Sorceress (1982)

An epic adventure of swords and sorcery in the ultimate cosmic struggle!

Year of Release: 1982
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Rated: R
Running Time: 82 minutes (1:22)
Director: Jack Hill


Leigh Harris ... Mira
Lynette Harris ... Mara
Roberto Nelson ... Erlick
David Millbern ... Pando
Bruno Rey ... Baldar
Ana De Sade ... Delissia
Roberto Ballesteros ... Traigon
Douglas Sanders ... Hunnu
Tony Stevens ... Khrakannon
Martin LaSalle ... Krona
Silvia Manríquez ... Kanti
William Arnold ... Dargon


Traigon, a despotic ruler and devotee of the Black Arts, is driven by his tremendous will-to-power to become Master of the World. He makes a pact with the powers of darkness that he will sacrifice his firstborn in order to gain the highest degree of supernatural power.

His wife flees with her newborn twins pursued by Traigon and his warriors. He tortures her, but she refuses to reveal which twin is the firstborn. The dying mother kills Traigon with her last strength, but Traigon dies vowing he will return to fulfill his promise.

Twenty years later, Traigon returns and sends his warriors through his empire to find the twins. But the twins have been given the secret power to use to call on the forces of light. Now the forces of light and the powers of darkness must clash in order to decide whom the victor will be.


Sorceress, remindin' us that when you're tryin' to pass off two Playboy Playmates with huge knockers as men, you should at least consider dialin' back the Mary Kay cosmetic products.

An speakin' of snow covered peaks, it's barely December an I've already had my fill of winter - an I've especially had my fill of the old fogies who look forward to it every year so they can drive over to the church an listen to their grandkids sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer an talk about how "sweet" they are even though every single performance sounds like dinner was late at the pound. All this goddamned snow's "so beautiful" when you live in an area where the streets get plowed an the kids line up to beg for the opportunity to shovel your sidewalk for $3, but here in my neighborhood we'd relish the chance to tell Old Man Winter where he can stick it. I spoze I'm prolly bein' too hard on these people, I mean, I guess it's not *their* fault I forgot to roll the windows up in the Topaz after Billy Hilliard an I drove around playin' Freeze Out the other night an let the front seat fill up with six inches of snow. Wouldn't even have been that bigga deal except I hadda trade a brick of .22 shells to Dick Buford so he'd rig me up an adapter that'd allow me to plug my old shop vac into the cigarette lighter which... mighta been a little too strong a draw for the battery, in hindsight. Worked great for the first ten minutes or so; I'd gotten the driver's seat, floor board, an the dash all vacuumed off, cept when I sat down on the seat with the metal canister in my lap an started workin' on the passenger side the battery ran outta juice, fried the alternator, an sent a shock through the machine that... well, I don't wanna get graphic since there might be ladies readin', but the short version is I found out what it musta been like to be a prisoner of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.

Fortunately I was able to maintain my dignity as I crawled back to the house an calmly dialed my personal physician: "Tetnis! Thank cripes you're there, you gotta get over here quick. I think I just blew a fuse in my junction box!"

"So? Whaddya want me to do about it? I'm a doctor, not an electrician," he told me.

"You don't understand: there's been a short circuit in my power conduit!" I tried clarifyin'.

"Look, I ain't got time for this; I'm right in the middle of an appointment - funny story too, apparently Bernard McGowan tried plantin' some stingin' nettles around the perimeter of his pot grow and..."

"Damnit Tetnis I dunno how I can be anymore clear about this: I roasted my chestnuts on an open fire an now they look like an old hackey sack that got lost in a coal mine in 1947!" I winced.

"Alright! Fine, I'll be over as soon as I can! I swear, if you were any bigger a pain in my ass I'd hafta hire a proctologist!" he growled as he slammed the phone down.

Easy for him to say - he hadn't just endured an unscheduled round of electrocock therapy. About an hour later he showed up, took a look at my roasted beef, an basically told me to "shake it off" like it was nothin' more'n a concussion or somethin'.

