Barbarian Queen

No man can touch her naked steel.

Year of Release: 1985
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Rated: R
Running Time: 71 minutes (1:11)
Director: Hector Olivera


Lana Clarkson ... Amethea
Katt Shea ... Estrild
Frank Zagarino ... Argan
Dawn Dunlap ... Taramis
Susana Traverso ... Tiniara
Victor Bo ... Strymon
Armando Capo ... Arrakur


As an ancient tribe of peaceloving people are joyously preparing for the wedding of their beautiful Barbarian Queen, Amathea, and her handsome groom, Prince Argan, an evil plot to destroy them is being formulated. Without warning, the warriors of the evil tyrant Arrakur descend upon the serene village. They torment, then kill the women and kidnap the men, leaving the village in ruin. The only ones to survive are Amathea and two of her most powerful warrior women, Estrild and Tiniara.

Together they vow to avenge the travesty, waging a fierce battle of cunning and deceit on Arrakur's evil kingdom. Using their savage charms to entice and destroy their adversaries, these "Iron Maidens" are a tremendous force united by the unrelenting will of the Barbarian Queen.


Barbarian Queen, remindin' us that when her highness says no you can either accept it and move on, or spend the rest of your life synergizin' the decor of yuppy living spaces.

And speakin' of places men fear to tread, I got a call last week from Blaine Schwartzberg wantin' me and Billy Hilliard to drop by The Rural Mural to do some work on the aquarium. I spoze mosta you've already seen it, but if not it's about the only thing in Chickawalka County worth stoppin' to look at since the governor shut down Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop. Thing's about two feet wide, built into the wall, and travels the entire length of the seatin' area at eye level so's to create the perfect rural ambiance. Giant pain in the ass is what it amounts to, but normally when Blaine needs somethin' from us it's to restock the thing 'cause too many upper-class tools in polo shirts come in and pay extra to pick which fish they're gonna eat. Apparently, only a savage would eat one of the pre-caught fish outta the freezer.

'Cept this time Blaine wasn't lookin' to get more fish *into* the tank - he wanted us to remove what he called "Fu Manchew," which was this catfish that'd taken to beatin' the tar out of his fellow piscean prisoners, and had apparently bitten the chef and swallowed his class ring when he tried haulin' 'im out for some yuppy yoga instructor from the west side.

"It's scaring the patrons with the way it swims up to the glass and just stares at them with those dead eyes..."

"Blaine, if you say 'like a doll's eyes' I'm takin' my pole and goin' home," I grumbled.

"It happens to be true - it's a menace to aquatic society. Maurice says he won't come back to work until it's been dealt with," Blaine persisted, citing the chef's fear for his personal safety.

"Based upon the Sloppy Crow I had when Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks was closed I'd say Fu here is doin' the Lord's work," I shrugged.

"Just get rid of it! It's thinning out the other species and frightening the children," he reiterated.

"Blaine, you got a wild bear roamin' around in here beggin' for table scraps and this little *fish* is your big concern?" I asked incredulously as Mama, the restaurant's featured attraction, sauntered over to the table.

"She's perfectly harmless. Aren't you, sweetheart?" he assured me as he scratched the hard-to-reach spot behind Mama's right ear.

"Tell that to Cleave's Bronco," I winced, rememberin' the number she did on it the day Cleave, Billy, and me accidentally captured 'er with a fortuitous tree branch that stretched across the road and knocked 'er out cold into the bed of Cleave's rig.

"I'll be in the office," he announced as he rose to leave. "It's $50 each and you can fry it up on the grill before you go."

"$100 to catch a fish, what a baby," I chuckled after Blaine'd shut the door behind 'im.

"Prowy di'n wanna geh hith thilk thir' weh," Billy agreed.

Anyway, I don't wanna bore you with all the details, but we tried worms, eggs, Powerbait, stink bait, and even a coupla shrimp Blaine was squirrelin' away in the freezer; nothin'. Zip. This turkey was havin' none of it.

Tried nettin' 'im too, but he'd just bolt clear down to the far wall and stir up all the silt in the bottom of the tank, and so after about an hour of tryna outsmart the joker I finally discovered his weakness.

"I doh'n think thath golla heowp," Billy pointed out as I made my feelings toward Fu crystal clear as I pressed both middle fingers up against the glass.

"Maybe not, but..." I prolly woulda built up a powerful case for the use of the double bird, but at that point I was stopped short when, all the sudden, Fu swims up next to the glass and starts nibblin' tryna get at my finger steaks, and that gave me an idea.

"Hey Billy, stick your hand in there and see what he does," I suggested.

"Nuh uh. He theems to prefow whi' meah anyway," he pointed out.

"Fine. Get the net," I told 'im.

