Saturday, June 11, 2016

Barbarian Queen

   "I'll be no man's slave and no man's whore. And, if I can't kill them all... by the gods they'll know I've tried." Holy hell in a handbag, someone forgot to tell Lana Clarkson that she was making a crap movie. I don't know if it was ignorance, pride, or just a strong work ethic, but Clarkson steals the show, consistently trying her damndest to be as convincing as possible. It's a shame that the movie isn't remotely on her level. I'm not saying she's a great actress, or... even a good one, but she's clearly putting in a ton of effort. She tries to make her fight scenes look great, and tries to deliver her lines with flair. She makes the movie much easier to watch, and a damn sight better than Deathstalker III and IV. Eeesh.

   The movie is really weird, like it's been excessively edited. The camera cuts away from anyone who's speaking, like, mid-sentence. Constantly. There's also little scenes, especially in the opening, which feel random, and without context. This is pretty unfortunate, because the village set they created was pretty great, and along with the costumes, it all looked more convincing than any of the Deathstalker movies. The last two Deathstalker movies might be tainting my opinion of the first two, which were seriously enjoyable, but despite all it's technical ineptness, Barbarian Queen is just as fun as that franchise ever managed to be... with one caveat; there's no sorcery in this sword & sorcery flick. It's just a fantasy-era barbarian flick. No magic, no wizardry, no spells, and no sorcery at all. Lame. That's the one biggest drawback to this movie.

   After watching all four of the Deathstalkers, and knowing that this flick sprung from the same pool of creative minds, I expected the bad acting, bad writing, and technical incompetence. How could you not? Ergo, your overall expectations for the movie shift a bit. It becomes less about character and story, effects and acting- and more about sets, action, pacing, absurdity, creativity, nudity, gore and so on. Whatever Rick Hill did, Lana Clarkson shows she can do it too, and just as well. Budding from a co-star in another barbarian franchise entry, to having a two-part franchise all her own, it's quite an impressive step.

   The movie manages to be consistently entertaining, always finding something to splash across the screen, whether it's sword fights, blood, big sets, or nudity. I've no complaints about any of those things. I was actually pretty impressed by the sets, and like in Deathstalker- what the actors and stuntmen lack in sword fighting skill, they make up for with sheer energy and effort. So when Lana Clarkson is swinging her sword at someone or flinging them over a ledge, she's really going for it.
You can just hear the "HYAAAA!"
  It's commendable really. She could've bounced her way through the role half-naked with little to no effort, and nobody would've even called for a second take. That's the kind of movie this is. It's a cash grab spin-off of a cash-grab rip-off. There's a whole sub genre of flicks just like this, and bad or good, I love em. At best they're like demo reels of cheap thrills and dirty entertainment. There's a torture scene where Clarkson's character is strapped naked to this upright table and is about to get raped. I mean, that alone might've made the movie worth a rental in the 80's, but now it's just hard to watch... until she traps the torturer's erection, pinching it so tight he has to free her in order to free willy. Fair trade.

   It's a ridiculous and hilarious scene made even better by the fact it's played completely straight faced. She then chucks the guy into a pit of acid. Yay! For every topless scene and attempted rape, there's like five 'revenge' moments. And rightly so, this isn't the kind of movie I want to feel awkward watching. It's fantasy. Power fantasy, male fantasy whatever. The movie has women saving the day and kicking ass when all their men are taken captive to fight as gladiators for the amusement of wicked king. I dunno. The humor is base, the effects are cheesy, the plot is paper thin, the acting standard is pretty darn low, some characters are actually dubbed- and dubbed awkwardly. But the fact the movie maintains a forward moving energy is impressive to me.

   Movies of it's kind frequently stall out at a certain point, or look stale from beginning to end. Barbarian Queen had some striking scenes, huge and colorful sets, and a lot of energy. It also has some things I flat out didn't expect, which is shocking. For example, the heroine and her friends attack this small outpost, manned by (you guessed it) men, in order to rescue this girl they've tortured and raped. The girls fight valiantly, stabbing dudes through the neck and everything. (Which was really cool) But despite their efforts... the girl they rescued, dies anyways. Well, damn. I feel like somewhere in the mess of writers, directors, producers, and actors, someone wanted to actually make a good movie. So while Barbarian Queen isn't necessarily a "good" movie, it's certainly good for it's genre, and if you like these kinds of flicks, you'll really enjoy this one too.

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