I believe his exact words were: "Oh for cryin' out loud, I know a guy who pays a large woman to do worse stuff than that to 'im... heck, you can't have gotten more'n about 400 volts or so, quit bein' such a big baby. Don't bother tryin' to *have* any babies though, cause I'm pretty sure your baby formula's gone sour."

"Well, at least there's that," I said, feelin' a little better.

"Just slap some aloe on there and stay away from Walleye's Topless Dancin' a few days and you'll be fine," he concluded. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go take a look at Richard Fawner. I dunno what he's got up there this time, but he's been in my waiting room for two hours and has yet to sit down."

So yeah, besides the $40 Tetnis charged me for the house call, I also hadda fork over $25 more to Bondo for the replacement alternator he pulled out of an '85 Mercury Sable an now I'm broke again til next Friday. "Most wonderful time of the year" my charred white hinder.

Tetnis's prolly gonna be P.O.'d when he finds out I ignored his orders an checked out Sorceress this week, but it wasn't so much the regular unveilin' of nekkid Playmate boobies I was after, as a flick set in a less God-forsaken climate than the one I'm currently occupyin'. Back in the '80s Roger Corman was all over the Sword & Sorcery scene like tribal armband tattoos on a construction crew, and you basically had two different types: the Deathstalker formula, and the Sorceress formula. The Deathstalker formula consisted of having a budget greater than the cost of a McDonald's Happy Meal and was meant to be taken at least slightly seriously, where the Sorceress formula involved the management at New World Pictures roping in people who'd work for pesos or exposure and operated on the tried-and-true philosophy: if we make fun of ourselves, the critics can't touch us. The upside to the latter strategy is that when you're not afraid of critical reception you've usually got enough free rein to get nasty, so in the spirit of pushin' the boundaries of barbarism, I've selected three spoils of salacious screenwriting to help you decide which filmmaking technique better suits your needs. First, when your captor refuses the advances of a foxy Mexican babe's maracas an tries to ram a stake up your hinder, it's prolly a good idea to sleep with your back to the wall. Second, a lack of underwear in the midst of a barbarian raid can give your attackers the wrong idea about your virtues. An third, there's a limit to how much modesty a veil can help you maintain when your butt cheeks are flappin' in the breeze.

The movie begins with horsemen led by this evil sorcerer who looks like the guy on the side of the deviled ham can (Traigon) massacrin' a troupe of traveling beggars in search of some broad's first born baby - I think maybe they're debt collectors for Rumpelstiltskin or somethin'. Anyway, turns out the gal has twins an Traigon's gotta know which one was the first born otherwise his plan for the baby's gonna go haywire an cause his evil God to nuke our hineys into ash if he uses the wrong one, so he has his personal torturer start doin' some landscapin' work with this rake that's got Freddy Krueger knives attached to it until the mama gets desperate an summons Krona, God of Swedish currency an master of Old Fogie Fu. Krona spears an shears Traigon's entire death squad in 12 seconds flat an it starts lookin' like pincushion city for Traigon, cept before Krona can pike 'im through the pectorals Traigon's eyeballs go nuclear like he's turnin' C.H.U.D. an the babe with the tic-tac-toe board carved into 'er torso hasta gore Traigon through the gut bucket with a spear so he won't melt Krona into spinach casserole. It ain't gonna be that easy though, cause while the drama queen's dyin' we find out he's gotta die three times like Jason Voorhees an that he'll be back for round two, before evaporatin' into one of them pine tree air fresheners you hang on the rear view. The baby mama's been pretty well raked an staked by this point, so she asks Krona to take care of 'er babies an he vows to whip 'em into ballbustin' barbarian babes in spite of their gender handicap. It takes Krona about two minutes of ear-splittin' screaming to realize he's in way over his head an dump the babies off with some couple who owe him a favor, but not before imparting his awesome octogenarian fightin' prowess unto the infants an explainin' to the new parents that someday Traigon's gonna come lookin' for the girls so they're gonna hafta make like Aunt Martha from Sleepaway Camp an give 'em permanent gender identity issues by raisin' 'em as boys. Next thing we're 20 years into the future an the moon's in the house of the risin' sun or whatever, an so now Traigon's minions can resurrect 'im by slappin' a gong like Chuck Barris.

