Film Review: Deathstalker (1983)

Also known as: Warrior King (Philippines), Stalker – The Warrior King (Norway), El cazador de la muerte (Argentina)
Release Date: September 2nd, 1983 (limited)
Directed by: James Sbardellati (as John Watson)
Written by: Howard R. Cohen
Music by: Oscar Cardozo Ocampo
Cast: Richard Hill, Barbi Benton, Richard Brooker, Lana Clarkson, Victor Bo

Aries Cinematográfica Argentina, Palo Alto, New World Pictures, 80 Minutes

Review:

“All the power comes to me.” – Munkar

The only Deathstalker I’ve ever seen is the third one and that’s because it was on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. That one was atrocious, so at least this one is better than that turd.

However, this is still a pretty shitty film even if it has the magic touch of Roger Corman. He helped put it out through New World Pictures when he was still running that studio and it was the first of ten pictures that he did from Argentina.

Anyway, the film is boring in just about every way. The script is abysmal, the plot is paper thin and not much of anything interesting happens onscreen.

Now I do like some of the practical effects but some monsters and creatures look good for the time, while others look like total crap. It’s as if some of the budget was pushed into certain characters or creatures while the other effects suffered from a lack of funds. It’s pretty inconsistent even though the film already looks cheap, regardless.

Rick Hill was decent as Deathstalker but he didn’t have much to work with and the direction he was given was poor. The real highlight though is Lana Clarkson, who simply wore a G-string and a black cloak. Her tippies were hanging out all over the place, which had I seen this when I was a kid, I probably would’ve rented this all the time.

The evil wizard is weak, not impressive and struck no terror in me whatsoever. I mean, if you’re going to do a sword and sorcery picture at the height of the sword and sorcery genre, you need to have a cool and menacing villain. This guy just looked like the doorman at The Pickled Bear, an underground gay bar in Palatka, Florida.

Weirdly, it looks like the second Deathstalker has a higher rating on IMDb than this one or the third one. Maybe I’ll check it out but I watched enough paint dry after my cousin re-did his foyer last weekend.

Rating: 3.75/10
Pairs well with: the Deathstalker sequels and other very low budget barbarian movies.

Film Review: Sonno Profondo (2013)

Also known as: Deep Sleep (English title)
Release Date: October 11th, 2013 (Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival – Spain)
Directed by: Luciano Onetti
Written by: Luciano Onetti
Music by: Luciano Onetti
Cast: Luciano Onetti, Daiana Garcia, Silvia Duhalde

Guante Negro Films, 67 Minutes

Review:

I didn’t even know about this film’s existence until I was perusing the depths of Shudder. But when I read that it was an Argentinean film that was a modernized version of classic ’70s giallo, I had to give it a watch. Plus, it was only 67 minutes so if it was painful to get through, at least I wouldn’t have to be committed to it for 90 minutes or more.

Anyway, one guy pretty much made this film. He had a few other actors he needed but he directed it, wrote it, produced it, did the music and starred in it. I guess this is a good way to make sure that the film matches your vision and this guy certainly had a unique vision.

What’s cool about this film is that the visual style of it works and for the most part, the set design was well done even if it was minimalistic. I liked the lighting and the general cinematography. However, a lot of the camerawork left a lot to be desired.

Most of the shots were done in extreme closeup and it made the film surreal but mostly just disorienting. While a sense of disorientation is most assuredly what the director was going for, it becomes pretty unwatchable after just the first few minutes. It’s something that works best if used sparingly but the effect was overwhelming and distracting to what the rest of the film was trying to convey. Really, this just felt like a 67 minute music video for a ’90s industrial band without any awesome industrial music to back it up.

I don’t like to shit on someone’s art unless it is terrible, pretentious, self-serving bullshit. This doesn’t quite feel like that but it does ride the fence of pretentiousness.

If one wants to recreate the effect of a classic giallo, one really needs to employ great set design, a masterful use of color, as well as a more calculated and broader range in regards to their cinematography. While this captures some of the giallo vibe, it misses the mark in most of the key areas.

This feels more like an experimental project from a young film student than an actual film. That’s not a bad thing but the work needs to be fine tuned and expand outward, painting a world beyond tight closeup shots and pretty standard driving scenes. But there is talent here.

The director’s films after this have higher ratings on IMDb, so maybe he was able to build off of this. I may check them out in the future, if I can find them streaming.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Mario Bava and Dario Argento giallo films but those are better than this.

Film Review: Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)

Also known as: El mago del reino perdido (Argentina), Wizard Wars (US alternate title)
Release Date: October 1985 (US)
Directed by: Héctor Olivera
Written by: Ed Naha
Music by: James Horner, Christopher Young
Cast: Bo Svenson, Vidal Peterson, Thom Christopher

Trinity Productions, Concorde Pictures, 72 Minutes

Review:

This was a really tough movie to sit through. At least I got to experience it in an episode of the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Jonah and the ‘Bots made it watchable, at least and their skits were good.

This is an Argentinian film that tries to mesh together The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. I think it was made more to capitalize off of the popularity of family fantasy movies like The NeverEnding Story and The Dark Crystal. It isn’t as well done as those pictures. In fact, it is poorly made and incredibly ridiculous.

The quality of this film from a special effects standpoint is laughably bad. In fact, it looks worse than Soviet fairytale movies that predate this by two decades. The wizard kid’s sidekick is basically a Wampa from The Empire Strikes Back without a face. He’s just a seven foot tall white shag carpet. It looks like a character from an old Sid & Marty Kroft show.

The biggest star in this thing is Bo Svenson, which should say a lot. He’s our big hero and instead of being some bad ass barbarian swordsman, we get a big out of shape guy that looks like he drank all the Old Crow at a Kris Kristofferson concert. He looks like a drunk extra from The Road Warrior. He’s like that drunken hobo that just shaved so he can apply for a job at True Value. And someone gave this turkey a sword.

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom is mind numbingly bad. I can’t imagine that this movie made any sort of money but somehow there was a sequel made four years later. That one is also in the new season of MST3K, so I guess I’ll be stuck watching it too.