”

Here we go again — the selfish, me-first Talon is once more proclaimed as the great liberator. Damn, I wish I had that man’s PR department…

“We owe that man too much to let him die like some dog at the hands of Cromwell!” says King Declaration.

“But the treaty –”

Damn the treaty! There’d be no kingdoms at all if it weren’t for him!”

Now hang on just a damned minute — I’m okay with Talon having some reputation, but come on! It sounds as if everybody and his brother on this freaking continent owe Talon their lives and freedom. If he had so many buddies, why the hell didn’t he just call them up as an army and storm the castle instead of sneaking in? Oh, well… Fantasy…

So our talky pair agree that they need to rescue Talon even if it means red, bloody warfare and endless slaughter. That’s the spirit, boys…

I’m telling you, Certs is a BREATH mint!

With that, as if on cue, Cromwell and his entourage arrive to the less-than-enthusiastic cheers of the gathered nobles. He’s wearing gold ceremonial armor and looks quite regal, despite the fact that he’s a treacherous, back-stabbing, lying son of a whore who intends to murder everyone. Of course, some of my best friends have been treacherous, back-stabbing, lying sons of whores who intended to murder everyone, but most of them are now dead, so there you are.

Even while the assembled masses are shouting their love and undying loyalty to Cromwell he nods and his archers step up to line the railings and prepare to carry out his evil scheme. In this case, Cromwell should be using his most elite and skilled archers, so the assassins are none other than the Red Dragons — oh, wait a minute… The Red Dragons are all dead. Talon killed them. Cromwell is short on elite archers right now, so he is using his standard crossbow-armed thugs and hoping for the best. I mean, even the average Imperial stormtrooper occasionally hit the side of a barn, at least by accident. Cromwell probably figures that if you shoot enough arrows you will eventually hit something.

Cromwell doesn’t bother to address the cheering crowd, but gazes down upon them imperiously, and then turns to what looks like a Catholic priest, standing in front of a set of Venetian blinds and flanked by twin heart-shaped candelabra. He holds a big ol’ book in his hands, which I guess is supposed to be a bible, but I’m still not entirely clear on when this story is supposed to take place, let alone where, and what religion everyone is. Given the way that they’re pillaging history for names and places, they are probably Chrimoslo-Hindojewddists or something equally weird.

Mawwiage… Mawwiage is wot bwings
us togeder tooday. Mawwiage, that bwessed
awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

Cromwell and Father O’Flaherty now look expectantly off stage left and wait for the princess to put in an appearance. Given her reluctance to participate in this little farce, I was kind of expecting her to be dragged in by a pair of plow-horses and urged along by a whip-wielding ogre, but instead she steps out quite voluntarily, though her face reveals that she’d much rather be wading through waste-deep sewage than heading toward the altar with Cromwell.

I’m not sure where they got the costumes for this epic, given that it’s budget is somewhere in the room temperature range, but dammit the skinny little princess looks hot. Her gown is slit up to the waist and has so much decolletage that several exploratory expeditions were lost in her cleavage. I find myself wondering whether the producer stumbled upon an abandoned costume department under some Egyptian pyramid somewhere, since despite its obvious financial shortcomings, much of this movie is very impressive visually. Well, again, the flick was made a quarter century ago, so we’ll probably never know.

Father O’Malley then bids the happy couple join hands (Alana refuses, but that doesn’t stop old Cromwell for one instant) and intones the following: Rodeo nova nupta, see? I am bidet tum, yet odious nostril beerbong. V-day et parchisi in quart urn beerbong. Rodeo? Is Ari quarter beerbong. Probably no banana. Ooay is arius quartum beerbong. Proteas no banana. Ooay photo et Peejay…

…Or something like that. — it certainly sounds latin, but I find myself wondering if Father O’Brien is just making it up as he goes along. In any event, the priest in The Princess Bride makes this guy look downright competent.

Well, as the priest drones on and on in pig-latin, we pan down to the most unhappy guy in the room — yes, not only is poor Talon gagged and bloodily crucified, he’s also right beneath the balcony where the wedding is taking place, and actually has to listen to every word that the padre says. My own inclination would be to stab salad forks through both of my ears, but unfortunately for Talon he’s crucified and can’t do anything about it.

I think this is the point at which the
costume budget ran out…

Just when everything looks the worst for our heroes, we cut down to the dungeons where Talon’s rogues and the unfortunate buccaneers (of course! They don’t have a ship! That’s why they got captured!) are waiting around for their inevitable and probably extremely painful fate, when three of the half-naked serving wenches from the feast show up, bearing keys.

“Who is here to help the barbarian with the gauntlet of steel?” asks one. Of course, they all say that they’re here for that — hell, if a hot wench with keys jingling at her belt sashayed into my dungeon and asked “Who is here to ride the pink ostritch and challenge the cow-lords of Far Neeblehoffer?” I would reply YES! It is I who shall take up this challenge! then run for the door at the first opportunity.

And one more thing — this is the second time someone has referred to Talon as having a “gauntlet of steel.” Now, after painstaking review of the rest of the film, I cannot find any scene in which Talon is actually wearing a “gauntlet of steel.” If you look closely, in a couple of scenes he’s wearing a little metal half-glove that covers his ring finger and pinky, but that most assuredly does not qualify as a “gauntlet of steel.” Oh, well — more budgetary issues. They could afford fancy costumes, but not an entire gauntlet of steel. I’m also noticing that a lot of the nobles are practically naked — the extras must have shown up late when the costumes were being distributed.

Okay, I’m not even going to bother with a
“nose to the grindstone” joke here.

Well, as deus ex machina go, these gals are pretty pleasant, and in a twinkling they’ve opened up the cells and let the rogues and buccaneers out to wreck havoc upon Cromwell’s carefully-laid wedding plans. Next thing we know, weapons (oddly enough including the amazing Rocketsword) are being distributed, though god only knows where from, since the escaped prisoners didn’t appear to have the ability to storm the armory, but who cares at this point? Bloodshed is imminent!

“Let’s treat the gods [or did he say "guards"] to one hell of a fight!” shouts Murphy Brown’s boyfriend. “FOR TALON!”

FOR TALON!” shout the rest of the rebels.

Jesus please-us, I am getting SICK and TIRED of everyone going on about how cool Talon is and how they’re willing to fight and die on his behalf. I repeat — we haven’t actually seen him liberate anyone, or do any of the things that everyone keeps talking about, and I’m even more convinced that it’s all just a load of propaganda. When the Black Tribes were off overthrowing the slavers, Talon was probably kicking back in some whorehouse someplace, swilling ale and slapping women on the ass. Then after the slavers were defeated, he rode up and said something like “Wow, what a battle! Good thing I was there to lead you!” and being somewhat naive and overly trusting due to their recent liberation, the Black Tribes actually bought it. Same thing for the buccanneers.

Well, before Cromwell feels the sting of defeat, we have one more bit of payback to take care of. The ugly torturer guy is down in his workshop, busily sharpening his knives on a stone grinding wheel while another half-naked wench writhes in chains nearby.

“Don’t worry, little one,” the torturer growls, like most torturers, a really funny guy and a sure hit at parties, “it won’t hurt until I hit the bone.”

Jeez, I wonder what she did. Probably used the wrong fork at dinner or something. They’re real sticklers for etiquette in Ehdan, after all. Overtime parking carries a penalty of death by slow roasting, after all.

From Cromwell and Alana’s Wedding Album:
I was so nervous I couldn’t even talk!
Good thing Machelli was there to help!

Well, Mister Torturer is in for the shock of his life, because Cap’n Morgan is sneaking up behind him, and he isn’t bringing a bottle of rum. Morgan smashes the torturer over the head with a chair and in one of this movie’s zaniest and most hilarious moments jams his leering, glistening bald head down into the spinning grindstone, releasing a geyser of blood and ground-up tissue. I don’t know about you guys, but as for me I laughed ’til I cried.

Okay, now that the comic relief is over with we’re back to the nuptuals, and Father Magillicuddy has finally stopped talking in fake latin, asking in english whether Cromwell takes “this woman” as his bride, queen and mother of his children. Cromwell replies in the affirmative, but as he asks whether Alana is especially enthusiastic about getting hitched to Cromwell, the rebels begin to creep up on the guards while, in the feast hall, the various nobles begin to draw their weapons. Jeez — Cromwell really screwed up when he let his guests keep their swords, didn’t he?

As all this is happening, yet another unlikely occurrence is unfolding up on Talon’s cross. You see, our hero is still pretty damned butch even though he’s got big old railroad spikes driven through his palms, and begins to pull the nails out. Yes, really. Not even Conan could do that — all he did was bite a vulture to death. Now if only Talon can fully decrucify himself before Alana says “I do.”

Fortunately for the good guys, Alana’s vows are considerably longer than Cromwell’s, giving them plenty of time to strategize and deploy.

“Do you, Alana,” says the priest, very slowly and deliberately (I think he knows what’s coming and just wants to drag things out), “daughter of Lord Mogelin, the last heir to the crown of Ehdan, take this man, Titus, Protector of Ehdan, Emperor of Swabia, Castul, Borch, Aragon and Iberia, overlord of Grisha and Keltai and all the northern kingdoms of the west of Aargh, Master of Gouda, Ork, Ur, and all that is right and good, to be your groom, your lover, master, and the faaather of your chillldren?”

From Cromwell and Alana’s Wedding Album:
Talon kept us all entertained, singing 80s hits like
White Wedding. Who knew he was so talented?

God, what kind of vow is that? If you said that to a bride in the real wold, she’d probably run screaming and go join a lesbian commune in Marin County. That’s not likely to happen here, of course, since Alana really doesn’t have much choice in the matter, and it’s very likely that Cromwell wrote the vows without even so much as consulting her (that’s why he’s called the “overlord of all that is right and good” I guess).

(I’d also note because I’m such a history geek that Swabia is in Germany, Aragon is in Spain, Iberia refers to the entirety of the Spanish penninsula, and Keltai may refer to the lands of the Celts, which pretty much covers all of central Europe. Ur was an ancient Mesopotamian kingdom. For the life of me, however, I couldn’t tell you where Castul, Borch, Aargh, Gouda and Ork are, however… It seems that Titus Cromwell’s empire is vast indeed.)

Father MacDuffy manages to drag this out for about 10 minutes, and when he’s done, Alana just stands and stares, wondering why everyone is suddenly looking at her. Meanwhile, guards are getting their throats cut, wedding guests are ready to start killing (I guess they heard that Adam Sandler was going to be the wedding singer later), and Talon — yup, that’s our boy — is busy pulling out the railroad spike that has been driven through his left hand.

(Ever try this? Your hand would come out and leave the nail behind — very messy and really not the kind of thing that will allow you to then grab your rocket sword and start slaying. Traditional crucifixion is through the wrists, not the palms for this very reason, which is why I think stigmata are a load of hooey, since if someone was going to get the same wounds as the big guy, they’d appear in the wrists… Oh, well, enough with the religious theorizing.)

So Talon then spends the next ten minutes yanking out the first nail — apparently Alana is still standing on the balcony, silent as a tombstone, and Cromwell is glaring at her, waiting for her to enthusiastically agree to be his eternal love slave. In the crowd, Lord Declaration is very impressed at Talon’s feat of strength, and as he yanks the nail free, everyone starts moving in slow motion, indicating that something violent is about to happen.

From Cromwell and
Alana’s Wedding Album:

At the reception, Talon set the
dance floor on fire! No, really –
he literally set the dance
floor on fire.

Finally, Alana starts to say “I d…” but of course before this happens, Talon (only one hand free unfortunately) screams “CROOOMWELLL!”, the assembled nobles whip out their swords (and not how you’re thinking, you perverse SOBs), and the lead guard up above shouts, “ATTAAACK!” I guess it’s finally go time.

There’s really not a lot to describe over the next few minutes other than the fact that it’s just another bloody S&S melee. Darius chops a guy’s head in half, Cromwell grabs Alana and buggers off, and Talon casually decrucifies his other hand, allowing him to leap down, take up a sword and –

Now, wait just a shield-biting minute, matey — Talon was crucified. Doesn’t this mean that his feet were nailed to the cross as well? I’m not really sure because we never did actually see his feet, but it sure didn’t look as if he was just hanging there from the nails in his palms. Maybe Talon is so superhumanly strong that he can yank those railroad spikes out of his hands, but how the bloody hell did he get his feet out?