Traigon's pretty impressed with how well his cult's held up after 20 years of no paychecks bein' passed out, an he explains to his evil Disney Princess an this wimp with bird legs (Khrakannon) that they must bring him "the two who are one" while everybody stares at their shoes not wantin' to tell 'im the Hilton Sisters passed away while he was in purgatory. Elsewhere, the twins're swimmin' nekkid in a river when this sheeping tom goatman (Pando) shows up lookin' to double his pleasure an fun, only the girls start feelin' threatened by Pan's peter starin' up at 'em an they decide to tenderize his mutton for 'im. While that's goin' on, Traigon's assholes in Tucan Sam helmets're back at the girls' village rammin' sharp medieval things through everybody's gizzards til the boobarians come runnin' an fire arrows though everybody's sternums for tryin' to force Catholicism on 'em. Then Hagar the Horrible (Baldar) steps outta the brush with Pando an tells the "lads" that he's damned impressed with their fightin' skills an how sorry he is that all the steroid use caused 'em to grow 36s Ds that bounce like ADHD addled preschoolers in moon boots when they run, at which point Krona comes hobblin' up lookin' like he oughta be carryin' the Ten Commandments under each arm an explains that the girls're only as good as they are cause he gave 'em his power, before roastin' 'imself to death like a campfire weenie in the funeral pyre. Apparently Krona's the kinda guy who gives in *really* easily to peer pressure. So the girls team up with Beef Erikson an Bleater Pan an head over to this Arabian Fort Courage where women in I Dream of Jeannie costumes perform the dance of the itchy thong, an next thing you know this Brady Bunch barbarian (Erlick) gets caught cheatin' at dice an ends up bein' chased through the middle of an orgy by security until Baldar an the Malibu Barbarians decide to help out an kung fu a buncha wimps in buckskin britches so he can escape.

They find a place to hide where the Glamazons can pop their tops an make everybody stand around wide-eyed like 3rd graders whose 78-year-old math teacher just dropped an f-bomb, only while Baldar an Erlick're gettin' Erlick's sword outta hock this stripper who's wearin' nothin' but graduation tassels lures the iron maidens into the open so Khrakannon can arrest 'em for suspicion of bein' strong enough for a man but made for a woman. Fortunately Pando's been skulkin' around tryin' to meet chicks at the 4H exhibit an he's able to explain what happened through the use of dirty hand gestures, cept by now Evil Jasmine's got the twins tied to a 40' lincoln log so she can mash their faces into a pan of charcoal briquettes an make 'em look like voodoo witch doctors so she'll know which was the first born. Baldar an Erlick are P.O.'d, so they horsejack a coupla geeks in togas, rescue the girls, an haul butt into the Forbidden Old Growth Forest to use all the hippy enviro-tree huggers as human shields. This ain't gonna work for Traigon, so Evil Jasmine sends her monkey-man (Hunnu) in to retrieve the girls an promises 'im that if he can bring 'em both back he can keep the second born for 'imself an make banana splits with 'er. Wonky Kong can hardly contain 'imself an immediately secures the aid of his extended family who unleash a barrage of poison papayas that crack open an release this gas that causes everybody to break into fits of laughter like the U.N. general assembly durin' a Donald Trump speech, allowin' the crass monkeys to escape with the first born (Mara) an Erlick. Hunnu's a little bummed about grabbin' Erlick instead of the second twin (Mira) but frankly that's a pretty easy mistake to make, so Erlick an Mara end up gettin' lugged to Traigon's castle where Traigon explains that he's the twins' daddy an that this whole face scalding, apeman kidnapping, slave collar attaching business is just a big misunderstanding an that he only did those things to get his little girl back an make up for bein' a deadbeat dad for the last 20 years.