I wasn't really worried about my hand since catfish barely got teeth. What I hadn't figured on was how strong his ugly jaws were, 'cause once he'd clamped down on my fist and we'd yanked 'im outta the tank I couldn't get 'im loose. Billy tried pullin' 'im off but he never could get a good grip on account of how slippery the little bottom feeder was, and things were further complicated by Mama followin' us around with this "you gonna eat that?" look on 'er face, until finally we went into the kitchen and I had Billy turn the deep fryer on.

"The heow you goh'n vo with thah?" he asked, knowin' he'd likely regret doing so.

"Don't you remember the scene in Bloodsucking Freaks when Ralphus has the girl in the guillotine with the rope in 'er mouth?" I growled, a little miffed at havin' to explain such a simple concept, and proceeded to slowly lower Fu into the hot oil till he finally let go and plopped into the fryer.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the last we'd seen of 'im, 'cause about a half-second after his head slipped beneath the artery-clogging waves he shot outta there and started squirtin' all over the linoleum with his greasy tail, and next thing we knew Mama came chargin' through the swingin' doors lookin' for lunch. She immediately lost her footing on the oily floor and crashed head-first into the cabinetry so hard that she broke the shelving where the wine glasses were stored and Billy and me just barely made it outta there before Fu spiked 'er on the nose and made things personal.

By the time Mama finally got the best of that fish she'd racked up $3489 in damages (although I'm pretty sure Oh What a Ceiling Contracting pads their quotes due to a lack of local competition), and needless to say, Billy and me graciously donated our $100 to help with reconstruction costs. Or so the certified letter I got from The Rural Mural's insurance adjuster explained in excruciating detail. There's just no pleasin' some people.

Not so much as a "thank you" from either of the Schwartzbergs either - like I got nothin' better to do than wrangle catfish on my day off. Anyway, after Billy and me calmly and quietly peeled outta the parkin' lot, we headed back to the house to check out Barbarian Queen - featurin' the magnificent mammaries of the late Lana Clarkson and about a dozen Argentinian film groupies who happened to be hangin' around the set wearin' as little as possible hopin' to break outta their bikinis and into the motion picture industry. I guess Roger Corman musta still been P.O.'d about the $17 John Buechler spent on the special effects for Sorceress, and The Dungeonmaster, 'cause this flick ain't got any creatures or magic lightnin' bolts or supermodel virgin sacrifices, and relies entirely upon Lana Clarkson's chest. Which, don't get me wrong, is pretty spectacular, but doesn't really hold up to the breast dynamics of the twin supermodels from Sorceress, even if Lana's acting ability is miles ahead. Nonetheless, the flick's still bursting at the seams with socially redeeming value. And to prove it I've scribbled down a few of the issues that loom largest in these trying times; skillfully laid bare for contemplation by the greatest drive-in philosophers of our time, and they are as follows. First, if your chick hasta rescue you from the gladiator pit, get used to doin' the dishes yourself. Second, what the rear lace-up bra lacks in practicality, it makes up for in gravity defiance. And third, partake of the orgy buffet table's ranch dressing at your own risk.

The movie begins with a coupla guys who look like they play bass guitar for Scandinavian metal bands chasin' down Dawn Dunlap and removin' 'er buckskin britches so they can take what little honor remained after the nekkid steamroom exposition scene she did with June Chadwick in Forbidden World. Meanwhile, Lana Clarkson (Dawn's sister) is relaxin' in 'er hovel on the Glamazon River Basin gettin' all dolled up 'cause she's about to marry a chunkheaded Luke Flyswatter kinda guy (Argan) and ascend to the throne of oily pecs, only next thing ya know the wait staff from Medieval Times shows up and starts kickin' sand all over the catering and flippin' the grass hut furniture till Lana gets P.O.'d and hasta stab a buncha pillagers in the privates. Eventually the scimitards overwhelm Lana's security detail and she hasta conceal 'er coconuts under some palm fronds so she don't end up gettin' impaled by a pants lance, and by the time it's safe to come out all the men've been taken prisoner and dragged away to become pit fighters and Chippendale dancers. By this point Lana has pretty well transcended bridezilladom and she really wants a piece of Mercenary Larry (Arrakur) and his poon dragoons. So she gathers up the only other survivors (Estrild and Tiniara), grabs 'er manhood removal equipment, and the three of 'em paddle on over to the nearest outpost and start rammin' their swords through the stones of every man they can find and manage to rescue Dawn even though she's pretty well cracked and has mentally blocked out everything that's happened since potty training. The next mornin', the broad marauders ride out to poleaxe the patriarchy some more and end up makin' friends with a group of kindly rebel tailors who run a dry cleanin' service outta their secret cavern that connects to the city's marketplace. This is just the break they need to locate Argan and shop for some much-needed support at JoAnn the Brabarian's Undergarment Emporium, and eventually Lana finds Argan bein' held in the gladiatorial arena and would totally rescue 'im except there're about a dozen degenerate S&M blacksmiths standin' guard, and doin' so would leave really gross pit stains on the new outfit the tailors made for 'er.

