Saturday, February 20, 2010

In short: Deathstalker (1983)

A slack-jawed swordsman with the not exactly confidence inspiring name of Deathstalker (Rick Hill) sets out to acquire two magical items from his fantasy land's evil magician king Munkar (Bernard Erhard) to get a full set of three together with his magical sword.

On his way to Munkar's castle, he meets some dude who will later betray him and the warrior woman Kaira (Lana Clarkson), a pioneer in not covering her breasts while fighting.

But Munkar has a plan. No, he's not going to make a full set of clothing mandatory for his subjects, he opens up a tournament. Publicly, he plans on making the winner his heir, but secretly, it's all a fiendish trap to kill all able warriors who could be even the slightest bit dangerous to him. I'm sure an evil overlord does not have any need for warriors in his army, ever.

On his way to the final confrontation with Munkar, Deathstalker will have to contend with a minor brawl, some lackluster fighting, an equally lackluster betrayal, and one of the magician's men being transformed into the form of Princess Codille (Barbi Benton), which puts quite a dent into Deathstalker's rape plans for him/her.

I think the short Sword & Sorcery boom brought us more crappy, painful films than any other boom in exploitation filmmaking. While films like Ator are at least entertaining through wilful stupidity, Deathstalker is mostly boring.

Director James Sbardellati seems to know only one way to keep his audience awake, and that is by flashing breasts at it. Usually, I wouldn't call nudity a problem in film, but breasts alone can't safe a film that has nothing else going for it.

The acting is execrable, not even the evil magician manages to be any fun, and Rick Hill is about as charismatic as a wall.

It doesn't help the film that there is no visible effort made to show anything interesting beside the naked actresses and a guy with the head of a pig, or that not much of interest is happening in it.

Pig headed dude and the very silly gender transformation scene are the only memorable elements on display, but the latter is also marred by Deathstalker's extremely irritating love for rape. I counted half a dozen attempted rapes in the film, not one of them needed for reasons of plot, character or theme, because those three things don't exist in the film's script. The final rape attempt is even committed by what is supposed to be the film's hero and only stays an attempted rape because the victim turns out not to have a vagina, for Cthulhu's sake!

The only difficulty Deathstalker leaves me with is to praise how artfully it manages to be boring and offensive at the same time, so I won't.


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