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!

AAAAIIIEEEEEE! THE WIZARD XUSIA, WHO WE ALL THOUGHT WAS DEAD, RISES UP OUT OF THE MISTS AND…

…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 — imdb.com 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.