And while we’re on the subject, Talon fully participates in the melee, fighting quite well for a guy with holes in his palms big enough to drop quarters through. As soon as he’s off the cross he isn’t saying (like a normal person would) “OH JESUS! OH FUCK! I’VE BEEN FUCKING CRUCIFIED… JESUS THAT FUCKING HURTS!” No sirree Bob — Talon grabs a big old falchion and begins hacking left right and center. In fact, we never really see any wounds in his hands again — in addition to being a titanic warrior who fights for truth and justice from one end of the world to the other, he’s also gifted with instant healing and is able to just shrug off having big old holes drilled in his hands (and presumably feet) without a second thought. Oh, that Talon… What a guy!

(Come to think of it, maybe his “gauntlet of steel” protected him… No, wait…)

After a few minutes of mayhem, someone knocks over a brazier, the tapestries catch fire and the air instantly fills with smoke, which is the signal to switch back to slo-mo. It’s all very artistic, with silhouetted warriors charging out of the gloom, dramatically swelling music, Talon throwing people over his head, dodging swords, performing intricate gymnastics and dancing the macarena, until finally — it’s that time, folks — Darius throws him the incredible rocket sword (almost entirely forgotten until this moment, remember), he catches it, and sets to with abandon.

While this unholy union of high school gymnastics competition and mook-slaughter proceeds in the dining hall, Darius hustles Alana away, accompanied by the ever-loyal and helpful Machelli. No need to suspect good ol’ Machelli of anything, right? He’s been a pillar of loyalty and friendship throughout the flick, right? Well, wrong, but Cromwell’s not noticing.

Introducing the Ronco Triple Bladed
Rocketsword — it slices, it dices, it peels
and chops! Now how much would you pay?
But wait, there’s more…

Just as they’re doing the usual evil overlord schtick about crushing “these rebel dogs” Talon himself leaps out of the wings, rocketsword in hand, snarling at them like a blood-stained specter. He apparently took the secret passage from the dining hall and cut them off.

Like all sword and sorcery villains before him, Cromwell is irritatingly overconfident. He says, “This will take but a moment,” draws his sword and moves forward (making sure his guards go first, of course).

It’s all the same to Talon. He has the amazing Rocketsword after all, and with a barbaric war cry he swings his mighty weapon (okay, I know what you’re thinking… just shut the hell up) and smashes all the guards’ swords into tiny fragments. Yes, you read that right. The rocketsword also appears to have the Improved Sunder attribute.

It does no good. Despite being unmanned, the guards manage to overbear Talon and knock his sword away. While Cromwell is busy, Machelli frees Alana and they slip away. Cromwell, satisfied that his foe is now doomed, orders his guards to finish him and then runs off in pursuit. Despite his bare-chested heroism and sword-smashing ability, Talon’s goose looks cooked, but a bunch of rebels show up, fall on the guards and pull his fat out of the fire.

Machelli seems to have taken Alana to his own private pleasure-pit, since it’s blue-lit and full of snakes and lizards. Alana begins to suspect that something is amiss, and Machelli confirms it, grabbing her by the throat and declaring that they are awaiting Cromwell, “to end his reign and begin… Mine!”

Oh, crap.. You just can’t trust anyone these days, can you? It never even crossed my mind that Machelli might be playing his own game and setting Cromwell up. How about you, TV audience?

Sorry, Princess — I’ve got a splitting
headache! Yuk, yuk, yuk.

“Mikah is dead, the rebellion is dead,” Machelli continues. “I am the power!” (No, no… the line is “I HAVE the power!”. Of course, that’s only if you’re watching He-Man, and Machelli is definitely not in He-Man’s league.) He offers Alana a chance to join with him and rule Ehdan together — what is it with this woman, anyway? She’s not that good-looking, and is of only average intelligence, yet every man in the movie has the terminal hots for her. And don’t give me that “she’s the last heir to the throne, he must marry her to legitimize his reign” crap, either — you’re an evil overlord! You don’t care about legitimate succession or any of that. What you say goes.

Of course, Alana pretends to agree and then knees Machelli in the groin, though to her surprise it doesn’t have any discernible effect. Machelli grimaces at her, then says (in a deep voice that sounds very familiar), “See me now as I truly am!”

We gaze in awe and wonder as Machelli tears own head in half and slimes all over the place. A moment, and a few moderately-impressive special effects later, Xusia stands there, gloating.

Okay, yeah — we get it…IT WAS XUSIA ALL ALONG! The surprise is total and the shock devastating.

Or at least it’s someone who vaguely resembles Xusia. The original actor, Richard Moll (who played the loveable bailiff Bull in yet another 80s TV series, Night Court) did the opening scenes as Xusia, but was sent to the hospital after having a bad reaction to the costume’s contact lenses. This guy looks a lot thinner, but we can rationalize that by assuming that Xusia went on a crash diet after falling off that cliff.

Before Xusia can gloat too much, Cromwell shows up and Xusia does his remote glowy-red fingers thing, knocking him senseless. Alana starts to flee, but Xusia zaps her, too. While Xusia prepares to take his revenge, a passing snake takes notice of the fallen hottie in her skin-tight wedding gown and crawls closer to make her acquaintance.

Talon impales Xusia…
(Okay, okay, I get it… Stop sniggering…)

Now Talon joins the party and demands that Xusia give Cromwell to him. Poor Cromwell is pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place, since both of his sworn enemies are here, and ready to fight for the privilege of slaying him. His only hope is that they’ll kill each other, or if one of them is so beat up in the coming fight that he can be taken out easily. That’s how it world work in the real world, of course, but this is a fantasy movie so logic doesn’t really count.

Talon just can’t let well enough alone, and tries to attack Xusia, and now it’s his turn to get the red glowy finger treatment. Xusia’s going for a heart extraction here, just like he did at the beginning of the flick, and for a single euphoric moment we think he might succeed, win the battle, take over Ehdan and live happily ever after, but no such luck. Talon painfully raises his mighty, manly weapon and…

(Look, guys — this is your last warning… Fun is fun, but enough with the snide guffaws…)

Anyway, Talon raises the rocketsword, pulls the trigger and makes Xusia shish-kebab. The wizard flies backward into the mists so that we’ll all think he’s dead and he can pull a Jason Voorhees a few minutes later.

Meanwhile the snake continues to get to know Alana, wrapping itself around her throat, but Talon doesn’t care; he’s too intent on his ultimate act of vengeance. Cromwell’s back on his feet and the final conflict has begun. Talon actually evens the odds by firing off the second flying blade from his sword. Cromwell shouldn’t be fooled since, as we learned earlier in the film, these blades regenerate and just because you’ve shot two off, doesn’t mean two new blades won’t be there on the sword a few minutes later.

The two mighty warriors now clash in a fight scene reminiscent of the great battles of sword and sorcery history, such as the fight between Deathstalker and Jarek in Deathstalker 2, between Hercules and King Odius in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and between Timmy and Jimmy in South Park’s “Cripple Fight” episode.

Hey, baby… I just came over from the
set of Hawk the Slayer…

Swords clash, sparks fly, teeth are gritted and muscles flexed. The actual duel consists of one combatant swinging a dozen times or so while the other guy blocks, then the action changes to the second guy swinging while the first guy blocks. As if all this nonstop action wasn’t enough for us, eventually Cromwell manages to break the amazing rocketsword, but Talon pulls a shortsword out of the rocketsword’s hilt and continues to fight (damn! Those swordmakers thought of everything!).

(I will pause a moment here to mention that someone’s sword gets broken by another sword in almost every goddam cheapass sword and sorcery movie ever made. I was truly grateful when the Mythbusters guys devoted an episode to this phenomenon and proved that it really can’t happen. And oh, yeah — Japanese officers couldn’t hack machine gun barrels in half with their katanas, either.)

Now Talon knocks away Cromwell’s sword, but the evil king is in luck — his big old silver staff just happens to be lying on the cave floor beside him, and when he attacks Talon with it, another cute little blade slides out of the end. Despite his other significant shortcomings as king, Cromwell was nevertheless a very forward-thinking monarch, and hid backup weapons all over the castle, including in the privies and the dungeons, for just such situations.

While all this is going on, Alana finally awakens to find herself in the erotic embrace of a giant burmese python — there’s even a rather crass shot of the snake sliding between her legs, in case we didn’t get the director’s intent earlier.

From Cromwell and Alana’s
Wedding Album:
Poor Cromwell… It was such an awful way
to end what should have been the
happiest day of his life!

So (yawn!) Cromwell drives Talon back, then retrieves his sword. Talon tries to use a huge block of granite as a shield, but Cromwell hacks right through it (not bothering to hack at Talon’s legs, which are right underneath him and totally unprotected). Talon flings the rock away just as Cromwell winds up for a grand-slam decapitation stroke, then triggers yet another hidden weapon — a short punching dagger that slides out of his vambrace — and runs Cromwell through with it.

(Okay, okay — enough with the weapons from nowhere… Talon was naked except for a loincloth, and Darius threw him the rocketsword. How did he get his hidden dagger vambrace back? And is this the mysterious “gauntlet of steel”? If so, it still doesn’t look anything like a gauntlet, since gauntlets cover the hand as well as the wrist. It doesn’t really matter, since after fufilling its contractual obligation as the hidden weapon that kills the bad guy, the device once more disappears, never to return.)

Cromwell mugs satisfyingly, blood running from his eyes (why?) and falls to his knees, gazing up at Talon, demanding to know who he is.

“Talon,” replies our hero. “Son of Richard!”

“Aw crap!” Cromwell replies. “I knew it! You asshole!”

No, he doesn’t actually say that, but it would have been cool if he had. He just stares at Talon, chuckles and falls over dead.

Now we’re back to the rubber snake sliding back and forth between Alana’s thighs — definitely not the most appetizing sight in screen history, let me tell you. She struggles with the fake reptile for a few seconds, in a performance reminiscent of Bela Lugosi’s battle with the octopus in Bride of the Monster, then Talon rushes over and slices the poor snake’s head off. Jeez, Talon — it was only being friendly, and you’re such a man-whore I don’t think that you’re in much of a position to play the jealousy card.

Sigh! At last, all is well! The villains are defeated, Talon has won the hand of fair maiden, and now we can –

From Cromwell and Alana’s Wedding Album:
After the reception, we helped dress
wounds and set broken bones. We couldn’t do
much for the dead ones, though. Tee hee!


…And Talon kills him.

Okay, the villains are both really dead now. We can cut to the aftermath of the wedding massacre.

It actually looks more like the Tappa Kegga Brew frathouse after rush week, with the same passed out half-naked women, bandaged heads and dead bodies on tables, except in this case, the college authorities aren’t around to hush up the incident, pay off the police or hire high-priced lawyers to sweep the whole thing under the rug.

Everyone looks pretty exhausted, which is probably why they’re not taking much advantage of all the free booze and food. As the combatants lie around and feel sorry for themselves, Cromwell’s crown falls from above, and our grinning hero appears, the skinny but hot princess on his arm and tells them to eat, drink and be merry.

“Why the long faces?” he asks, and if you look closely you’ll see that his hands are completely healed. And I still don’t see a gauntlet of steel or a punch-dagger vambrace, either.

“Good god,” he bellows, “you’ve snatched the kingdom!” (Heh-heh… he said “snatched”… heh-heh, heh-heh).

Well, that’s enough to make almost anyone forget the night of blood, slaughter and tragedy and the fact that they are surrounded by hundreds of gore-covered corpses! Instantly, the once-dispirited warriors leap to their feet, waving their swords and chanting “Taaa-lon! Taaaa-lon! TAAA-LON!!!” and once more Talon’s overbloated ego is pumped up a little bit more.

Down below, not chanting, but looking grateful anyway, is young Mikah, now true king of Ehdan. He slips the crown onto his head and tries to look regal. At least he looks a lot more butch and masculine than Talon did at the beginning of the movie, so that’s a start.

The movie’s over!
Now I can be in Murphy Brown!!

Alana doesn’t really pay much attention to the fact that her brother has finally won and justice has triumphed. She just looks at Talon and says, “Don’t we have some business to attend to?” Oh, yuck…

“That we do,” smirks Talon, who then slings Alana over his shoulder, grabs a fallen banner, and swings all the way across the dining hall. Mikah looks on approvingly, as if saying to himself, “There goes Talon, the greatest guy ever! Sure, he just wants to pork my sister, but since he helped me regain the crown that was rightfully mine, I guess I’ll let it slide.”