As for Erlick, Khrakannon recognizes 'im from the craps table an takes 'im out to the gallows so his toadies can make 'im hug this telephone pole that's been greased up with vaseline an has a big ole sharpened stake at the bottom, but just when it looks like Erlick's about to get shish-kabobed, Evil Jasmine finds a talisman in his clothes indicatin' he's a blue blood an they decide to keep 'im around to score extra brownie points with their God. Turns out Evil Jasmine an Traigon want Erlick to slip Mara his royal scepter so she'll be knocked up with a kingly fetus when they get around to sacrificin' 'er, so Erlick heads into Mara's bedroom an the two of 'em start makin' the sign of the lead-fisted squawk possum, causin' things to get *really* awkward out in the woods when Mira starts feelin' the shock waves from Mara's sexploits an Baldar an Pando hafta sit there thinkin' about cold stuff so the flick won't get an X ratin' slapped on it. Baldar's a little confused as to whether this constitutes rape or a threesome, so he an Mira try sneakin' into the temple without payin' the cover charge an end up trippin' the silent alarm while Traigon's inside watchin' Dallas, an that makes 'im so mad that he hasta come out on the balcony an zap 'em with his Lucky Charms magic until they sink into the Tombs of the Blind Dead. Not surprisingly, when Mira sinks into the ground Hunnu starts thinkin' it ain't never gonna be Bedtime for Bonzo an he's pretty much had it with Traigon an Evil Jasmine dickin' 'im around, so he grabs Baldar's sword an scours the countryside til he finds Pando doin' the Dance of the Seven Veils with three really kinky broads an the two of 'em start rallyin' the peasants for some serious castle stormin'. Unfortunately, Traigon's got Mara an Erlick so soused on palace hooch that they've come around to seein' the wisdom of Hell on Earth, an so Traigon orders all his flunkies to play the drum tabs from Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" while he beseeches the Gods for absolute power an a decent afro comb. This's about as far as I wanna go cause we're about to get into some pretty serious might an magic here, but I can promise you one thing - at no point will there be a pause of any kind to establish either character development or a narrative, so it's smooth sailin' from here.

So you're tellin' me Jim Wynorski only spent a week on the script then? Huh, well don't sweat it Jim - certainly doesn't show. Getting back to the two types of Sword & Sorcery flicks I mentioned earlier though, the Sorceress model has never really worked for me the way the Deathstalker model does, mostly because I can't stand it when a movie understands the position it's in budgetwise and sets out to crack jokes at itself as a way of saving face. If the movie's gonna come up short it's always far more entertaining when it achieves its failures naturally, and this flick is pretty obviously hedging its bet within five minutes of the opening credits. I've always hated the "you can't make fun of us: we KNOW we're silly!" approach, and while that sentiment about criticizing flicks touting this philosophy is ultimately true, I can certainly criticize its unwillingness to take a serious stab at creating a decent movie. Now, obviously these cheapie Corman features can't compete with Conan - that's fine, nobody *expects* them to, but The Beastmaster certainly couldn't compete with Conan's budget and that turned out okay. Even Deathstalker, cheesy as it is, looks pretty good compared to Sorceress because the tone it takes makes it clear they're taking themselves at least somewhat seriously. You may also be wondering about the title, since at no time in the movie do we get someone of the female persuasion who wields magic; well, apparently Roger shopped around titles with his key demographic - high schoolers - and they thought "Sorceress" was the best of the prospective names New World Pictures had come up with at the time. That's just the kinda guy Roger is, bless his heart. This is also why the creature at the end of the movie exists, because Roger had connected the dots with, as he tells it: "things that shouldn't fly flying, and a good box office return." I'm not gonna spoil what that flying thing is, but it comes completely out of nowhere and it exists solely on the basis that Roger felt there weren't enough monsters upon viewing the finished product. Now, to be fair, that decision would have hurt Deathstalker a great deal, but here? Heck, this sucker's already been shot to hell, so why not add a supernatural muppet god to thwart evil? There ain't a lot to like about this one, but frankly, that goofy nonsense makes Sorceress better than it would have been without it.

