Thursday, March 7, 2013

In short: Thor the Conqueror (1983)

Barbarian archer and bad guy Gnut (Raf Baldassarre) murders the father of the freshly born Thor. Shaman Etna (Luigi Mezzanotte) escapes with the baby and raises him like his own son. Or so he says, for curiously, grown-up Thor (Bruno Minniti) doesn't know what a woman is, will only feed his foster father with fish heads, only talks in sentence fragments, and talks of himself exclusively in the third person, pretty much like the Hulk. I don't think Etna's a very good father.

After Thor has killed his first man and slept with his first woman (helpful hints by dad: women are stupid, don't be too soft with them, women are meant to serve men), Etna sends him out to invent agriculture, take vengeance on Gnut, and become the greatest chieftain ever. On his way, Thor rapes an amazon (Maria Romano) who of course falls in love with him (the sound you now hear is me vomiting), and has various cheap adventures.

I honestly think Tonino Ricci's low-rent sword and sorcery movie was at one point in its existence meant to be something rather cool - an attempt to use the sword and sorcery genre to tell a kind of origin myth that explains where agriculture and horses came from and how the world works, the sort of tale one imagines some fantasy world barbarians would tell their children.

Alas, between that basic idea and its actual execution sits quite a gulf, or a wall made out of a non-existent budget, for Thor looks so impoverished even the Deathstalker films seem lavish in comparison. There are basically no sets, just one very European looking wood, a cave, and some fur tents. The soundtrack consists of ill-fitting orchestra library music that makes the movie feel even cheaper. Camera set-ups are primitive and somewhat boring, and what special effects there are, are unsurprisingly bad.

Its immense misogyny (the film actually seems to mean that crap about woman's subservience to man), and the outright assholish-ness of its hero were no help in improving my opinion of the film, yet still I found myself watching it with a degree of tolerance and slight amusement.

It was probably the wackiness of some of Thor's ideas that did the trick: Etna's tendency to follow Thor around in owl form to sprout unasked for exposition into the camera, the shaman's obvious relish in secretly watching his foster son having sex (though I suspect there's no need for secrecy and Thor would just grunt and say "Thor say watch" if asked), snake poison as the cure for blindness, the fact that the first horse was beamed into this world by Thor's god for our hero to frighten his enemies with. There's just a whole bunch of vaguely bemusing and highly amusing crap here that makes it difficult to condemn Thor completely, as much as I would like to.

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