The Might of the Sword... The Evil of the Sorcerer...
Year of Release: 1983
Running Time: 81 minutes (1:21)
Director: James Sbardellati
Rick Hill ... Deathstalker
Barbi Benton ... Codille
Richard Brooker ... Oghris
Lana Clarkson ... Kaira
Bernard Erhard ... Munkar
Augusto Larreta ... Salmaron
Veronica Llinas ... Toralva
Marcos Woinsky ... Gargit
Adrian De Piero ... Nicor
Jorge Sorvik ... King Tulak
Deathstalker is the mighty warrior chosen to battle the evil forces of this medieval planet. Bored of petty brawls and willing wenches, and bent on revenge for past wrongs, this handsome, lustful fighter sets off on a journey to the most challenging tournament in the land - to the winner, the throne of the evil wizard, the ultimate mystical power, and the love of the high-spirited and beautiful Princess Codille. But first he must prove himself worthy of his legacy... and treachery lurks at every turn.
Deathstalker, remindin' us that it's a dang tricky business focusin' on sword fightin' while your opponent's unchained mammaries're bouncin' around like ping pong balls durin' the lotto drawin'.
An speakin' of things poppin' up at the most inopportune moments, I decided I ain't never leavin' the house again. Which's just as well, since I've got approximately 468lbs of vacuum-packed cuisine socked away from the Y2K situation that I really needa start whittlin' away at before it gets old. I just can't face the world after what happened Tuesday night. But I guess tellin' *you* guys's no big deal, since I imagine mosta you internet people're prolly degenerates anyway. Like I was sayin' though, as you freaks prolly know already, the fires we had the last few years pretty well destroyed all the trees out at Silas Tankersley's place, which is where I've always gone to cut my "Jesus trees" (you gotta call 'em that, otherwise talk of money changin' hands tends to come up). Thankfully, Silas did have one decent White Fir survive the blazes an I was *plannin'* on cuttin' it, cept when I went out there last weekend I couldn't help but notice it'd had all its bark eaten off by a porcupine an Silas hadn't bothered to tell me. Normally I'da gone an bitched about it, but Silas is the kinda guy who never put sidin' on his house an don't have electricity, so it didn't seem like that was really gonna go anywhere. I guess it ain't that bigga deal; after all, there're a few places that didn't get charred like a slice of Texas toast at a greasy spoon, so I figured I'd just go into the BLM office an grab me a map of Bearcrack Mountain an cut one out there, only in the process I let slip about my tree dilemma an they said I needed a Christmas Tree cuttin' permit an that it was gonna cost $5.
I had a long time to think after uncorkin' a rant about the war on Christmas an bein' escorted off the property by Diedra Duggen (who's a pretty nice gal, by cop standards at least), an... well, once I'd gotten through the first four stages of grief an reached Acceptance, I realized I had no choice but to either disrespect the teachins of Jesus, or buy a tree out at the rodeo grounds like a friggin' yuppy. Course, by "buy" I mean "barter," cause I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. That happened years ago. Fortunately, I was blessed with excellent negotiation skills, an I managed to secure a tree off a guy named Thurgood in exchange for the Topaz' spare tire, but just when I got it in the trunk an bungied the lid to the rear bumper, I stood up an there she was - Fannie Ogglesby, mesmerized by the twinklin' lights around the "Thurgood's Fir Goods" sign. For a few seconds I thought I might still get away with it, but some gossip-driven sixth sense broke the lights' hypnotic hold over 'er an she saw me. I still dunno how I failed to account for Fannie, cause she'll stand in the snow on the brink of frostbite for hours watchin' those chase lights to see if they ever manage to catch up to the front of the string, an I KNEW that. In any event, I was caught green-handed, Fannie's gonna end up bein' judge, jury, an executioner in the court of public opinion. I knew I shoulda just waited til after midnight an cut that Blue Spruce in the park... mighta meant another run-in with Diedra an a few days in the Crossbar Hotel, but at least I woulda escaped with my dignity intact. It's all over now. This ain't the kinda small town scandal a reputation survives. It'd be different if I were 90 years old, or originally from California, but I may hafta pack up an start over in Nevada once this gets out.