It’s not entirely lost on the audience by this time that Talon is actually the true heir to the throne, and is probably even related to Mikah and Alana in some circuitous fashion, kind of like how Charles and Diana of England were distant cousins. It seems that Talon isn’t the ruling kind, however, and he prefers to be a bloodthirsty mercenary, shunning crowns and riches, while occasionally playing hide-the-sausage with the odd hot princess who may or may not be his close relative.

And god damn… Not only has Talon taken no permanent damage from his crucifixion, he also hasn’t slept in about a week, but is still going to take the lucky princess for a ride on his rocket sword. Talk about recuperative powers…

I guess we’re to assume that Alana gave Talon a night of steamy passions that will live in the history of steamy passion-hood, since the next scene shows Talon, once more bundled up in animal furs, standing atop the same cliff as at the beginning of the movie, still looking like a smarmy, self-satisified jerk.

“So the debt’s been paid, eh, general?” asks Darius.

From Cromwell and Alana’s Wedding Album:
Even though the day actually ended with me
doing the nasty with Talon, it was still the
best day of my whole life! Every girl should
have such a beautiful wedding!

Talon replies “Aye!” and swings up into his horse’s saddle. “And now to Maladon, to save Lambosha’s kingdom!”

Uh, Talon, I hate to tell you this, but while you were running around in the dungeon, lusting after princesses and impaling evil wizards, Lambosha lost the battle, and his head is sitting on a pike outside his former royal palace. That will teach you to schedule your vengeance a little better next time.

At this point, someone rides up and asks to join up with Talon’s merry band. I can’t for the life of me tell you who this guy is, but I guess he’s from earlier in the flick, and has decided that life in Ehdan is too tame. Of course Talon agrees, welcomes him to his merry band of cutthroats and paid killers, then spurs his horse forward, shouting, “Let’s be off! We’ve a battle in the offing, kingdoms to save and women to love!”

(This is another example of the misuse of the term “love,” in that Talon uses the term to mean “We’ve got skinny but hot princesses to blackmail into having sex,” but I guess the meanings of words change over the centuries.)

And so it comes to pass that Talon and his (slightly reduced) band of followers gallop off, dramatically silhouetted against the setting sun, with even greater adventures lying ahead! We know this for sure, since before the credits roll, we’re told to “Watch for Talon’s next adventure – TALES OF THE ANCIENT EMPIRE – coming soon!” At this point, I think it unlikely that this film will ever be made, since by now most of the cast are eligible for social security, but I’m sure it would have been more of the same — rocket-propelled swords, a smirking hero, sycophantic followers, evil wizards and annoyingly incompetent monarchs, along with just enough nudity to make it tolerable.

Wikipedia notes that The Sword and the Sorcerer was actually a victim of its own success. It made a mint at the box office and was the most successful independent film of 1982, which prompted the production company to simply take all the money and shut down rather than invest it in another flick. To me, and all fans of swords and sorcery cinema, this was a crime of epic proportions. Capitalist bastards…

The Sword and the Sorcerer actually follows the standard S&S tropes rather well, and plot-wise it could easily be mistaken for one of the first of hundreds of Conan the Barbarian clones released throughout the 1980s — which in fact it was. This film as also the first — and generally considered to be the best — of the myriad films directed by celebrated hack Albert Pyun, whom the imdb tells us went on to direct MST3K fave Alien from L.A. (with notoriously squeaky-voiced actress/model Kathy Ireland), a really crappy 1991 version of Captain America, the infamous Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Cyborg, no less than four no-budget post-apocalypse flicks in the Nemesis series, and a bunch of other movies you don’t want to see.

A minor revision to my previous assertion — does indeed list Mr. Pyun as making a movie called Abelar: Tales of an Ancient Empire in 2010, this time starring former Hercules Kevin Sorbo, but the plot description sounds nothing like The Sword and the Sorcerer, so it does not appear to be Talon’s long-lost further adventures.

From Cromwell and Alana’s
Wedding Album: 
And my brother
ended up king! It couldn’t have
gone better if we’d planned
it that way!

Pyun is also responsible for directing another infamous work of cinematic excellence: Brainsmasher… A Love Story, starring none other than the great Andrew “Dice” Clay — you remember this guy from the 80s, don’t you? Calling him a sexist, homophobic asshole is an insult to sexist, homophobic assholes everywhere, and his movie career pretty much died stillborn with the laughable The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. 

Unfortunately, the Diceman still wanted to make movies, and turned to Pyun who not only made a really crappy movie, but defamed this site’s webmaster’s hometown of Portland, Oregon in the process (Dice pronounces it “Are-uh-gone”, which drives real Oregonians absolutely insane, by the way). Dice also managed to insult a friend of your humble author while making Brainsmasher here, but that’s another story. This too may be laid at the doorstep of the inestimable Albert Pyun.

And the years have been kind to Mr. Pyun. He’s made up to four movies per year since The Sword and the Sorcerer, and at this time is listed as working on a new film, Cyborg: Rise of the Slingers. His 1997 gangster flick Mean Guns actually has something of a cult following and featured none other than pimp-turned-rapper-turned movie cop Ice T. His biography on IMDB says (and I’m not making this up) “No other film director has been so much vituperated against as Albert Pyun. Frequently compared with Edward D. WOod Jr., they both share a fascination for the bizarre… To define Pyun, we could call him a sort of Jean-Luc Godard from the B (or Z) series.” Scarcely what I’d call a ringing endorsement, but he did actually make one certified hit, and this was it.

This movie’s chief flaw is really its main character, which isn’t Lee Horsely’s fault. He and his fellow 70s and 80s TV actors are more than competent enough to handle, and even shine, in a movie of this nature, since lowbrow barbarian flicks don’t usually require serious Shakespearean actors — witness Hawk the Slayer, which actually had serious Shakespearean actors and still sucked (though in a very awesome way).

It’s Talon who kills the movie for me, actually. Far from sypathetic, he’s arrogant, boorish, overconfident, constantly horny, and obviously has some pretty serious narcissism issues, since he looks like he thinks he’s the greatest thing since bottled beer. In addition, everyone keeps blathering on about what a great guy he is and how they all owe him their lives, even though he only agrees to help Prince Mikah when the princess (Mikah’s sister, remember) promises him a little nookie when the job is done. That the job also involves taking vengeance on his sworn enemy is just icing on the cake and no one besides Talon and Cromwell even know about it. Actually that last part is pretty cool when you think about it, but Talon is still a solid gold asshole.

It’s also kind of odd that no one in this flick notices that Talon has the same name as the prince that Cromwell’s been trying to find for the last decade or so. You’d think that someone would be smart enough to connect the dots… “Lessee… There was a Prince Talon who was about 15 or 16 escaped from Cromwell’s clutches eleven years ago, and now on the anniversary of his seizing the throne, an adventurer named Talon – about 25 or 26 years old — shows up, seeking vengeance on Cromwell, and he carries around a bigass sword with rocket-propelled blades, just like the weapon that Prince Talon used, that disappeared when he fled… Could it be… ? Naaaaaaahhhh!”

Again, the villains get all the good lines. Richard Lynch, yet another prolific 80s TV actor, looks like he had a ball playing the evil Cromwell, and Xusia, though played by two different actors (three if you count Machelli), is an appropriately scheming baddie, lurking in the shadows and playing everyone else against one another. These guys are classic S&S villains, even though neither of them bothered to even thumb through the Evil Overlord Handbook.

It’s now decades later, and most of us have pretty much given up watching…

The names and places, on the other hand, are downright irritating. I have a hard time calling the villain “Cromwell” since the name is so solidly associated with a real, and very famous historical figure. Same with “Darius,” “Leonidas” and other historically-named characters (and while I’m on the subject, I hope to add 300 to this site’s honor roll of the most homoerotic fantasy films ever made, and I can speculate about the deep longing that Xerxes feels for King Leonidas). The script is also full of references to places like Valencia, Delos, Aragon, Swabia, Minoa, and so on, suggesting that the screenwriter just plucked them out of various books and assuned that the audience wouldn’t notice. In most cases, perhaps — but in the case of your humble reviewer, the writer’s evil scheme failed.

So there you have it — another epic sword and sorcery flick, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. We will return again at some point in the unspecified future, to bring you more cinematic sword and sorcery antics — more blood, more sword fights, more evil wizards and, hopefully, more breasts. And now, the ratings:.

Sword and Sorcery Rating:

3-1/2 Broadswords
This is actually what sword and sorcery flicks are all about (and of course it gets points for the title). It’s got an imbecilic, muscular, sexist hero with a bigass sword, a kidnapped princess, an evil wizard, treachery, war, blood, dungeons and at least a few breasts, both male and female. I penalize it a half sword because Talon is such an asshole.

Comedy Rating:

2 Broadswords
Not as funny as I’d like, The Sword and the Sorcerer is indeed largely devoid of humor, intentional or otherwise, but it gets an extra broadsword for the amazing regenerating rocket sword and Talon’s self-decrucifixion scene.

Violence Rating:

4 Broadswords
Blood, sweat, crucifixion, slimy transformations, stabbings, tongue removal (thankfully off-screen) and of course the infamous “nose to the grindstone” scene put this one near the top when it comes to gore-soaked mayhem. .

Titillation Rating:

2-1/2 Broadswords
Topless women in the king’s harem, a few courtesans/serving wenches and Princess Alana’s body double’s ass is pretty much all we get, and even this has a kind of obligatory “oh, well, it’s a sword and sorcery flick so we need SOME T&A” feel to it. There’s actually lots more male nudity in the form of sweaty bare chests and bulging muscles, but even this lacks even any real passion. As for sex, well Talon promises a lot but delivers nothing, which is probably what the princess said. Not the best in this regard, not the worst. At least it has more nudity than Hawk the Slayer.

Awesomeness Rating:

2-1/2 Broadswords
Despite all the good stuff this one still doesn’t quite scale the heights of awesome. I blame this mostly on Talon himself since (as you may have noticed) I think he’s a complete asshole. Gaping plot holes and the fact that EVERYONE except the bad guys seem to think that our hero is all that and a bag of chips penalize this one and make it less awesome than it could be.

In every generation, there is a Chosen One…
No, wait… Sorry, my mistake…

Sarah: I thought you guys love The Lord of the Rings movies.
Bob: Hey, don’t get us wrong. Lord of the Rings is great, but let’s be honest. It’s no Hawk the Slayer.
Dave: Hawk the Slayer is based on sound role-playing principles. Lord of the Rings just got it wrong.
– Knights of the Dinner Table, Special Edition Issue 2, Paperhack Writer

Yeah, right...

This film is actually something of a legend — seen by but a few, talked about by many. It’s the favorite fantasy movie of the Knights of the Dinner Table, and our webmaster vaguely remembers seeing it on television years ago, with images of the Vulcan-eared elf and the rapid-fire crossbow being about the only impressions he has left. And it’s yet another fantasy flick starring the great Jack Palance, best known for his ominous, breathy delivery and the fact that he did one-arm pushups at the Academy Awards when he was in his 70s.

So now, through the magic of DVD, Hawk the Slayer can at last come back to our living rooms and dens, bringing with it a hint of glories long-gone and the whiff of…

Okay, hold it right there... None of that sexy stuff now... This is "Hawk the Slayer"!

Well, the whiff of ultra-cheap filmmaking if the truth must be known. Hawk the Slayer was made on a shoestring budget with a crew of British television actors and other unknowns (save Jack Palance, who would probably have acted in a documentary about fruit flies if the price was right), a story so simplistic as to be nonexistent, and special effects that must be seen to be believed. The whole thing has a kind of desperate, sinking-ship quality to it that actually drains joy from the room when it’s shown. My understanding is that Hawk the Slayer actually formed part of the tortures that were inflicted on Iraqi POWs at Abu Ghraib prison, and that the U.N. is currently investigating this as a potential war-crime.

The first thing we see is a title card, with voiceover for those who have forgotten how to read (see graphic). Unfortunately, the motion picture that follows fails to live up to the exciting buildup, for it apparently takes place in low-rent fantasy land, where people can’t afford to actually live in houses and special effects are created by raiding the local toy store.

Through the night strides a black-robed figure with a very silly helmet that looks like something the Phantom of the Opera would wear. It’s none other than veteran actor Jack Palance, at the height of his career, playing the wicked warlord Voltan. To show how evil he is, Voltan dresses all in black, wears the afore-mentioned silly helmet and knifes a guard for no reason. He then strides into a chamber that looks as if it was decorated by a Mafia don, complete with a bubbling purple pool and gilded gold gargoyles. There sits Voltan’s father, an inoffensive looking guy who probably never hurt anyone in his life.