Then the bod squad gets captured and tossed into the dungeon where Tiniara's executed for bein' mean to the interrogator, and Lana ends up gettin' strapped to the rack by a Jewish hunchback engineer who refuses to heed her warning when she tells 'im that the Mary Kay Cosmetics people know where she is and will send an army of makeover associates to extract her if she doesn't reach her quota by Sunday. What really ruins his day though, is when he tries playin' hide the schalami with Lana (not realizin' she's been doin' 500 reps a day with 'er Thighmaster for the last two years) and she locks in the kegel clutch and threatens to finish what the mohel started till he unties 'er and she shoves 'im into an underground stream of molten KY jelly. While that's goin' on, Estrild's been assigned to the castle's orgy division workin' under a kabuki eunuch who dresses like the pope. 'Cept while he's watchin' everyone have a good time and dyin' inside, Estrild manages to locate Argan and convince the gladiators to rise up against evil overlord Murray from accounting before the big Battlerama pay-per-view tournament happenin' the next day. Unfortunately, about that time Dull the Conqueror discovers his torturer's gone on a dangerous weight loss program and sends every mudflap armored toadie in Argentina to recapture Lana, only she and Estrild are able to scale the billion schilling border wall in about twenty seconds and rally the militant outfitters from the cave complex to their cause before anyone in the castle so much as gets a whiff of their Vidal Sassoon hair care products. Probably oughta leave off here before I go spoilin' the ending, but if I was Arrakur I think I'd be down at the forge preppin' myself a cast iron athletic supporter about now.

Alrighty, well, you've really gotta hand it to Roger Corman. Figuratively, I mean. Although this flick woulda turned out a lot better if they'd literally handed it over to Roger and had him on set to show these guys how it's done. But the point I was tryin' to make is there's probably never been a filmmaker in history who could see which way the wind was blowin' and go all-in on a hot commodity better than Roger. You'd hafta send away to NASA to calculate how many Argentinians (and to a lesser extent, Mexicans) got jobs in these cheapie Sword & Sorcery flicks as a direct result of Arnold Schwarzenegger oilin' up his Mr. Universe pecs and kickin' James Earl Jones' evil hinder in Conan the Barbarian, 'cause Roger and his associates churned out seven of these things between 1982 and 1987 (Sorceress, Deathstalker I & II, Amazons, Barbarian Queen, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, and The Warrior and the Sorceress), and that's not even counting the four additional titles he made in Bulgaria, Ireland, and the states after that (Deathstalker III & 4, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II, and Barbarian Queen II). Unfortunately, Barbarian Queen is a lesser entry, despite its inclusion of the ultra-rare "vagina fu" drive-in total (perhaps not performed with this level of effectiveness since Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks), and suffers from both serious budget constraints and a script rife with dialogue more akin to a flick set on Sunset Strip than Medieval Europe. The props and costuming are pretty pitiful as well, and while the movie doesn't take itself as seriously as one might like, it's far less insecure and bet hedgey than Sorceress and its "I *meant* to be absurd" moments. I'm far more forgiving of movies that try and fail honestly than those that put up a facade of intentional absurdity, and in that respect, Barbarian Queen will fare better than Sorceress for simply not waving the flag of surrender right outta the chute. The one thing I'll say for it is that, at 71 minutes running time, it never bogs down. It's got no time for character development and can't be bothered to slow down to let you take in anything that's happened (so much so that the final battle lasts roughly five minutes), but at no point will you have to go more than about eight minutes without murder, combat, or nudity. Kind of a short-sighted flick, in that once it finished its run on the drive-in circuit it really wouldn't have had anywhere to go except pay cable, because with a running time of 1:11 it would have been pretty short for basic cable even before you consider all the nudity (and a small amount of violence) would have to be cut out. I don't claim to be a cable TV historian or anything, but it seems like this flick musta been in no man's land when it wasn't airing on Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater, and that's unfortunate because I think 3am on a Tuesday was probably the movie's best shot at findin' its target audience.