It's alright though, I had a good run. Sides, that just leaves more time for extollin' the virtues of flicks like Deathstalker, which is one of your better "gore-the-guacamole-faced-extras-through-the-gutbucket an rip-the-negligees-off-the-castle-bimbos" Sword and Sorcery flicks of 1983. It's no Conan the Barbarian, but what it lacks in Austrian bodybuilders who barely speak English, it more than makes up for in lady sword fighters who let their unshackled mamacles swing free while they're buryin' their broad swords to the hilt in the torsos of ineffectual palace guards, so how's about we show some respect for all this dangerous stunt work (seriously, somebody could lose a nipple real easy with those things windmillin' around like that) an take a look at a few of the things these ladies risked their careers to teach us. First, if a woman resists your sexual advances, it could only be because she's a man trapped in a woman's body sent on a secret mission to murder you. Or because you come from Alabama with a gavel on your knee, one or the other. Second, havin' your blouse ripped off on your first day as a woman tends to give you a little perspective regardin' the effectiveness of sexual harassment training. An third, in case of a water landing, your muppet can be used as a flotation device.
I gotta bring this up though, cause it's been buggin' me for a long time, an it came up again in Deathstalker: why do starving people always have pets? I mean, I get why the guys who panhandle outside McDonald's holdin' an "out of gas, anything helps" sign every day until the cops make 'em move over to the Safeway do it, cause the critter's an excellent tug at the ole heartstrings, but I'm not talkin' about them. No, what I'm talkin' about is the cat woman who lives in 'er 1987 Buick Skylark with 22 tabbies. We've got the same basic deal in Deathstalker, where this little Muppet Man lives in a cave an gripes about how he's been cursed an stuck chewin' on mice an worms an whatever he can dig out of his body crevices, an yet he's got Eegah chained up in the corner knowin' full well that he requires at least 12,000 calories a day just to maintain his abs of steel. An before anybody gets clever an starts throwin' accusations around - *I* am not "poor," cause I saw on Fox News that anybody who has a fridge can't be strugglin' financially, so you just leave Apollo an Shankles outta this. So what the heck's wrong with these people? Do they just need the company? Cause we can get 'em some cardboard signs an sharpies so they can stand out in front of the Kmart tellin' people about the invasion of the space apes who're plannin' to sack Brazil an pillage our banana crop if that'll help 'em feel more involved in society. Alls I'm sayin' is; it ain't fair to the animals, an besides that, these kinds of situations are directly responsible for 75% of all the Humane Society ads that target depressed, lost souls who watch Animal Planet at 3am, an if there's one thing the world don't need any more of, it's Sarah McLachlan-inspired species guilt.
The movie begins with this creep sittin' next to a shackled slice of cheesecake eyeballin' 'er like Harvey Weinstein at a Hollywood after hours party, only before he can do anything to 'er they're ambushed by the cast of Quest for Fire who chase after 'em until the guy runs into this blond side of beef (the Stalker) who pulls out his sword an turns all the gorillas with face leprosy into monkey stew fixins. Then the bandit tries makin' like Monty Hall on Let's Make a Deal, but the Stalker don't like his smarmy demeanor an decides to sling a shin-bone handled shiv into the guy's rib cage an take all his swag for actin' like Kurt Russel in Used Cars. So with that unpleasantness outta the way, the Breaststalker starts makin' the sign of the wood-paneled swamp truffle with the slave girl until this old man shows up an takes 'im to talk to the washed up former king who used to rule the world before his wizard (Munkar the Magnificent, who looks just like the drummer from Cradle of Filth) made his landowner permit disappear an took over operations at Castle Forrester. The former king has a lot in common with Bonnie Tyler in that he also needs a hero, an he informs the Stalker that if he wants the position he's gotta be strong, an he's gotta be fast, an he's gotta have buns that're tight. The Stalker just kinda stands there with this look on his face like "you dragged me away from doin' the Elvis pelvis with that bimbo for this?" an tells the king of scrubs to take his job an shove it up his moat cause he don't need that noise. Then Conan the Blondhairian rides off an sees a buncha Munkar's flunkies hasslin' this old hag who looks like Carol Kane from Princess Bride wearin' a cottage cheese facial mask (Toralva) an he hasta go roll a few heads while the hag's wrappin' a snake around the boss's neck an calmly explainin' that her anaconda don't want none unless he's got buns, son, an after a few minutes of havin' his jugular kinked off like a cheap garden hose the guy transforms into a hawk an flies off before he winds up like David Carradine. Then Toralva invites the Stalker into 'er gingerbread hut to tell 'im about the three "powers of creation" (the Chalice of Magic, the Amulet of Life, an the Sword of Justice) an that Munkar's already wrested the first two away from the populace after passin' a really nasty trickle down tax plan, an that he ain't content to simply pimp adequately; rather, he seeks to pimp bigly. Basically, if he gets his hands on the Sword too things're gonna really start circlin' the ole chamber pot. So he needs to reclaim all the prizes from the Atari 2600 Swordquest competitions before Munkar becomes dictator for life like Fidel Castro, an so Toralva sends 'im off to crawl into a hobbit hole an talk to a little furry guy in a cloak who looks like Yoda after the Bubonic Plague (Salmaron), only he's so P.O.'d about bein' replaced by CGI in the Star Wars prequels that he sics his cave troll on the Stalker an just about gets 'im killed before finally givin' 'im the sword.
