Monday, August 1, 2011

Diversion 2.0 Thirty Day Movie Challenge -- Day 14

Day 14 – A Sci-fi/Fantasy Movie

If there’s one era of movies whose flavor I find perfect for summertime viewing, it’s 80’s movies. True, not all films released during the era of Reaganomics and Wham! were corny, light-hearted affairs, but I’ll be damned if the 80’s didn’t produce some of my favorite feel-good movies. Part of the reason, I think, is because (at least with the films I’ve seen) Hollywood films in the 80’s had a pronounced sense of sincerity; at least compared to 90’s movies, which alternate between cool-guy posing and snarkysnarksnark hipness. This sincerity gives 80’s fantasy films an even greater since of ridiculousness—while many fantasy films can sway into either too-sincere or too-good-for-the-material territory, many 80’s fantasy films walk a tricky line between taking seriously the material and knowing how ludicrous the who affair is. Today’s film may or may not realize how damn silly its material is, and this makes it a laughably awful good time (not to be confused with an awfully good time).

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

Take a moment to stare at the poster, and roll that name around in your mouth for a bit. “The Sword and the Sorcerer.” Surely any film with the gonads to call itself “The Sword and the Sorcerer” must be based on some twelve-year-old’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. But no, it’s a boldfaced Conan the Barbarian rip-off, and a pretty decent one at that. It’s not, by any stretch, a good movie, but on the spectrum of so-bad-it’s-awesome cheesefests, The Sword and the Sorcerer is pretty comfortably placed.

The film begins with King Cromwell (Richard Lynch) resurrecting an ancient sorcerer named Xusia of Delos (Richard Moll) in order to conquer the crap out of the rival country of Ehdan, an Alderaan-esque land of piece which happens to be steeped in riches. In short order, Ehdan is overrun and King Richard (Christopher Cary) is executed, leaving Prince Talon (Lee Horsley) to flee for his life, but not before his father bequeathed him with a triple-bladed sword. The film then skips ahead eleven years—Talon is all grown up, and ready to free his homeland from the hands of Cromwell.

The movie is stupid, but it knows how dumb it is, which makes it somewhat redeemable.

The Sword and the Sorcerer is standard boilerplate fantasy, but with numerous caked-on layers of “This is so cool/This is so stupid” appeal. For example, the hero wields a triple-bladed sword. What do the other two accomplish?! They’re just there to look “awesome,” and the worst part is that, in their own stupid way, they do. The Sword and the Sorcerer is stuffed to the gills in Conan-esque high fantasy tropes, and seems rather proud of how damn silly the whole affair is. There’s also a modicum of fan service (read: “tits”) because, well, isn’t that what happens in these sorts of movies.

Actually, I’m just going to post the tagline, which should tell you everything you need to know about the plot, tone, and every other aspect of the movie:

A lusty epic of revenge and magic, dungeons and dragons,
wizards and witches, damsels and desire,
and a warrior caught in between.

If watching 80’s fantasy trainwrecks sounds like your cup of tea, make a point to rent The Sword and the Sorcerer from your local obscure movie shop today.

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