Heeeeeeeere’s Voltan!

Voltan’s not cut of the same cloth, however, and immediately demands that his father give him the “Key to the Ancient Power.” He threatens to give him the chop if he doesn’t, but as we all know, that never works, and dad refuses.

“The Key to the Ancient Power must never fall into the hands of the devil’s agent,” he replies. Jeez, dad — that’s a pretty cold tone to take with your eldest son, even if he is dressed like a dimestore Darth Vader.

Meanwhile, our hero, Hawk the Slayer, rides to the rescue, then starts pounding on the door. As always in this movie, Hawk proves to be a day late and a dollar short, since Voltan makes a shish-kebab of his father, then flees before Hawk can burst through the door.

A few words about Hawk. He’s played by John Terry, who looks a bit like a young John Cleese, and went on to a fairly successful movie and TV career. I guess his biggest movie role was as Felix Lieter, James Bond’s American buddy in The Living Daylights, he was in the current hit miniseries Into the West, he played Charles Thieriot, publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle in David Fincher’s Zodiac, but he’s probably best known to American viewers as Christian Shepherd, the alcoholic father of Dr. Jack in the series Lost. Fortunately for the good Mr. Terry, no blame can be attached to him for Lost’s unsatisfying, dumbass, brain-dead ending.

This proves that Mr. Terry is no slouch (he is particularly good in Lost), so I think he can be forgiven for his wooden performance in this monstrosity. I kept expecting him to say something like “I am Sir Lancelot of Camelot and I seek the Holy Grail,” but he never does, which is a real pity. In any event, he’s as American as Apple Pie, and both he and Voltan stick out like sore thumbs among the crowds of extras and supporting characters who mellifluously spout the King’s English.

As this was one of Terry’s first roles, he was probably still honing his craft somewhat, and it shows. Hawk doesn’t inspire confidence; in fact, I think that Ridley from Dungeons and Dragons could probably spank his ass given the chance, but the world of Hawk the Slayer is filmed on a much lower budget than that other movie, so Hawk is probably safe. He’s Voltan’s younger brother, by the way, and the guy that Voltan just stabbed is his beloved old dad.

Hawk finds his dying father, and his face is contorted with… Well, it actually isn’t contorted at all, since Hawk has only one expression. It doesn’t matter whether his father’s dying or he’s ordering a plate of sausages, he looks exactly the same and speaks with about the same cadence.

The last elfin novelty Easter egg.

Dad doesn’t care about this, however, as he loves his boy no matter how wooden an actor he may be.

“The prophecy is fulfilled, my son,” he says (what prophecy?? I’m all confused). “The evil I’ve spawned will now pollute the land.”

You know, if this is the way his father talks about him, it’s no surprise that Voltan’s a little antisocial. How would you feel if your own father told you that you were “the devil’s agent” and describes you as “the evil I’ve spawned.” God knows, if my dad had talked that way about me, I might not have turned out to be the paragon of goodness that I am today.

Dad bids Hawk to hurry as “the coldeness of death is in my limbs,” telling his young non-murdering son to fetch the “elfin mindstone”, which looks something like a glowing lump of silly putty (only the first of many toystore-level special effects in this flick). Hawk contemplates the stone, and it magically levitates, floating to the hilt of the nearby magical mindsword, where the hand-shaped pommel opens up, grabs it, then closes again. Presto, Hawk now has the most kickass magical weapon around. It’s almost worth dad getting ganked.

(By the way, the pommel of the Mindsword, before it grabs the elfin mindstone, looks for all the world like the “Anal Intruder” device from the movie Top Secret… Probably best not to put too much thought into that, however.)

His work done, Hawk’s father dies, and Hawk — big surprise — swears vengeance on Voltan. And he’s got even more reason to bring the big smackdown on his brother, as we learn (in painful detail) later in the flick.

You’re a lousy son, Hawk, but right now you’re all I’ve got…

And with this tragic event, we launch into the rousing adventures of Hawk the Slayer! Or at least the credits, which open with a big animated hawk flying straight into the camera lens. Too bad Hawk the Slayer wasn’t filmed in 3-D or the whole audience would duck.

Most of the movie takes place in the woods. Hawk’s world seems to be a pretty primitive one. Certainly, it’s a place where interior shots are very expensive and hard to do, since there appear to be only a handful of actual buildings in the entire world — including the abbott’s castle (a none-too-convincing matte shot) and the nuns’ abbey, where all the scenes take place in the main dining hall. Oh yes — there’s also a cave, where the blind sorceress’ spinning rings of magic send Hawk to various locations to collect his old companions. I suppose the interior of Voltan’s command tent counts as an interior as well, but only barely.

As for the rest of the movie, everything takes place out of doors. Hawk, Voltan and their friends spend a lot of time wandering around in the woods. No one ever goes inside, since there doesn’t seem to be anyplace to go. Even the tavern, where later in the film Voltan struts around and chops up bread with his broadsword, seems to be an entirely outdoor establishment. Here, blacksmiths set up shop in the middle of the road without benefit of doors, roofs or walls. Here, the dark lord who threatens the world sits in a small and cramped-looking tent and apparently doesn’t actually own any real estate. The whole world looks dank and foggy, and everyone looks as if they’re freezing to death.

So, on with the movie. In an interesting twist on normal cinematic structure, the prolog we’ve just seen is followed by a second prolog, in which an old, grizzled, wounded mercenary type named Ranulf staggers through the forest (yup!) and at last finds refuge in an isolated abbey, where the nuns of the Sisterhood of the Holy Word (and would that holy word be ni, peng or neeeeeeee-wong?) nurse him back to health.

Welcome, good sir knight. Welcome to Castle Anthrax!

And lo and behold both Ranulf (veteran Brit actor William Morgan Shepherd) and the nuns, led by the capable Abbess (Annette Crosby, who provided the voice of Galadriel in the animated Lord of the Rings and played Grannie Weatherwax in the BBC version of Terry Pratchett’s Weird Sisters) deliver their lines deftly and professionally, like the experienced thespians they are. The amount of good acting wasted in this film is unbelievable.

Mr. Shepherd is likewise well known for other stuff, including a lot of video game voice acting. He played Major Isaac Trimble in both Gettysburg and the far more boring Gods and Generals, but he may be most beloved by cult TV fans as Blank Reg in the gone-but-not-forgotten cyberpunk series Max Headroom. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a Gencon several years ago and found him very charming, very funny and very British.

Ranulf’s recovery proves struggle, since he’s lost his left hand, but heeventually recovers enough to tell the mother superior what happened. In his delerium, the abbess says, he “spoke of many things. Some so terrible they passed our understanding.” Hm. He must have been discussing Hawk the Slayer’s special effects budget.

His village, he says, was destroyed by raiders led by “the devil himself.” At first, I wondered why his village was so important that the devil actually took time off from his normal duties to destroy it, but then I realized what when he said “the devil himself,” Ranulf actually meant “the lamest evil dark warlord in screen history”, aka Voltan. And here we thought Voltan was only the devil’s agent…

Voltan was forced into the evil overlord business when his audition to replace Michael Crawford as the new Phantom of the Opera ended in disappointment.

Well, right on cue, Voltan shows up, only in this scene he’s riding to a creepy-looking cave, where he stands outside, throws his arms wide and does his best impersonation of a singer from Up With People, demanding an audience with the evil wizard who lives in the cave. “You promised me ALL,” he declares, “in retuuurn for myyyyyyy…. SWORD ARRRRMMM!”

With an entrée like that the evil wizard (who remains unnamed) lets Voltan in. His wounds are causing him incredible pain, Voltan says. Has the evil wizard got a more effective pain reliever than regular aspirin?

Rather than break into a spiel for new, improved Advil Extra-Strength, the wizard replies that he can’t do much for him, as the wound is beyond his ability to heal. He can relieve the pain for a while, he tells him, and then zaps Voltan with a very bad special effect — which, in this movie, simply means “a special effect.”

Well, after this refreshing experience, Voltan is all set to go out and conquer the world. After all, he has a black tunic, a Darth Vader-type helmet that covers one side of his face, a nasty-looking sword, and an army of… Well, maybe ten guys, but who’s counting? So, the diabolical warlord who is known to his foes as the devil himself is apparently short on cash, since his first evil act is to raid the abbey and kidnap the mother superior, holding her for a 2,000 gold piece ransom.

A measly 2,000 gp? Hey, I know this movie was made in 1980, when a gold piece went farther, but only 2,000? Voltan, ya gotta think big! Don’t kidnap the mother superior from an isolated abbey, which is apparently the only real building for 100 miles or so. Go for some local merchant or his daughter, or a prominent politician — those guys have the bucks. Nuns don’t have two coppers to rub together.

It’s only a matte painting…

Oh well… Voltan may have been planning to start small and work his way up, eventually kidnapping someone who could come up with more than 2,000 gold pieces. But then we’ll never know, since in the end Voltan proves incapable of pulling off even this lowbrow scheme.

Voltan is asssisted in his petty extortion scheme by his son, Drogo, who is a walking, talking argument for birth control. With a father like Voltan, it’s no wonder the kid grew up slightly bent, but apparently Voltan didn’t even bother to instill Drogo with anything resembling common sense or intelligence. He mostly stalks around spitting at people and trying to win his father’s love, which of course is impossible given that his father about as much love and compassion as a grand inquisitor interrogating a suspected heretic.

So Voltan, Drogo and their inept minions walk off with the Abbess. Poor Ranulf gets worked over again, but survives long enough to ride forth to beg assistance from the high abott, who lives on the other side of the misty forest in a big castle that looks like a matte painting.

The abbott, played by Harry Andrews, another British veteran who’s been in every movie ever made, can’t really give Ranulf much help. End of the year, dontcha know? Lots of paperwork, lots of new monks to train and give their orientation sessions… However, the abbott does know of one person, a mighty warrior who fights for good, who might be able to help.

God, first Deathstalker, now this…
I gotta get another agent.

“By what name is this warrior called?” Ranulf asks.

The abott pauses dramatically.

“He is called… CONAN THE CIMMERIAN!”

No, not really. It’s just Hawk the Slayer.

Yeah, I know it’s a lame joke and I’ve used it before, but I have wordcount to fill here…

Since Hawk’s the only name that the abbott is ready to give up, Ranulf shrugs his shoulders and rides out in search of his champion.

Now, we have our second introduction of Hawk, who rides through picturesque forests, past streams bubbling with dry ice, past an unfortunate reticulated python who seems horribly out of place in the English countryside, over hill, over dale, and toward adventure while his catchy synthesizer-generated theme song plays in the background. The song sounds vaguely Moody Blues-ish, making me wonder if Justin Hayward or someone was involved in this film under a pseudonym.

Before we can go back and check the credits, however, Hawk’s attention is riveted by a scream and the harsh laughter of a couple of yokels, who have captured an unfortunate woman and are going to burn her as a witch.

“How do you know she’s a witch?” Hawk asks.

“She turned me into a newt,” says one of the yokels. “It got better.”

Sorry, sorry… Monty Python keeps creeping into this thing. Probably because of that snake.


Actually, they claim that she cast a spell on one of his hogs, but she claims she was only trying to help. The yokel starts to set the fire alight, but Hawk stops him. Personally, I’d have believed the woman too, since she’s much better looking than the yokels.

So the fight begins, and is over just about as quickly, since Hawk has a kickass magic weapon, and the bumpkins only have a crappy bow and a rusty sword. The bow guy proves to be the sensible one — he runs, while the second dares to cross swords with our hero. To Hawk’s credit, he gives him every chance, and only wastes him when he tries to stab Hawk in the back. Hawk rescues the witch-woman, who takes him to her cave and…

Well, if this were a Conan flick we’d know “and what,” but there’s no hint of sex in this entire movie. Instead, she reads Hawk’s future, telling him to go find Ranulf, who’s gotten himself into another bind. Hawk agrees, and takes off, riding through the forest in slow motion to music that sounds as if it was lifted from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.

Poor Ranulf is indeed in trouble. He’s been waylaid by bandits, who tie him to a tree and are about to use him for target practice when Hawk shows up and — you guessed it — scrags the bandits, then sets Ranulf free. I don’t know how Hawk gets there so fast, since every time he rides his horse he does it in slow motion, but he does manage the task in the end.