It seems Salmaron was cursed by Munkar, an so now he needs "a boy who is not a boy" to use the Sword to lead 'im outta the cave an break the curse. Sounds like somethin' a Catholic Priest'd say durin' his heresy trial at the Vatican to me, but pretty quick the Sword starts lightin' up like Roy Moore's judicial robe under a blacklight an next thing you know the Stalker's about 4' tall an leadin' Salmaron outta the cave an directly into a pond that Baptizes 'im back into human form. Then the two of 'em ride off an find this guy who looks like David Cassidy wearin' a chain-mail belly shirt (Oghris) who's bucklin' some swash with a buncha mouth-breathers who're tryin' to rifle some girl's drawers without 'er permission, an our guy Smirkules starts doin' yoga like Ralph Maccio in Karate Kid before goin' apeshit an swingin' his sword around like a maniac an generally Highlanderin' everybody in sight until all the creeps're chopped an molded. Once all the little weasels've gone to the big Renaissance Festival in the sky David explains that he's goin' to the Mortal Kombat tournament at Munkar's palace cause the winner's gonna get to be his heir an possibly win a lovely dinin' room set like on The Price is Right. Then the three of 'em bed down for the night, but before they can get to sleep they're attacked by a Ring Wraith (Kaira) who tries slicin' off alla David's dreamy locks with a broad sword until 'er juggernauts flop out an after that nobody really feels like fightin' anymore cause it's too hard to pay attention to what they're doin'. Kaira's goin' to the tough man contest too, so she decides to join up with 'em an get Beastmastered by the Stalker while Salmaron sits up in the tree watchin' like a pervert. We've basically got Salmaron King's Red Shoe Diaries here, an it's fairly disgustin'. But anyway, the next mornin' the group heads off to see the wizard (Deathstalker needs a heart, David Cassidy wants a brain, Salmaron's decidedly short on courage, an Kaira, well... Kaira needs an underwire support garment in the worst way), an once they get to the castle they decide to check out the local festivities an watch nekkid girls mudwrestle an get their blouses ripped off by sweaty guys with personal hygiene deficiencies while some midgets play Tag. It's a little while before Munkar finally appears, but when he does he tells everybody about how he's over the hill an that he ain't got what it takes to walk tall no more an so he's got no choice but to call a meetin' of the muscles an watch everybody kill each other for a shot at the throne. In the meantime though, everybody's free to party like it's 1399, an to make things more lively he decides to tie up some broad in a lace nighty an let everybody duke it out for the right to slip their lance down 'er pants an next thing you know Ganon from Legend of Zelda gets up out of his seat an tries makin' bacon with 'er.
Kaira an the Stalker are P.O.'d, so he slices through the gal's chains with his sword an lets 'er loose while Kaira pounds the mutton outta all the freaks, geeks, an various sneaks, while Ganon's rippin' the arm off of a male mud wrestler an beatin' people to death with it. Surprisingly though, the evil sorcerer ain't bein' entirely honest with everybody, an basically the whole deal's justa load of crapola he's cooked up to get all the local berzerkers to wipe each other out so there won't be anybody left who can screw with 'im. He's pretty worried about the Stalker though, so he transforms his bodyguard into one of the girls from Hee Haw (Princess Codille) an tells 'im to go schmooze the Stalker an assassinate 'im when he tries to rock out with his stalk out. So the guy heads over to the Stalker's room an struggles to keep things platonic until he thinks he's got an opening, only the Stalker just catches 'im by the arm when he goes to shank 'im through the backstraps an slings 'im down on the bed an starts makin' like he's about to pop the guy's cherry. Somethin's just way too weird about this whole deal though, an when the Stalker notices his R.C. Willey's turned into silly putty on 'im he tosses the guy out into the hallway like a cryin' hooker until Kaira comes along an finds "her" an covers 'er up with her cloak to hide 'er bubble bobbles. Only about that time Caitlin turns back into Bruce like some kinda crossdressin' Superman who just found a phone booth, an the two of 'em end up gorin' each other through the gutbuckets. Now, some folks might not realize this on account of the Stalker only ever havin' one