In honor of the fifth season of Game of Thrones starting last week I decided to look back and look at some of the bad fantasy movies that inspired all of the fantasy authors to do better. Part of me almost feels guilty describing sword and sorcery movies like this after all I loved them when they first came out but then I was in my early teens and quickly grew to see them for the by the numbers D&D rip-offs they were.
The first on my list, Hawk the Slayer, had been described to me by many of my fellow fantasy fans as a guilty pleasure and to a certain extent this is correct, with a special emphasis on the guilt. To be extremely blunt I’ve seen porn flicks with better production values.
It’s the story of a prince seeking revenge against his extremely evil brother played completely over the top by Jack Palance. To do this he brings together a band of companions to accompany him that are right out of a D&D company: (Elven ranger, Dwarven Rogue, Giant fighter, you get the idea) most of the story involves them protecting an abbey who’s mother superior has been captured for ransom by the brother. This boilerplate script pretty much depends on everyone being idiots (the nuns believe that Palance will uphold his side of the bargain despite all evidence to the contrary) But in the end I think it saves itself in the end by not taking itself too seriously and having fun doing it.
The second Film on my list, Krull, was one of those films I was utterly drooling over when I first saw the ads (I think it was because of the Cyclops and the glave, A really nasty looking throwing star on the poster) but I never actually got around to seeing.
While Krull certainly has much better production values then Hawk the Slayer it was still rather disappointing to watch with the expectations of my teenage self. It opens up pretending to be a science fiction film (or at least a planetary romance) with “the Black Fortress” the villain’s fortress starting out as a space ship cruising towards Krull a planet “on the other side of the galaxy with two suns.” But once we get past the opening it’s just standard fare with the king of Krull (admittedly a mostly empty title as the villain whipped out his court) goes on a quest to rescue his bride who was captured at their wedding when the villain performed the afore mentioned massacre. After that it’s pretty much checking off the list of the Hero’s Journey with the king gathering his band of brothers (including early performances from Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltraine.) As they struggle to locate the Black Fortress which teleports to a new location every sunset (yes really) so they can siege it after that it’s pretty much a quick fight between Good and Evil (considering the build up it seemed almost disappointing how easy it was to dispatch the beast with just the one throwing star.)