So far as a warrior, Hawk has no peer. Maybe it’s because his foes are confused and think his sword is an Anal Intruder or something. In any event, the Mindsword seems like a pretty butch weapon, since he can actually throw the damned thing and hit people with it.

The shortage of buildings in the Hawk universe seriously affected the tavern industry, and forced all patrons to drink and dine outside, regardless of the weather.

Ranulf tells Hawk that he’s been looking for him, and the two join forces, determined to rid the world of the evil of Voltan. Perhaps “evil” is too strong a word to use regarding Voltan, however… “Annoyance” might be better. Whatever, they agree to take Voltan down and we’re off to the races.

“Innkeeper!” bellows Voltan, striding up to what must be the strangest inn/tavern in all the realms of fantasy. Like most other locations in this movie, it’s entirely out of doors. I stayed at an outdoor inn once. I called it “camping.”

So the innkeeper comes bustling up to see to Voltan’s needs. It’s none other than Roy Kinnear, a familiar face to fans of old British comedies. He always played the overweight, bumbling, slightly confused comic relief, and was Verucca Salt’s father in Willie Wonda and the Chocolate Factory (of the two movies made, it’s the good one with Gene Wilder, not that bizarre Tim Burton/Johnny Depp thing from a few years ago)He gained considerable notoriety playing Planchet in Richard Lester’s The Three and Four Musketeers, and quite tragically died in an accident during the filming of the sequel, The Return of the Musketeers.

The babbling innkeeper is no fool, and tells Voltan that a one-armed man is looking for him (fortunately this movie takes place in the distant past, so Voltan doesn’t make any Fugitive jokes). Evidently, this is all that Votan needs, as he turns around and is about to leave, when Drogo sticks his nose into things and screws everything up completely. Get used to it.

“Animals!” Drogo snarls at the two tattered mercenaries who are busily chowing down at a nearby outdoor table. “When you are in the presence of Voltan, you do not continue to eat! Nor do you sit on your greasy backside!”

Voltan’s expression says, “Hey, kid, I’m the dark lord here. Don’t do me any favors,” but since Drogo’s opened the door, Voltan feels he has no choice but to walk through it.

Hawk and his girlfriend in happier days. This scene made me sad, cuz she kinda looks like this chick I really liked, who told me she just wanted to be friends right after we went to the Van Halen concert, and then I went out and got drunk.

The bald mercenary speaks up, even though his companion looks as if he wants to keep mouthing “Shut up! SHUT UP!”, saying that he rises for no man, since he’s a proud slaver of the River Shale and doesn’t like other people ordering him around.

Voltan’s somewhat impressed, since he turns around and slams the flat of his sword down on the table. He likes a man with spirit, he declares. Then, to show just how much he really likes them, he kills the quiet guy, and then has the bald guy’s tongue cut out.

Gods… How does Voltan treat you if he doesn’t like you?

Hawk and Ranulf discuss the ramifications of going after Voltan. There really isn’t much to discuss, since it’s obvious that a pack of Girl Scouts armed only with cookies could take Voltan and Drogo down with relative ease. Voltan might have a chance if the Girl Scouts’ hands were tied behind their backs and they were covered with bees, but otherwise he wouldn’t last five minutes.

Ranulf asks if Hawk’s ever crossed swords with Voltan before. Funny he should mention that, because the focus then gets all soft and blurry and suddenly we’re in a flashback.

Hawk and his snuggle muffin, Princess Eliane, have slipped away from their wedding festival to snog in the bushes, but their intimate moment is interrupted by the appearance of Voltan, who strides out of the hedges, his black Darth Vader helmet clasped under his arm. We assume that it doesn’t have the part that hides half his face, since he looks like Jack Palance in all his unscarred glory.

Voltan’s the whiney, petulant type, since the first thing he does is complain about how this is supposed to be his wedding day, and he’s supposed to be marrying Eliane. Well, that’s a stroke of luck, since Hawk is marrying Princess Lucky…

Well, no, not really… He’s marrying Eliane, and Voltan is fit to be tied. He feels that since he’s been in a lot more movies than Hawk, he deserves a shot at her, and when she insists that she actually prefers Hawk, she shows that she doesn’t have a lot of faith in Jack Palance’s acting skills.

“While I fought alongside our father, you were here,” Voltan insists, “turning her love for me to hate with your silver tongue.”

(Okay, Voltan, that’s waaay too much information.)

You have a lovely face, Voltan, but some hideous scar tissue would look great right about… here.

“You were a friend,” Eliane tells the distraught Voltan, “nothing more. I love your brother as he loves me. Can you not find happiness in your heart for our marriage?”

Ouch! Two-point burn. Voltan’s reaction to this, however understandable, is just a little bit out of line. He stalks off, growling “You were mine once, and will be again! Take care, little brother… watch for me in the night” while a samisan plays ominiously.

“He has changed,” Eliane says. “His mind has turned in on itself.”

Well that’s how some guys react when you sleep with them, then pull the “we’re just friends” crap, so you really shouldn’t be all that surprised, princess.

Back to the present, as Ranulf practices with his rapid-fire crossbow.

An analysis of the film’s visual effects is probably overdue by now. Some B-films are truly impressive. They overcome their limited budget with clever camera tricks and inexpensive effects that rival those seen in far more lavish movies. Hawk the Slayer is not one of those films. Spell effects are depicted through the use of various toy items, including those two rotating ring things that you see on used car signs, silly string and huge numbers of glowing superballs. While this is bad, it’s nothing compared to how the deadly missile weapons of Ranulf and Crow the elf (see below) are portrayed.

Ranulf carries the world’s first self-loading, self-cocking crossbow, a device unrivaled until its reappearance in that king of bad monster movies, Van Helsing. Only in this case, the dramatic effect of multiple crossbow shots is accomplished by loading the crossbow, shooting it, stopping the film, cocking and reloading, then starting the film again. Repeat this process five or six times and you’ve got one very silly-looking weapon.

What the hell IS that thing, anyway?

Crow’s mighty longbow is depicted in similar fashion. Remember that cool scene in Fellowship of the Ring where Legolas is pulling arrow after arrow after arrow out of his quiver and rapid-firing them, taking down orc after orc? Well, this is nothing like that scene.

Once more, the filmmakers use the old stop-the-film and reload technique, so that Crow never actually releases his bow. You see a drawn bow with an arrow loaded, then suddenly the arrow disappears and another takes its place, and another and another and another. Then, inexplicably, all of Crow’s enemies fall over, white-feathered arrows sprouting from their chests and necks.

When Ranulf is finished showering innocent trees with crossbow bolts, Hawk suggests that it’s time to get going. There is one who can help them in their quest, but the way to him lies (for some reason) through the Forest of Wier. The surest route, he tells Ranulf, is often the most dangerous. Try to make sense of that statement if you can.

They ride to a cheap-looking stone archway, through which, Hawk says, the forest will be dark as night, but the power of the Mindsword will light their way. They ride through the gate and — gasp! — disappear! Suddenly, they’re transported into a strange and eerie landscape lit with green stage lights and hung with Halloween-style cobwebs. In the distance we hear screaming (possibly one of the actors killing the casting director), while Hawk tells Ranulf of the allies he plans to recruit — Gort, a giant from the mountains at the edge of the world; Crow, an elfin bowman from the Silver Forest “now burnt and blackened” (the elf is burnt and blackened? Poor guy…) and a balding dwarf from the Iron Hills…

In this week’s episode, Hawk the Slayer is the target of a deadly game of ring-toss.

No, wait. I misunderstood. Hawk actually says “Baldin, a dwarf from the Iron Hills” (obviously not to be confused with Dain of the Iron Hills from Tolkien, huh?). It’s an easy mistake to make.

The conversation is interrupted by some shots of evil creatures that resemble muppets drenched in Ultraslime. Hawk observes that the neighborhood has changed and urges Ranulf to run. They gallop safely from the forest none the worse for wear, leaving us to wonder why it was so threatening in the first place.

Hawk and the R-man return to the wizardess’ cave, and she casts a spell that conjures a couple of ring-type thingies that spin around Hawk like an advertising display at a used car dealership. This spell, she says, will transport Hawk to his allies and, if they prove willing to join up, transport them back to the cave. That’s damned convenient, if you ask me.

First, Hawk is transported to go find Gort the giant. The giant doesn’t waste any time, but shows up in the next scene, swilling beer and then fixing a cranky merchant’s broken-down wagon in exchange for booze and money. The poor giant has certainly come down in the world, being reduced to such sad menial labor.

Gort is, by the way, played by ANOTHER experienced British actor, Bernard Bresslaw, who found fame in the old “Carry On” comedy series and as the leader of the Ice Warriors in one of the great lost Doctor Who serials. Of special interest to us, he also played Rell the Cyclops in Krull before passing on to the lands of heroes in 1993.

When the merchant welshes on the deal, Ranulf re-breaks the wagon and leaves the sniveling bastard demanding justice from a group of armored mercenaries who just happen to be huddled around a campfire nearby. Even though they saw the whole thing (and Gort is obviously in the right), they’re obviously a bunch of antigiantites, and tell Gort to clean up the mess.

Gort the Giant… He was always picked on by the other giants due to his short stature.

You probably know where the rest of the scene is going. Gort refuses, tells them where to stick it, the mercenaries attack and, well… They kill him and put his head on a pike as a warning to others.

Oh, hell no! What kind of a bad S&S movie would this be if that happened? Of course, Gort beats the living crap out of the mercs and then, as he’s about to give the same treatment to the sniveling merchant, Hawk shows up and beckons.

Now if that had happened to me – one of my old D&D-playing buddies appearing out of the mist, beckoning to me — I’d run rapidly in the other direction. Not so Gort, who spares the sniveling merchant (“Consider this the luckiest day of your life, toad”) and goes with Hawk.

The two exchange a meaningful glance, vanish in to the mists, and are transported back to the wizardess’ cave.

“Next,” she whispers, “the elf.”

Cut to, yes a misty forest scene, where a blacksmith pounds away on a set of arrowheads, then brings them to a mysterious, robed figure, who sits atop a log, stringing his longbow.

Okay, here we go again… No buildings. This blacksmith apparently set up shop in the middle of the woods. Don’t bother with a forge, water bath or any other accoutrements of a good blacksmith. Just put your anvil down any old place and start pounding. It all goes to show that if you’re going to be a successful fantasy businessman, you should make sure you’re in a movie where they can afford at least occasional interior shots.

This film is… highly illogical.

The robed figure is observed by two more english-accented extras, who agree that he is a strange individual indeed. Of course, they’re plotting to scam him and steal his gold, and persuade the blacksmith to pack up his wares and leave, while they focus on the robed guy who is now fitting the new points on his white-shafted arrows.

“Might I inquire if you are bound for the tournament at Brackley?” asks the bumbling, pudgy guy. “Permit me to introduce ourselves. This is Ralph of Coggerthall (at least that’s what it sounds like he says), master bowman, and I am his humble companion, Fitzwalter.”

Ralph and Fitzwalter. Two names sure to fill everyone with confidence.

“To whom have I the pleasure of speaking?” Fitz asks, causing the robed figure to lower its hood, revealing a somewhat Spock-like elf.

“Crow,” the elf replies. No relation to that gold robot-guy on MST3K, hopefully…

Crow is, by the way, a barrel of laughs. He’s probably supposed to be distant and grim, troubled by the passing of his race, and eager for the sweet release that only death will bring, but he delivers his dialog like a Cylon warrior who’s taken too much Nyquil.

Eventually, of course, Ralph and Fitz manage to persuade Crow to enter into an archery contest.

It’s… hard… to keep… holding this… arrow here… until we… finish… the shot… Arrrrgh…

“He wastes… his time… and mine,” Crow replies, to which Ralph replies by shooting an arrow at his feet.

With a challenge like that on the table, Crow accepts and the two set up for the big ol’ shooting contest. Unfortunately for Crow, Fitz’s job is actually to sneak up behind him and slit his throat (shouldn’t he have bonuses to Perception rolls because he’s an elf?), and he’s about to do just that when — you guessed it — Hawk shows up and interrupts their fun.

Hawk urges that the contest continue and, of course, Crows kicks Ralph’s ass and takes the gold. Ralph doesn’t like this and again challenges Crow. No fool, Crow has seen what a putz Ralph is, and agrees; Fitz counts them down from three, Ralph draws his arrow and…

So after Crow has killed Ralph, he walks off into the mist with Hawk, returning to the cave of the spinning novelty rings.

“One more and we are complete,” the wizardess says. “The table of five. The dwarf.”

The what? The Table of Five? What the hell does that mean?

Oh well, she casts the spell and hawk vanishes in to colored smoke yet again, to go and find his friend the dwarf.

The dwarf. Ah, the dwarf. After suffering through Bakshi’s LotR and Dungeons and Dragons, I didn’t think that movie dwarves could sink any lower. If it hadn’t been for the portrayal of Gimli in the Jackson LotR I might have thought that dwarves were all six feet tall and wore helmets with horns on them. To give Hawk credit, the dwarf in this film is, indeed, much shorter than the other characters. He’s also much skinnier and frailer, which goes pretty much against the grain of how fantasy dwarves are supposed to be portrayed. Baldin is slender, delicate, mischievous, eats a lot and enjoys a good practical joke. In short, he’s not really a dwarf, he’s a goddamn halfling. I suppose you could also make the argument that he’s really a gnome, but I’ve always had a hard time telling gnomes and halflings apart anyway.

These priests find the dwarf almost as annoying as we do…

But no, in the script he is Baldin, dwarf of the Iron Hills (obviously a cousin of those dwarves in The Hobbit). He laughs, he prances, he plays pranks on the giant, he eats raw fish, and he’s obviously intended to be the comic relief. Well, unlike Snails in Dungeons and Dragons, this comic relief is not odious, and is occasionally actually funny, so I’m willing to forgive the filmmakers their clear violations of dwarven tradition.

Baldin starts off the movie in trouble. He’s tied to a raft, while on the shore, a bunch of white-robed priestly types armed with bows and flaming arrows chant, “Hose-a-me! Hose-a-me!” which probably means “Get ready for dwarf flambe,” as they are preparing to shoot him with the flaming arrows and allow his ashes to join with the holy waters of the lake.

This strikes me as a cermony of somewhat dubious merit, as I really wouldn’t want Baldin’s ashes anywhere near anything I considered sacred. What they probably heard is that dwarves take half damage from fire, and so assumed that this meant dwarves actually burn twice as long. In any event, before they can put their theories into action, Hawk shows up and dissuades them from playing Baldin barbeque.

Baldin frees himself and swims for shore while Hawk argues religion with the priests. He offers that his predicament is because of a tavern brawl, in which he got koshed on the head by a salty wench and woke up to find himself here. He then catches a fish with his whip (where’d he get that thing?) — yes, with a whip — and proceeds to eat it, in the words of Gollum, raw and wriggling. Are you sure this guy isn’t a halfling in disguise?

Apparnetly Hawk feels that raw fish consumption is a necessary attribute among his boon companions, and so carries Baldin back to the cave of the spinning ring thingies.

God, please don’t do what I think you’re going to do with that fish…

Okay, so we’ve finally gotten the old gang together, and Hawk tells them that they’ve got a heavy task ahead. The others lament that the old days are gone forever, so if they die, what the hell? They decide to raise the 2,000 gp that Voltan is demanding by stealing it from the slavers down the River Shale. Hawk says that even if they do manage to get the ducats, he has reason to distrust Voltan, triggering another flashback to happier days. No big deal — just Hawk and Eliane wandering through the garden, when all of a sudden Voltan shows up, pointing a crossbow at them. Then, back to Hawk.

“Tomorrow at first light, we ride for the church at Caddenbury,” he says grimly. Now, it sounds like he says “Cadbury,” which would probably interest the dwarf, since if that were the case, there would probably be chocolate.

As the stirring Hawk disco anthem plays, the five companions ride for the aforementioned church of chocolate. There’s some comic relief here, too, as the human/elf contingent ride fine chargers, while the dwarf bumbles along on a donkey. Yuk, yuk. No self-respecting dwarf I’ve ever roleplayed would ever even ride a donkey. King Ulrak the Spherical tried to breed special “battle-sheep” as riding beasts, given that simply walking up stairs tired him out. The creatures were indeed fearsome, but when they were first used in battle, they stopped and, despite their riders’ best efforts, began grazing in a meadow only a few paces from ferocious goblin wolf-cavalry. The goblins feasted on mutton that night, I understand.

So the companions arrive to the enthusiastic welcome of the nuns, who are now under the tentative management of the abbess’ lieutenant, Sister Monica. She figures that the Abbess is as good as home, since of course Hawk is going to get the gold, and presto!

Not so fast, Hawk says. “I know Voltan as well as I know myself.” Oh god… another flashback.

After menacing Hawk and Eliane, Voltan holds the princess by the hair and has pinned Hawk to a tree wth a crossbow bolt.

Take that, you mean ol’ evil warlord!

Nyahaha!” he laughs. “The next one will send you to hell, little brother! What sweet revenge to tell our whining, geese loving father of your death!” (Actually, I think he meant “peace loving,” but Jack’s enunciation is a little unclear). “Then he will heed my bidding!” He yanks Eliane to her feet. “LOOK WEEEELLLLL, LITTLE BROTHER! The last thing you will see is the woman you love IN MYYYYY ARMS!”

Okay, okay. For overacting, he’s no Jeremy Irons, but come on. The guy has taken gloating to a whole new level. In addition, Voltan still hasn’t checked out his Evil Overlord Handbook, since he hasn’t just killed Hawk, but stopped to taunt him before the end. It proves Voltan’s undoing, as expected.

“I will still be his!” Eliane hisses, engaging in a little over-the-top acting of her own. “For I would rather be dead than have your snake hands touch me!” (News flash, Eliane – snakes don’t have hands!) “I loooathe each breath that keeps you alive!”

“ARRRRRRGH!” Voltan replies, pushing her to the ground, fitting a bolt to his crossbow. As he tries to take aim at Hawk, the reflection from his necklace (which, of course, Eliane had given him) temporarily blinds the would-be fratricide, allowing Eliane to grab a burning brand from a nearby campfire (since people rarely go indoors, there are lots of those in this movie) and jam it into Voltan’s arrogant, snarling face.

“ArrrrrrrrrrgggaaaaaaaaaahhhhhOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!” Voltan replies, falling, writhing to the ground. This is apparently the wound that caused Voltan to don the Vader-helmet and that the wizard says he can’t heal. It honestly doesn’t look all that bad — at worst it would have left him with a nice, dashing scar that he could have used as a conversation-starter at parties — “See this scar? My girlfriend gave it to me with a torch when I was trying to kill her boyfriend, my brother.” He’d be the hit of every evil overlord get-together.

Does this guy even need a funny caption?

Voltan continues to writhe and scream melodramatically – “AHHHHHHH! OOOOOOOOOHHHH!” – as Elaine runs over, frees Hawk and they both run toward a convenient nearby boat. (Hell, this camp has frickin’ everything!) Voltan’s not going to let this offense slip by without comment, so he grabs a crossbow and nails Elaine right between her shoulderblades. Not good.

Back at the abbey, Hawk tries to tell the naive nuns that Voltan has no intention of returning the abbess even if he gets his paltry 2,000 gp. He bids the nuns serve food to his companions, triggering one of the silliest scenes in the flick, in which Baldin attempts to convince the thick-skulled Gort that the fat juicy chicken he’s about to chow on is, in fact “holy food.” Concerned, the giant demands to know what “holy food” is, to which Baldin replies that “holy food has a flavor that some find… not to their liking” so, of course, Gort lets Baldin eat it. A real yuk-fest, this flick is…

The next day, the slavers are lounging around by the River Shale, and are led by “The Hunchback” (who doesn’t really seem to have much of a hunch), one of the more disgusting characters in modern fantasy cinema. He’s busy swilling beer, then taking bites of food and shouting at his underlings so that the resulting foul slurry of food and ale sloshes out of his mouth and all over his tunic. For this alone, I think the guy should be killed, let alone the whole “slaver” thing.

The slaves are a sorry lot, by the way. If this movie starred Deathstalker or Conan, I’ll warrant that you’d know for damned sure what kind of slaves he’d be selling, but unfortunately there’s not a nubile, half-naked babe in the lot, just a bunch of pasty-skinned English guys in loincloths. The Hunchback shows his customers the wares, and sings their praises as from the nearby thicket, Hawk and his crew watch.

After letting the Hunchback do his spiel, Hawk shows up (with his characteristic musical intro) and mildly suggests that the slavers hand over their gold. The Hunchback, wielding a morningstar with a head the size of a basketball, predictably refuses, and suddenly it’s go-time. Crow and Ranulf’s rapid-fire weapons, combined with the dwarf’s whip chop every slayer but Hunchboy down in the space of exactly 14 seconds (I timed it), and next thing we know the tables are turned and the repulsive Hunchback is the prisoner.

Just another average family evening in the Voltan home.

Hawk orders the two would-be buyers to set the slaves free, and in a twinkling, the near-naked, pale, starved men are free to wander in the cold, foggy, forested wilderness. Hawk even throws them a bag of coins. What a guy!

Gort goes on to prove that he’s not really that nice a guy, as he stakes the Hunchback to the ground, then suspends the oversized morningstar over his head, tied to a rope, with the other end of the rope held in the Hunchback’s mouth.

“Now, I advise you to stay silent!” he says. “One word from that foul mouth of yours and…” He turns away, shaking a bag of gold at the unfortunate slaver. “Our thanks, brother, for the bountiful gifts you have bestowed upon us.”

Needless to say, the Hunchback doesn’t stay quiet, but immediately screams and, presumably, gets his head pulped for his trouble.

Gort wastes no tears on our dearly departed Hunchback. “Some people can never keep their mouths shut,” he says, and off they go, laughing merrily, having just murdered about a dozen people and stolen their gold.

Now, we’re treated to a tender scene between Voltan and Drogo. Voltan’s son is restless. He wants Voltan to let him raid the northern lords “and send cold fear into their hearts.”

Apparently Voltan isn’t giving his son enough to do. “My blood is forever on the move!” Drogo whines. “It needs excitement!”

Voltan Industries’ newest product, Nun in a Cage, met with a lukewarm response from consumers.

Voltan’s response is the same as any good father’s when his son asks for greater responsibility and challenges. He throttles Drogo and slams him down onto the table.

“If I were to press one more inch,” Voltan snarls (he never just says anything), “your backbone would snap like rotton wood.” (Yes, it’s true… Drogo has a weak spine… big surprise). “Is this not excitement? Is not the fine choice between living and dying more than enough TO MAKE YOUR HEART’S BLOOD RACE THROUGH YOUR VEINS?????????”

Jeez, dad, all I wanted to do was go raid the northern lords. Don’t have a freakin’ cow about it…

“We will talk of this no more,” Voltan continues. “My face pains me.”

Well your face pains us all, Voltan, but you don’t see us trying to snap your spine for it. Drogo starts to draw his dagger, but when Voltan taunts him some more, he puts it away and runs out of the tent, weeping and whining.

Over in the corner, the abbess crouches in a cage, watching the whole scene. She offers to heal Voltan’s face, but Voltan tells her that ther is no cure and limps out, leaving her to reflect that if this is normal family life, the whole “vow of celibacy” thing is probably a pretty good idea.

Drogo doesn’t deal well with his father’s rebuke. He needs to remind himself that Voltan was actually displacing his own self-loathing and guilt over the death of Eliane, and actually, deep down, truly loves his son. This is all lost on Drogo, as modern self-help books and the Doctor Phil show are far in the future, and in another entirely different universe anyway.

My dad doesn’t love me, so I’m lashing out at the world.

To vent his frustration, Drogo chases down a poor unfortunate slaver, who apparently escaped from the massacre at the River Shale. Drogo blusters and threatens, since he has an emotional urge to dominate those weaker than himself because of the lack of affection from his father. The slaver, attempting to save his own life, tells Drogo that Hawk and company stole all their gold. Suddenly, Drogo sees a chance to win approval in his father’s eyes, and decides that he’ll go get both Hawk and the gold.

“…And then,” Drogo says, contemplatively, “Voltan will see who is Lord of the Dance.”

Well, presumably, Voltan already knows about Michael Flatley and Riverdance, but Drogo doesn’t think of this obvious joke, and instead knifes the helpful slaver in the belly, for no reason than to demonstrate the depth of his evilness. Or is is “evility”?

“Today,” he says to himself, “is the day that Drogo comes of age, my father!”

