Deathstalker (1983) – Film Review

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Deathstalker (1983) – Film Review
A Bad Movie Studios Review

So, I decided to take a break from the production of my short film, “The Unexpected Evil of Dr. Baracula”, and take a little time to focus on what’s been my bread and butter and the whole reason I started my Bad Movie Studios page on Facebook, movie reviews. Now originally I was going to do a review of Troll 2 (1990). I had recently watched the documentary Best Worst Movie (2009) which was about the rise of Troll 2 as a sort of cult classic. I made a short semi-review of that movie and you can check it out at the Facebook page for more information on it. Well after that documentary, I was psyched to do a review of Troll 2. But unfortunately It was taking just a little too much time for me to find a good copy of it. My local video stores didn’t have it, I couldn’t find it anymore on Netflix, and I didn’t have time to wait for it if I chose to order the film. So I decided that I would just move on and pick another movie, and hopefully get back to Troll 2 another day. I should also mention that the process of putting a film into production has really shortened my available time, hence why I didn’t want to wait. But I also wanted to make sure that I posted another review instead of being totally one track minded. So then I debated between doing Deathstalker and Dracula vs Frankenstein (there are 3 well known versions of that film, I was going for the independent film released in 1971 starring “Zandor Vorkov”, J. Carrol Naish and Lon Chaney Jr. It’s probably the most famous one and it has a cult following). Unfortunately, Dracula vs Frankenstein has been even more difficult to find than Troll 2, so that got scrapped. Again, I’ll try to get to it another day as its a movie I really want to do. So instead, I’m doing Deathstalker. Now so far I’ve only done reviews of Horror movies, and that would really be the case since its fall and Halloween is right around the corner (as a note, check out my review of Halloween (1978). But I’m gonna deviate from the beaten path this time around. But I assure you that I’ll get back to Horror pretty soon.

I was first introduced to Deathstalker while watching some videos on Cinemassacre.com, the home of James Rolfe A.K.A. The Angry Video Game Nerd. He does a segment every year called Monster Madness that I love, and it would be suffice to say that he’s been a big inspiration to me when it comes to my relationship with films in general. After watching his video where he talked about the movie, I highly recommend seeing it by the way, I knew I had to check it out. Of course it’s been a few years since that video came out, but I’m glad I’m finally getting to talk about Deathstalker. Now this movie is an Argentine-American fantasy “sword and sorcery” film (quite a combination) that came out at a time when the genre was at it’s peak with movies like Conan the Barbarian (1982) and The Beastmaster (1982). Although not directed by him, the movie was produced by Roger Corman, the legendary B-Movie wonder of cinema. He’s known for making movies on the fly with very low budgets, and getting out multiple movies a year. What’s interesting is that the box office returns were pretty good considering how much the movie was made for. It cost around $425,000.00 to produce, but made almost $12,000,000.00 overall (I’m using Wikipedia for these numbers, so they might not be 100% accurate). Either way though, this movie DID become profitable, and it spawned 3 sequels. Yes, there does exist a Deathstalker series, with Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans, Deathstalker 3: The Warriors from Hell, and Deathstalker 4: Match of Titans. All of these movies were produced by Roger Corman.

Something I’ve noticed that I always talk about in my reviews, is the opening sequence or title screen. To me it’s important because it’s the usually the first thing you see when you watch a movie and it sort of sets the tone for what you’re going to be watching. The opening title for this movie, is pretty fitting, with DEATHSTALKER popping up on screen with that over the top barbarian type music playing in the background. One thing about this movie is that it’s shallow and it knows it. Right off the bat we’re introduced to 3 things that permeate the movie. Cheesy costumes, over the top action, ridiculous dialogue, lots of boobs, and rape. Yeah, you read that right, rape. In this movie, the Deathstalker is played by Rick Hill. Now a different actor plays the Deathstalker in every movie, with the exception of Deathstalker 4. Hill reprises his role in that film. I should make a note that the character is a total dick, spilling out poor one liners and acting like a total ass. Within the first 10 minutes, you pretty much understand that his character is out for himself. He’s a bit similar to Han Solo from Star Wars in that way. Of course though, as with all films that follow the “Hero’s Archetype” he will eventually do right, save the world and claim his prize. And I’m not spoiling anything here, I’m just stating what happens with that film model. You see it everywhere, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, its pretty much Fantasy 101. And this movie is no different.

As with every review I do, I will try my best not to just talk about the plot, running down what happens scene by scene. That doesn’t convey a proper opinion or help you understand the good and bad of a movie, from the aesthetic aspects to the technical ones. Instead what I try to do is point out the features of the film, from the aforementioned aesthetic ones to the technical ones, and shed some light on them, giving my opinion and how well I feel they conveyed the message they were trying to. This movie on the other hand, will be a little different. It’s just so shallow, that it’s hard to make a lot of those points without just repeating myself. It’s such a mass of over the top, macho, nerd fantasy, that it has no solid base for real analysis and critique. Well it does, it’s just to simple to write about extensively. So because I’m going against the grain already be even doing this review, and even more so with the style of it, I’ll completely break tradition and give you my Overall Score for this movie here.

Overall Score: 67

This isn’t the worst fantasy movie ever, but it’s no Lord of the Rings. It isn’t good, but it is entertaining, and gives more than a few laughs at it’s over the op nature. It’s a movie bathed in excess, and that’s perfect considering the decade it came out in. The 80’s were all about excess. Look at Action films from the day like Predator (1987), Commando (1985) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). Hell look at the Action stars of the time like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (who’s movies I just referenced). Or look at pop culture. Take wrestling for example. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a huge pro wrestling fan. In the 80’s, wrestling reached new heights of popularity. At the head of that wave of popular wrestlers, you have guys like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Giant, mountainous, muscle bound freaks of nature. Deathstalker, is all of that. That sort of excessive, super macho theme flows in this movies veins. Chances are, if you like that sort of thing, you’ll get something out of Deathstalker. I would also recommend the movie to anyone looking for a few cheap laughs, or to people who enjoy bad films.

Now of course I can’t leave the review like that. It’s shallower than the movie is. So what I’m going to do is talk about a few scenes, moments and characters from Deathstalker that are just worth mentioning.
The first one comes around 10 minutes into the movie. After the opening sequence lets us know what we’re in for, there’s a conversation that the Deathstalker character has with this old man. The man reveals that he used to be the king, and that the evil wizard Munkar, who used to be his magician, has thrown him out and taken over the land. Pretty basic stuff considering the genre. He tells us that an army can’t stop Munkar, but that a single brave warrior can break into the castle and kill him. Clearly we’re supposed to see that he’s trying to convince the Deathstalker that he can defeat the evil sorcerer. Like I said, all of this is pretty basic stuff, very run of the mill. But it’s the Deathstalker’s response that is just ridiculous. The music kicks up and gets all epic, as the camera zooms right into his face. It gets really grandiose, setting up our anticipation of that great hero line, the one that’s gonna make us root for the Deathstalker to save the day. And what we get is, “Hero’s and fools, are the same thing.”, as the Deathstalker finishes eating his food, licks his fingers, and walks away. Literally every bit of momentum that the scene builds up is flushed down the drain. It’s absolutely hilarious. And of course the king tries to convince him to help because the bad guy has taken the princess. Classic.

The acting in this movie is just terrible. Not a single person delivers one line that doesn’t come off bad. It all just adds to the goofiness of this film. The make up effects and costumes are no better either, with everything looking like it belongs in one of my movies. And that’s saying something since my movies don;t have budgets, and this had almost half a million dollars. There’s even a scene where the Deathstalker is walking through a cave and approaches a creature, and the person in the costume actually fixes his mask. If you’ve seen the Cinemassacre video of this movie, you’ll see the scene in question.

Another great moment in the movie (again one that’s in the Cinemassacre video, I swear I’m not trying to copy the video, this scene just has to be mentioned) is one where there’s some sort of pig-man who’s eating at a dining table. He picks up the head of a roast pig that’s on the table, questions it, and then proceeds to eat the head. It’s just gold. And later when there’s a lot of fighting going on, he rips of someone’s arm and beats someone else to death with it. It’s the greatest scene to ever feature a pig-man in cinema history.

So check out Deathstalker. It’s a crazy, over the top, mess of a fantasy film that’s worth a watch. If nothing more than for a good laugh. The movie’s rather short too, about an hour and fifteen minutes, which helps. I think I’m gonna do a screening of it at a Halloween I’m trying to put together. It should be a good time.

Check them out!

Check them out!

With the script finished for “The Unexpected Evil of Dr. Baracula”, I wanted to give a shout out to Bad-Movie-Reviews (not affiliated with Bad Movie Studios). It’s a really cool Tumblr page of Horror movie stuff, and they’re so awesome that they’re gonna do a special featured review for “Dr. Baracula” when it come’s out! And of course check out Bad Movie Studios featured on my account here and and on the Bad Movie Studios Facebook page for our own movie reviews and film projects.

Please check out, Bad Movie Studios

Please check out, Bad Movie Studios

Finishing up the script for my first short film under the Bad Movie Studios banner. I’m pretty excited to get the shooting started for “The Unexpected Evil of Dr. Baracula”. I’m really looking forward to working on this thing. Also, please check out and like Bad Movie studios for movie reviews.

Best Worst Movie (2009) – Film Review & Troll 2 (1990) announcement.

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Best Worst Movie (2009) –  Short Film Review
Preview For: Troll 2

So this is the first time that I’m putting up a preview to a review as well as a nice short review of the documentary film Best Worst Movie. First off, I want to address that I’m going to keep doing my movie reviews like I’ve started doing. Only this time I’m going to try to be more consistent. I say try be cause not only will I be writing movie review, I will also be writing, shooting, and premiering my first short film, The Evil of  Dr. Baracula, at a party in my local town. So I’m gonna be a little bit busy. But hopefully I’ll keep a good pace and get a few good critiques out there. I know I don’t have a large fan base, if I have one at all, but hey, if you can’t do something for fun why do it at all. So that’s my most important update. What I’m gonna talk about now is my upcoming review of Troll 2 (1990) and give a couple of comments on the documentary about the film that I just watched. I’m already going against the grain from my usual set up here, because I always review my films as I watch them as to not miss anything that I want to talk about. But I literally just finished watching the movie and as a documentary there isn’t as much that I can talk about like I can with say Dracula (1931). And yes, that was a cheap plug for my last review so go check it out. Anyway, Best Worst Movie is a film directed by Michael Stephenson. Now what really makes this film interesting is that the director was actually IN Troll 2. Not only was he in the movie, but he was the lead role. Basically the film is about the former star of the film, who’s grown now, tracking down his old cast mates as they follow Troll 2 in screenings around the country, as the feature has gained cult status. As it turns out, the movie that has been heralded as “The Worst Movie Ever Made”, has quite the dedicated following. They show it being played at multiple theaters all across the country to packed houses of rabid fans. It’s a hell of a sight, I will say. The movie has a very human quality about it. Its kind of hard to explain. There’s just something about the way it;s put together that isn’t cold or feel like it’s putting down its subject material. No, that same sort of fervor and jubilee that’s expressed by the fans in this movie is the same one it was filmed with. It’s great. There’s really a sort of warm invitingness to this documentary. An attitude that says “Come on, be weird and enjoy the crap that you want to. And it’s okay because we all like it too”. I really like that. Honestly, the movie evoked genuine emotions of happiness in me and reminded me of the reasons I want to be a film maker. Because I love doing it and I love movies. I don’t care if I don’t make a single dime because of it, it’s just something that I have passion for. That’s what this film has. Passion. Passion from the fans. Passion from the filmmakers who worked on it. It’s a passion that’s infectious to those who are susceptible to such. It’s the kind of passion that you don’t see in the $1,000,000,000 budget, blood, guts, car chase, quintuple sequel movies of Hollywood. It’s the passion of the people that can enjoy the offerings of a very simple film that had almost no money, terrible actors, pathetic special effects, and a ludicrous plot. But it’s okay. Because that’s not what gives something true value. At least not in my opinion. What gives something like Troll 2 it’s real value, is the strangely high amount of joy that movie gives to people. I understand that I’m speaking very highly of both Troll 2 and Best Worst Movie, but there’s a real intrinsic value that I got from it. It was something that spoke very close to me and definitely hit home. So onto my final judgment. I know I didn’t really talk about the documentary from any sport of technical value. So I’ll try to give the unbiased opinion here. Best worst Movie really did get my interested into it’s source material. It did so very well I should add. It’s a lighthearted celebration of what I find to be a wonderful topic. It keeps you interested all the way through, which is good considering that it was 93 minutes. Not terribly long but just a tad longer than expected. I definitely recommend checking out Best Worst Movie, but at the same time I would more so say that movie and horror buffs should be the ones doing so. The average person might not get nearly the same reaction out of it that I did ant there will absolutely 100% be something lost in translation there. But I so think it’s a solid independent documentary, and if for nothing else, be watched for something that shines a light on the side of the film industry that we really don’t see very often, the human side. So if you can find Best Worst Movie, give it a watch, and be sure to check back for my review of Troll 2, The Worst Movie Ever Made. It should be coming out shortly.