I guess that just about concludes the merciful part of the review - time to strap this baby to the altar of expectations and part it out for the Sword & Sorcery epics yet to come. The plot is probably what hurts it the most, particularly since most of these flicks have the exact same storyline and this one couldn't be bothered to follow that simple formula. Sorceress has two serious flaws that on their own might not have completely killed it, but together make it one of the most ridiculous things ever produced by New World Pictures. First, the entire film is about the two barbarian babes growing up to avenge their mother, yet the instant Traigon tells Mara he's her father and basically says "fake news!" about his having killed her mama, she *immediately* disregards everything Krona told her about her past and believes him. And second... well, they're Playboy Playmates that nobody seems capable of recognizing as female despite the slow-motion bouncerama that occurs every time they run. I don't think there's even a reason to go into the movie's lesser problems at this point. The acting, as can be expected when you've hired two Playboy Bunnies who've never acted before, is terrible. It's worse than that though, because the flick was filmed in Mexico with what was primarily a Mexican cast, so yeah, you guessed it - it's the attack of the desynced dubbing. Let's not stop there though, because while the dubbing is really, really bad and almost always fails to convey the proper level of emotion, you've also got extremely awkward dialogue on top of it, so imagine a guy who sounds mildly constipated reading the line: "The house of Krona is not far, if you run now we could perhaps hold them long enough!" and you'll understand everything you need to know about the acting in this flick. You wanna hear about the fight choreography where it concerns a coupla 104lb beanpole models, too, or would that be spiking the ball? Right, you prolly don't need me to tell you how that goes.

Here's who matters and why: Roberto Nelson (La denastia de Dracula), David Millbern (Gods and Monsters, Ice Spiders, Chupacabra Terror, Deep Freeze, 2001: A Space Travesty, Amanda & the Alien, Blood Theatre, Slumber Party Massacre), Ana De Sade (The Holy Mountain, Caveman), Martin LaSalle (The Bees, Alucarde, House of Madness, Queen Doll), Miguel Angel Fuentes (The Pumaman, Deathstalker III, Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie, Caveman, The Bermuda Triangle). Both Roberto Ballesteros and Silvia Manriquez have appeared in numerous Mexican soap operas that I can't pronounce without summonin' an Aztec demon god, so you can just take my word that each has made their mark in the history of Mexican daytime dramatic arts.

The special effects are, mercifully, not nearly as inept as the plot or the acting, but then that's like being pleased that you made it to the bathroom to throw up during Thanksgiving rather than horkin' all over the dinner table. We've got some really cheesy light artifacts super-imposed to represent magic effects that're pretty lame even by 1982 standards, the goatman Pando (the guy's face looks alright, but the hairy pajamas are pretty bad), the apeman Hunnu and his extended family (rarely do you see a faked Bigfoot video with suits this terrible, although the animatronics that bring the faces to life are pretty decent), a zombie horde (probably on par with flicks like Tombs of the Blind Dead, although that movie was made 10 years before this one), and the thing in the sky that we don't entirely understand but appreciate anyway (we're talkin' Muppet City here, but it certainly livens the movie up). The props and costuming are pitiful too, but I think you get the idea. The shooting locations are probably the high point, although some of the sets were left over from Zorro, the Gay Blade which'd been filmed a year earlier. The temple and Forbidden Forest sets aren't completely terrible; the marketplace on the other hand looks pretty cheap at times, but in their entirety the sets are probably at least on par with the ones from Deathstalker. The outdoor sequences are alright, but the best one is overshadowed by the fact that most of us are gonna be gawking at the Playmates' bazongas instead of the river; otherwise, there's not much of note here. The soundtrack is lifted entirely from Battle Beyond the Stars which was released by New World Pictures two years earlier and featured both a Science Fiction theme and a budget, yet you might be surprised at how interchangeable the score is. That is to say *some* - sometimes it actually kinda works, other times it's pretty goofy, but then this whole damn movie is goofy, so in all honesty I don't think you can say the soundtrack is causing any real harm to the film's "atmosphere." Just don't be surprised when certain tracks sound like stylistic clones of John Williams' score from Star Wars, because that is, of course, what Battle Beyond the Stars was trying to cash in on. Overall, Sorceress is a destitute production when compared with some of its Sword & Sorcery brethren, and suffers from low self-esteem that comes through in the production values. If you're okay with overflowing self-awareness and humor that often falls flat (think Wizards of the Lost Kingdom) you'll probably enjoy Sorceress a great deal. However if you prefer your barbarians with a little more purpose, this may cause some discomfort.

Rating: 35%