So, while Voltan is off at the wizard’s cave getting his weekly fix of healing magic, Drogo leads his band of bunglers to the abbey, but not before Baldin torments Gort some more, claiming that the nuts he’s eating are actually “sugared turkels,” or lizard’s eyeballs. Of course the big oaf falls for it. More yuks, courtesy of our halflling-cum-dwarf.

Drogo and the laughable brigade kick down the abbey’s doors, and Drogo demands the gold. The music that precedes this confrontation sounds like something from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, but what follows is nowhere near that exciting.

“The gold will be given when the abbess is released,” Hawk tells him. “Tell Voltan that it is here, waiting.”

Who, me? What’d I do? Jeez, boss, all I did was bring your son’s body back and… aaaackkkkk….

“I did not make myself clear,” Drogo drools, while in the background his men look somewhat apprehensive (“Jesus, Drogo! That’s Hawk! He’s got an elf, man! An elf!”) “I came for the gold. I am no messenger. But will give you a message.” Drogo pauses here, apparently waiting to deliver an extremely pithy and threatening rejoinder. In the end, all he can come up with is: “A message of DEATH!” before wading in to receive yet another savage beatdown at the hands of Hawk and his companions.

In the one-sided fight that follows, the dwarf whips it, the giant brings down the hammer, Hawk gives ‘em cold steel, and Ranulf and the elf use their multi-shot-bad-sfx-equipped missile weapons to plow down the survivors. These guys are a little tougher than the slavers — they take a full 17 seconds to massacre. In the swirling, seconds-long melee, Drogo suffered from acute heavy metal poisoning as a result of Hawk’s sword slicing through his midsection, and he’s heading for the last roundup. Hawk (who didn’t even break a sweat) spares two thugs and tells them to take Drogo’s soon-to-be carcass back to Voltan.

Voltan does not take the delivery of the dying Drogo well. He loved his son, you see — he just never learned how to show real affection. All those times he was threatening to snap his son’s spine like a rotten branch, he was actually saying “I love you. Let’s go play catch.” In the end, Voltan probably blames all his problems on being dumped by that blonde bitch in favor of his younger brother.

“I wanted… to prove myself… Hawk…” Drogo gasps with his last few breaths.

Voltan’s grief is temporarily forgotten. “Hawk????” he demands. “Where?”

“He helps the nuns. The gold… is in the church… I tried…” And at last Drogo dies, a disappointment to the end.

Voltan reacts like Ridley losing Snails. Or, I suppose, Darth Vader losing Amadala.

“Drogoooooooooooooooo!” he cries, then turns on the two surviving minions who brought Drogo back. “My son lies dead! And yet you live!”

Jeez, excuse us for living, boss…

“Give them weapons!” Voltan commands. “It is fitting that my son dies with dogs at his feet!”

Promise me… You won’t ever… let anyone wear… my Van Halen tour jacket…

Yup, Voltan is yet another would-be evil overlord who just doesn’t understand good management skills. You don’t have your men fight to the death for having the courtesy to bring your son’s corpse into camp. It’s far more sensible to make them fight to be your new number two minion, but the whole point is lost on Voltan, who just wants more blood.

The two mooks decide that this is the best deal they’re going to get, and start to fight, then Voltan screws a bad personnel management situation up even more by knifing the pudgier one in the gut. The second sees which way the wind is blowing and tries to flee. He gets about six steps before he finds Voltan’s spear projecting from his midsection.

That night Voltan sets his son’s corpse on fire, the rides to the abbey to tell Hawk that he’s in deep crapola.

“I know you hide the one called Hawk behind your walls,” he says. “Hear me! And hear me well!”

(Actually Hawk isn’t hiding, he’s waiting for Voltan to show up so he can bitch slap his ugly face a few times, but once more Voltan only sees things from his own limited perspective.)

Tomorrow, Voltan says, he will return for both the gold and Hawk.

“Or you shall have your lady back with her innards tied around her scrawny neck,” Voltan continues (gross, dude… That’s not an image I want stuck in my head), “and this place shall be wiped… from the face… OF THE LAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNDDD!”

Voltan then rides off, having proved himself to be the Jeremy Irons-as-Profion of the early 1980s. Sister Monica isn’t happy at this, and now blames Hawk for killing Voltan’s son.

Of course, if Hawk hadn’t killed Drogo, he’d have taken the gold and the abbess would still be locked up, but I suppose that’s nit-picking.

Hawk looks thoughtful and serious — well, he actually looks the way he always looks because he has only one expression, but you get the idea. Time for another flashback… Eliane is in Hawk’s arms, dying. She says the usual I’m-dying-now-my-love crap and expires, and we’re back with Hawk in the abbey. No more flashbacks! Hurray!

Voltan’s camp, and his invicible horde. All three of them.

The companions decide that it’s time to turn the tables. Hawk notes that they are few and that Voltan has many men. Gort suggests that they even the odds, and Crow is dispatched to go find the wizardess. She returns and agrees to conjure a mist to cover their attack This tactic, which worked so well in Excalibur, is less successful for Hawk, but then this movie has a much lower budget.

A quick shot of Voltan’s camp reveals that he does not actually have “many men” — only three are in fact visible, and one of those is sleeping. In addition to these three men he has a grand total of three tents (one for each, presumably). Drogo’s abortive raid on the abbey appears to have majorly depleted Voltan’s reserves. And the fact that Voltan killed the only two survivors doesn’t help matters one bit.

The companions arrive, ready for their grand assault. Crow leaps dramatically into the trees, by simple dint of leaping backwards out of the tree while the companions remain stock still, then running the film in reverse. I’ve seen that shot in so many Kung Fu movies it’s not even funny anymore.

The sorceress conjures her mist by whipping out two more glowing novelty easter eggs and crushing them. Fog rolls from the shattered eggs and the companions attack!

The two guys who aren’t sleeping are the first to die, victims of Crow’s rapid-shot elven bow. Suddenly Voltan seems to have more men — the three tents appear to use some kind of clown car technology, hiding dozens of men where they should only hide another five or six. Perhaps Voltan commands clown magic in addition to his other fearsome powers…

This is a somewhat better fight scene than we’ve had so far. Crow bounces, apparently on spring shoes, whipping arrows into people, Gort splatters people with his hammer (“splatters” is a bit too strong — for all the people who perish in Hawk, there’s hardly any blood), Ranulf uses his rapidshot crossbow and Hawk goes sick-ass on Voltan’s men with the Mindsword.

Voltan and his men prove that they’re not entirely without a sense of humor.

I make the body count for this fight to be about 30, though I’m not sure how accurate that is, since we see the same guy die several times over. As we never see the dwarf fight until the very end, we can safely assume that he’s discovered Voltan’s provisions tent and spends the whole battle stuffing his face. In any event, Hawk and Ranulf fight their way to Voltan’s command tent, only to find the big V holding a knife to the abbess’ throat. Realizing that getting the abbess killed will kind of defeat the whole purpose of the attack, Hawk reluctantly withdraws to the relative safety of the abbey, leaving Voltan to lick his wounds and rebuild his army of dozens.

Sister Monica isn’t too happy at the prospect of more bloodshed and so sneaks off to find Voltan and offer to let him into the abbey. The abbess, who’s still sitting in her cage, tells her to shut her stupid, whorish face and let Hawk do the job he was hired for, but to no avail. Monica betrays Hawk and Voltan prepares to take revenge.

Back at the abbey, Hawk and Crow (too bad no other characters have “bird” names, huh?) reflect on the decline of the elvish race. When he goes to join them, Crow says, his race will be forgotten.

“Your race,” Hawk says, “will never be forgotten. This I know. They shall live on — in the pages of great fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, and in crappy fantasy novels like The Sword of Shanarra, the Dragonlance books and that stupid Iron Tower trilogy. Their names shall echo through the halls of the mighty, as they seek glory in role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Red Box Basic D&D, Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeons and Dragons Edition 3.5, GURPS, Tunnels and Trolls, Rolemaster, Palladium Roleplaying and The World of Sinnabar!

“They shall even prosper within the page of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, even though everyone will eventually decide that that edition kind of sucks, and quickly replace it with Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, which will have a massive public playtest, and may or may not recapture the old magic that was Dungeons and Dragons. And they shall don cybergear and battle high-tech foes in Shadowrun, or fly to the stars in Spelljammer and Warhammer 40k. 

“They will be immortalized through the magic of motion pictures and digital television — in The Lord of the Rings, which shall be made not once but twice — once great and once unbelievably gay. In Record of Lodoss War, in which they shall have enormous and dangerous-looking ears. In Dungeons and Dragons the Movie, where they will be represented by a skinny black chick in a stupid-looking breastplate, and — dare I say it — in that greatest of all fantasy epics, the tale called Hawk the Slayer. No, Crow. Your race shall live on — they shall live on in the dreams and aspirations of 40-year-old virgins, adolescent geeks, pretentious game designers and bad fantasy novelists until the end of time! This I know, for I am Hawk. Hawk the Slayer.”

You know a movie is in trouble when the SFX crew gets all its supplies at Toys R Us.

At this, Crow attempts suicide, but Hawk stops him because the movie’s almost over anyway.

Later on, Sister Monica’s plan bears fruit, as the companions’ food and drink were drugged. They awaken to find themselves — gasp! — in the clutches of the evil Voltan and his few surviving mooks. Voltan thanks Monica for her assistance, and then, in classic evil overlord fashion, casually kills her. Exit Sister Monica. TO HELL!

Now that Hawk is safely tied up, Voltan takes some time to gloat and tell Hawk how slow and painful his death will be. He’s pretty much pissed off about everything — Eliane, the scarred face, Drogo… There’s just no keeping Voltan happy. He goes so far as to admit that no woman would look upon him due to his face, forcing him to “take another man’s child as my own.” This probably explains Voltan’s whole love/hate relationship with Drogo, by the way.

Voltan then goes and needles all the other companions — the elf will get his ears trimmed, the giant is so big and bad and got taken out by a pinch of powder, Ranulf is just big pussy, etc., etc. Voltan proves quite glib when he’s taunting helpless foes.

The full measure of Voltan’s biting wit is reserved for Baldin, however.

“The dwarf!” Voltan sneers, and for some reason all his men laugh. Maybe they don’t want to be killed for failing to laugh at their boss’ jokes. Or perhaps they feel that dwarves are inherently funny — I always did myself. “You should never have been allowed… To dig youself OUT OF THE EARTH!”


Now here, I have to admit Voltan is making sense. However, it’s not all that funny but once more Voltan’s minions roll with laughter. Baldin proves himself pretty gutsy, however, for he offers to tell Voltan where the gold is and when the warlord leans in close to hear, Baldin kicks him in the face. And if you’ve never been kicked in the face by a dwarf, you don’t know what pain is.

And of course, Voltan has that nasty facial wound that is causing him so much distress (it didn’t look all that bad when Eliane whacked him, but what do we know about medical care in the world of Hawk?). He falls, writhing, and screams for a while, then stabs Baldin and pretty much decides to give up on the whole “torture them until they tell me where the gold is” plan for the moment. He dashes off to his wizard friend, whining like a little punk-ass bitch, giving the companions some time to plan. Well, as it turns out they don’t come up with anything, but the wizardess does.

As a single guard paces the main hall, the door slowly opens and what looks like an Amazon blowpipe emerges. The guard proves the limitations of Voltan’s recruitment techniques, for instead of raising the alarm and sending the other guards to go kill the intruder, he just stares curioiusly at the blowpipe until, with a report like a shotgun (that should have awakened the whole freaking abbey), it discharges…

web spell? Improved sleep? A skipping betty fireball?

Hell no! This is Hawk the Slayer, not Willow!  The blowpipe spews green silly string all over the unfortunate guard. Yes. Silly string. I’m not making this up. I’ve even got a photo to prove it.

Okay, now this is just getting way too silly…

The sorceress hurries in. “You have need of my help, lord?” she asks Hawk.

Oh, no. We’re handling it just fine, thanks… Of course we have need of your help, you dipstick! Get us the hell out of here!

Accommodatingly, the sorceress casts another spell and they all split for the forest, where they lay poor Baldin to rest.

“I die as I want,” Baldin whispers before kicking the enchanted bucket full of gold. “Among my friends!” That gets Gort all emotional, of course.

The wizardess prepares a grave for Baldin that is protected from wild beasts. This means that they sprinkle the dwarf’s body with glowing red superballs and lay him down under an enormous plexiglass dome. Now that may keep the wild beasts away, but it would sure as hell get my attention. I’d be looting that body in a heartbeat…

Now, at last the final battle looms. The companions prepare for the assault, and the wizardess prepares her awesome magic.