facial expression, but he's *livid* when Kaira goes to the big Hooters in the sky, so the next mornin' he an the cast of 1,000,000 Years B.C. fight it out in the arena an pike each other through the pancreases until the field's narrowed down to just a few good cavemen. Unfortunately, in the meantime David's gone over to the dark side, an now Munkar wants him to take out the Stalker before things get outta hand an all his harem girls start droppin' blond-haired surfer babies all over the castle, only when he tries the Stalker puts a sleeper hold on 'im an snaps his neck like a bra strap in the congressional chamber an ends any chance of a possible Partridge Family reunion special. So finally, come mornin', it's time for the Stalker to fight Ganon for the heavyweight championship of the world. Ganon manhandles 'im in the early goins, buffetin' the Stalker with a barrage of ham-fisted haymakers, an things're lookin' pretty bad until the Stalker hits the Stone Cold Stunner outta nowhere an rattles Ganon just enough to regain possession of his sword, which he then buries into Ganon's bacon bits when he goes for the Five Star Frog Splash an the pin. Needless to say, Munkar's done with the smoke an mirrors bullstuff, an he's so P.O.'d at the temp agency who sent 'im this pathetic sycophant starter kit that he heads down to his chamber to pen a strongly worded letter an start practicin' his fireballs. Gonna cut it off here, even though the endins kind of a let down.
Alrighty, well, Munkar'd better have his stuff together if he's gonna fight the Stalker now that he went and killed off Lana Clarkson hadn't he? I know I'd be pretty hacked off. Deathstalker, of course, was part of the early wave of Sword & Sorcery flicks to come out in the wake of Conan the Barbarian after it made a dump truck fulla money the year before, and even though Deathstalker has that sleazy Roger Corman drive-in feel about it, it's also fairly ambitious. The great thing about this subgenre is that if the posters didn't have titles on 'em you'd never be able to figure out which one was which, cause they're all done in that same cartoony style. Seriously, take a look at Conan, The Beastmaster, Excalibur, Dragonslayer, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Barbarian Queen, The Warrior and the Sorceress, Red Sonya, etc., and tell me you'd know the difference. Not to mention the three Deathstalker sequels, each of which has virtually nothing to do with the entries that preceded them. Not exactly a top-shelf date movie either, cause this sucker's just chock-full of scenes where women're bein' molested and havin' their tops ripped off, even though the femme fatale gal just lets her jigglers swing loose mosta the time cause she don't give a rip who sees 'em since the odds're pretty good that they won't live to reminisce about them anyhow. So if you can find a woman who'll watch this thing with ya and actually enjoy it - marry her immediately. Generally speaking, these Sword & Sorcery deals tend to be pretty repetitive, but one difference between Deathstalker and Conan or The Beastmaster is that the Deathstalker is kind of a jerk when you get right down to it. When the former king tries to offer him a seat on the board of castle affairs if he'll reclaim the kingdom for him, the Stalker's got absolutely no shits to give about the situation. Rather, it's only when the old hag tells him that he can essentially rule the world if he gathers together all the sacred merchandise that he climbs on board, and even though he shows brief flashes of heroism from time to time, he's basically in it for himself. Little things like that can help the popularity of these low budget clones, because the fact is that Deathstalker was never gonna compete with Conan, Galaxy of Terror was never a threat to the legacy of Alien, and Warrior of the Lost World will never achieve half the notoriety Mad Max has. But at the same time, as a low budget flick bein' produced for a smaller studio, you can pull pages from the exploitation playbook and do things "classy" flicks can't to shore up your titles, and New World Pictures was able to do a bit of that in this flick. Specifically, it's not much different from similar subgenre titles of the era; hero must collect artifact(s) of power, battle monsters, pick up quirky sidekicks along the way, and ultimately kick the hiney of the jerkwad responsible for all the world's current ills using either might or magic. That's your basic formula, and they stick pretty close to it.
