A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 266 – Ator the Fighting Eagle

Ator The Fighting Eagle – November 21st, 2010

If you read yesterday’s reviews you know that we’re sort of on a bad movie streak right now while the folks over at Desert Bus for Hope play the most boring video game ever (that would be Desert Bus) in a charity marathon. It’s sort of a solidarity type thing, even if we can’t directly raise money for the children (though we can point people in their direction and mention that they will dance and sing and put things on their heads for donations). We’re sharing their pain in spirit. With that in mind, we’re watching this piece of trash tonight.

Now, why do we own this? Well, you see, there’s an MST3K episode called Cave Dwellers. It was one of the first episodes I managed to get on tape so I could watch it again and therefore I probably know it better than I know almost any other episode. The movie is about an old dude who creates a magical macguffin and then immediately decides the world isn’t advanced enough for it and it needs to be destroyed. To do that he sends his daughter off to find Ator, a muscle-bound warrior who lives at the Ends of the Earth. Another guy with a big mustache and a silly helmet shows up and demands the macguffin, Ator fights a bunch of dudes, there’s a big snake puppet and eventually he invents a hang glider. It’s all incredibly silly and right at the beginning is a flashback scene that describes Ator’s prior adventures.

When we saw this? We knew it was Ator’s prior adventures and we did indeed need to obtain it. So we’ve got it. We tried to watch it once before and, well, we failed. I don’t remember if we turned it off to go do something else or if we had to go somewhere or if we just couldn’t cope. It’s sort of Ator’s origin story, but we knew better than to expect something epic and Batman-like. Instead we get incest and spiders. Okay, so there’s more than that, but really, it seemed to mostly be a lot of running around waiting for something to happen, but then nothing happens. Until the end. When things happen and then there’s a pretty song about love or something.

As I said, this is an origin story for Ator. According to the movie there’s a prophecy about a guy who’ll try to overthrow the evil high priest of the spider god, but he’ll die and a baby will be born bearing his symbol. Guess who’s born with said symbol? Ator! A mysterious man hides baby Ator with a nice family that already has a baby and Ator and his adopted sister grow up together and end up falling in love. The soldiers of the spider god priest show up and kill a bunch of villagers and kidnap Ator’s sister/wife during their wedding and off he goes to get her back. Along the way he meets a scantily-dressed thief woman and gets in fights and there’s a lot of almost-action. It’s bizarre. We’d watch and there’d be tense music and soldiers and… nothing. The scene would end and the movie would move on to another plot point which would be pretty much the same. Ator gets a fancy sword and a fancy shield and picks up his thieving side-kick and that’s about as much as I can say. The movie left very little impression on me overall. Aside from the Ator-marrying-his-adopted-sister thing.

The thing about this movie is that it’s not aiming high. It’s not trying to be the 2010 Clash of the Titans. It’s more on the level of the older Hercules movies and that’s where it wanted to be. To be honest, the costumes and sets are actually better in this movie than they are in the sequel. There’s a particular helmet in this movie that’s sort of shaped like a bird, and it shows up in the second movie – oddly since it’s not the same character – but it looks a lot crappier. It looks like when making this movie there was actual effort involved. Not a hell of a lot, but at least a modicum. This is not to say that this is a good movie. It’s bad, no mistake. But it could have been so very much worse. It could have been its sequel.

November 21, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Ator: The Fighting Eagle

November 21, 2010

Ator: The Fighting Eagle

“This exercise is working. I can feel it… here.”

Another painfully awful movie tonight. For the children. As I mentioned yesterday we’re watching some of the worst movies in our collection to show sympathy for the good people playing Desert Bus to raise money for Childsplay. Amanda and I are far more familiar with the sequel to this movie – Ator The Invincible – better known to MST3K fans as “The Cavedwellers.” We bought this – the prequel to one of our favorite MST episodes so because I am a glutton for punishment. I simply cannot resist a good bad movie.

This movie lacks the huge budget ambitions and star power of yesterday’s film. Instead it is a low budget epic fantasy filmed, I believe, in Italy and dubbed into English. More than anything else it feels like a low budget version of Conan the Barbarian. The movie starts out with a lengthy voice over prologue that attempts to set the scene. It is a time of magic and prophesies. In a poorly defined medieval time period there is a land that has been ruled for a thousand years by an evil spider priest. Only one man has ever attempted to defeat him, but the hero Turin was defeated. Still – there is a prophesy that his son will finally put an end to the spider priest. It is that son, Ator, whose adventures we follow today.

Body-builder and general pretty boy Miles O’Keefe plays Ator, a callow youth who knows nothing of his ancestry or destiny. He only knows that he wants to marry his sister Sunya. He is much relieved to discover, after telling his father of his incestuous intentions, that Sunya is not his sister after all. But on his wedding night Dakkar (the spider priest, who according to the titles plays himself) sics his minions on Ator’s village, killing his adoptive parents and kidnapping his sister/wife.

Ator is trained via montage by the mysterious warrior Griba, who wants to defeat Dakkar for reasons of his own, and then the “adventures” begin. Which is to say that he has a few random things happen to him. Most of which seem to have to do with people wanting to have sex with Ator. There’s an amazon tribe, a witch with a magic mirror, a bunch of undead soldiers (who do nothing at all), a madam at a tavern, a bunch of blind sword makers and their glittering charm shield. In spite of all the prophesies the movie is only really bookended by the confrontation with the spider priest with the rest of the movie padded out by encounters that have nothing to do with the movie. In a way I think it might have worked better as a serial or something than as a movie.

We found it impossible to watch this without MiSTing it. Not just because it is a funny low budget movie, but because it was summarised in its entirety in the prologue to the second Ator movie, which we have seen many, many times. Lines like “oh, he’s been gonged” and “he had never killed so large a puppet” just came automatically to our lips.

This movie was not as bewilderingly and possibly inadvertently bas as Battlefield Earth. It is simply an aimless low budget bunch of silliness that sets out to amuse us with its tale of adventure and magic, and pretty much delivers. You can’t expect great cinema from an Italian Conan movie – but if you can accept a lot of badly staged stage swordplay and a giant spider puppet that hardly movies and whose strings you can clearly see, then this movie might meet your needs.

November 21, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment