November 21, 2013

Movie Review: Barbarian Queen

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Roger Corman wastes nothing, absolutely nothing. Reuse sets, use extra days on location, use the extra money in the budget, make more cheap movies! Now, that is not always a good thing, but Corman uses his eye for talent and ability to pair talent with the right material that more often than not, the end result manages to entertain. Also, if you find a formula that works, go back to the well and do it again! So, with their successful Conan rip off, Deathstalker (which went on to spawn three sequels), Corman went back to the well and reused the locations in a female version, Barbarian Queen (released mere months after Red Sonja) in 1985.

Barbarian Queen is a movie that plays fast and loose with plot and development. It runs a mere 70-minutes, so there is no time to be wasted. Of course, they probably could have padded it out with the what passes for plot and character development in these types of movies, but why bother? We all know we aren't watching for stuff like that. This is an exploitative barbarian epic, it has sword fights, nudity, and no time for plot! And you know what? It works!

The movie stars Lana Clarkson (likely more famous know as the woman murdered by Phil Spector, RIP) as Amethea. It is her wedding day and she is set to marry Prince Argan (Frank Zagarino) when the village is invaded by soldiers from a neighboring evil kingdom. As the villagers are slaughtered, Amethea sets fire to her hut to escape capture. Argan watches in rather bored fashion as his beloved is presumed burned to death. The men are taken into custody. Fortunately, Amethea and a couple other ladies manage to survive the attack. They decide to take up arms and get their revenge.

Before long they find some nasty fellows who have Amethea's sister, Taramis (Forbidden World's Dawn Dunlap). She is in shock from having been raped, but seems otherwise all right and takes up a sword to join the fight. They also stumble across some other rebels, who don't always seem willing to fight.

Anyway, they find the menfolk and dive in. Sadly, shellshocked Taramis gives them away and they are caught. This leads to some weird stuff with the evil menfolk, including some stripping and a dangling metal glove. Weird. Well, the capture doesn't take long and the fighting resumes. It all plays out as one would expect.

Barbarian Queen is a movie that is good for what it is, but it is not a good movie. The acting is sub par, the dialogue is atrocious, and then there are the fight sequences. The fights are simply terrible, the choreography is simply not there. It is like they handed out the stunt weapons, told the performers to swing them around and called action. Of course, we are probably paying more attention to Lana Clarkson's, uhh, assets (as well as the other ladies), but sometimes it is hard to ignore the laughably bad fights. There is one fight in particular, Amethea is fighting this guy in the water while another fight is on land, it cuts back and forth between them. It seems like every time we see Amethea, she either swings her sword or kicks the guy and she then falls into the water. Every. Single. Time. At least it seemed that way.

This is the kind of movie you are either going to get into or nor. I quite enjoyed it. It is a finely executed slice of sword and sandal exploitation. It has the fights, the fast movie, light on plot tale, and plenty of nudity. What else could you want?

The movie was directed by Hector Olivera, who followed this with the serious drama with the amusing name of Night of the Pencils. It was written by Howard R. Cohen, who also wrote Deathstalker and in between scripted a Rainbow Brite movie and several Care Bears episodes. One of Amethea's partners in revenge, Katt Shea, went on to direct Alicia Silverstone in Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2. Just a couple interesting movie connections.


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