Saturday, June 11, 2016

Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back


   Finally! Some sorcery back in my sword & sorcery! This non-sequel to the first Barbarian Queen is a much more colorful movie, and trumps it's predecessor right out of the gate with a story that actually involves a magical object. That and a bitchy little empress girl uses some sort of wish-magic to turn herself into a woman for some reason. This movie gets heaps of brownie points all across the chart. A sadistic child villain, a magical scepter that only women can use, TWO torture scenes, Lana Clarkson frequently gettin' nekkid, and amazing lines like "Men don't understand power, they think all it's good for is getting more." Woah... Woah.

   Lana Clarkson brings the same energy she had in the first movie back to this one, as well as some amazing cleavage. I mean, this movie is basically softcore porn, as was the first one, but there's also a bunch of sets, and plot stuff, and action scenes as well, so it's a healthy balance of all kinds of trashy entertainment. I liked it. I mean, it's a movie that barely warrants a one paragraph review let alone the standard six I write for (almost) every movie. But, still... Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (yes, that's it's real title. No joke. Well... it is a joke. I mean, I hope.... geez.) crams it's runtime so full of craziness that you can't help but be entertained.

   Granted, I've been scraping the bottom of the cinematic barrel with these B-grade sword & sorcery flicks, so maybe I'm desensitized to the overall crap-ness of the movie. But, women mud wrestling? Huge (not-quite-)epic battles? More swords than you could find at a renaissance fair? And 80's hairdos galore? Yes, yes, yes, yes! I'm sold. Yes, that's how cheaply I'll roll for entertainment. And, there's nothing wrong with enjoying B-grade cinema like this. It's a relic from a bygone era where even if the movies lacked the budget to look lived in and worn-out, the production was so cheap that everything looked that way anyways.

   It's why sword & sorcery flicks, alongside post-apocalyptic flicks are still so fun from that era. But, modern Asylum-grade mockbusters just can't manage it. There's an artificial sheen to B-grade movies nowadays. I can't place my finger on it, but they don't manage to earn the same good will that these old movies do. Bad movies are bad movies, but there's still something about an old bad movie that can potentially make it fun. Please realize though that there's a not-so-fine line between watchably bad and outright awful.

   For example, Lucio Fulci made a sword & sorcery flick called Conquest. I couldn't tell you the first thing about the plot. But! I can tell you that the hero has a Tron-looking energy bow & arrow. If you don't think that's cool... you can just get the flying frick out of my face, homeslice. Conquest is technically speaking, a 'bad' movie. The acting is as cheap as the costumes and set design, but there's a charm to all of it. A necessary creativity that had to exist, something that couldn't be green-screened or added in post. Barbarian Queen II has some of that flavor to it. Sure it's a bad movie, but it's not a so-bad-it's-good movie. It's bad, but enjoyable despite it's badness.

   I hope I'm not confusing anyone. I enjoyed this movie for the nonsense and trashiness it embraced. So I enjoy it for something it did right, not what it did wrong. So-bad-it's-good movies are ones you can only enjoy by laughing at how bad they are. This is not the case here, at least not for me, some might find the whole thing laughable, and wonder how I'm enjoying this in earnest, un-ironically. How is one supposed to enjoy nudity and mud wrestling ironically? I dunno. If anything, I'm laughing at the absurdity of it all, but I can't laugh at the movie itself. Somehow I kinda sorta maybe care that the good guys win in this movie, and movies like it. It's escapist cinema that is unconcerned with anything but good vs evil. And boobs. It's very concerned with boobs.

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