In any event, now comes the moment where we weigh the pros (44 female breasts) against the cons (everything else) to find out if this sucker's worth watchin' or whether you're better off just searchin' Google Images for the good parts, so let's get to it. The plot, not unlike the costume design, is extremely threadbare and follows a basic revenge formula that fails to deliver much in the way of thrills. It's all very paint-by-numbers, while also being best described as a "stuff happens" movie, because it never slows down long enough to let you process anything that's happened. Within a minute of the flick startin' you've got poor Dawn Dunlap bein' violated by a coupla sweaty, Viking chunkheads, and the next minute the opening credits are rolling to this hopeful, semi-celebratory renaissance faire music over a wide shot of Lana Clarkson's village, and it's so jarring that at first you assume the editor's just dyslexic, but it continues on that way for the remainder of the flick. On the other hand, it may be the first movie in history to be capable of actually holding the attention of teenage boys with ADHD, so I guess it depends on whether you're a glass half full or half empty person. The acting is frequently bad, but that doesn't really tell the whole story, because to put it more succinctly, the acting isn't so much bad as it is *wrong*. It's true that some of these folks would have given a bad performance regardless, but virtually no effort is made to conform the dialogue to the movie's setting, and that pretty well damns it to hades before the flick has even been cast. We've got Malibu Barbarians all over the set here, and given that the director was Argentinian but only half the cast was, I suspect the culture barrier may have been preventing people from realizing how goofy some of the scenes turned out. Naturally, because many of the cast members were speaking different languages, a lot of them are badly dubbed, but Frank Zagarino wins the award for the most awkward performance as the chunkheaded love interest, Argan. Kinda reminds you of Rocky II when he's tryin' to shoot that aftershave commercial. Lana Clarkson's alright as the lead, and she's pretty decent with a plastic sword, but she's only one woman and she's just not capable of carrying this train wreck.

Here's who matters and why: Lana Clarkson (Amazon Women on the Moon, Barbarian Queen II, Brainstorm, Deathstalker), Katt Shea (The Rage: Carrie 2, Last Exit to Earth, Psycho III), Frank Zagarino (Cyborg Cop III, Project Shadowchaster 1 - 3, Waxwork II, Cy Warrior) Dawn Dunlap (Forbidden World), Susana Traversa (Los extraterrestres), Victor Bo (Deathstalker), Armando Capo (Amazons, The Warrior and the Sorceress), Eddie Pequenino (Stay Tuned for Terror), Patrick Duggan (Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Deathstalker), Lucy Tiller (Demon Witch Child, Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf), Theodore McDabney (Highlander II), Ricardo Jordan (Belcebu: Tomame soy tu Puta del Infierno), Eva Adanaylo (The Warrior and the Sorceress), Norman Friedman (The Terminator, Microwave Massacre), Daniel Ripari (Wizards of the Lost Kingdom), Arturo Noal (Amazons, The Warrior and the Sorceress, Stormquest), Marcos Woinsky (Deathstalker 1 & 2, Terror 5, Stormquest, Amazons, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, The Warrior and the Sorceress).

The special effects are lackluster for the most part, but given that it's a Fantasy film, there's no expectation that they be especially gruesome or elaborate as there would if it were a Horror film. The arrow in the head early on is decent, and I'll give some points for the general gooeyness of the sword through the neck despite its resemblance to Chef Boyardee cuisine, but the torturer's skeleton late in the game is hysterically silly. Other than that it's mostly just blood spatters and a few lacerations here and there, so the effects aren't especially brilliant, but nor are they too detrimental. The shooting locations aren't really what you're expecting for a movie about barbarians, particularly when they get anywhere near water and you start havin' flashbacks to movies like Cannibal Ferox where you're expectin' an anaconda to come swimmin' up onto the riverbank. But if the exteriors seem a bit incongruent to those of Medieval Europe I have good news - once you've seen the *interiors* you'll forget all about the jungles of the Iberian Peninsula. The interiors are of Star Trek TOS design and quality, and feature that unmistakable papier-mache aesthetic that comes across as cheesy and charming for a show from 1966, but much harder to swallow in a movie from 1985, and one look will give you a newfound appreciation for the castle in Deathstalker. The soundtrack is probably the movie's strongest asset, having been composed by the great Christopher Young of Hellraiser fame, while also featuring a few tracks recycled from Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars. It's not a grandiose orchestral composition like you would get with a modern Fantasy epic, but for this film's budget it's pretty lively, appropriate, and effective at creating a little atmosphere despite the director's best efforts. It's been a while since I saw it, but it may be the same soundtrack from Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, which he composed the same year. Regardless, it boosts the film's production value and adds a little credibility to the notion that you're watching a legitimate B-movie, and worthy of the drive-ins whence it played. Overall, Barbarian Queen is weaker than both Sorceress and Deathstalker on a technical level, and decidedly less enjoyable, as it lacks basic staples of the subgenre, such as creatures, magic, and well-defined trials to be overcome en route to the primary objective. Basically, it's a lot more Adventure than Fantasy, so keep that in mind if you're choosing between it and, say, Krull.

Rating: 31%