At the abbey, Voltan’s about to blow a gasket, and tells the nuns’ new leader (this one doesn’t even have a name) that if Hawk isn’t in his hands by dawn, he’ll kill everyone and raze the place to the ground. Like the nuns have ever had any control over Hawk. Right.

Another nun bites the dust…
(This joke courtesy of Dale Smith of Aloha, Oregon, USA. Visit his website!)

Outside the abbey, Hawk and his surviving party of player characters stand ready for the assault.

“Have no fear,” the wizardess says. “My magic powers will not harm you. But just for a short time my magic powers will create a whirlpool of flying firebolts to blind their eyes!”

Now that sounds awesome! They must have been saving their special effects budget for this sequence! That’s why all the other spells looked so bad! Now, I’ll be we’re in for a real treat… A whirlpool of flying firebolts!

And so once more the discharging shotgun sound effect is heard, and a vague, spinning tower of — well, something — appears before the abbey gates, then bursts into the main hall…

And about 10,000 glowing superballs are suddently flung into the hall.

Yes. Glowing superballs. The craptastic cavalcade of crappy magic spells continues. Ten thousand glowing superballs. Ye gods…

The superballs are followed by a storm of fake snow, and our heroes burst into the hall, hacking, slashing and shooting. You know the drill… rapid fire bowshots, hammer time from the giant, ferocious sword slashing from Hawk, and the dwarf nowhere to be found. Things don’t go as well for the companions this time, as Ranulf is felled by a thrown axe and Crow is apparently chopped as well, though we don’t actually see it.

Gort is saved by a self-sacrificing nun who warns him of an attack and then takes the steel herself, and while Gort is lamenting her unecessary death, Voltan koshes him from behind — he doesn’t do anything intelligent like chop his head off, of course — he only bashes the giant with his sword hilt, which makes no sense, but since when did Voltan do anything even vaguely sensible?

You mean… Before I win my…
Oscar… I’m going to have to…
be in Outlaw of Gor too? NOOOOO!

Hawk finishes off Voltan’s guys outside and strides dramatically back into the main hall. V has Gort and the surviving nuns tied up, and threatens to kill them if Hawk doesn’t surrender. Hawk tries to reason with Voltan, asking him to let Gort and the nuns go, but Voltan’s finally got the upper hand, telling him to drop sword and take off his chainmail.

Voltan, strangely enough, gives Hawk leave to pray before he gets the big send-off, but he catches sight of the funny cross-like medallion that Eliane gave Hawk back at the beginning of the movie — the one that blinded him as he was about to shoot Hawk — and tells him to finish up and get ready to meet god personally. Hawk demurs, and a tiny hidden blade slides out of the cross (where the hell did tht come from?). Hawk flings the cross at Gort, severing one of the bonds that ties the giant to a pillar. Luuuuuuckyyyy!

Hawk now levitates the Mindsword into his hand and at long, long last, it’s freakin go-time.

Unfortunately, Voltan chooses this moment for a villain’s soliloquy.

“Ten thousand times have I dreamed of killing you,” he growls. “Slowly. Painfully. And now… HA!”

He tries to pull a Hawk here and wings a dagger at his brother. Of course his dagger is much bigger, heavier and more accurate than the pen-knife sized blade Hawk threw at Gort, but it misses just the same, deflected by the Mindsword’s magical thrown-and-missile-weapon-deflection powers.

Voltan seems really unhappy at the failure of this very basic and simple-minded scheme, and finally starts hacking.

And so it goes. The rollicking Hawk action-disco music plays as the two brothers dance lightly about the chamber, mostly in slow-motion. Jack Palance seems to definitely get into the role here, as he’s swinging and slashing with abandon, while John Terry continues to respond with the slow-witted stoicisim that makes Hawk such a memorable fantasy hero.

At last Voltan makes a mistake, and Hawk delivers yet another bloodless killing blow. Voltan tumbles to the ground, his Darth Vader helmet going clang, revealing scars that make the left side of his face look like a $1.59 party pizza left in the oven too long.

Hey, it’s not so bad, Voltan. With a little blusher and some creative hairstyling, no one will ever notice.

As always, Voltan can’t resist one last dig at his much handsomer and more successful sibling.

“Brother… I shall… wait for you… at the GATES OF HEEELLLLLL!”

Voltan then finally expires and the world is free of the lamest dark lord wannabe in history.

Hawk gazes down with an experession of…

An expression of…

Well, a Hawk the Slayer-type expression, which is of course no expression at all.

The next day, the nuns — eager to get Hawk the hell out of their lives once and for all — load up Hawk and Gort’s horses with provisions, and tell them to leave. It doesn’t matter where. Just freakin’ leave already.

And as they’re ready to take off, Hawk pulls a chest out of a small shrine in front of the abbey (right where Voltan was standing, in fact), and hands it to Gort. Jeez, Hawk… aren’t you going to give it to the nuns for all the trouble you caused. Nice guy, that Hawk…

C’mon, Voltan! Wakee, wakee, eggs ‘n baykee!

As Hawk and Gort ride off to seek advanture, we cut to the interior of the abbey — it appears to be the same room where we’ve filmed the rest of the movie, only it’s set with candles, and Voltan’s sheet-covered body lies in state.

Out of the darkness emerges… yup, it’s that mysterious wizard from the cave whose presence and identity was never revealed. He levitates to the table where Voltan lies.

“We have further need of you, dark one,” the wizard whispers, taking up Voltan’s body and vanishing. “Your sleep of death will not last loooooooooongggg….”

So among all the dark lords and petty warlords of the world, Voltan is the best that the powers of evil can come up with? Hell, I’d resurrect Snails from Dungeons and Dragons before I gave Voltan another shot. Let’s face it. Snails would have made a hellishly effective dark lord of evil, dontcha think?

Well, that’s obviously a story for another movie, which will thankfully never be made. In the next scene, Hawk shows himself to be a bit more charitable than we thought, as he hands the gold over to the abbott and tells him that he and Gort will be parting ways, seeking various adventures elsewhere in the world. Hopefully wherever they go, it will be out of that damned forest…

As the two survivors ride away, however, the wizardess appears to them once again.

“The dark one is no more,” she says (boy is she off the mark!), “but even as we speak, the wizards gather in the south. Follow your destiny!”

Be honest...

Which Slayer do YOU actually prefer?

Gort shrugs and agrees to follow Hawk to adventure in the south.

“We shall meet again, bearer of the Mindsword!” the wizardess declares. Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for us, they never do, as further Hawk movies were never made.

We conclude with the animated hawk once more flying straight at the screen, and credits roll.

(A poster for the Egyptian version of the film. It seems oddly appropriate, doesn’t it?)

Hawk the Slayer carries on in the tradition of bad fantasy films everywhere and, since it was really one of the first of the huge post-Conan glut of cheesy sword-n-sandal flicks that came out in the 80s, it probably blazed the trail for all the others. First off, Hawk himself is so dull and uncharismatic that you find yourself rooting for Voltan. John Terry has one expression, and the fact that he looks like John Cleese’s Lancelot (only even thicker and more vacuous) doesn’t help things at all. His “magic sword” seems to have only one power – it can levitate into his hand, albeit at snail’s pace. Oh, yeah… It deflects arrows, too. Big whoop.

As is so often the case, the supporting characters are far more compelling and exciting than the “hero.” That’s most likely because they’re all veteran British character actors who must have worked on Hawk during off-season at the London stage. Given the cheapness of the production, they must have all been working for the price of a pint and an order of fish-n-chips, so I sincerely hope they had a good time doing it.

And then there’s Voltan, the chintziest evil dark lord in screen history. He makes Jarek from Deathstalker 2 look like Morgoth. He makes Profion from Dungeons and Dragons look like the Emperor Palpatine. In the final analysis, Voltan is downright sad. His great plan for conquest and mayhem? Kidnapping a nun and holding her for ransom. And the ransom is a measly 2,000 gold pieces. It’s so minimal that in order to get it all Hawk has to do is go steal it from the slavers, who keep this paltry sum in their riverboats. If Voltan wanted 2,000 gold pieces so bad, why the hell didn’t he go take it from the freakin’ slavers?

Once more I'm providing a small sample of what's missing from this movie.

Jeez…Voltan’s army wouldn’t stand up to a band of Cub Scouts armed with penknives. He never seems to have more than a dozen or so men available at any one time, and their main base of operations is a hobo camp deep in the forest. And apparently everyone lives in this forest without benefit of towns or even buildings, besides a big ol’ abbey and a drafty cave. Well, I suppose the less said about Voltan the better.

Hawk and his friends aren’t much better. As always, the hero is even less interesting than the villain, and John Terry is as bland as Voltan is tacky. His supporting actors are actually pretty skilled, but they’re saddled with a meandering plot and unfortunate dialog.

The most severe problem with Hawk, besides the writing, the acting, the effects, the costumes, the props and — in all likelihood, the catering — is that it’s not at all exciting. In addition, and probably worst of all, it’s not that funny either. It has its laughs, certainly, but it isn’t unintentionally funny like Deathstalker, it isn’t intentionally funny like Deathstalker 2, nor is it goofy-funny like Dungeons and Dragons or even creepy-funny like Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings.No, Hawk the Slayer can probably best be described as tragically-funny. As previously noted, there’s an air of gloom hanging over the entire production, as if the actors, once they arrived on the set, realized that they were actually trapped in a movie where they almost never got to go indoors and where silly string and bouncy superballs took the place of awesome ancient magic spells. Hawk the Slayer has managed to live on in our hearts (and, apparently in those of the Knights of the Dinner Table), but it is, in the end, a dreary and rather depressing film.

It’s comin’ right at us!

Special, (semi) Late-Breaking Bulletin

According to this article on the Joblo Movie Network, a sequel to Hawk the Slayer is currently in the works.

“Director Terry Marcel is coming back for Jinga Films’ HAWK THE HUNTER, but there will be a new warrior brandishing the Mind-sword: British actor Tom Hardy. Though he may be best known to genre fans as villainous Picard-clone Shinzon in STAR TREK: NEMESIS, Hardy has also appeared in LAYER CAKE, BLACK HAWK DOWN and ROCKnROLLA, and is currently receiving raves for his starring role in the brutal prison movie BRONSON.

The new HAWK saga, budgeted at $10 million, is currently searching for an appropriate Voltan. Meanwhile, you can check out the trailer for the original awesomely awful cult fave B-movie below.”

Well, since this page was originally published, we haven’t seen much more of the promised sequel. This page, which promised more news on the film, hasn’t been updated since May, 2011. I’m sad, but hope springs eternal.

Sword and Sorcery Rating:

2-1/2 Broadswords
A strange bird, this… Excellent acting by the supporting cast of British stage and TV veterans, married to an entirely predictable plot about an evil dark lord whose big plan for world domination consists of holding a nun for ransom. Despite this, the Knights of the Dinner Table are right — this thing plays out like a D&D game. A bad D&D game. All the same, it’s faithful to the genre, so gets an extra half sword or so.

Comedy Rating:

 2-1/2 Broadswords
Not the unintnetional laff-riot that was Bakshi’s LotR or even Deathstalker 2, but funny in a rather sad, made-for-TV way. An extra half sword for the spinning ring teleportation device, the silly-string “hold person” spell and, of course, who can forget the attack of the glowing superballs?

Violence Rating:

3 Broadswords
Though the movie is largely bloodless, there’s a hell of a body count, and some fairly imaginative deaths to boot. Though he’s a laconic block of John Cleese-looking wood, Hawk kicks much ass, as do his companions. And as for Voltan, well, he just kills for the hell of it.

Titillation Rating:

0 Broadswords
There’s more skin on The 700 Club than in this thing. The only women are a blind, sexless sorceress and a bunch of nuns, fer cripe’s sake… I promise, next movie will have breasts. And they’ll be attached to women. Promise.

Awesomeness Rating:

4 Broadswords
Well, it was inevitable — sooner or late we’d see a movie that is mediocre in all other categories, yet whose awesomeness leaves me speechless. Hawk the Slayer pretty much defines what the whole awesome thing is about — an intangible yet very, very real quality that separates the truly great sword and sorcery epics from the also-rans. We salute you, Hawk the Slayer, paragon of all that is awesome and cool. Some may say you are a really sucky, low-budget piece of hackwork, but we — the true elites — know better.