A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 267 – The Beastmaster

The Beastmaster – November 22nd, 2010

As we continue our bad movie marathon we can’t really be too picky about what we watch. For one, we do own all of these, so we’d be watching them anyhow. For another, the whole point of watching the worst of our collection (or rather, the worst we know about ahead of time) is to sort of suffer in sympathy for the Desert Bus crew. So really, something tedious is fitting. And while I am well aware that this movie is widely regarded as an action cheese classic, I can only get on board to a degree. It’s action cheese, to be sure, but it’s also not nearly as entertaining as other action cheese I can think of.

To be honest? I find Ator more appealing than Dar. Granted, I’ve made my feelings clear about guys with too many muscles, but it’s not just a looks thing. It’s a potential sexual assailant thing. Cause seriously, Dar? Meets his love interest by stealing her clothes and forcing a kiss on her. That’s pretty loathsome. He emotes like a block of wood and I think it’s probably for the best that he doesn’t do a lot of talking. I don’t like him much, though I guess he’s slightly more likable than Barry from Punch Drunk Love, but only because he has ferrets.

Despite all that, however, this really is a cinematic masterpiece in comparison to last night’s movie. Last night’s movie wasn’t a B movie. It was a D+ at best. Tonight would be a solid B- I think. There was money spent on this movie, both on sets and actors (they might not be A-listers, but hey, Rip Torn with a fake nose!), though I do maintain that they spent the costume budget on the animals instead, because goodness knows there wasn’t much material used to cover anyone’s butts. But there are special effects and some impressive creature makeup and costuming in places and someone actually wrote a script for it and got trained animals. So, there’s that. If only it didn’t feel so interminable.

So there’s your typical prince-in-exile sort of thing going on here, but with some bizarre twists. Dar is kidnapped out of his mother’s womb before birth (and carried in the womb of a cow) so that the evil priest Maax can try to avoid a prophecy that King Zed’s son will kill him. A dude who has no spoken name saves baby Dar and raises him to be all buff and they discover that Dar can communicate with animals. Then the bad guys show up and slaughter the village except for Dar, who vows revenge. Yay revenge! So off Dar goes, collecting animal friends like Pokemon. The thing is, I really felt like every section of this movie took an hour. I looked up at the clock all the time during this movie, hoping we were approaching the end, or perhaps the climax, maybe? And it was never quite as close as I hoped it would be. Dar meets up with Kiri, the woman he assaults who, of course, totally falls for him for no good reason (chicks obviously dig that sort of thing, and if you can’t tell that I’m being sarcastic you fail). After that he meets up with Seth and Tal, Tal being yet another prince in exile and Seth being his guardian. Together they break into the fortress where Maax is holding Zed prisoner and break him out and then things keep happening!

Really, there’s fighting, and then more fighting, and then running around, and rallying people to attack the city, and more fighting, and it just goes on and on and on. Each fight sequence feels like it’s a year long. And it’s not all that fast. I felt like I could see them counting off their fight choreography in beats. It felt labored at best. Really, the best parts of the movie for me were the animals Dar has with him (a falcon, a tiger and two ferrets) and the bit where he meets up with a bunch of bizarre bat people who hug people to death and suck all the life out of them. And the makeup and costuming for those bat people are really quite good. I liked them. So yes, the animals (aside from the poor tiger being dyed black) and the bat people? Fantastic! And really, I liked Seth and Tal, who both kicked a decent amount of ass.

Looking back, I think I liked a decent amount of this movie, but the hero was painful and tiresome and unpleasant, which is a frustrating thing. It keeps this movie from being a classic to me. That and somehow I missed seeing it in my copious viewing of Up All Nite and the Channel 56 Movie Loft. How? I don’t know. I saw Red Sonja and Conan the Barbarian at least twice each, and this one? Nope. So it’s just not one of my personal classics. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beastmaster

November 22, 2010

The Beastmaster

Another B-movie tonight in honor of Desert Bus. Yesterday’s movie about the son of a hero who was prophesied to destroy an evil priest naturally reminded us of this movie about the son of a king who is prophesied to destroy an evil priest. There’s a strange sort of genre of eighties fantasy adventure. On the big budget side you have the Conan movies, and on the low budget side you have things like yesterday’s Ator movie and the Deathstalker movies. And somewhere in the middle you have things like this movie and Krull with better than average budgets and some recognisable faces. These movies share a lot of common tropes such as evil priests/wizards and big muscle bound heroes who hack and slash their ways through many foes and tend to blend into each other after a while.

This movie is actually a pretty major step above Ator. All the actors speak English for one thing. The make-up is pretty well done. (Particularly the creepy vampire people – who would later appear in Titan A.E.) The fight choreography is less laughable than in the Ator movies. There aren’t really any special effects, but there are some fun pyrotechnics and, as the title would seem to indicate, an awful lot of trained animals doing tricks. I was also somewhat thrown by the fact that the sweeping orchestral score is almost identacle to the Battlestar Galactica theme. I kept expecting to see Cylon fighter craft swooping over the hillside in battle formation.

Our chunky hero and subject of today’s prophesy is Dar – played by Marc Singer in a loin cloth. I will say that I think Miles O’Keefe is slightly better as a chunky hero that Marc Singer. Not that Singer isn’t quite well sculpted here, but he just doesn’t have the joy for this cheese. He’s all blank stares and strangely square white teeth. His foe is the ever versatile Rip Torn with braids and a Gandalf nose. He eventually acquires as an ally in the worldly warrior Seth played by John Amos. You know, I’d have rather seen John Amos as the Beastmaster… he’s a far better actor and generally more fun to have on the screen.

Amanda and I made a number of Macbeth references at the start of the movie. It starts out with some frighteningly hot-bodied crones telling Rip Torn’s Maax that he will be killed by the unborn son of the king. So he sends one of his crones to steal the unborn child (by magically transplanting the child to the womb of a cow) but before she can slay the tyke she is killed by a passing do-gooder who adopts Dar. (Dar was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped, you see.) Dar eventually discovers that he has an unnatural ability to communicate with wild animals. (Thus the Beastmaster – though in reality he’s more of a BeastBuddy – he doesn’t command the beasts so much as work with them.)

There’s a third party in the movie that somewhat muddies the plot but is essential to the climactic end battle. There is this horde of masked warriors who don’t seem to have anything to do with the king or with Maax – they just show up near the start of the movie to slaughter everybody in Dar’s adoptive village (and his dog!) Then they don’t show up again for a couple hours until for some reason they invade the city after what should have been the ending of the movie. This leads to a massive battle scene with a ton of fire and horses and such. (I had to wonder at the time why the Beastmaster never used his animal befriending powers to take over the enemy horses. I suppose he’s just not too bright – which explains quite a lot of the movie.)

I like a good fantasy film, but for some reason they are few and very far between. Maybe it’s just easier to churn out movies that involve scantily clad people swinging swords at each other. This is not a good movie, but it is not a horribly awful movie either. Indeed it was good enough to spawn two sequels and a televison series, so it must have been a success. I am sad to say that we do not own Krull – because it would be my natural inclination to watch that movie next… we’ll just have to watch some other crappy movie tomorrow.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment