Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Retro Review: A List of "Sword and Sorcery" films I've Seen (or Think I've Seen)

 So while I was working on the Your Highness review, I made a concerted effort to think of every movie that falls into the "sword and sorcery" category that David Gordon Green's movie is paying homage / gentling mocking. If you saw the review, I narrowed it down to Conan the Barbarian (have seen) and Krull (have not seen). I also mentioned The Barbarian and the Princess because, if I remember correctly, the VHS has a four-breasted woman on the cover. It turns out that such a movie does not exist, because it's actually called The Warrior and the Sorceress. Again, I'm not really an expert on this subgenre.

 While thinking carefully about it, I realized I could name a few other movies that I've seen part of, all of, or think I might have seen when I was younger. Here is a list with any thoughts that possibly come to mind with them.

  Masters of the Universe - A He-Man movie has to count in some capacity. I've never seen Masters of the Universe, but it was playing in the background during a birthday party / sleepover I went to. That and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I think.

 Circle of Iron - Hey! I actually reviewed this movie - it's a kung-fu, sword and sorcery, parable sort of thing, but there's lot of loincloths and warriors and stupid crap with David Carradine as a leopard dude.

 Deathsport - So I watched the first thirty minutes of this Roger Corman produced ripoff of Roger Corman's Death Race 2000. Instead of cars, there are motorcycles, but first peasants ride around on horses and avoid mutants, and David Carradine is rocking a loincloth / cape combination but also shoots some kind of weird laser gun. Technically it's more "post-apocalyptic" but it reminded me of some of the dumber "sword and sorcery" shit.

 Willow - I saw Willow when I was young, and even then it seemed like a pretty weak knock-off of Star Wars, but with witches and Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer. I seem to remember the whole two headed dragon growing out of some sort of sac grossed me out and I haven't watched it since.

 Cave Dwellers - I saw it on MST3k.

 The Scorpion King - from the director of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors and the pro-wrestler-turned-crappy-cgi-effect formerly known as The Rock. This isn't even a guilty pleasure - I openly enjoy this silly movie that's part Conan the Barbarian, part Conan the Destroyer.

 The Beastmaster - I'm not positive I ever saw all of Don Coscarelli's The Beastmaster. I'm not even really sure I've seen some of this movie, or at all. Maybe I just know what it is.

  Dragonslayer - Like Willow, I saw Dragonslayer and it creeped me out in parts. Specifically the parts with Peter MacNicol.

 Ladyhawke (?) - Forgive me, because I don't remember many swords. I guess there probably were, but mostly I remember Matthew Broderick from War Games and I remember not knowing who Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer were.

 The Lord of the Rings - These movies don't count, do they? I kept finding it on lists, along with Highlander and Excalibur, which I guess kinda technically count. Your Highness does borrow a few helicopter shots of our heroes on their journey, one of which reminded me of a similar shot used in the trailer for The Hobbit.

 Jason and the Argonauts / The 7th Voyage of Sinbad / Clash of the Titans - The Ray Harryhausen triptych of movies I guess are unmistakably "sword and sorcery" or at least "sword and Greek mythology" films. I saw all of these as a kid (funny how I didn't see many of these films after age nine...) and the robot bird Simon in Your Highness is most definitely a nod to that stupid robotic owl in Clash of the Titans. I forgot its name and don't know that I need to know it. I'll pretend its name is Archimedes, which I'm pretty sure is the name of the owl in The Sword and the Stone.

 The Black Cauldron - Speaking of Walt Disney, I never even considered this movie to qualify, but more than one list mentioned both The Sword and the Stone and The Black Cauldron. I saved The Black Cauldron for last because at least I have a story about this movie.

 I saw The Black Cauldron when it opened in theatres and was apparently the one kid in the world that didn't think it was the nadir of Disney animation (see: Waking Sleeping Beauty). In fact, I couldn't wait to rent the VHS tape when it came out... which was funny, because it DIDN'T come out on videocassette. Not until I was in high school, as a matter of fact. Like Song of the South, The Black Cauldron simply vanished from the lips of anyone involved with The Walt Disney Corporation for the rest of the 1980s. It took the better part of a decade before anyone could watch it again. I still don't really get the "sword and sorcery" categorization, mostly because I always connect that subgenre with the desert, but I guess it does fit in.

 Do you like how I mentioned two different Nightmare on Elm Street movies even though they are in no way topically related to these films?

 So I guess there were more movies than I led you to believe yesterday, although I've seen maybe three of them in the last ten years in their entirety. Several of them I only saw once, when I was pretty young, and they didn't make much of an impression. That might explain why Your Highness was slightly perplexing to the Cap'n.

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