Anywho, what say we break our gaze away from all the luscious female appendages in this thing for just a minute and consider its virtues on a more academic level. Or if you're gonna try keepin' two windows open at least be sure to blink once in awhile. The plot, as I mentioned earlier, is pretty standard for this subgenre. But in addition to all the usual anachronisms, like your Medieval thongs and what not, the flick has its share of plot contradictions. For instance, if Munkar was the guy who turned Salmaron into an extra from The Dark Crystal and banished him to that cave, why doesn't Munkar know where the Sword of Justice is? Considering that the sword is Salmaron's only way of becoming human again, that seems like a pretty good place to check for it. Also, if the guy who looks like Keith Partridge is workin' for Munkar, why doesn't he just take out the Stalker before they even reach the tournament? Maybe I'm asking too much of these guys bein's how they lost track of which side of Munkar's head his tattoo was supposed to be on at one point, but there are some problems in the story department. The acting is alright, although it's really only the over-the-top gimmicky characters that reach anything above middling. Veronica Llinas is decent as the old hag, Augusto Laretta's not bad as Salmaron, and Bernard Erhard is pretty good as Munkar, but the primaries are kinda wooden. This is also one area where the movie makes it clear that it's not taking itself too seriously, particularly in the scenes where the pig-man stares contemplatively at the severed boar's head before finally taking a bite, and just about anything that involves Salmaron, who's there for comic relief and always falling down holes and landing in the harem fountain or gettin' chased around by guards like he's filmin' a 3 Stooges sketch. Nobody of any significance drags the production down, but likewise, nobody really gives a performance that brings it up to another level either.
Here's who matters and why: Rick Hill (Deathstalker IV, Class of 1999 II, Cyborn II, Dune Warriors, Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell, Warrior Queen), Richard Brooker (Friday the 13th Part 3), Lana Clarkson (Barbarian Queen I & II, The Haunting of Morella, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II, Amazon Women on the Moon, Brainstorm), Victor Bo (Barbarian Queen), Bernard Erhard (Satan's Touch), Marcos Woinsky (Deathstalker II, Terror 5, Stormquest, Amazons, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Barbarian Queen, The Warrior and the Sorceress), Patrick Duggan (Barbarian Queen, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom), Maria Fournery (Amazons). Barbi Benton might be the best known among the cast, having started in some 60 episodes of Hee Haw during her years as one of Hugh Hefner's lady friends.
The special effects are hit and miss, with its misses becoming rather painful for the score at times. I think the problem arises due to the writers writing checks the special effects department couldn't cash, or, simply put - they were gettin' a little too big for their britches with regard to some of their ideas. The Planet of the Apes extras during the opening sequence aren't awful, but nor are they especially convincing, and I dunno what they were thinking with the close-ups of the blood gushing onto the Stalker's sword, but that stuff's magenta, verging on pink, and really watery. When they're not using that goofy close up spurt gimmick it's generally alright, but sometimes it's pretty ridiculous. Of course, we've got a few more monsters to discuss, including the puppet used to depict Salmaron pre-transformation, which looks *okay* until they try makin' it talk. Additionally, the helmet appliance worn by the guy playing the pig-man is probably the best of the lot, and you've also got Munkar's little slime glopola sock puppet pet who lives in the trunk and looks like something you might see if Frank Henenlotter guest directed an episode of Fraggle Rock, which is fair as well. I don't think I mentioned the slimy sock puppet during the summary, but he likes to eat eyeballs and fingers that Munkar's goons remove from some real unfortunate sonsabitches who live in the castle, but the makeup effects on the guy missing his eyeballs are pretty lousy. So like I said: ambitious, but probably too much so.
The shooting locations are alright, but anytime you've got movies like this one that're low budget and take place in a castle, the interiors tend a bit shoddy. The sets for Deathstalker, while not amazing, are actually better than those of other similarly themed titles (just look at Gor, for example), and if nothing else it seems like the set designers did their best with what they had - the room where the brawl over the chained harem girl takes place is actually pretty decent. The outdoor scenes are better and typical of the subgenre, taking place primarily in fairly open wooded areas that lend themselves well to shooting, but aren't what you'd call authentic to any world that exists prior to the invention of the chainsaw. The soundtrack is *all over the place*, and features scores that're completely incongruent with the action or the locations being filmed. The most egregious example hasta be this bizarre Mexican-style saloon music you'd expect to hear in a Western filmed south of the border. I believe it was used twice, but the first time it plays the Stalker is fighting a buncha ape-men with swords in the middle of a sylvan forest, and it's exactly as insane as it sounds. Of course, it's also got the usual "knights of the round table" style Medieval tracks, and these, while not exactly fresh or inspired, seem to fit the theme much better than some of the other music, like the scores with synth embedded in them. I'm not really a fanatic when it comes to these Barbarian Fantasy flicks, so they don't do much for me as far as entertainment value. Still, Deathstalker has some redeeming qualities, so if you're a big fan of the Conan movies, odds are you'll probably enjoy Deathstalker as well. On the other hand, if you *don't* like Conan, there's virtually no chance you'll like this one either unless you're so desperate to see nekkid hooters that you'll sit through anything.